Vedaranyeswarar Temple, Vedaranyam – The Temple
The temple houses an emerald image of lingam, locally called Maragatha lingam. Vedaranyeswarar temple complex has three prakarams (outer courtyard) and a five-tiered Rajagopuram (gateway tower). The central shrine faces east and holds the image of Vedaranyeswarar (Shiva) in the form of lingam made of granite. The granite images of the deities Ganesha (son of Shiva and god of wisdom), Murugan (son of Shiva and god of war), Nandi (the bull and vehicle of Shiva) and Navagraha (nine planetary deities) are located in the hall leading to the sanctum.
As in other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the first precinct or the walls around the sanctum of Vedaranyeswarar have images of Dakshinamurthy (Shiva as the Teacher), Durga (warrior-goddess) & Chandikeswarar (a saint and devotee of Shiva). The second precinct is surrounded by granite walls. The sea is around 1 km east of the Temple. At the Sannadhi street corner, we can see the dilapidated wooden chariot left uncared. It is said that the Temple management is arranging to get a new wooden car in the near future.
Ganapathi Sannadhi at the western Tower has a legend behind it. Lord Rama, caught by "Veera Hathi", a sin caused by killing a demon, worshipped Ganesa here and the Lord kicked the "Hathi" with his leg and Rama was freed from the sin. Hence Ganesa of this Sannadhi is called "Veera Hathi Chetha Ganapathi".
The outer Prakaram consists of an exclusive shrine for the Goddess, known as Veda Nayaki. She is also called as Veena vaadha Vidhooshini in Sanskrit and Yaazhaip Pazhiththa Mozhiyaal in Tamil which means that the voice of the Goddess is sweeter and melodious than the sound of Veena (a musical instrument). This Sannadhi, one of the Shakthi Peetams, with a small Gopuram is to the left of Swami Sannadhi.
The glory of Mother Ambica is praised by Acharya Sankara in the 66th verse of his celebrated Soundarya Lahari suggesting for gaining excellence in Music. As we enter the Eastern Prakaram, we find the Temple Tank, Manikarnigai, which is as Holy as Ganga, Yamuna, Cauvery, Narmadha and Sindhu. People take bath in large numbers during New Moon days and auspicious occasions like Mahalaya, Lunar and Solar eclipses. There is a small shrine for Kala Bhairava facing the Tank.
The next Prakaram has Sannadhis for Saint Sundarar facing Thyagaraja, sixty three Nayanmars, "Kaakshi Koduthavar", Sthala Ganapathi, Subramanya, Gajalakshmi, Saraswathi Devi (in huge form), Gajalakshmi and South facing Durga Devi. Navagrahas are looking at the same direction. It is said they curiously look at the Newly wedded Divine Couple of Parvathi and Parameswara. The four Saiva Acharyas look at the Supreme Dance of Lord Shiva.
The sanctum is on a slightly elevated platform. The Divine couple who gave Dharshan to Saint Agasthya can be seen behind the swayambu Lingam, Sri Vedaranyeswarar. When all Devas, Rishis and others attended the Marriage of Parvathi- Parameswara at Kailash, the Mountain tilted down and it was at that time Lord Shiva asked Sage Agasthya to go to south to balance the earth. Agasthya went to south and the earth returned to normal. As the sage had missed to witness the Divine wedding, The Lord showed it to the Rishi at Vedaranyam.
Vedaranyam is one of the Saptha Vidanga Sthalams and the Vidanga Pooja is held twice in a day. Vanni, the sthala Vriksham is seen in the Prakaram. The fruits of the tree are long with thorns on only one side. 29 day Masi Magam festival in May-June is conducted every year when the Deities visit the sea shore on Masi Magam day for "Theerthavari". The sea at this point is called "Veda Nadhi/ Veda Theertham". Vedaranyeswarar is praised in Thevaram Hymns by all the three Acharyas. Thirugnanasambanthar sang "Kolaru Padhigam" here before going to Pandya Kingdom at the invitation of Pandya Queen Mangayarkarasi.
It is pertinent to note that the Shrine for Saraswathi in this temple is different in the sense that Goddess Saraswathi is seen here without her Veena in her laps as normally seen everywhere. The marriage of Lord Shiva with Parvati is depicted as a stucco image behind the main Sivalingam inside the sanctum sanctorum. It is also interesting to note that the water in all the wells in this place taste salty and the well situated inside the temple alone gives good drinking water and used by the people of this village.
Lord Shiva is a swayambumurthy in the temple. Two time puja is dedicated to Lord Maragatha Linga in Thiyagesar shrine installed by Indira. The temple has separate flag posts-Kodi Maram for Lord, Ambica and Lord Vinayaka. The temple is the second in the rank of Saptha Vidanga Sthalas of Lord Shiva. The Thyagaraja idol in the temple was earlier gifted to emperor Mushukunda Chakravarthi. The dance of Lord here is praised as Hamsa Nadana. Presiding deity is also known as Marai Kadu Urayum Manalar – Lord having His home in Marai Kadu. All the 63 Nayanmars and 10 Thogayara Nayanars – total 73 – are in idol form in the temple.
Of the 16 Sabhas-Durbars of Lord Shiva, the temple ranks 12, praised as Deva Bhakta Sabha. The Kolaru Pathigam of Gnana Sambandar used by many devotees in their daily prayers for relief from the adverse effects of planets was sung from this temple. Lord Mela Kumara-Muruga is praised in the Thirupugazh hymns of saint Arunagirinathar. Sage Paranjothi Munivar, author of Thiruvilayadal Puranam speaking Lord Shiva’s plays for the benefit of his devotees, was born here. It is also noteworthy that though the water outside the temple complex is salty in taste, the water within the complex only is sweet and palatable. Drinking water supply to this area is made from the water in the temple only.