Mayuranathaswami Temple, Mayiladuthurai – The Temple
The temple complex is 719 feet (219 m) long and 52 feet (16 m) wide. The gopura at the eastern entrance to the temple is nine storey high and measures 194 feet (59 m).The idol of Durga near the northern entrance of the temple is expertly sculpted and differs from those in other temples. On the temple walls, there is the sculpture of a devotee trying to sever his head as an offering to the God. There is an expansive temple tank in the centre of the complex.
There is an expansive temple tank in the centre of the complex. People travel in large numbers to Mayiladuthurai to bathe in this tank on the day of the new moon in the Tamil month of Aippasi (November December). This bath purifies a person of sins because the waters of the river Ganges and other Indian rivers mingle with the waters of the Kaveri River in this tank on this particular day.
The presiding deity is a Swayambhu lingam or a self-manifested lingam, the symbol of the Hindu god Shiva. Shiva's consort is known by the names Abhayapradhambikai, Abhayambikai, Anjalanayaki and Anjalai. There are three smaller shrines to the Hindu god Ganesha and another to Shiva as Nataraja or "Lord of Dance". One of the sculptures in the temple represents Shiva embracing Goddess Parvathi.
The vimana above the sanctum sanctorum is known as Tridala vimana. Vinayaka of the temple is praised as Agasthya Vinayaka. Lord Nataraja appears in his Gauri Thandava posture. Lord Aadhi Mayuranathar graces from a separate shrine in the prakara. While the Presiding deity is in the form of Shivalinga, Ambica appears as a peacock worshipping the Lord. Lord Nataraja graces from a separate shrine. The first puja in the evening is dedicated to Lord Nataraja.
Mayilamman shrine is opposite to Nataraja shrine where both Lord and Mother, grace in the form of a peacock. Two peacocks and two monkeys are depicted in the banyan tree above the Lord Dakshinamurthy sculpture in the goshta wall. There is also a Nandhi. Mother Aadi Poora Ambal graces from a separate shrine in the Veera Shakti form praised as Abhayambikai. She is also brought in procession to the banks of Cauvery on Aadi Pooram day and Fridays of this month covering July-August.
Lord Vinayaka in the prakara appearing earlier from a sandal tree is praised as Agasthya Sandana Vinayaka – Sandanam-Sandal. Planet Saturn in the Navagraha shrine appears as Jwala Saturn with Agni-fire on his head. Also a Saturn of normal form with his crow vehicle is by the side facing north performing Shiva puja. This is a very rare form of Sani planet. Those facing adverse aspect of this planet pray here to reduce its intensity.
There are five prakarams in the temple. Juradeva is by the side of the feet of Lord Nataraja. Mother Durga graces with demon Mahisha at her feet and also with two demons on both sides. This is also said to be a rare form of Durga. Chandikeswara and Tejas Chandikeswara are in the same shrine. Lord Mahavishnu worshipping Lord Shiva is in a separate shrine. Mothers Ashta Lakshmis and Sattainathar are in the prakara. There is also a shrine for Kudhambai Chithar who attained salvation here.
In the inner courtyard, Indra Lingam, Agni Lingam, Vayu Lingam, Yama Lingam, Varuna Lingam, Sagashara Lingam, Brahma Lingam, Akashalingam and the Lingas which were worshipped by Moon, Indra, Sun, Vishnu and Nadha Sharma, Shri Anavidhyambigai surround Shri Mayuranathar. People pray to Kanakkadi Vinayaka to take care of their accounts (Kanakku-account.). The six Shiva temples in the bed of Cauvery are considered to be equal to Kasi. They are Thiru Mayiladuthurai, Thiruvaiyaru, Thiruvengadu, Thiruvidaimarudur, Thiruvangiyam and Thirusaikkadu.
This temple was reconstructed with stone, during the period of Sembiyan Mahadevi (10th century); however renovations from the 19th century have destroyed the older structures and the inscriptions. Thankfully fine stone sculptures of Vinayakar, Natarajar, Siva-Uma-Aalinganamurthy, Dakshinamurthy, Lingodbhavar, Bhrama, Ganga Visarjanamurthi, Durga and Bhikshatanar from the period of Sembiyan Mahadevi have been well preserved in their niches. Theertham of this Temple are Idabam Theertham, Brahmma Theertham and Agasthya Theertham. Thala Vriksham is Mango Tree.