Veeratteswarar Temple, Vazhuvur – The Temple
The temple is built in the Dravidian style of architecture and is known for its exquisite bronze icons. Some of the popular bronze idols are those of Gajasamharamurti and Bhikshadana (Shiva as mendicant). Lord Shiva in the temple is a swayambumurthy. Of the Atta Veera sthalas, this temple is the sixth in the rank. This is the only Shiva temple where devotees can have the Feet Darshan of Lord. There are five wells in the holy spring-theerthas of the temple known as Pancha Mukha wells. In his celebrated hymns, Saint Tirugnana Sambandar had made special mention about this temple. Lord Vinayaka of the temple is praised as Selva Vinayaka.
Main deity is called as Kiruthivaasar and Mother is known as Ilankilainaayaki. The Goddess is believed to be a granter of Santana-Bhagyam (the fortune of motherhood). The main attraction of the temple is the bronze idol of Gajasamhara Moorthi. The shrine is reverentially referred to as Gnana Sabhai, or the hall of knowledge, one of the Lord’s nine famous dance halls similar to the Kanaka Sabhai in Chidambaram. The Gajasamhara Thandava is considered to be a form of Oordhva Tandava (Dance of Fury) of the Lord.
This idol is placed alongside an idol of Shakthi with Skanda in her arms. Shakthi is portrayed as trying to reluctantly run away from the spot, confused between her care for her husband and her apparent fright. Skanda, on the other hand, is depicted with his index finger pointing towards the Moorthi of Gajasamharar as though crying out, “Oh, there is father and mother”. The whole set of bronze sculptures has a very lifelike appearance. Just like at Chidambaram, a powerful Yantra has been installed behind the Moorthi of Gajasamharar. Special worship is often offered to this Yantra to negate the effects of witch-craft and black magic.
Apart from these, there are separate shrines for Ayyappa (this is believed to be his birthplace), Vinayaka and other Parivara Devathas. Interestingly, at the Navagraha shrine, the planets are positioned in a strange manner. Guru, who is usually antagonistic towards Shani, is shown to be facing Shani here, hence making it a Graha Mithra Kshetra. Shani also has a separate shrine dedicated to him, where he is shown to be bearing a bow. There is also a shrine dedicated to the bewitching Moorthi of Bhikshadana and his companion, Mohini in bronze idols.
One of the many strange features of the temple is the location of the Theertham or the sacred pond. Usually, in Shiva temples, Nandi is found between the pond and the Linga. However, here, the theertham is located between the Nandi and the Linga. This theertham has five wells and is popularly known as the Pancha Mukha theertham. Every new moon day many devotees visit to have a dip in this theertham. People bathe here for child boon. Saraswathi Theertham blesses the devotees with wisdom and high education. The feet darshan of Lord Shiva is available to devotees in this temple only.
The structure of the temple is different here. It begins from Nandhi followed by a tank, then the sanctum sanctorum. Of the Theerthas in the temple, the one before Lord’s shrine known as Patala Ganga or Eesana Theertham is praised as the most sacred in the temple. There is a Rajagopuram with entrance to the courtyard which has a nandi and a huge pond before the temple. This pond is rare it is called Pathala Ganga and is rare to find Nandi separated from Shiva by a pond in a Shiva temple.
The main Shivan Sannidhi houses both the Shivalingam as well as the Gajasamhara murthy. The outer praharam is vast with the usual koshta Vigrahas and also paintings of the legend. The next building houses the eastern facing Ambal Iangilai Nayaki Sannidhi. Sannadhi for Sandeswarar, Vinayagar, Naalvar, 63var, two Vinayagars, Umai murugudayar, Jyesta Devi, Naagars, Pidari, Sapthamatharkal worshiped Lingas and Bairavars can be found in this Temple. In the outer prakaram, Sannadhi for Vinayagar, Valli Deivanai Sametha Subramaniyar, Gajalakshmi, Sani Bhagavan, Bairavar, Suryan, Chandran, and Navagrahas can be found.
There is 100 pillar mandapam and a separate Sannadhi for Sahasrara Lingam. The temple is facing east with 5 tier Rajagopuram. Balakuraambikai Amman Sannidhi is a different temple in the same premises. There is a separate sanctum in which we see Gajasamhara Moorthy to a mandapam. There are stone inscriptions seen in the temple. Sambandhar and Thirunavukarasar, made a mention about this place in their hymns. Separate hymns about the temple are not found so the place is considered as Vaipu sthalam.