Kasi Viswanathar Temple, Tenkasi – The Temple
Lord Shiva graces in the temple as a Swayambumurthy. Worshipping the Lord in this temple is as equal to worshipping the Lord in Kasi – Varanasi. Presiding deity Lord Kasi Viswanatha is visible to the devotee even from a distance of 1 Km. Mother is called as Ulagamman. Sthala Vriksham is Shenbagam. Theertham is Kasi Theertham. The temple is so vastly constructed with this facility to the devotees. While Mother Durga faces South in almost all temples, She faces west in this temple. The tower of the temple was simply flat till the year 1967. In the year 1990, a tower, as tall as 180 feet was very artistically built and the temple looks quite majestically now.
To facilitate enjoying the natural beauty of Tenkasi, broad roads are laid from the nine points of the tower, as if the devotee is walking on the space. At the ninth point of the tower, a balcony is also constructed to go round the tower. Thiruvolakka Mandapam, Mandapam at the Centre Shrine of the Viswanathar, Mandapam at the Bala Murugan Shrine, Artha Mandapam, Go -(cow) Mandapam, Arrattu Mandapam, Mani Mandapam, Thirumalaippathi Mandapam at the Inner Prakara are some of the Mandapams located in the Temple.
The temple is noted for the three importances of Murthy (the deity), Thalam (holiness of the place) and Theertham the holy water attributed to the temple. The beauty of the sculptures of the temple is widely known the world over. The twin sculptures – the Veerabadras, Thandavamurthis, two Tamil Mothers, Rathi and Manmatha (the cupid and his beautiful wife Rathi), single sculptures as Lord Vishnu and Kali Devi are noted for their exquisite beauty.
The Kasi Viswanathar temple which spreads for 4 acres approximately is built in Somaskanda style. The temple is divided into three main sections with three shrines. In one shrine, you can find the main deity Kasi Viswanathar in the form of Shiv Linga. There is another shrine dedicated to the goddess Ulagammai aka Loganayaki. The third main shrine is dedicated to Lord Subramanya aka Bala Subramanian in this temple.
There is a small Ganesha shrine near the temple tower. The southern corridor of the temple has the idols of Sapta Kanya, Suradevar, 63 Nayanmars and the shrine of Velavan (Subramanya). The western corridor has the idols of Ayyanar, Mahalakshmi, Vinayaka, and Subramanya. The northern corridor has the idols of Gajalakshmi, Sani, Chandikeswara, Nataraja, and the temple tank named Kasi Theertham.
There is a hall with musical pillars. Apart from all these shrines and idols, the outer corridor and the other areas of the temple have the idols/shrines of Ganesha, Subramanya, Parasakthi Peetha, Sahashra Linga, Bhairava, and Meenakshi & Chokkanathar. Sagasranauna Theertham, Anandha Theertham, Kasikkinaru (Kasi well), Vairava Theertham, Annapoorani Theertham; Visuva Theertham are the holy water points associated with this Temple.
The front hall that houses these mind-boggling wonders and hymns in stone is truly a masterpiece. There are eight such pieces in two rows, showcasing the artistic genius and aesthetic sense of our forefathers. Rathi, the goddess known for her beauty, is seen sitting on a swan. These statues remind one of the famous sculptures at Krishnapuram in Thirunelveli district; Thadikombu in Dindigul district and Suseendram in Kanyakumari district.
Kali towers in all her ferocity. To stand in front of the statue for a long time gives an unnerving experience. The statue of Krishna, Venugopala, on the right side, is attractive and everything about him is enchanting. His flute is tantalizing. His standing posture with a cow and Kadamba tree behind is quite mesmerizing. The Oordhva Thandavam of Lord Siva symbolizes the episode where, out of pride and arrogance, Goddess Parvathi challenges Lord Nataraja to dance with her.
The statues of the two courtesans, at the entrance, with one holding the mirror in one hand and the other engaged in make-up is a sight not to be missed. Manmada, tall and handsome, is seen with a sugarcane bow. One can also see idols of damsels and the Nandi with considerable height and weight. In the Mani mandapam are scenes from Periyapuranam in 3D forms. The stories from the Puranam come alive in sculptures – Kannappa Nayanar Puranam, Siruthondar Puranam, Markandeya Puranam and Eripathra Nayanar Puranam to mention only a few.
Episodes from Ramayana also figure alongside, in stone. Rama stands with Sita with Hanuman doing service, in dasya bava. The statues of Pandavas are also quite majestic. Secret tunnels have been made in view of assault and desecration by alien forces. The temple has many other rare features. There is a gentle flow of air from east to west in a counter current manner all through the year (24/7). The shrine has two sacred trees, Jack fruit and Shenbaga (Michalis shenbaga). In the niche for Navagrahas Raagu and Kethu are in a form quite different from other places.
Chitra Kavi, an art-cum-hymn is drawn on the outer walls of the Ambal sannidhi. Rare and endangered species of plants have been conserved in the temple premises. Asoka (Saraca indica) a rare ornamental and medicinal plant that has found mention in the Red data book is well maintained. Sakthipeetam is located in the northern side of the temple corridor where women worship on Tuesdays and Fridays. Offerings to the Lord in the form of Dhotis and Sarees and Goddess Durga are made adoring Devi with Turmeric paste, bathing with Panchamritham (juice made of five components) and milk.