Friday, March 18, 2016

Naganathaswamy Temple (Rahu Sthalam), Tirunageswaram – The Temple

Naganathaswamy Temple (Rahu Sthalam), Tirunageswaram – The Temple
The temple covers an area of 630 ft. (190 m) South-North and 800 ft. (240 m) East-West with concentric sub lanes and four major streets around the four sides. There are four gateways along the four sides with entry towers (gopuram) and a surrounding compound wall. The temple is facing east with a 5 tier Rajagopuram. The second level Rajagopuram is of 4 tiers. There are 6 other towers (Gopurams) in this temple. This temple has three corridors.

The temple structure begins at the Central Gopuram with a long Prakaram (pathway) immediately thereafter. The temple campus encompasses exclusive shrines for Naganatha Swamy (Shiva), Pirayani Amman (Parvathi), Giri-Gujambigai (Parvathi) and Rahu with his spouses. The temple is designed and structured in such a way that it allows the sun rays inside the temple only in the month of Chithirai (April - May) and therefore it is called as Soorya Kottam.

In the broad pathway on the third precinct, there is a flower garden on the northern side. The Vinayaka shrine, Bali Peetam, Nandikeswara hall and flag post are located in the eastern entrance. This Ganapathy shrine is said to have been installed by the great saint Sadasiva Brahmendra along with a Ganapathy Yantra. An inscription in the temple bears testimony to this fact.

On the southern side there is the water head with four Mandapams on around with a 100 pillar Mandapam in a temple car style. There are artistic features on its eastern wall. On remaining area, there is a big Car Parking available for the devotees. The 100-pillared hall has beautiful sculptures. It looks as if the entire hall is placed on a chariot.

The second precinct has a granite floor and enshrines the Rahu shrine in the north eastern corner. The path leading to the main shrine in the second precinct has a hall decorated with Nayak style pillars with yalis. The hall was constructed by Govinda Dikshitar, the minister of successive Nayak rulers, Achuthappa Nayak (1560–1614) and Raghunatha Nayak (1600–34). In the front hall on the eastern side, artistic pillar with older and nine horses design is found, while similar pillars are found on the southern side as well.

There is a hall in the northern side with pillars decorated with yalis used for staging idols during the festive occasions. The renovation work in the western walls was done during 1929 with artistic inscriptions. In the path way to main shrine, there are art works depicting Veda Nayakas, king Sambumali and penance pose of Ambal.

Presiding Deity is called as Naganatha Swamy / Nageswarar / Shenbakaranyeswarar. He is housed in the sanctum in the form of Lingam. Lord Shiva in this temple is a Swayambumurthi (self-manifested). The sanctum sanctorum consists of sanctum, antarala and Arthamandapam. The Dwarapalakas images on each side at the entrance of Naganathar shrine are made of Chunam clay. Narthana Ganapathy, Nataraja, Agasthiyar, Dakshinamurthy, Lingothbhavar with Brahma & Mahavishnu and Durga are the Koshta Idols located around the sanctum walls, Chandikeswarar can be seen in his usual location. Behind the sanctum sanctorum, on either sides of Lord Lingothbhavar, there are idols of Lord Mahavishnu and Lord Brahma in a worshipping posture. Devotees can enjoy the darshan of all the three lords (Trimurthys) – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. This is considered to be very auspicious.

Piraiyanivanudalumai Shrine:
There are two goddesses in the Temple namely Piraiyanivanudalumai and Giri Gujambika. They are housed in respective shrines.  Kundramamulai Amman / Piraiyanivanudalumai’s Shrine is situated adjacent to sanctum (on the left side). Piraiyanivaal Nuthal Ammai (“Pirai” means Chandran (moon), “Anival” means “to wear” and “Nuthal” means forehead in Tamil). Every year, during the Tamil month of Karthigai, on the full moon day, the rays of Chandran fall on this goddess. Lord Murugan’s shrine is in between those of Lord Shiva and Goddess Piraiyanivaal Nuthal Ammai. This type of placement is called “Somaskanda”.

Girigujambikai Shrine:
For brief details, please refer below link;
Rahu Shrine:
For brief details, please refer below link;
Other Idols & Shrines:
There are shrines and idols of Nirutha Ganapathy, Shenbaga Vinayakar, Aadhi Vinayakar, Lord Murugan with his consorts Valli & Deivanai, Nataraja, Somaskanda, Naalvar, Sapthamaadakkal, Mahalakshmi, Saraswathi, Chandran, Suryan and Maha Bhairavar can be seen in the main hall and corridors. There is a separate shrine for Lord Vinayakar near the Theertham and it is known as Mazhuporutha Vinayakar. The idol of Saint Sekkizhar can be seen with the idols of his mother Azhakaambigai and brother Balaravaayar in the main hall (Thiruppani Mandapam).

There is a shrine for Navagrahas in the Temple premises. All the planets are facing Suryan. Shivalingams worshiped by Agasthiyar, Parasarar, Gautama, Vyagrapada, Patanjali and Markandeya can also be seen in the corridors. 63 Nayanmars can be seen in the corridors along with idols of Vinayakar, Murugan, Nataraja and Dakshinamurthy.

For brief details, please refer below link;
Sthala Vriksham:
Sthala Vriksham associated with this temple is Shenbaga Tree (Champaka).