Avinashi Lingeswarar Temple, Avinashi – The Temple
Avinashi Lingeswarar Temple is spread over an area of 1.5 acres (6,100 m2). The main Rajagopuram is on the east side with seven tiers. Inside there are two corridors. At the main entrance, the sculptures of Narthana Ganapathy can be found on both the sides. Once we enter, there is a mandapam and the sculptures of Veerabadhirar, Oorthava Thandavar, and Kaali can be seen on the pillars of the mandapam. The main shrine is for Lord Shiva known as Avinasiappar and the Ambal his consort is known Karunambikai. Ambal's sanctum is to the right of Avinasiappar's sanctum, unlike that in most temples. The mandapam in front of Ambal's sanctum has interesting sculptural work.
The pathways on the four sides of the sanctum sanctorum are decorated with the images of Nayanmars, Murugan Sannadhi in the northwest and Karaiakal Ammaiar Sannadhi on the northeast. The large Nandi here and the carved image of a scorpion in the Ambal sanctum are of significance here. Several other carvings here deserve attention. Avinashiappar temple is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. The Theertham here is a well, called as Kasi Gangai Theertham. The sthala Vriksham is Paathiri.
There is a shrine for Kalabhairavar and is being worshipped here with the offerings of Vadai Maalai. There are a lot of holy trees located within the temple. The 'Pandhiri' tree where the deity of Amman is seated is considered holy. It was a mango tree previously. Apart from the trees, the temple was also known as 'Vilvavanam' as the temple was surrounded by Vilvam trees in the past. This temple with 2 prakarams is adorned with the Navaranga Mandapam in the inner prakaram. The east facing shrine of Avinashi Lingeswarar is located on the banks of Nallar River.
A Deepasthambam can be seen in front of the temple which is carved of single stone. The lower part of this 70 foot post bears the carvings of lord Ganapathy, Sundaramurthi Nayanar and the rebirth of a boy from the mouth of a crocodile. This Deepasthambam (Post) is a unique feature in all the ancient temples of Kongunadu. In 1756, the king of Mysore endowed the temple with a hall supported by 30 pillars. This hall can be observed in front of the deepasthambam.
The Main Tower (Raja Gopuram) of this temple is nearly 100 feet height and is one of the biggest towers in the Kongunadu. The original `Rajagopuram', was replaced by the present structure when it being came dilapidated. This tower was first built during the period of Kongu Pandian Sundarapandian (1285 - 1300). Later it was reconstructed by the King of Mysore. In the year 1860, the tower was damaged by the lightning and totally demolished by the district administration. The present structure was constructed by Sundara Swamigal of Kumara mutt in the year 1980.
The 30 pillar hall located in front of the Theepasthumbam was constructed by king Udayar of Mysore, in the year 1756. As we enter through the seven stage tower we can see the Navaranga hall which houses the magnificent sculptures of `Alangattu Kali' and Urdhava Thandava Murthy. Each of these idols is 6' in height. These two idols depict one of the most dramatic episodes of Hindu Mythology.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva entered into a dancing combat with Goddess Shakthi. A fierce competition took place and the Lord finally triumphed, when he lifted his leg high above his shoulder. This was a stance that Shakthi could not perform due to modesty and was defeated. Hence, these idols that depict this celestial performance show the 16 handed Urdhavamurthy, with a triumphant look on his face, with sparkling eyes.
Whereas, Alangattu Kali, the incarnation of Shakthi, has eyes downcast due to defeat. But, mixed emotions of both fury and humiliation have been brought out in the face of this idol which is considered a masterpiece of sculptor and an excellent example for ancient sculptures.
Other deities present in this hall are Veerabadhirar and those of who built this particular hall. This hall was raised by the efforts of Kavayapalayam China Kaliyappa Gounder and Periya Kaliyappa Gounder. Thirukalyana hall (wedding hall) is located adjacent to the main shrine. The celestial wedding of the lord will be celebrated in this hall during the month of Chithrai. The newly built Vasantha hall can be found opposite to the wedding hall.
The Lord Avinashi Lingeswarar is the chief deity of this temple. It is believed to be a replica of the Kashi (Banaras) Lingeswarar. Hence Avinashi has come to be known as the ‘Kashi of Kongunadu’. The inner corridors on the four sides of the sanctum sanctorum are decorated with the images of Nayanmars, Murugan Sannadhi in the northwest and Karaiakal Ammaiar Sannadhi on the northeast.
Karunambikai Amman Shrine:
The deity of Karunambikai Amman seated to the right of the Lingeswarar is one of the distinctive traits of this temple. The sanctum sanctorum of Karunambikai Amman, located to the south of the temple is very rare and unique in the temples of Tamilnadu. She occupies the right side here against the traditional left as the ruling authority. There are separate Rajagopurams and flag posts for Lord and Mother.
The front mandapam of Goddess Karunambikai shrine has carvings of figures like the elegant and beautiful Kurathi or her more rugged male counterpart Kuravan, which arrest the attention of everybody entering this shrine. At the back of the shrine is carved a figure of scorpion, which is said to have the efficacy to cure a person, from even the bite of a venomous snake and sting of scorpions.
The specialty of the Kalabairavar shrine located in this temple is artistically designed and it has Sahasranaamams like Vishnu Sahasranaamams and lalitha Sahasranaamam. Lord Bhairava in this temple is one among the 64 Bhairava forms. He is believed to be elder to Kasi Bhairava known as Akasha Kasikapura Pruradhanadha Bhairava in a shrine in the prakara. He enjoys the next place to Lord and Ambica.
In the shrine between that of Lord Shiva and Mother Ambica, Lord Muruga has his shrine in a six triangular shape in Somaskanda design.
Shani Bhagwan Shrine:
According to scriptures, it is said Sage Vasishta worshipped in this temple for relief from adverse Saturn aspects. He has installed Sani Bhagwan in this temple. He is praised as Anugraha Murthy – blessing His devotees. He appears with right leg on a peeta, left on his crow vehicle, arrow in the upper right hand and bow on the left, trident in lower right hand and the assuring sign-Abhayamudra- by the left hand lower.
This temple also has the unique feature of having an individual shrine for Saint Sundaramurthi Nayanar, who was an ardent disciple of Lord Shiva. There is a shrine to Sundarar on the banks of the temple tank.
The first idol that one worships on entering the temple through the Rajagopuram is the Selva Vinayagar. On the ceiling above is carved the `Uchi pillayar' Anointment of this deity is believed to bring rains even during drought conditions. Inside the gopuram (tower) on the left side you can see the idols of saints Sundarar and Manickavasakar. Carvings of other celestial forms like that of the dwarf like` Bhoothaganas' and others can also be seen here.
Sri Anjaneya graces at the entrance of the temple. There is a monkey hanging upside down sculpted on a pillar. Lord Vinayaka graces with 63 Nayanmars. There are shrines for Brahmma and Viswanatha with Visalakshi. There are two Ambicas in the temple, one in penance and the other with Lord in the sanctum sanctorum. Lord Vishnu having his place behind Shiva shrine in temples as a tradition is near the flag post facing Shiva.
It is noteworthy that even a thief was forgiven and granted salvation by the Lord. There is a shrine for Vyadavedar, the thief. There are 32 Vinayakas in the temple. Lord Dakshinamurthy graces in a dancing posture from a shrine south of the Rajagopuram. Shiva Surya has his shrine. Lion vahana is before Nardana Ganapathy.
Those native to Scorpio sign worship the scorpion behind Mother Karunambikai shrine. Those affected by poisonous bite worship here and receive prasada. Before worshipping the Scorpion, the devotee should offer his/her prayers to Lord Selva Ganapathi facing north (the direction belonging to Kubera) at the entrance of the temple.
Sage Siva Yogi is above Lord Dakshinamurthy in the shrine. He learnt all the arts from his Guru and excelled him then. As he has attained the status of Guru’s Guru, he is seen in higher place and graces the devotees. The other deities of this temple are Vinayaka, Durga, Gajalakshmi, ‘Arupathu Moovar’ denoting the sixty three Nayanars, Nadaraajar, ‘Navagrahangal’ denoting the nine planets, ‘Panjabootha thirumeniyar’ representing the 5 elements earth, water, fire, air and akash (sky).
The holy water points located in this temple are
· Kasi Gangai Theertham
· Nagakakannigai Theertham
The temple history reveals that the holy tree of this temple was a mango tree. Now the Amman deity is located under a Padhiri tree. This temple is also called as Vilvavanam as the premises was once surrounded by a large number of Vilvam trees.