Vadaranyeswarar Temple (Vallalar Koil), Mayiladuthurai – The Temple
The main deity is called as Lord Vada Aaranyeswarar in Sanskrit and popularly known as Vallalar in Tamil faces west with Ambal Gnanambikai facing South. The temple is situated at the bank of river Cauvery with the beautiful Rishabha Mandapam in the middle of the majestic river. Since this Lord gives knowledge, wealth, health etc., abundantly, he is known as Vallalar. The tank adjoining the temple goes by the name of Gnanamrutha Saras. It also goes by the name Pancha Brahma Theertham.
This temple is highly popular for the ‘Medha Dakshinamurthy’ (Guru Bhagawan); ‘Medha’ means wisdom or `Gnanam.’ Here, Guru Bhagawan (Jupiter) is seen in a sitting posture with his right hand in ‘chinmudra,’ the left hand is seen holding a book to teach the devotees. On the Southern side of the sanctum sanctorum is situated the Sannidhi of Lord Medha Dakshinamurthi (The Lord of Wisdom). The Lord is seen sitting in yogasana with the right hand in Gnana Mudra and the left holding a book. The unique feature of this Medha Dakshinamurthi is that he is seated on the Nandhi.
There is the banyan tree behind and there is also a stone Nandhi in front of him. Uttara Mayura Mahatmiyam in Sanskrit gives the history of the place in 20 chapters. Maha Vidwan Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai has sung the history of the temple in Tamil. The temple is attached to the Dharmapura Adheenam. Every year in the month of karthigai, a grand Mahabishekam is performed for Medha Dakshinamurthy. Generally, there is only one Nandhi before the sanctum in Sri Shiva Temples. Here is a Nandhi in a polite form before Lord Dakshinamurthy, a rare form.
The spot in the Cauvery bank where Nandhi had his dip is praised as Nandhi theertham. There is a Nandhi temple in the middle of the river. Those bathing in Nandhi Theertham get the benefit of Snanam-bathing in holy rivers as Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswathi, Narmada and Tambiraparani. The bath also endows the devotees of the benefit of reading the 18 Puranas. Gnana Pushkarini Theertha is on the north of the temple where people facing adverse aspects of Jupiter use to have a dip.
The main gopuram faces west. The Goddess Sannidhi faces south. There is a separate shrine for the Goddess and though small, it is attractive and well proportioned. In this temple Lord Shiva worshipped in the form of a self-manifested Linga. There are four famous shrines of Lord Shiva Vazhikattum Vallalar shrine on the West, (In this temple Lord Shiva provided guidance to Lord Indra, Lord Vishnu and Lord Kubera when they lost their way during hunting expedition), Thuraikattum Vallalar shrine on the East (Lord Shiva fulfilled the earnest desire of Sambandhar to worship Lord crossing the brimming river Cauvery), Dakshinamayurm in the North and Uthramayuram in the South.
Besides, the deity of ‘Medha Dakshinamurthy,’ there is an ancient bronze idol of ‘Uthsavamoorthy’ of the Lord which is used to taken in a procession on a silver ‘Kailasa vahanam’ on the new moon day in the Tamil month of Aipasi (October-November). On the same day, Goddess Ganga Devi is also taken out on a crocodile mount. It is believed that the Ganges flows into Cauvery at Mayiladuthurai during the Tamil month of Aipasi.