Thanthondreeswarar Temple, Woraiyur, Trichy
Thanthoneeswarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, located in Woraiyur, a suburb in the town of Tiruchirappalli in Tamilnadu, India. The temple was built by the Pandya ruler Varaguna Pandiyan II during the 9th century. It has inscriptions dating back to 885 AD during the rule of Cholas. The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and three yearly festivals on its calendar. The temple is maintained and administered by hereditary trustees.
Thanthoneeswarar, the presiding deity of the temple, derives its name from Tamil word Thanthondri, meaning the one who formed on his own. As per Hindu legend, Chola queen Kanthimathi was an ardent devotee of Shiva and worshipped Shiva in Thayumanavar swamy Temple. When she was pregnant, she could not climb the hill to reach the temple. Shiva was pleased by the devotion of the queen and is believed to have appeared to her in the form of lingam (an iconic form of Shiva) at this place on his own and blessed her with a safe delivery.
The temple was built in the 9th Century by the Great Pandya king Varaguna Maharaja II. There are many references to the early Chola capital, Woraiyur. The Panchavarneswarar temple here has been glorified by Sambandar in his hymns. The Kamalavalli Nachiyar temple has been referred by Thirumangai Azhwar in his Paasurams. Thirupaan Azhwar hailed from Woraiyur. According to Dr. R. Kalaikkovan, director, Rajamanickar Centre for Historical Research, Varaguna Maharaja II belonged to the dynasty of the early Pandyas, who ruled the south from 600 A.D. to 900 A.D.
The inscription dated 885 A.D. has referred to donation of gold coins to the village Sabha for performing pujas in the temple. Inscriptions in the Rockfort Thayumanavar Temple, Thiruvellarai Siva temple, Lalgudi Saptharsheeshwara temple, and temples in Kumbakonam, Senthalai, Tiruvakovil, Tiruviyalur, and Tiruchottuthurai also speak of the donations by this great Pandya king.
The temple was built by the Pandya ruler Varaguna Pandiyan II during the 9th century. It has inscriptions dating back to 885 AD during the rule of Cholas. The temple, in modern times, is maintained and administered by hereditary trustees. Thanthoneeswarar temple complex has a single prakaram (outer courtyard) and a two-tiered Vimana (tower over the sanctum). At the entrance, a beautiful and richly decorated Nandi greets the visitor. The temple has a maha mandapam, ardha mandapam and sanctum sanctorum.
The central shrine faces east and holds the image of Thanthoneeswarar (Shiva) in the form of lingam made of granite. The shrine of Kunkumavalli, the consort of Thanthoneeswarar, faces north and is depicted with Ankusham and lotus in her two hands. Close to the shrine, one can see the images of Mahavishnu, the Sun God, Lord Saneeswara and Kala Bhairava moorthy. The temple precinct is surrounded by granite walls.
The granite images of the deities Ganesha (son of Shiva and god of wisdom), Murugan (son of Shiva and god of war), Nandi (the bull and vehicle of Shiva) and Navagraha (nine planetary deities) are located in the hall leading to the sanctum. In the Ardha mandapam, at the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum, there are two brilliant six-feet-tall Dwarapalakas with typical 9th century features. Both the images are brilliantly decorated.
The Koshta in the southern wall of the sanctum sanctorum is adorned with Dhakshinamoorthy and the northern wall Koshta with Lord Brahma. The magnificent Arthanareeswarar in the southern wall koshta is an indication of the antiquity of the temple. Similar images are seen in the temples at Tiruvaiyaru and Koviladi. The two-tier Vesara type Vimanam of the temple sports Lord Dhakshinamoorthy, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma on the southern, western and northern sides.
The four-feet-tall granite idol of Chandikeswara inside the shrine on the northern side is one of the tallest granite idols. Chandikeswara had prevented his own father from causing obstruction to the performance of puja to his Lord. The temple, renovated in 2002 by the hereditary trustees A. Karunamoorthy and Chitra Karunamoorthy.
Worship & Religious Practices
The temple priests perform the puja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Shaiva community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day; Ushathkalam at 5:30 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 10:00 a.m., Sayarakshai at 5:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 7:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 8:00 p.m. Each ritual comprises four steps: Abishekam (sacred bath), Alankaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and Deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Thanthoneeswarar and Amman.
The worship is held amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred texts) read by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast. There are weekly rituals like Somavaram (Monday) and Sukravaram (Friday), fortnightly rituals like Pradosham and monthly festivals like Ammavasai (new moon day), Kiruthigai, Pournami (full moon day) and Sathurthi.
Woraiyur is located at about 7 Kms from Trichy Center, 3 kms from Trichy Railway junction, 2 Kms from Chathram Bus Stand, 5 Kms from Trichy Central Bus Stand and 10 Kms from Trichy Airport. Plenty of town buses are available from Chathram bus stand or the central bus stand. Auto rickshaws charge around Rs 50 to Rs 100 (max). If you drive your car, it is easily accessible. Nearest Railway Station and Airport are located at Trichy.