Monday, November 20, 2017

Thayumanaswami Temple, Rockfort – The Temple

Thayumanaswami Temple, Rockfort – The Temple
The Rockfort temple complex has three shrines, two of which are dedicated to Lord Ganesha, one at the foot and the Ucchi Pillayar Temple at the top, and the Thayumanavar Temple between them. The Thayumanavar temple, the largest of the three, houses a shrine for Amman (the Goddess) as well as the main deity. The shrine is revered as Kailash of South. The Rockfort is visible from almost every part of the city's north. The hill is 273 feet tall with 417 steps. When people view the hill from different directions, it appears as a Nandhi the vehicle of Shiva, Simha the Lion vahanam of Ambica and Vinayaka’s trunk – in three shapes.

There is a prakara at the centre of this Hill Temple called Mel Veedhi-West Street and the one around the foot hills is called Keel Veedhi-East Street.  During festivals, Lord goes in procession on both streets.  The Teppakulam at the foot of the Rockfort is surrounded by bazaars. It has a mandapa at its centre and has facilities for boat riding. All the temple related float festivals are held in the tank. After climbing around 200 steps from foot hill of the "Malaikkottai", one can reach the Thayumanavar temple.

The temple is said to have been built during the 3rd century by Pallavas. This temple was occupied by Jain Saints and later was destroyed by Mahendravarman, who then constructed a Shiva Temple in its place. Pregnant women and their husbands pray to Lord Thayumanavar for a safe delivery and offer plantains to the God after delivering healthy baby. One can see people carrying "Vazhaithaar" all the way up to the temple, and after offering to Thayumanavar, they distribute it among other devotees in the temple.

Just before entering Lord Shiva’s temple is a 100-pillared hall decorated with beautiful paintings and carvings. One of the 64 Shiva moortham, the Gangala moortham, is seen here. The temple is located halfway up the Rockfort. The temple has columned structure. Presiding Deity is called as Thayumanavar / Mathrubootheshwar / Thayumaneswarar / Sevvanthi Nathar. There central shrine of Thayumanaswami is located a level up to the lower half that houses the shrine of Mattuvar Kuzhalammai. Lord Thayumanavar shrine is of a two-tier type with a prakara in deep ground (Padala). 

Lord Shiva as a Swayambulinga graces devotees facing west. The rays of Sun fall on the Lord for three days during the evenings in the month of Panguni-March-April. The flag post (Kodimaram) is traditionally opposite the Lord’s shrine. It is behind the shrine in this temple. The shrine was previously facing east. As Lord turned west to punish the king who stole the Sevvanthi flowers and caused disturbance to the puja of Sarama Munivar, the shrine stood permanently facing west leaving the flag post behind. During the puja times, the music and Thevaram recitals are followed only from eastern side behind the shrine.

Mother is known as Mattuvar Kuzhali or Sugandha Kundalambikai (one with fragrant hair) and has a separate shrine. The lower level also houses the niches of Vinayagar, Arumugam, Navagrahas and Veerabadraswami. The walls around the central shrine houses the image of Dakshinamurthy, Somaskandar, Natarajar, Surya, Brahma and Durga. Lord Shiva as Lord Dakshinamurthy graced Thayumanavar with Upadesas (spiritual teaching). He is seated on a mat of Dharba grass along with four Sanakathi sages, Sivayoga Munivar, Patanjali, Vyakarapadhar and Tirumoolar – 8 disciples.

Lord Brahmma, Sage Agasthya, Indira, Jatayu, Sage Athri, Dhoomaketu, Thirisira, Arjuna, Lord Sri Rama, Sri Anjaneya, Vibishana, Thayumana Adigal and Sekkizhar are in a line in the same place.  Traditionally Nandhi is installed opposite Lord Shiva shrine.  Here, as the hill itself is personified as Lord Shiva, Nandhi in a big size is installed on the banks of Brahmma Theertham in a separate temple. Special pujas are performed here on Pradosha days. There is also a 35 feet tall light post-Deepa Sthamba. Lord of this temple on the southern bank of Cauvery is colossal in size. 

Vinayaka of the temple is praised as Lord Sevvanthi Vinayaka. Planet Sun in the Navagraha Mandapam graces with his consorts Usha and Pradusha. All planets in the Navagraha Mandapam are facing Sun. Saint Arunagiriar had praised Lord Muthukumaraswamy – Lord Muruga in the separate shrine in his Thirupugazh hymns.  Padala Ayyanar graces from a pit near the shrine of Mother Ambica.

Mother Mahalakshmi graces the devotees from the prakara of Lord Shiva shrine. The idol is made of wood. Devotees light ghee lamps here offering a preparation made of milk, honey, saffron praying for prosperity in families. Sri Veda Sukta Mantra Homa is performed in the shrine each Friday. Mother Durga graces the devotees from another shrine. This idol is also made of wood.

Sage Sarama Munivar in worshipping form is in the shrine of Mother Vishnu Durga gracing with 8 hands. There is a sub-deity (Shiva Gana) between the flag post and the Balipeeta blowing a conch called Changusami (Changu-conch). It is said that he is always speaking the glory of Lord Shiva blowing the conch.  He is also called Changanathar. It is said that he announces the procession of Lord Shiva during festivals.

Sthala Vriksham is Vilwa. Theertham is Brahmma Theertham. Monolithic chain hanging from the ceiling, and a lion with a rolling ball inside his mouth are mind blowing stone art works at this temple. Below the Shiva temple, there are two Pallava cave temples with sculptures of the 6th and 7th centuries.