Vadaranyeswarar Temple, Thiruvalangadu – The Temple
This is a vast and beautiful temple heralded as RatnaSabhai - one of the five Pancha Sabhas special to Nataraja featuring a sprawling well maintained temple complex with beautiful mandapams and gopurams. The east facing huge temple has a five-tiered Raja Gopura (tower) and another interior Gopura. The towering Rajagopuram here, is visible for miles around. At the entrance, the sub-shrines of Karpaga Ganapati with 12 arms along with Siddhi and Shanmukha-Valli-Devasena.
There are 3 important landmarks here – Shiva temple, Mukthi Theertham and Vada Bhadrakali temple. The worship procedure is to take bath at the Mukthi Theertham, worship Kali first and then Shiva. The entrance arch as well as both the gopuras have many interesting stucco idols. Stucco images of Varasiddhi Vinayagar, Orthuvathandava Moorthy, Rishabaroodar, Murugan, Kaali can be seen in the front entrance.
Stucco images depicting the five dance halls of Shiva (Chidambaram, Madurai, Thiruvalangadu, Tirunelveli and Kutralam) are seen crowning the entrance to the inner prakaram. The towers and the walls surrounding the temple courtyards date back to the 12th and the 13th centuries. In front of the temple, there is a 16 pillared mandapam. There is a 100 pillared mandapam after the first entrance of the temple.
Apart from 16 pillared mandapam and 100 pillared mandapam, there are two other mandapams namely, Dhuvajarogana mandapam (Kodiyetra mandapam) and Sukravara Mandapam in the Temple. Inner Gopuram is of 3 tiers. Stucco images of Oordhva Thandava Moorthy, Nandhi playing miruthangam /mathalam, Karaikkal Ammaiyar singing Posture, Story of Karaikkal Ammaiyar, Lord Wedding Posture, Gajasamharamurthy can be seen in the gopuram.
There are three main praharams in this Temple. The first houses a huge hall where Annadhanam and prasadhams were being prepared at the temple. This leads to the Rajagopuram and next praharam. This first praharam entrance houses temples for Vallabha Vinayakar and valli Devasena Murugan seen on either side of the gopuram. Vallabha Vinayagar is shown with his consort Vallabha seated on his lap.
Lord Subramanya is seen with his consorts, Valli and Deivayanai. The saint Arunagirinathar has sung four of the verses of Thirupugazh here. The entrance to the next praharam is showing Karaikal Ammaiyar on the left and Meenakshi Kalyanam on the right. The Second praharam houses the Shrine of Vandar Kuzhali Amman seen in the far end. The entrance to the main praharam is located after this second prakaram.
The main Praharam houses the sanctum. The Vimanam is of the Gaja Brushtam. Presiding Deity is called as Vadaranyeswarar / Alavana Nathar / Aalankatteesar / Oorthuvadandaveswarar / Devarsingaperuman. Lord Shiva in this temple is a Swayambumurthy (self-manifested) and is facing east. Lord is represented by tall and wide Shiva Lingam. The big Dwarapalas along with an idol of Ganesha are found at the entrance of the sanctum.
Presiding Deity is under the Rudraksha Pandal. Nrithya Ganapati, Dakshina Murti, Lingodhbava, Brahma, Durga and Durga Parameswarar are found as the niche idols around the sanctum walls. Durga Parameswarar idol is something unique, which is not found anywhere else. Chandikeswara is found in his usual location.
Mother is called as Vandar Kuzhali Amman / Brahmarambal / Alavana Nayaki. Mother is housed in a separate shrine and she is facing south. She is with four hands abhaya, Vara Hastham and lotus in two hands in standing posture. A Yaga Salai is found near the Amman Sannidhi.
In Ardha Mandapam, the idols of Nataraja and Sivakami are found. The relief images of Ganesha and Subramanya are found at the entrance of this mandapam. A small Nandi idol is placed facing Shiva Linga in this section. Nandi Mandapam, Bali Peetham and the flag staff are found facing towards the sanctum.
Natarajar Sabha is in the Maha Mandapam. The Natarajar mandapam (hall) of this temple is called “Rathna Sabhai (Gem hall)”. It is one of five Sabhas of Nataraja. Natarajar is praised here as “Rathina Sabapathi Eswarar” and his consort, Sivakama Sundari is praised as “Sameesenambikai”. The Natarajar idol of this temple can be seen with its left leg almost touching the left ear. This posture is called as Urdhva Thandava posture. The idol of Goddess Sivakama Sundari can be seen with her face reflecting her astonishment.
In Nataraja’s shrine, there are two Shiva Lingams - one made of Spadigam (crystal) and the other one made of Maragadham (emerald). Abishekam is performed for the Spatika Lingam daily. It is said that Saint Karaikkal Ammayar's Jeeva Samadhi can be seen at the end of Lord Nataraja’s hall (Sabha). At the Rathna Sabha, one can see the image of Sri Karaikal Ammaiyar at the foot of the Lord dancing in the Urdhva Thandava Kolam. This hall has a copper roof with five kalasams representing the five elements
Other Shrines & Idols:
Idols of Surya, Chandra, Adhikara Nandi, Vijayaraghava Perumal with Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi, Lord Murugan with his consorts, a big and beautiful Agora Veerabhadra, Maantheeswarar, Ganesha, Sapta Matas, Shasta, Thirunavukkarasar, Sundaramoorthy, Thirugnana Sambandar, Manikkavacakar, Karaikkal Ammaiyar, Karkodaga, Moonjikesa Munivar, Patanjali, Anandhan, Vaathavur Adikal, a unique idol of Chandesa Anugraha Murti, Small idols of Vadaranyeswarar and Vandarkuzhali, Agastheeshwarar Lingam, Sarpa Raja, Nagaraja, Kailasanathar Lingam, Ramalingeswar Lingam, Ekambaranathar Lingam with Kamakshi, Valmikinathar Lingam, Kashi Viswanathar, Eight different forms of Ganesha, Gaja Lakshmi, three Shiva Lingas together, Upadesa Dakshina Murti can be found in the inner prakaram.
There are also shrines of Ganesha, Sapta Lingas, Kuzhandeeswarar Lingam and Soundarya Nayaki, Sahasra Lingam, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena, Utsava idols of Uma and Satyojatha Murti, Bhairava, Utsava idol of Bhadra Kali, Agora Veerabhadrar, Panchalingam, Vijaya Raghava Perumal, Karaikal Ammaiyar, Munjikesar, Naalvar and Navagraham in the inner prakaram. The vast outer prakara has the holy Sthala Vruksha with a Shiva Lingam and Nandi below the tree. This prakara is surrounded by fortress walls.
There is also a shrine for Lord Murugan and his two Consorts - the deft hand of the sculptor who made them is evident from the wonderful workmanship. Lord Murugan is on a peacock frame, adorned and enclosed in an arch like form - a sight worth to see. Idols of Maantheeswarar and the lingam installed and worshiped by him can also be seen.
The whole place was a forest of Banyan trees (Alamara Kadu= Alan Kadu) Sthala Vriksham is Aalamaram (Banyan Tree), which is a remnant of the forest behind the main Sannidhi. The opposite corner of the banyan houses a Nandi with a mirror in the Sanctum. The Nandi is facing the tree which means Shiva is in the mandapam near the Banyan tree. Jackfruit Tree in this temple is also considered as Sthala Vriksham.
Theertham associated with this Temple are Mukthi Theertham, Sentradu Theertham, Siva Kara Theertham. The huge temple tank is also located outside the temple complex.
There is a separate Thirumulanayaki samedha Muktheeswarar shrine in the Rasi Mandapam which has twelve columns and the Janma Rasis and Navagraha pictures can be seen on those columns. One needs to either walk or go temple. There is a concrete track along the temple's fringe tank and you can serenely ride by a bike or likely even a three-wheeler.
The temple of Kali was vanquished by Shiva is located here. It is customary to first visit this temple before visiting the main temple. The Kali here is in the dance pose.
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There are inscriptions here which speak of grants given by Rajendra Cholan for the upkeep of the temple. Inscriptions here date all the way back to the 5th century. It is inferred from the inscriptions that an earlier Pallava temple was reconstructed and renovated during the Chola rule, and during the latter Chola period beginning with the reign of Kulottunga Chola I, the temple campus was enlarged (1075 - 1120). One of the bronze images of Nataraja unearthed here, now adorns the Art Gallery of the Chennai Government museum.
The Rath of the temple is so aesthetically constructed as a Lotus Flower.