Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A temple for rain!

Singaandeeswara Temple at Thiruvur
Come summer, our hearts long for rains! Aalayam Kanden has the pleasure of bringing to you a Cooum riverside temple, rich in mythology and history, where Sage Rishyashringa has installed a Shivalinga for reducing drought and bringing rain and fertility to the area.

Sage Rishyashringa, (referred to as Kalaikottu Muni by Kambar in his Kamba Ramayana) the son of Sage Vibhandaka and Urvashi (there is another version which says that he was born out of a deer which had swallowed the semen of the sage released in water and hence had the face of a deer with horns) had mystical and magical powers. The place where he lived was blessed with abundant rainfall and fertility. Sage Vashista adviced King Dasaratha to perform the Putra Kameshti Yagna, through Sage Rishyashringa in order to be blessed with sons. On hearing this, the women of the assembly vowed to go and bring the Sage to Ayodhya. They met him at his hermitage and offered fruits and flowers and won his good will. After a few days, they invited him to go with them.

As the sage moved from the hermitage, the rain God followed him, showering good rains and pleasant weather as he went along. King Romapada, of Anga, whose kingdom was suffering from drought and famine, met the Rishi as he passed through his province, and invited him to stay there. He offered his daughter Shanta, (originally born to King Dasaratha and Kausalya and adopted by King Romapada, and his wife Vershini, who was the elder sister of Kausalya)'s hand in marriage to the Saint. The saint accepted the invitation and stayed at Anga Desa (today's Bihar and Jharkhand).

On hearing this, King Dasaratha went and met King Romapada and requested his help to bring Sage Rishyashringa to Ayodhya. The King agreed to help and with his humble request, Sage Rishyashringa proceeded to Ayodhya with his wife Shanta and performed the Putra Kameshti Yagna for twelve months, at the end of which a demon appeared with the Pinda which was shared between the three queens of Dasaratha, Kousalya, Kaikeyi and Sumithra, resulting in the birth of Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrugana.

An image of Sage Rishyashringa performing the Putra Kamesthi Yagna from the
miniature panels at Nageswara Temple Kumbakonam. 
For a complete article on Nageswara Temple miniatures on Aalayam Kanden, click here.

Sage Rishyashringa has installed Shiva lingas in different parts of the country, (Shringeri for example) for rains and fertility. It is sad to note, that one such temple, on the banks of the Cooum at Thiruvur remains lesser known.

The temple at Thiruvur, today known as Tirur, is said to have been built around the Shiva Linga installed by Sage Rishyashringa. Originally called Rishyashringeeswaram after the sage, today it is known as Uthpalambika samedha Sri Singaandeeswarar Temple. The temple has been recently renovated.

During the 13th Century, when the Chola Kingdom was on the decline, Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan I went all the way upto Tirumala, capturing territories previously under the Cholas. This temple was converted into a stone structure during his rule in 1261 AD by a chieftain named Annamalai Udaiyar, the ruler of Venpaiyur.

At the entrance of the temple, there are two Adhikara Nandis belonging to recent times, holding deer and axe, signifying the deer symbolism throughout the temple.

Adhikara Nandi as Dwarapalakas outside the Tiruvur temple
There are also two inscription stones belonging to the Vijayanagara Period found outside the temple. One of them belong to the period of Saluva Thimmaiya Deva who has given a grant of coconut groves to the temple in memory of his predecessor Thippaiya Deva.


The other inscription belongs to Immadi Tirumala Nayaka, a general of Krishnadeva Raya, and speaks about lands and gold given to the temple to build a Madavilagam.


Throughout the temple, are various images of Sage Rishyashringa, reiterating the fact that he had installed the main deity.
Image of Rishyashringa on the Ganga-Kauvery Panels on either side of the entrance
at Tiruvur Singaandeeswara Temple
The ceiling is covered by an exquisite Ashtadikpalaka panel, with an image of Shastha (Ayyanar/ Sathanar) flanked by two fishes, as well as an image of a fish fighting a monitor lizard. The Fish fighting the monitor lizard, probably is to symbolise the victory of the Pandyas over the Cholas.

Ashtadikpalaka Panel showing the fish fighting the monitor lizard at Tiruvur
Singaandeeswara Temple
The temple is very quiet and the Lord Sringeeswara, today known as Singaandeeswara sits in solitude. If only people knew more about the temple and the Lord being the benefactor of good rain, we can expect a greater patronage.

A lot of history has been lost during renovation. Mr Soundara Rajan, who is taking care of the temple, told us that a secret tunnel had been discovered within the sanctum at the time of renovation. Most of the Goshta devathas have been lost, and are today replaced by miniature modern versions.
Lord Singaandeeswara at Tiruvur
The walls are lined with inscriptions ( a total of 12 inscriptions have been recorded at this temple) which today have been sadly painted over.
Inscriptions at the Tiruvur Temple
One such inscription speaks about grants given to the Kariyamanicka Perumal temple, which is on the opposite lane. A beautiful temple, built out of laterite stones, is currently being renovated. This temple, is almost on the banks of the Cooum river.

The beautiful Kariya Manicka Perumal Temple at Thiruvur
The Cooum river that runs by the Kariya Manicka Perumal Temple at Thiruvur
Inscriptions also mention grants given to the Ganesha shrine to light lamps in the 14th Century by Anukki Purushotama Bhattar Varadan. This Ganesha is found in a seperate shrine behind the temple.
Attaga Pillaiyar also called Athimuga Pillayar
We tried to look for the third temple called Osuramma temple that was mentioned in the inscriptions. The villagers directed us to a huge overgrowth of vegetation, stating that the temple must be somewhere under it. We tried navigating but could not get very close. If this temple is recovered, before it is too late, it would also be another symbol of the glorious past.

If you are travelling towards Tiruvallur, do stop by at this wonderful temple, that is so full of heritage and history, and pray for good rains!

An image of Sage Rishyashringa installing the Shiva linga at Thiruvur

How to reach here: 

The temple is about 40 kms from Chennai. Google map Coordinates: 13.1028235, 79.9664227. I am unable to mark it as Google Map Maker has been unavailable for some time.

Temple Timings: 

The priest is available between 5-8.30 am and 6-10 pm. The temple remains open till 12 pm in the morning though.

Contact Details:

Mr P Soundara Rajan - 044- 2762 0157, 99524 14369
Preferably call his landline, as the mobile network is shaky around this area.

4 comments:

  1. It is very interesting. I am surprised that more and discoveries related to Ramayana have started revealing that the Most important events in Ramayana seems to have occured insouth India below vindhyas and that too close to Chennai. It is intriguing indeed. Thank you very much for this information.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am amazed after reading this article. We require many more temples like this to combat water crisis in all parts of India. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article.

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  3. Hi Priya!

    I recently came across your blog and found it amazing! This post is great and how well have you explained all the historical details associated with the temple. I have also heard a lot about this temple but wasn’t able to visit the place. No worries now for you made me feel virtually at the place.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Priya!

    I recently came across your blog and found it amazing! This post is great and how well have you explained all the historical details associated with the temple. I have also heard a lot about this temple but wasn’t able to visit the place. No worries now for you made me feel virtually at the place.

    ReplyDelete