Friday, October 20, 2017

Koonthalur Kumara!

Koonthalur Jambukaranyeswara Temple 
Roma Rishi -  he was so called because of the hair that covered his body, his flowing mane and long beard. This Rishi stayed on the banks of Arisilaaru and worshipped Lord Jambukaranyeswara who was called so because he resided within a grove of Guava trees. A hair would drop from his body with the passing on of one Brahma and it would take 35 million Brahmas to pass on from him to leave his mortal confines.

Roma Rishi due to his yogic powers, was able to bring gold coins out of his beard, to help those in need. Over time, this made him conceited. One day, as he sat on the banks of the river, Lord Brahma, wanting to teach him a lesson, took the guise of a barber and passed him by. Romarishi called out to him to shave his beard. As the hair dropped from his face, it turned into gold coins and Brahma quickly gathered them in his towel, thanked the Rishi and went away. The Rishi's beard grew back quite immediately. But something else also happened. The next time he tried to bring gold coins from his beard, he was unable to do so.

Roma Rishi
Enraged at being outwitted, he marched angrily towards the shrine of Jambukaranyeswara. He was livid that the Lord whom he worshipped every day, had let him down. Lord Shiva, sent his sons, Ganesha and Muruga to pacify the sage. The two boys met him mid-way and paid their respects. The Sage was moved. Muruga also created a Theertham for the Rishi to refresh himself.

The pleased sage requested Ganesha and Muruga to stay with him at Jambukaranyam forever. They readily consented. While Ganesha took his abode in the South East (Agni Moolai). Romarishi invited Muruga to take his abode in the most sacred of locations, namely the North East (Easanya Moolai). Here he is seen in a shrine raised much higher than that of the Lord.

Koonthalur Kumara Gurupara
Right across him, Shatru Samhara Shani Bhagavan can be seen. This kind of an arrangement is extremely rare and quite unique. Because of this arrangement, those who are affected because of the planetary movement of Mars and Saturn in their horoscope, or who have both Mars and Saturn in the same house, and as a result of which, undergo poor health, delay and hurdles in life, marriage or child birth, find relief by worshipping both Murugan and Shani Bhagavan here.

Shatru Samhara Shani Bhagavan across Kumaragurupara at Koothalur
Murugan in his role as pacifier, and Shani in his role of destroyer of evil, combine to help people rid themselves of problems that are beyond their means to resolve. Roma Rishi is found in a seperate shrine. He is worshipped to be rid from depression, indecisiveness, and mood swings.

Lord Jambukaranyeswara is seen in a small shrine found lower than that of Muruga. The original Pallava fluted Lingam and Muruga in the form of Gnana Sastha are found in separate shrines behind the sanctum. Similarly, the original Goddess Anandhavalli is installed in the Artha Mandapa, while the later version is found in a shrine to the left of the sanctum.

Jambukaranyeswara and Anandhavalli at Koonthalur
Numerous other damaged idols are found in the temple premises. One among them is that of Kulothunga Chola III, who has given a number of grants to the temple. The current version of the temple seems to be that of the Vijayanagara times. Two inscriptions have been recorded in this temple - one from the period of Veerapratapa Krishnadeva Maharaya (1519 AD) which speaks about grants given for conducting poojas at the temple. This inscription refers to Koothalur as Sozha Mandalathu Kulothunga Chola Valanaatu Thirunaraiyur Patru Keezh Koonthalur. The other inscription is about 400 years old which talks about one Vinaitheertha Mudaliar giving land on all four streets that surround the temple as grants based on the request of Easwara Aiyer.

A damaged icon of Kulothunga Chola III
The temple has two tanks - One the Kumara Theertham, installed by Muruga for Roma Rishi, and the other, Sita Theertham, created by Sita, to take bath when Ravana was carrying her away to Lanka. It is believed that she left some pieces of ornaments and locks of hair near the pond, with a hope that Rama would identify them. As her hair fell there, and also because of Roma Rishi, the place came to be known as Koonthalur.

A view from the sanctum of Koonthalur temple
The Lord been sung by Thirunavukkarasar (Appar) and the Lord Muruga has been sung by Arunagirinathar. The latter refers to Muruga as Kumaragurupara and describes him as the nephew of Rama who defeated Ravana with ten heads and twenty arms. The specific reference to Rama here seems to be due to the connection the shrine has with Ramayana. 

The temple is well maintained. The trustee lives close by and is happy to open the temple for visitors on request. There is a good Nandavanam and a small function hall attached to the temple. This hall is also opened up for pilgrims to rest or stay overnight at a nominal cost.

The Jambukaranyeswara Temple at Koonthalur

How to reach here: This temple is on the route from Kumbakonam to Poonthottam. All buses that ply via Eravancheri and Poonthottam stop here.

Temple Timings: Can be worshipped at any time during the day.

Contact Numbers : 96886 77538 / 94435 24737


  1. THnaks for the wonderful coverage.

  2. it's hurting to see the damaged statue of choza king ! anyway the information and coverage are good enough to pin it on next trip visit.