Thursday, December 16, 2021

Aavarani Pudhuchery Nateswarar

Shri Nateswara Swamy Temple, Aavarani Pudhuchery

Some temples are unique and the joy one gets while visiting them is immense. The purpose of Aalayam Kanden is to identify these lesser known gems and to highlight them so that those in search of such temples can visit and experience them easily.

A couple of years ago, I had written an article on the Aavarani Ananthanarayana Perumal temple in Nagapattinam district, where the gigantic 21 feet Perumal is bedecked with beautiful jewels rendered through the hymns of  Thirumangai Azhwar. The link to the article is here. Just on the outskirts of Aavarani is a hamlet called Pudhuchery (not to be confused with Pondicherry). It is here that the unique Swayambu Nateswara Swamy temple is found.

So what is so unique about this temple? To know it, we need to go into its legend.

Sage Vashista and Devathachan

Lord Ganesha at the Aavarani Pudhuchery Temple

On the banks of River Pasumpuli, lived a young boy called Devathachan. Right from childhood, he was very fond of Lord Shiva and would bathe in the river, and collect water while singing hymns in praise of the Lord. He also made a Shivalingam out of sand and started performing abhishekam with milk every day. Over time,this sand lingam tightened up and formed like an anthill.  

One night, the river was in spate. As the water levels rose, Sage Vashista who was on a pilgrimage and had set up his temporary shelter near the river, was worried that the rising water would soon dissolve the lingam so passionately worshipped by young Devathachan and therefore somehow wanted to save it. So he embraced it, attempting to shield it with his body. In the meantime, Devathachan was restless in his house. He was worried about his lingam and if he would be able to save the Lord from being dissolved in the rain. He begged his widowed mother, to allow him to go and check. However, the mother was worried about sending her young son out alone in the dark, particularly when it was raining heavily and the river was in spate. She pleaded with him to hold on till dawn. The boy wept bitterly, unable to disobey his mother and at the same time worried about the status of his loving Lord.

At the crack of dawn, the rains stopped and the river started flowing as if nothing had happened. The boy ran towards the river and found Sage Vashista in an embrace with the linga. The little boy ran towards the rishi and fell at his feet in gratitude for having saved his Lord. The Rishi opened his eyes to look at what he was holding.

To both their surprise and astonishment, the baanam (top portion of the lingam) now looked like the Shiva Kayilai and Sakthi Kayilai as it appears to those who perform the inner parikrama of Mount Kailash. It was as if Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati had appeared as the divine couple from the waters of the river to answer the prayers of their young devotee. The Sage was over joyed with the grace of the Lord and so were the villagers who had then all gathered by the river. They built a small shrine at where the Lord had chosen to stay and it came to be called "Puthira chery", the place where God had appeared for the young boy (Puthiran).

The Shivakayilai Shakthikayilai Swayambu lingam at Aavarani Pudhuchery

Over time, the name has morphed into Pudhuchery and since found on the outskirts of Aavarani, it has come to be known as Aavarani Pudhuchery. The Pasumpuli river that surrounded the lingam built by Devathachan to change it into the Shivakayilai and Shakthikayilai has shrunk into a tank known as the "Puthrakaameshti Theertham". Those seeking noble children bathe in this tank (which currently needs renovation and repairs) and worship Nateswara Swamy on Thiruvathirai day. Worshipping the deity continuously for 64 days is recommended for those having problems with conceiving naturally. The temple is commonly known as Shivakayilai Shakthikayilai. No one really knows why and how the deity came to be called Nateswarar.

Goddess Akilandeswari at Aavarani Pudhuchery

Goddess Akilandeswari is a later addition to the temple. A seperate shrine seems to have been built for her in the 14th century. Unique Chola bronzes belonging to this temple are in safe custody. The sthala puranam says the deities were worshipped by Kali and A Kali bronze has been unearthed a few years ago, while making some civil alterations in the temple. Several people throng here to worship her for Rahu Dasa Pariharam on New Moon days (Amavasai) when she is taken out on procession around the temple in a small chapparam. There is a seperate shrine for Shanaichara, facing East.

Goddess Kali at the Aavarani Pudhuchery Temple

How to reach here: The temple is close to Sikkal on the Nagapattinam - Thiruvarur Route. GPS coordinates (10.73420144,79.77142729)

Temple Timings: 8 - 11.30, 5 - 8 pm

Contact: S Kalidasa Gurukkal - 97865 82492

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