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Sri Jambukeshwara Temple , Thiruvanaikaval (Water)

Click picture to ZOOM

Sri Jambukeswarar is the name of Lord Shiva and worshipped at Thiruvanaikoil. It is one of the Panchabhoota Stalams (signifying the 5 natural elements) and represents water ('Neer'). The other four temples are Kalahasti, for wind, Triuvannamalai for fire, Chidambaram for space, and Kanchipuram for earth. The goddess of this temple is 'Akilandeswari' ('Amman'). The Amman is also called as Akilandanyaki. Akilandeswari is pronounced as 'Akilam - Aanda – Eswari' (Akilam – Universe, Aanda – Ruler, Eswari – Goddess).

This ancient temple dedicated to Shiva (Jambukeswara) and Parvati (Akhilandeswari). It is one of the foremost Saivite shrines in Tamilnadu. Sri Jambukeswara is an embodiment of the element water and is referred to as Appustalam. Even today one can see water oozing out near the Shivalinga idol in the temple. The Shivalinga ('Swami') here is called as 'Appu Linga'.

Thiruvanaikoil is a beautiful small urban village at Tiruchirappalli (Trichy) district in Tamil Nadu of Southern India.  Thiruvanaikoil is around 3 Kms away from the heart of Trichy city and adjacent to Srirangam another small historic town and one of the holy places in India. Thiruvanaikoil and Srirangam are in the banks of river Cauvery. Literally these two places form an island, surrounded by river Cauvery and river Coleroon.

The Sri Jambukeshwara Temple is dedicated to Lord Siva and has five concentric walls and seven gopurams. It is built around a Siva lingam partly submerged in water that comes from a spring in the sanctum sanctorum. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. The complex was built in the same time when Sri Ranganathaswamy temple was also built.


Legend


According to the legend there was once a forest of jambu trees in the place of modern Tiruvanaikka. Nearby was a tank called Chandratheertha which was filled by water from the river Cauvery. Lord shiva appeared as a Lingam under one of the trees. The lingam came to be called the Jambulingam. Due to a curse, two of the shiva ganas Pushpadanta and Malyava, were born in the forest as a white elephant and as a spider. The elephant worshipped the Lingam with flowers and with water brought in its trunk, and conducted Abhishekam to the lingam under the Jambu tree daily. The spider too worshipped the Lingam, spinning out a web over the Lingam to prevent dry leaves of the tree from falling on it and prevent Sunlight directly felling on Shiva. When the elephant saw the web and thought that as dust on Lord Shiva and tore them and cleaned the Linga by pouring water. This happened daily. The spider became angry one day and crawled into the trunk of the elephant and bit the elephant to death killing itself. Lord Shiva, moved by the deep devotion of the two relieved them from one other curse.As an elephant worshiped the Lord here, this place came to be known as 'Thiru Aanai Kaa' (Thiru – Holy, Aanai – Elephant, Kaa (Kaadu) – Forest). Later the actual name 'Thiruaanaikaa' become 'Thiruvanaikaval' and 'Thiruvanaikoil'. In the next birth the Spider was born as the King Ko Chengot Chola and built 70 temples and Thiruvanaikoil is the one among them. Remembering his enmity with the elephant in his previous birth, he built the Lord Shiva 'Sannathi' (Sanctorum) such that not even a small elephant can enter. The entrance on the sanctorum of Lord Shiva is only 4 foot high and 2.5 foot wide.

Legend also says that Adi shankarar has offerred Sri Chakra as Thaadanga (ear rings) for devi.

Another legend says ,Once, Devi Parvati mocked at Lord Shiva’s penance for betterment of the World. Lord Shiva wanted to condemn her act and directed her to go to the earth from 'Kailayam' and do penance. Devi Parvathi (Akilandeswari) as per Shiva's wish found 'Jambu' forest at Thiruvanaikoil to conduct her penance. Devi made a Lingam out of water of river Cauvery (also called as river 'Ponni') under the 'Venn Naaval' tree (the Venn Naaval tree on top of the saint Jambu) and commenced her worship. So, the Lingam is known as 'Appu Lingam' (Water Lingam). Lord Shiva at last gave darshan to Akilandeswari and taught her Shiva Gnana. Devi Parvati took 'Upadesa' (lessons) facing East from Shiva, who stood facing West. So as the temples idols are also installed in the same direction. Such places are known as 'Upadesa Sthalams'. As the Devi was like a student and the Lord like a Guru in this temple, there is no 'Thiru Kalyanam' (marriage) conducted in this temple for Lord & the Devi, unlike the other Shiva temples.

As per another legend , Thiruvanaikoil is also called as 'Jambukeswaram' and the Lord as Jambukeswara, Jambunathan and Jambulingam. Once there was a Sage by name 'Jambu Munivar' (munivar – sage). He once got a rare and sacred 'Venn Naaval' (Venn – White, Naaval fruit) fruit and he offered that fruit to Lord Shiva. The Lord after eating the fruit spitted the seed. Jambu Munivar took and swallowed the seed, as it is sacred as the seed came from the Lord’s mouth. Immediately a 'Naaval' tree began to grow in the Saint's head. The Saint prayed to Lord Siva that He should take his abode under that tree.Lord accepted and asked him to continue his penance in the forest on the banks of river Cauvery and said that he will one day come there and abode under that tree. After many years Devi Akilandeswari worshiped Lord Shiva under that tree during her penance. Thus as he took adobe under the tree on Jambu Munivar he was called as 'Jambukeshwara' and the place is called as 'Jambukeshwaram'. Also thus the 'Venn Naaval' became the 'Sthala Vriksham'  (Temple’s Sacred tree). The Shiva Lingam is placed under the Venn naaval tree in this temple. Even today one can see that Venn Naaval tree at the temple, which is said to be many hundred years old.

About the Temple

The temple at Tiruvanaikaval is a big one covering an area of about 18 acres with high walls and gopurams on all the 4 sides. The temple has 5 prakarams. The main sanctum sancotrum (the 5th prakaram) can be reached by entering a series of Gopurams (Towers). The shrine for female deity Akilandeswari is situated in the 4th prakaram. Thiruvanaikoil temple was built according to 'Saiva Aagama Sasthra'. According to Saiva Agamam, the temple reflects the human body and the idol of Lord Shiva is considered as the soul. Many other kings like Pandiyas and Nayakars of Madurai later renovated this temple. The 2nd and 3rd praharams were built in 13th century A.D. and the 4th Praharam was constructed in the late 13th century A.D.

There are many mandapams in the temple, a 1000 Pillar, on the North West corner of the 3rd praharam and a 100 Pillar Mandapam on the North East corner of the 3rd Praharam, Vasanta mandapam (The mandapam is surrounded by pool of water where Lord Shiva and Goddess Akilandeswari are worshipped on summer evenings), Somaskandha mandapam, Nataraja mandapam, Trimurthi mandapam, etc. The thousand-pillared mandapam looks like a chariot.

There are many interesting legends in this temple. When the king "Thirruneetru Sundara Pandiyan" was constructing the 5th Praharam wall on the East Side, he was running out of money to pay to the labourers for the next day of work. On that night in the Kings dream Lord Shiva asked him to continue the work. As per the Lords wish the King continued the construction and at the end of that day a Sanyasi (saint) came there and he gave the labourers pinches of sacred ash. That sacred ash turned into gold equivalent to the work done by them. Then only the King and others came to know that the Sanyasi is none other than the Lord himself. Because of this instance the East Side praharam is known as "Vibhoothi" (sacred ash) praharam.


Pujas at Temple

As Akilandeswari worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple, even today at noon the 'Archakar' (priest) dresses like a female and does Pooja to Lord Shiva and 'Go Maatha' (Cow). This noon pooja is very famous and pilgrims wait for this pooja every day. For the purpose of this pooja the temple is growing a 'Karam Pasu' (complete black color cow). Annabhishekam to Lingam (Abishekam with cooked rice) is a daily ritual at Thiruvanaikoil.

Theerthams
 
There are nine Theerthams (Holy Water Points) near this temple.

• Sreemath Theertham
• Rama Theertham
• Chandra Theertham
• Agni Theertham
• Indira Theertham
• Akasthiya Theertham
• Jambu Theertham
• Surya Theertham
• Brahmma Theertham

Getting there and around
  • By Air - Trichy has an airport (5 kms from the city). Indian Airlines connects Trichy with Chennai, Sharjah, Kuwait and Colombo. Air Lanka Service connects Tiruchirapalli with Colombo.
  • By Rail -Trichy is an important junction on the Southern Railway. It connects almost all important Indian places like Chennai, Tirupathi, Trivandrum, Mumbai, Delhi,Varanasi,  Kolkotta, Kanyakumari, Rameswaram, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Mysore, Kochi, and Mangalore.
  • By Road - Trichy is well connected by road with important places and Southern Cities including Trivandrum, Bangalore.

Accommodation

Its good to stay in Trichy and visit this temple from there itself.






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