Mahalingeswarar Temple, Thiruvidaimarudur

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The gateway tower of the temple
The gateway tower of the temple
Tiruvidaimarudur is located in Tamil Nadu
Location in Tamil Nadu
Coordinates: 10°59′40″N 79°27′01″E / 10.99444°N 79.45028°E / 10.99444; 79.45028Coordinates: 10°59′40″N 79°27′01″E / 10.99444°N 79.45028°E / 10.99444; 79.45028
Other names: Mahalinga Swamy
Country: India
State: Tamil Nadu
District: Thanjavur
Location: Tiruvidaimarudur
Temple Details
Primary Deity: Mahalingaswamy(Shiva)
Consort: Pirguchuntaragujambigai(Parvathi)
Architecture and culture
Architectural styles: Dravidian architecture

Mahalingeswarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva located in the town of Thiruvidaimarudur in Tamil Nadu, India. Shiva is worshipped in the form of a lingam in this temple. The temple is considered to be one of the six most sacred places dedicated to Shiva.

It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where the three of the most revered Nayanars (Saivite Saints), Appar, Sundarar and Tirugnana Sambandar[1] have glorified the temple with their songs. The lingam of the temple acts as the focal point for the seven consorts of Shiva.[2] The temple was built during the Chola regime and widely expanded during the Nayak period in the late 16th century.


The name "Kumbakonam", roughly translated in English as the "Jug's Corner",[3] is believed to be an allusion to the mythical pot (kumbha) of the Hindu god Brahma that contained the seed of all living beings on earth. The kumbha is believed to have been displaced by a pralaya (dissolution of the universe) and ultimately came to rest at the spot where the town of Kumbakonam now stands.[4][5] The drops of nectar is believed to have falled in five shrines around Kumbakonam, namely Mahalingeswarar temple at Tiruvidaimarudur, Tirudharasuram, Naganathar Temple at Tirunageswaram, Tiruvorgam and Tirupadalavanam.[6]

The legend of a Chola prince who killed a Brahmin and was in turn, pursued by his spirit (brahmahatthi), is associated with the temple. The Chola prince, it is believed, entered the Mahalingeswarar Temple and prayed to his favourite God, Shiva for relief from the clutches of the spirit of the dead Brahmin or brahmahatthi. The Chola prince made his way out through another entrance thereby saving himself.[7] It continues till day where people take the second entrance to exit the premises after worship. There is a sculpture of Chola brahmahatthi on the eastern premises in one of the inner gopurams (tower gateway).


Marudur is derived from the holy tree, namely Maruda maram.[2] The temple at Thiruvidaimarudur is over 2,000 years old and is associated with the Pandya king Varaguna Pandian. The temple contains inscriptions of the Hoysala kings and some Vijayanagara grants, and many records of the later Nayaks and Marathas.[8] This temple is classified as Madhya Arjunam, called Idai Maruthu meaning centre Marudur.[9] The Mallikarjuna swamy temple are Srisailam is called Thalai Maruthu (meaning top Marudur) and Tirupudaimaruthur temple at Ambasamudram in Tirunelveli district is called Kadai Maruthu (meaning lower Marudur).[9]


Temple car of the temple

The inscriptions in the walls of the temple are from Kulothunga Chola I indicating revenue survey and settlement and other additions made inside the temple.[7] This inscription (No. 32 of 1895) on the second precinct records a grant of 120 sheep for two lamps and the pujaris and inhabitants are appointed trustees of the grant. The date is the 172nd day of 26th year of the reign of Kulothunga I, who conquered the Kalinga region. The other inscriptions mention the name of the queen and adore her as the "mistress of the whole world". Three other queens, Dinachintamani, Elisai Vallabhi and Tyagavalli.[10]

The temple is also famous historically for devadasi tradition, which involves donating dance women to the temple during the medieval period.[7] The inscriptions indicate the tradition, dances, rearrangement during festivals and procession of deities during festivals.[7] The record is dated in the seventh regnal year of Vikrama Chola (1118-35 CE).[11] There are five inscriptions in this vein from the 10th century and there are three later inscriptions date 1123 CE, 1142 CE and 1218 CE. The possible reasoning for the hundred year gap indicates the shifting of all temple women to Brihadeeswarar temple by Rajaraja I.[12] Since the temple received lot of gifts, the Cholas deputed a special army to protect the endowments.[13]


The temple has a 5-tier Rajagopuram and an enthralling campus. A huge lingam is the presiding deity and is considered the centre of all consort deities of Tamil Nadu.[2] There are 5 temple tanks inside the temple, namely Karunyamirdha Theertham, Soma Theertham, Kanaga Theertham, Kalyana Theertham and Iravatha Theertham.[2] There is a separate shrine for Mookambiga and it is built in northern style.[2] A Saiva Siddantha library inside the temple maintains palm leaf manuscripts and saiva literature.[2] There are stone images of Pattinathar and Bhadragiriyar in the eastern and western gateways of the temple.[2] Thai Poosam festival celebrated during January attracts lot of crowd.[2] The temple was widely expanded during the Nayak period in the 16th century with the development of twin Mahalinga and Devi shrines.[14] The piers standing has attached colonettes, lotus beams and suspended beams are atypical of Nayak style though the attached hall and innermost compound are recent additions.[14] The shrines of Muruga and Nataraja are enshrined in the spaces between the pier.[14] Govinda Dikshitar, the minister of Nayak is believed to have built the Pushyamantapas (halls) in this temple.[15] Achyutappa also added gift of a village to the temple, the income of which was to be utilized for the temple car festival for the goddess in Adipuram day.[16] The temple is one of the most visited temples in the district.[17]

Religious significance[edit]

According to legend, the Saptha Vigraha moorthis (seven prime consorts in all Siva Temples) and the specialty temples are as under:[2]

Deity Temple Location
Nataraja Chidambaram Nataraja Temple Chidambaram
Chandikeswarar Tirucheingalur Temple Tirucheingalur
Vinayagar Vellai Vinayagar Temple Tiruvalajuli
Muruga Swamimalai Murugan Temple Swamimalai
Bhairava Sattainathar Temple Sirkali
Navagraha Sooriyanar Temple Suryanar Kovil
Dakshinamoorthy Apatsahayesvarar Temple, Alangudi Alangudi, Papanasam taluk

The deity of the temple, Mahalingeswara swamy, acts as the focal point for the seven consorts.[2] The additional consorts of temple are also mentioned as under:

Deity Temple Location
Durga Thenupuriswarar Temple


Somaskanda Thyagaraja Temple, Tiruvarur Tiruvarur
Nandi Tiruvavaduthurai Temple Thiruvaduthurai

Literary Mention[edit]

The temple is revered in the verses of Tevaram, the 7th century saivite canonical work by the three saint poets namely, Appar, Campantar and Cuntarar. Appar has glorified the temple in five, Cuntarar in one and Campantar in six verses.[9] Appar refers the temple as Idaimaruthur.

"பாச மொன்றில ராய்ப்பல பக்தர்கள்
வாச நாண்மலர் கொண்டடி வைகலும்
ஈச நென்பெறு மான்இடை மருதினிற்
பூச நாம்புகு தும்புன லாடவே"[18]

In another verse, he hails the deity here as

மங்கை காணக் கொடார்மண மாலையைக்
கங்கை காணக் கொடார்முடிக் கண்ணியை
நங்கை மீர் இடைக் மருதரிந் நங்கைக்கே
எங்கு வாங்கிக் கொடுத்தார் இதழியே[18]

translating to

"Praise to you father in Idaimaruthur.
Praise to you who carried Ganges river in your plait."[19]

Appar's verses point out the saiva agamas practised during the period.

"Because of our loneliness it is difficult for us to keep company of with dark ghosts
So my tongue will go on uttering the saiva agamas in the presence of the companion (mind)
to the accompaniment of the unrivalled music of Tiruvidaimaruthur"[20]

Manickavasagar praises the deith here as under

"You are the Esan who had blessed Brahman, Vishnu and Indra when they bowed.
You descended on earth and disclosed your perfect ways.
You, in your grace, gave supreme virtues to that good dame of Idaimaruthur that is full of mansions set with good and brightful gems
Our Lords are those who know that grace"[21]



  1. ^ "campantar tEvAram -2". Retrieved 16 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Tourist guide to Tamil Nadu 2007, p. 53.
  3. ^ Herbermann, Charles George; Edward Aloysius Pace; Condé Bénoist Pallen; Thomas Joseph Shahan; John Joseph Wynne (1934). The Catholic encyclopedia: an international work of reference on the constitution, doctrine, discipline, and history of the Catholic church, Volume 8. The Catholic Encyclopedia Inc. p. 710. 
  4. ^ Sastri, Sambamurthy S. (1991). Paramacharya: life of Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Jina kalan. p. 73. 
  5. ^ Pillai, Sivaraja K.N. The Chronology of the Early Tamils – Based on the Synchronistic Tables of Their Kings, Chieftains and Poets Appearing in the Sangam Literature. p. 88. 
  6. ^ Dalal, Roshen (2010). The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths. Penguin Books. p. 202. ISBN 9780143415176. 
  7. ^ a b c d Ayyar 1991, p. 299
  8. ^ Imperial gazetteer of India: Provincial series, Volume 18, p.137
  9. ^ a b c Senthil Kumar 2011, pp. 59-60
  10. ^ Hultzsch 1899, pp. 155-156
  11. ^ Singh 1997, p. 57
  12. ^ Orr 2000, p. 142
  13. ^ Vasudevan 2003, p. 116
  14. ^ a b c Michell 2005, pp. 97-99
  15. ^ V. 1995, p. 120
  16. ^ V. 1995, p. 53
  17. ^ "What to see - Thanjavur district attractions". Thanjavur District Administration. Retrieved 2013-07-07. 
  18. ^ a b Swamigal, pp. 5.14-5.15
  19. ^ Iraianban 1999, p. 63
  20. ^ Anand 2004, p. 48
  21. ^ Iraianban 1999, p. 251