|Location||Tirukalukundram, Tamil Nadu, India|
|Primary deity||Vedhagireeswarar (Shiva)|
|Architectural styles||Dravidian architecture|
Tirukalukundram is known for the Vedagiriswarar temple complex, popularly known as Kazhugu koil (Eagle temple). The consists of two temple structures, one in the foothill and the other atop the hill. The main attraction, the large temple hilltop temple houses the deity of Shiva, known as Vedagiriswarar. The temple at the foothills is dedicated to his consort Parvati, known here as Thiripurasundari Amman. The temple at the foothills has four towers (gopurams) closely resembling the architecture of the Annamalaiyar Temple
The word Thirukazhukundram comes from the Tamil words Thiru (Respectful), Kazhugu (Eagle), Kundram (mount). It was known as "Thirukazhugukundram" in ancient times, which, overtime became Thirukazhukundram. The town is also known as Pakshi Theertham (Bird's Holy Lake) because of a pair of birds -Most likely Egyptian vultures- that are believed to have visited the site for centuries. These birds are traditionally fed by the temple priests and arrive before noon to feed on offerings made from rice, wheat, ghee and sugar. Although punctual, the failure of the birds to turn up was attributed to the presence of "sinners" among the onlookers. Legend has it the vultures (or "eagles") represent eight sages who were punished by Shiva with two of them leaving in each of a series of epochs. It has also been known as Uruthrakodi, Nandipuri, Indrapuri, Narayanapuri, Brahmapuri, Dinakarapuri, Muniganapuri in the past.
Sage Bharadwaja prayed to the god Shiva for a long life so he could learn all the Vedas. Shiva appeared before him and granted him the wish to learn the Vedas and created three mountains each signifying a Veda (Rig, Yajur and Sama). Shiva took a handful of mud and said "Dear Bharadwaja! The Vedas that you could learn are only this handful compared to the mountains present here, even if you live much longer and hence, learning is never ending and could possibly cannot be the route for Salvation". Shiva also said that in Kaliyuga, the simplest and the surest way to salvation is Bhakti or unfettered devotion, service and love of God and his creations. It is believed that the hill on which the Vedagiriswarar temple is built, is the mountains signifying the Vedas created by Shiva himself. The name Vedagiriswarar means "the Lord of the Vedic Mountains" in Sanskrit.
The four Nayanmars, Appar, Sundarar, Manickavasagar and Thirugnanasamandhar visited the temple complex and composed hymns in praise of Vedagiriswarar. A shrine, Nalvar Koil, is dedicated to them. Arunagirinathar composed many of his hymns of Thirupugazh in Thirukazhukundram.
Thirukazhukundram is located on State Highway 58, 70 km away from Chennai and 15 km away from the famous tourist town Mahabalipuram. It is also 15 km away from Chengalpattu. Near road links are, 10 km away from Old Mahabalipuram Road, 10 km away from East Coast Road and 15 km away from GST road.
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- Neelakantan,KK (1977). "The sacred birds of Thirukkalukundram". Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 17 (4): 6.
- Siromoney, Gift (1977). "The Neophron Vultures of Thirukkalukundram". Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 17 (6): 1–4.
- Pope, GU (1900). The Tiruvacagam or Sacred utterances of the Tamil poet, saint, and sage Manikka-vacagar. Clarendon Press, Oxford. p. 260.
- Thurston EW (1906). Etnographic notes in southern India. Government Press, Madras. p. 252.
- V., Meena (1974). Temples in South India (1st ed.). Kanniyakumari: Harikumar Arts. p. 47.