Vedaranyeswarar temple

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Vedaranyeswarar Temple
Image of the Vedaranyam temple gopuram
Image of the Vedaranyam temple gopuram
Vedaranyeswarar Temple is located in Tamil Nadu
Vedaranyeswarar Temple
Vedaranyeswarar Temple
Location in Tamil Nadu
Coordinates 10°22′N 78°51′E / 10.367°N 78.850°E / 10.367; 78.850Coordinates: 10°22′N 78°51′E / 10.367°N 78.850°E / 10.367; 78.850
Country India
State Tamil Nadu
District Nagapatnam
Location Vedaranyam
Primary deity Vedaranyeswarar(Shiva)
Architectural styles Dravidian architecture

Vedaranyeswarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, located in the town of Vedaranyam in Tamil Nadu, India. Vedaranyeswarar is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the nayanars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam.

Vedaranyeswarar temple is a part of the series of temples built by Aditya Chola (871-907 CE) along the banks of river Cauvery to commemorate his victory in the Tirupurambiyam battle. It has several inscriptions dating back to the Chola period. The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and three yearly festivals on its calendar. The annual Brahmotsavam (prime festival) is attended by thousands of devotees from far and near. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

Etymology and legend[edit]

The town Vedaranyam is named after Vedaranyeswarar, the presiding deity of the Vedaranyeswarar Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. The place was earlier known as "Tirumaraikadu",[1] meaning the place where Vedas, oldest scriptures of Hinduism, originated. The 7th century Saiva canonical work Tevaram by Appar and Tirugnanasambandar mentions the place as "Tirumaraikadu". As per Hindu legend, the Vedas worshipped Shiva in this place, giving the name "Vedaranyam" to the place.[2][3][4] According to another Hindu legend, Rama, the seventh avatar of god Vishnu, is believed to have visited Vedaranyam to absolve himself from sins committed in the war against the demon king Ravana.[2][5] The footprints of Rama is preserved in a place called Ramar Padam near Vedaranyam.[5] According to a Tamil legend, the Vedas locked the gates of the temple after worshipping Shiva.[4] The Nayanmars (Saiva saints) Appar and Tirugnanasambandar could not enter the locked temple. At this, on Tirugnanasambandar's request, Appar sang devotional hymns praising Shiva, after which the gates opened. Tirugnanasambandar's devotional hymns locked the gates again.[4][6]


Shrine inside the temple

The recorded history of Vedaranyam is found from the inscriptions in Vedaranyeswarar Temple. The inscriptions date from the reign of Aditya Chola (871–907 CE), Rajaraja Chola I (985–1014 CE), Rajendra Chola I (1012–1044 CE) and Kulothunga Chola I (1070–1120 CE) indicating various grants to the temple.[2][7] Paranjothi Munivar, a 13th-century saint, who wrote the book Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam, was born at Vedaranyam.[2] An inscription dating back to Parantaka Chola mentions the gift of 90 sheep by a merchant to the temple for the maintenance of a perpetual lamp.[8]

Vedaranyam continued to be a part of the Chola Empire and the Chola region emerged as a centre of Saivism during the reign of Kulothunga Chola I (1070–1120 CE).[9] After the fall of Cholas during the reign of Rajendra Chola II in the 13th century CE, the erstwhile Chola region was caught under a power struggle between Pandyas and Hoysalas.[10] The royal patronage continued to the temple during the rule of the Nayaks.[11] The Negapatam region (modern day Nagapattinam district) was briefly captured by French troops led by Lally (1702–66 CE) in 1759 CE. The Tanjore district was annexed by British after the French failed to subdue the king of Tanjore.[12][13] In modern times, the temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

The temple[edit]

The temple houses an emerald image of lingam, locally called Maragatha lingam.[14] Vedaranyeswarar temple complex has three prakarams (outer courtyard) and a five-tiered rajagopuram (gateway tower). The central shrine faces east and holds the image of Vedaranyeswarar (Shiva) in the form of lingam made of granite. The granite images of the deities Ganesha (son of Shiva and god of wisdom), Murugan (son of Shiva and god of war), Nandi (the bull and vehicle of Shiva) and Navagraha (nine planetary deities) are located in the hall leading to the sanctum. As in other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the first precinct or the walls around the sanctum of Vedaranyeswarar has images of Dakshinamurthy (Shiva as the Teacher), Durga (warrior-goddess) and Chandikeswarar (a saint and devotee of Shiva). The second precinct is surrounded by granite walls.[15]

Processional Dance[edit]

Entrance of the temple

The Thyagarajar Temple at Tiruvarur is famous for the ajapa thanam (dance without chanting). According to legend, a Chola king named Mucukunta obtained a boon from Indra(a celestial deity) and wished to receive an image of Thyagaraja Swamy(presiding deity, Shiva in the temple) reposing on the chest of reclining Lord Vishnu. Indra tried to misguide the king and had six other images made, but the king chose the right image at Tiruvarur. The other six images were installed in Thirukkuvalai, Nagapattinam, Tirukarayil, Tirukolili, Thirukkuvalai and Tirumaraikadu.[16] All the seven places are villages situated in the river Cauvery delta. All seven Thyagaraja images are said to dance when taken in procession(it is the bearers of the processional deity who actually dance). The temples with dance styles are regarded as Saptha Vidangam(seven dance moves)[17] and the related temples are as under:[18]

Temple Vidangar Temple Dance pose Meaning
Thyagarajar Temple Vidhividangar Ajabathaanam Dance without chanting, resembling the dance of Sri Thyagaraja resting on Lord Vishnu's chest
Dharbaranyeswarar Temple Nagaradangar Unmathanathaanam Dance of an intoxicated person
Kayarohanaswamy Temple Sundaravidangar Vilathithaanam Dancing like waves of sea
Kannayariamudayar Temple Adhividangar Kukunathaanam Dancing like a cock
Brahmapureeswarar Temple Avanividangar Brunganathaanam Dancing like a bee that hovers over a flower
Vaimoornaathar Temple Nallavidangar Kamalanaanathaanam Dance like lotus that moves in a breeze
Vedaranyeswarar Temple Bhuvanivividangar Hamsapthanathaanam Dancing with the gait of a swan

Worship and religious practises[edit]

The temple priests perform the puja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Shaiva community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day; Ushathkalam at 5:30 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 10:00 a.m., Sayarakshai at 5:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 7:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 8:00 p.m. Each ritual comprises four steps: abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram (decoration), naivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Vedaranyeswarar and Amman. The worship is held amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred texts) read by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast. There are weekly rituals like somavaram (Monday) and sukravaram (Friday), fortnightly rituals like pradosham and monthly festivals like amavasai (new moon day), kiruthigai, pournami (full moon day) and sathurthi.[4] The twin festivals celebrated during the full moon days of Tamil month Adi (July – August) and Thai (January – February) attract large number of pilgrims from whole of Tamil Nadu. Pilgrims take a holy dip in the seashore round the year and the holy dip is considered similar to the worship practises at Rameswaram.[19]


The Mahasamprokshanam also known as Kumbabishegam of the temple was held on 26 October 2015.[20]


  1. ^ Vedaranyam municipality (2011). Vedaranyam History (PDF) (Report). Vedaranyam Municipality. pp. 1–4. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ayyar 1991, pp. 392–402. Rajarajan, R.K.K. (2015) Legends of Madurai in Arts and Festivities. In K. Krishna Naik and E. Siva Nagi Reddy eds. Cultural Contours of History and Archaeology, In honour of Snehasiri Prof. P. Chenna Reddy, Vol. VIII, Heritage, Culture and Literature. Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corporation, pp. 1-7. Rajarajan, R.K.K. & Jeyapriya-Rajarajan (2013) Mīnākṣī-Sundareśvara: Tirivuḷaiyāṭaṟ Purāṇam in Letters, Design and Art. Sharada: Delhi.
  3. ^ Ghose 1998, p. 62
  4. ^ a b c d "Sri Thiru Marai Kadar temple". Dinamalar. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Knapp, Stephen (2011). Spiritual India Handbook. Mumbai: Jaico Books. p. 355. ISBN 978-81-8495-024-3. 
  6. ^ Kingsbury, Francis; Phillips Kingsbury (1921). Hymns of the Tamil Śaivite Saints. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. p. 63. ISBN 978-81-206-0285-4. 
  7. ^ Ghose 1998, p. 301
  8. ^ Singh 2008, p. 622
  9. ^ Ayyar 1991, p. 215
  10. ^ Ghose 1998, pp. 59-60
  11. ^ "Journal of Indian History". 82. Department of History, University of Kerala. 2004: 33. 
  12. ^ Dodwell, Henry (1920). Dupleix and Clive. Asian Educational Services. p. 166. ISBN 978-81-206-0394-3. 
  13. ^ National encyclopaedia (1885). The national encyclopædia. Libr. ed. Oxford University. p. 287. 
  14. ^ "Championing a cause". The Hindu. Chennai. 2012-12-20. Retrieved 2013-04-27. 
  15. ^ V., Meena (1974). Temples in South India (1st ed.). Kanniyakumari: Harikumar Arts. p. 36. 
  16. ^ Sundararajan, Saroja (1985). Glimpses of the history of Karaikkal. Lalitha Publications. p. 54. 
  17. ^ "The Journal of the Music Academy, Madras". 71. Madras: Music Academy. 2000: 35. 
  18. ^ Kersenboom-Story, Saskia C. (1987). Nityasumangali. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 146. ISBN 9788120803305. 
  19. ^ South Indian Railway guide illustrated (1926). South Indian Railway guide illustrated. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. p. 171. ISBN 81-206-1889-0. 
  20. ^ "Vedaranyeswarar temple 'kumbhabhishekam' draws thousands". The Hindu. 2015-10-27. Retrieved 2015-10-28.