Mahalinga Swamy Temple

By Sanjeev Nayyar | 2016

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The Mahalinga Swamy Mandir at Thiruvidaimarudur, 10 kms from Kumbakonam, is a powerful Shiv temple. It is a Mahalinga sthala (Big Linga shrine). Entrance gopuram. The lingam of this temple is believed to the focal points for the 7 consorts of Shiva. Elephant in playfull mood.

View after we entered and turned left. Somewhere here is a Murugan temple built in Nayyakar style. Temple complex has many shrines the prominent being Mahalingeswaraswamy, Pirguchuntaragujambigai and Mookambigai. Temple has various halls and 3 precincts, the most notable being one built during Vijaynagar period that has many sculptures.

Mandapam that takes you to the main temple. There are 5 tanks inside the temple "Karunyamirdha Theertham, Soma Theertham, Kanaga Theertham, Kalyana Theertham and Iravatha Theertham." I really like idea of having Water Tanks inside temple. In every temple water has a special importance. Using modern connotation it is also a form of water harvesting.

Back side view of one of the gopurams that take you to inner sanctum. The temple tree is Marudham Tree. Wish Tamil Nadu Tourism puts a board in English that helps identify and explain importance of key places in temple. Non-Tamil devotees like me are unable to thus see all key places in temple.

Left worship of Siva Lingam. Close up of upper portion of smaller gopuram as we entered temple.

Always do a parikrama around temple before entering sanctum. I think temple on right is Mookambica, made in North Indian style. "The Goddess is in the pose of doing penance. She is mentioned as Pidari Parameeswari in inscriptions." "The tower of this shrine resembles that of the Manikarnigai tirtha ghat at Kashi or Varanasi". Smaller gopuram is entrance to sanctum.

West side gopuram on left. Parikrama round temple wall. "There are 159 inscriptions. One of the inscriptions states that there was a theatre for enacting Dramas (Natakasala) and the artist received 1 veli (approximately 3 acre) as a gift for developing the art." "The east-facing temple has four rajagopurams facing each of the four directions and three inner gopurams." I think missed doing parikrama of inner temple wall.

This the URCHAVA MURTHI of the main deity in the temple. The main deity in the garbagruha is usually made of granite and not moved. Hence they make a replica of the main deity in the panchloka metal (combination of five metals - an alloy). This murthi is taken around in chariots during important festivals around the maadaveedhis ie the main streets around the temple. It is also common practice to take this murthi around the temple 3 times in silver/gold chariots. This ritual is called SEEVELI - generally done in Kerala temples. The word Urchavam is derived from the word Utsavam meaning festival.

One of the many tanks. Think this one is Kanaga Theertham. "Aryakoothu and Chakkaikoothu were enacted during festivals. Mud pots were used to bring water from Cauvery for Thirumanjanam (abhiseka). The temple was a centre for fostering fine arts." "Among the 32 tirthams here, Karunyatirtham, the tank on the east, and the Poosatirtha ghat on the Cauvery bank are important."

Nandi at temple entrance. "Temple is one of the Panchakrosha Sthalas. The Ammbal Shrine is one of the Sakthi Bheetas. "

Straight view of Nandi, pillars on either side.

Temple corridor.

View of temple corridor from opposite side, end of pic is NANDI.

Entrance to the Sri 27 Celestial Lingams Shrine. "There are many Lingas in the Shrine. Agasthiya Linga, Kasyapa Linga, Chola Linga , Chera Linga, Sahasara Linga, Panchabhuta Linga, a cluster of 27 Lingas behind Chokkanatha are some."

Mythical animal Yali adorn the pillars. Ornamental metal image of a lady Pavai Nonbu holding a lamp is still present in the temple. The base of the lamp has an inscription indicating the gift of the Marathas to the temple. In the absence of a board missed identifying it.

Close up view of the pillar. Lower part of pic black images are statues of Nayanmars. Board in Tamil is a verse by Thirumular, one of the NAYANMARS.

Note how the round pieces of stone are made and hanging in air, not to forget space kept for ventilation.

Lion (Singa Mugha Kinaru) temple. It is called YALI. Saw a similar temple in Gangai konda cholapuram temple.

Murugan shrine with west side gopuram in centre.

Taken from just before main sanctum. At other end is Nandi. Note the alignment of doors, perfect.

Entrance to another shrine. Not sure what Tamil words seen on top of pic mean. Think it means Sivaya Namah or Namah Shivaya or Shivako Naman. Any errors please write back.

Entrance to another shrine along side the main shrine. Think it is a Amman or Sakti shrine. Captions shown in inverted commas taken from this link Click here

I think this is the sculpture of a chariot having 12 pillars, each denoting the 12 lagnas. Wish Tamil Nadu Tourism put boards in English for the benefit of non Tamil devotees explaining the importance of each place within a temple.

In pic no 8 we saw the main deity being taken out of sanctum for procession in the main streets around the temple. On their way back to temple. The purpose of taking the urchava murti around the village/town is to facilitate the invalidated to have darshan and to spread the divine consciousness.

Very impressive chariot. "It is one of the biggest Thers (Temple Car) of Tamilnadu. It measures 89 feet from top (tip of the Kalasams) to bottom (ground level).The octagonal lower part of the, measuring 14½ feet (length) and 14½ feet was carved beautifully." The Ther was donated to the temple by Amarsingh’s son Pratap singh (Simha) in 1800 AD". To read very good photoessay Click here

Lower centre image looks like that of King of region. Images of Ganesha, King, sages etc. "The axles (cuboids) on the outer surface of the wheels measure 29 feet (length), 1¾ feet (width) and 1¾ feet (height). " The outer cable (large rope- Vadam) used to pull the Ther by 5000 people (man power) measures 1000 feet. "

Intricate wood work. Left to right is I think Dwarpala, next is Ganesha sitting on mouse, Siva and Parvati on their vehicle Nandi, Murugan sitting on his vehicle the peacock and then Dwarapala. "The wooden sculptures such as Panchamurtis, Kayilayakkatchi, Narasimhamurti, Bairava, Chandra, the worship of Mahalingeswara (seated beneath the Maruda tree) by Vinayaka and Ambikai, His Holiness Gurumaha sannidhanam and other sculptures are worth mentioning here. "

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