2 Sept'07 :
Tiruvottiyur Thiagarajar Temple :
We left woodlands at 6.00 am and drove via Marina Beach,Fort St.George,Burmah Bazaar, Port Trust into Royapuram and reached the Tiruvottiyur a drive of around 45 minutes.Tiruvottiyur was widely inhabited even before Chennai was formed. Tiruvottiyur is home to the ancient Thyagaraja Swamy Udanurai Vadivudaiamman Temple and location of the samadhi of saint Pattinathar. This temple was visited by many saints and poets like Appar, Sundarar, Gnana Sambandhar, Thyagayyar, Vallalar, Valmiki, Kambar, Adisankarar etc. Adisankarar is the person who stopped the Bali pooja's conducted here at vattaparaiamman sanathi. The temple is also famous for its Suyambhu sivalingam, God siva blesses people in the form of suyambhu and it is the moolavar of the temple.
The temple has large prakaram covered with sand containing several sannithis and a go shala with several cows & calves. Tamil Nadu has innumerable temples which have an ancient history and a rich cultural heritage. 275 Saivite temples or punyastalas have been selected as Paadal Petra Stalams on the basis of their antiquity, the richness of their cultural ethos, and the quantum of eulogy dedicated to the temple. In the same manner, 108 Vaishnavite temples have been selected as Divyadesams.
Of the 275 Paadal Petra Stalams, 32 lie in the Tondi Nadu, among which the Thiagarajaswamy temple at Tiruvotriyur is unique. This temple at Tiruvotriyur, several centuries old, eulogized by poets, scholars and devotees alike, affirms the splendor of India’s religious tradition and spiritual ethos.Main deity is Siva - there are Sannithis for Adipureeswarar the main deity, Thiagarajar (with Tripurasundari) & Jagannathar ( with Jagadambikai), Goureeswarar & Otreeswarar(with parvathavarthini). The Thiagarajar/Tripurasundari idol is said to have been found from the Ocean by fishermen. Adipureeswarar lingam is surrounded by a snake mound (puthu) hence it is covered by a gold kavacham (covering). Therefore daily abhishekam is done only to the avudiyar(base). The Kavacham is removed only on 3 days a year starting on Kartikai Pournami. A mixture of Punugu(musk), chavvathu & sambrani is applied to the lingam on these 3 days but no abhishekam. Around the sanctum you find on the walls idols of Dakshinamurthy, Mahavishnu ( traditionally you find Lingodhbhavar), Brahma, Chandikeswarar & Durgai. Behind the lingam there are smaller sannithis of kalianayanar,vinayakar, nagar, adi sankara,muruga.There is also a sannithi of vattaparaiamman. Right above the sanctum is the Gajabrishta Vimanam which is one of the special features of this temple. In the outer prakaram there is a multipillared mandapam with Natarajar Sannithi on one side & a vinayakar idol carved on the wall facing the lingam. Devotees sit and pray or medidate here. The pillars are intricately carved. Above the Vinayakar there is a stone lattice from where you can view the main flag staffs. There are in fact two flagstaffs(Dwaja Sthambams) as you first enter the temple through the main Gopuram, located a little to the left. One is facing Adipureeswarar and the other facing Vadi Udai Amman his consort. There is a separate Prakaram for this Ambal on the right side.
As you walk around the temple clockwise you find to your left sanctums of suryan,appar,manikyavasakar,sammandar,sundarar & sankili thayar,sahasaralingam, ekambarar.To the left of Thiagarajar mandapam you can see the garden with 27 nakshatra lingams - as per legend the 27 stars have visited & worhipped at this temple. Then the goshalai & Goureswarar, sthala vriksham. You next reach Ottreswarar sannithi & his consort Parvathavartini. The mandapam at the entrance contains exquisitely carved pillars on either side. All 63 nayanmars can be seen sculpted on the stone pillars besides various different gods & goddesses & rishis . As you come out & continue you see the flagstaff for Vattaparaiamman. Next you reach the legendary makizha maram(tree) & vasantha mandapam & sundaramoorthy mandapam & a kolam.
Photographs (From Top downwards zig-zag) 1. Main Gopuram from outside, 2. Main gopuram & flagstaffs from inside, 3.Vinayakar Sannithi,stone lattice,Murugan Sannithi & Kuzhanthai Iswarar visible straight in front as you enter, 4.Gajabrashta Vimanam, 5.Thiagaraja Sannithi, 6.Makizham Tree & Vasantha Mandapam, 7. Sannithi of Vadai Udai Amman