Sri Thyagarajar Temple, is situated at Thiruvarur, a town which comes under thanjavur district of Tamilnadu. Tiruvarur is regarded as the 87th in the series of Tevara Stalams in Chola Nadu south of the river Kaveri. The origin of the shrine at Tiruvarur is steeped in antiquity. Of the two major shrines dedicated to Vanmikanathar and Tyagarajar, the Vanmikanathar shrine is the older one. It enshrines a Shivalingam - prithvi lingam made of earth. Two of the major legends surrounding the temple are associated with Manu Needi Cholan and Muchukunda Cholan respectively.Anecdotes referring to the lives of these legendary rulers are referred to in ancient Tamil literature such as Manimekalai and Silappadikaram.
Legend has it that Vishnu worshipped Shiva in the form of Somaskanthar, associated with the Ajapa Dance. Shiva is also said to have appeared in an anthill and restored Vishnu to life.
The image of Tyagarajar is the foremost of the 7 from which Indra is believed to have asked Muchukunda Cholan to pick the original image of Somaskandar worshipped by Mahavishnu. . Muchukunda Cholan picked the right one (the image at Tiruvarur) , and Indra rewarded him with all of the 7 images, which the latter installed at 7 different places within his territory, and it is these 7 temples which constitute the 7 Vitankastalams.
The image of Tyagaraja is housed in a separate sanctum with its own vimanam. An interesting feature of the image is that the bulk of it is covered with decorative cloth, flowers and jewelry, with only the faces of Shiva and Parvati being visible. Their feet are uncovered only on the occasion of the Paada Darisanam festival. The image of Tyagaraja in a special vimanam, presents an awe inspiring site. This image is taken out in procession during special occasions such as the chariot festival during the annual Bhrammotsavam. The Ajapa dance is enacted every time, the image of Tyagarajar is taken out in procession.
Ambal here is Kamalambika and the Tirtham is Kamalalayam. Sambandar,Appar, Sundarar have sung hyms here. Other shrines of importance here include those to Aingalakkaasu Ganapati, Vaatapi Ganapati, the Navagrahams aligned in a row. The Aingalakkaasu Ganapati is said to have been installed by Cheraman Perumaal Naayanaar who collected 5 measures of copper coins and fashioned this image. Vaatapi Ganapati represents the Stala Vinayakar of this shrine, enshrined in the southwest corner of the inner prakaram. Enshrined in the 2nd prakaram is a shrine to Rudra Durga.
Vithankar Abhishekam: We had the good fotune to be present in the temple to witness the Vithankar Abhishekam which started around 12 noon and lasted nearly 30 minutes.
History: This is a temple vibrant with the musical and dance traditions of the centuries. Tiruvarur was a great cultural center for the Cholas who extended great patronage here; mention must be made of especially of Raja Raja Chola I. Sundaramoorthy Naayanar is known for his close association with Tiruvarur. His shrine faces that of Tyagarajar.
Muthuswamy Deekshithar, Tyagarajar and Syama Sastri the trinity of Carnatic Music were born in Tiruvarur. Deekshithar in particular, while in residence at Tiruvarur composed several suites of Kritis addressed to Tyagarajar, Kamalambika and several other deities in this temple.
Architecture: The imposing towers of the temple can be seen from a distance. The vast prakarams feature several shrines to Shiva and his parivara devatas. The vast Kamalalayam tank is situated to the West of the temple complex; the tank and the temple, together command an awe inspiring spectacle. The Achaleswarar Temple (Tiruvarur Araneri) in the prakaram is another of the Tevara sthalams sung by the Nayanmars. Aarurparavaiyumantali is yet another Tevara sthalam located in the vicinity of this grand temple at Tiruvarur.
For more detailed information about the temple log on to : http://www.indiantemples.com/Tamilnadu/Tiruvarur/tiruvarur.html
And view the photo gallery at: http://picasaweb.google.com/ramakrishnan49/TiruvarurTempleTour