26 July'08: I needed to reach chennai on 28 or 29th. I had options of travelling by air, train or car. Train was the preferred mode of travel but reservations were not available at short notice. So decided to drive down by car and scheduled some significant temples visits enroute. Left Coimbatore around 6.30 am and drove via Avinashi & Erode to reach Tiruchengode @9.00 am. Went straight to the Kodimaadachenkunrur temple which is atop a hill. This temple is considered the 4th among the seven Tevara Sthalams in Kongunadu.
The main deity is an Amalgamation of Siva & Parvati in the form of Ardhanareeswarar who is said be Aroopam and is west facing. While there is Dandayutham in Siva's hand , Parvati has her hands on her hips. Ambal is known as Baagampiriyaalammai. Saint Sambandhar has sung here. There is a water spring at the foot of the image. Entrance to the sanctum is from the south side. On the South goshtam you can see idol of Dakshinamoorthy & vigraham of Gowri. East goshtam carries Lingodbhavar & on North goshtam is Sandikeswarar. At the South entrance there is an east facing idol of Nari ganapathy & besides this a north facing Durgai.
Skanda or Tiruchengotuvelavar shrine occupies an important position in this temple and is east facing. Outside this sannithi are east facing subshrines of Arunagirinathar & Ganesha.
There is a Dwaja Sthambam & a Nandi on the western prakaram facing Ardhanareeswarar shrine. Likewise there is another Dwaja Sthambam & a Peacock on the east side facing Chengottuvelavar.
As you circumambulate the outer prakaram you can see several subshrines: North side - Mallikarjuna & Saharsalingam east facing, near the sthala vriksham (iluppai) are Sangameswarar west facing & Vedanayagi south facing, Adiseshan south facing. On the southern prakaram are Sapthamathas, 63 Nayanmars facing north, Mukkootu Ganapathy east facing, sub shrine for nalwars, and a shrine for Adi Kesava Perumal east facing.
Legend: Adi Kesava Perumal instructed Gowri on the Kesava Gowri Vritam which she performed to unite with Shiva as Ardhanareeswarar. This is one of the 64 manifesations of Shiva.
A battle of strength between Vayu & Adi Seshan took place & the former was clinging tightly to Mt.Meru while Vayu was trying to blow it away. Vayu succeeded in blowing Adiseshan away to Tiruchengodu. The blood spilled by Adiseshan colored the hill as red & hence the name chengode. If you climb the hill by the steps you come across the image of a snake carved on the hill.
The Temple: Unique feature of the temple are the mandapams carrying exquisitely sculpted pillars which includes sculptures of Veerabhadran, Oordva tandavamurthy, Alangattu kali, Korathan & Koravi and a variety of other figures on stone. The sculptures are a supreme & sublime poetry on stone. There are stone inscriptions reportedly pertaining to the times of Parantaka Cholan, Gangaikonda Cholan, Vijyanagara & Mysore Kings & the Nayaks.
The view of Tiruchengodu town from atop the temple is magnificent. As you drive up or down you come close to the rock face and can clearly see the redness on the surface.
There is an elevated walkway on the South Prakaram from where you can clearly see the North Gopuram as well as well as the Vimanam of Ardhanareswarar.
Finally as we descended the steep ghat road we pulled up at a convenient point and had sumptuous breakfast of idlis smeared liberally with oil & molaka podi.
For photo gallery log onto: http://picasaweb.google.com/ramakrishnan49/TiruchengodeArdhanareswarar