Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thiru Idaichuram Sri Gnanapureeswarar

Thiru Idaichuram (திரு இடைச்சுரம்) is located about 60 kms from Chennai. It lies on the road connecting Chengalpattu and Thirupporur. Thiru Idaichuram can either be accessed from Thirupporur at about 18 kms or from Chengalpattu about 9 kms. There is an arch on the main road indicating the path to the temple. This village is presently called as Thiruvadisoolam.

Thiru Idaichuram (Thiruvadisoolam) is a small village surrounded by many hills. This village has an ancient temple for Lord Shiva. The main deity here is Sri Gnanapureeswarar, also called as Idaichura Naadhar. Goddess here is Sri Govardhanaambigai.

As per the legend, Goddess Parvathi took the form of Kaamadhenu (cow) and came to this village. One day villagers here saw the cow pouring its milk by its own, on an ant hill. They dissolved the ant hill to find a beautiful Shiva Lingam inside. They installed the deity in the same place and formed this temple.

As the cow poured milk by itself on God, the place came to be known as Thiru Idaichuram, and Goddess is called as Govardhanaambigai (In Sanskrit ‘Go’ means cow).

It is also said that this place got its name as this village is surrounded by hills. In Thamizh, the place between hills is called “Churam”.

This temple is one among the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams. Thiru Gnana Sambandhar has sung praise on the Lord here. It is said that Thiru Gnana Sambandhar visited this village during morning hours. He took bath in a pond here and was resting on the banks of the pond. Lord Shiva appeared as a Yadhava (shepherd) and went to Him carrying food in a mud pot. Lord Shiva offered food to Sambandhar. Sambandhar politely refused and said that he will never take food before having dharshan of Lord Shiva, which was his everyday practice.

The Yadhava man told Sambandhar that there is a Shiva temple nearby and took him to this temple. Sambandhar followed the Yadhava and went inside the temple where the Yadhava vanished near the sanctum. Sambandhar overwhelmed by the mercy of God, sung in praise of Lord Shiva here. The pond in which Sambandhar took bath (pic above) is still seen in this village, a little away from the temple. The Lord here is also said to have been worshipped by an ancient sage called Gowthama Rishi.

The temple looks too ancient amidst serene atmosphere surrounded by paddy fields. There is no Rajagopuram for this temple. The praakaarams are vast and have concrete pathways. The structure of this temple is unusual, looking like an old village house when viewed from outside. The temple is facing south.

There are beautiful stone pillared mandapams inside the temple. The ceiling is a bit lower and the whole mandapam allows limited sunlight. The interior structures are too good making us forget the present materialistic world.

The main deity Sri Gnanapureeswarar is seen facing east from a small, beautiful sanctum. The deity is made of Maragatha (dark green) stone and hence called as Maragatha Lingam, which is not too visible to make out while having dharshan. It is said that the actual color and the glow of this Maragatha Lingam will clearly be visible when ‘Then Abishegam’ (Honey Abishegam) is performed to the deity.

The Goddess Sri Govardhanaambigai is seen facing south. One can have dharshan of both the God and Goddess by standing in the same place.

Sri Vinayagar, Sri Dhakshinamurthy, Sri Sandigeswarar, Sri Durgai and Sri Brahma are seen around the sanctum.

The outer Praakaaram is spread on a vast space having a small shrine for Vinayagar. Sri Valli Devasena Samedha Subramanyar has a shrine on the outer praakaaram. On the northern side there is a small shrine where another Shiva Lingam is seen in the name of Sri Brahmaandeswarar facing west.

The Ambaal for Sri Brahmaandeswarar is called Sri Brahmaandeeswari located on the eastern side facing south.

The Nandhi is seen on the eastern praakaaram facing west toward the Lord.

The Sthala Viruksham here is Vilvam, which is on the eastern part of the temple. There is also a shrine for Sri Surya Bhagavan. There is an ant hill and a Nandhi on the southern praakaaram.

Outside the compound, on the eastern side there is the temple pond with ‘Alli flowers’ grown beautifully in it. This pond looks very natural without any steps or bathing ghat built to it.

Thiru Idaichuram is surely a ‘feast to soul’ for temple lovers.