Name of the Temple
Sri Swedaranyeswarar Temple
Period of origin
Before 2000 years
Name of deity
Moolavar: Venkadar, Swetaranyeswarar
Ambal: Pann Moitta Inmozhiyaal, Bhrama Vidya Nayaki
Sthala Theertham: Surya Theertham
Sthala Virksham: Vilvam, Vadaval and Konrai.
The name Thiruvenkadu means ‘sacred white forest’ (‘Ven’ means white and ‘Kadu’ means forest). It is said that this place was surrounded by thick forests on all sides and when seen from a distance, it looked white, and hence the name. In Sanskrit it is known as Swetaranyam (‘Swetam’ means white and ‘Aranyam’ means forest). The place also bears various names such as Jnana-aranya, (forest of wisdom), Patala Kailas and Aadi Chidambaram.
Thiruvenkadu temple is surrounded by five prakarams known as pancha prakarams. Here the Lord is consecrated in His forms as Aghoramurthi (manifestation of His wild and angry form) and Nataraja (a manifestation of Shiva, assumed as the Lord of Dance). Within the darkness of the night, walks this form of Lord Shiva, Shiva Aghoramurthy. He rules the night, kala and these hours are for the other world spirits to worship him. Aghora Shiva is worshiped by all, the night is alive with divinity as it wakes the other world, of ghosts and ghouls and aghoris to follow this form – the left hand path of worship.
Its not scary as much as it is eye opening, that we prefer to see a beautifully clad aghora rudra within the temple wall in stone and not the real fiery self that walks the night. Aghora Shiva, raw energy, raw power, raw beauty of anger and fury rising from the being, from his eyes, forming a halo of flaming light around his head, this multi handed deity adorns the temple precinct around the main shrine of Lord Shiva in his iconic form. In the early hours of the morning at the temple of Thiruvenkadu, Veerabhadra, resides within his chamber, surrounded by flickering lights that turn this earthly chamber into divine heaven with his presence. Adorned in the glint of gold, decorated in royalty this ash clad Lord is dressed like a King. Decked in jewellery and covered in flowers, one can sing the Rudram and bathe themselves in his presence. Such beauty can be found nowhere else, which is just brought to light by the glowing lamps.
Aghora Shiva is powerful, fierce, graceful, and yet terrifying. He kills all evil, he protects us, he brings us our peace and yet we fear this form! And as we mindlessly move on, little do we notice a painter furiously at work. Seeped in silence, a passionate painter catches the glimpse of this fiery Lord into his canvas. 40 days of passion, with hours spent during Brahmamuhurta, the painter sits before Him and absorbs his form. And in a lightening flash he awakens the very Lord Veerabhadra to come alive in his brush and begins to render this unthinkable form!. The glint of gold, the sheen of silver, the blackness of mahakala just bathes the dimly lit interior…such a beauty that the mind just rests, there is no room for thought, there is just music in the heart to see the Lord display his presence through the eyes of the painter who prays to him, requesting him to make his appearance divine in his canvas.
The mind is a powerful tool and it performs many unthinkable miracles. One such miracle is the way this painter religiously renders the beauty and form and divinity of every God as he imbibes them into himself. Truely miraculous. There was never another of his kind, Artist Silpi was the chosen one, one who would paint, one who could capture even Lord Aghora Rudra into his brush and request this fiery Lord to descend into his canvas to stay there and bless all those who worshiped him.
The Nataraja image holds seven instruments and weapons, namely, Vetalam, Khadgam, Udukku, Mani, Kedayam, Kapalam and Trisulam. Lord Shiva performs seven forms of dance or Tandavas, viz Ananda tandavam, Sandhya tandavam, Samhara tandavam, Tripuranta tandavam, Urdhva tandavam, Bhujanga tandavam and Lalita tandavam here.
Lord Shiva is present here with five faces viz Easanam, Tatpurusham, Aghoram, Vamadevam and Sadyojatam, representing five directions and aspects of Lord Shiva. Easanam is facing the sky and represents purity, Vamdevam faces north and represents sustenance, Tatpurisha faces east and represents spirituality that has destroyed the ego, Aghoram faces south and represents the destructive and regenerative aspect of Shiva, Sadyojatam faces west and represents creation.
Devi in Her divine form of Bhadrakali has a separate shrine. Besides, there are separate shrines for Ashta Lakhsmis and the Navagrahas. Swetharanyeswarar temple has three theerthams (holy tanks) called as Agni Theertham, Surya Theertham and Chandra Theertham which are said to have been created out of the three drops which fell from Lord Shiva’s eyes when he was dancing. The sthala vrikshams are also three in number – Vilvam, Vadaval and Konrai. The stone inscriptions on the walls of the temples depict important historical information on the Chola Dynasty and about several kings of Vijayanagar.
The posture of Nandi at the entrance is another unique feature here. It bears nine scars on its body and is seated at the entrance of Devi’s shrine. Marutwasura, an asura, was troubling the Rishis and the people of Thiruvenkadu. The people prayed to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva sent Nandi to fight the demon. Marutwasura was defeated by Nandi and thrown into the sea. Marutwasura through his penance obtained sula from Lord Shiva. The demon then returned with greater intensity to attack the innocent people. Once again, at the request of the devotees, Shiva sent Nandi. However, on this occasion, Nandi could not fight the demon as the demon had the Sula of Shiva. The demon caused wounds on Nandi’s back with the Sula.
Swetharanyeswarar Temple is situated 23 kilometers away from Mayiladuthurai, on the Sirkali – Poompuhar linking road. The temple is 10 km from Sirkazhi and 59 km from Kumbakonam.
6 am to 12pm and 5 .30 pm to 8 pm
Temple Telephone Number:
Sri Swetharanyeswarar Temple