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Thiruchengode – Sri Arthanareeswarar Temple

Name of the Temple

Sri Arthanareeswarar Temple

Period of origin

Before 2000 years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Sri Arthanareeswarar 

Ambal: Sri Bagam Priyal

Sthala Theertham: Devatheertham

Sthala Virksham: Iluppai Tree

Devaram: Thirugnanasambanthar

Sthalapuranam:

This is one of the 276 Devara Paadal Petra Shiva Sthalams and 4th Shiva Sthalam in Kongu Nadu. Moolavar is Swayambhumurthy (self-manifested) constituted of Nava Bashanam. This temple is located at the top of a hill, at a height of about 1900 feet and there are about 1200 steps to reach the top. You can either choose to climb the stairs or take the motorable road. Vehicles are going right up to the entrance of the temple. The moolavar sannathi is facing the west. Lord Mahavishnu and Adiseshan are believed to have worshiped this Moolavar. This is an ancient temple and according to the inscriptions on the walls it must have been built about 2000 years ago.

The hill, that this temple is on top of, is mainly composed of sand stone and is reddish (senniram) in colour. This is why the place is called Sencode. Another reason for the name Sencode could be that the hill is a straight formation (Senguthana malai). Other names of this hill are Nagagiri (nagam meaning snake and giri meaning malai) and Vayumalai (wind). As per mythology, Adisheshan (the serpent on whom Sri Mahavishnu rests) and Vayu (lord of the winds) fought among themselves frequently to test their superiority. During one such struggle, against Vayu’s severe wind, Adhiseshan failed to hold on to the Mount Meru.  Three portions of Meru Malai came down to earth with Adisheshan’s blood strain. One such piece is this hill. Since it was believed to be red in colour due to Adisheshan’s blood strain, it is also called as sencode. An interesting fact is that this hill itself is considered as the Lingam. In front of this hill, on the west side is the statue of a large Nandhi – seven feet in length and four feet in height.

The distinctive feature of this temple is that the idol of the main deity is six feet in height with the right half depicted as male and the left half as female. The male portion of the idol has jadamudi (knot of hair), thandam (baton), Silambu (anklet) and Rudraksham mala whereas the female portion has a Kazhal at the leg and Thali around the neck. Due to the androgynous nature of the idol, the deity is known as Arthanareeswarar. The lord is also known as Madhorubagan and Ammayappan.  It is claimed that this rare posture of the Lord as prime deity can only be found in this temple in the whole of Asia. This temple also has an emerald lingam “Maragatha Lingam” and a small statue of Birunki Maharishi in front of the Moolavar.

As per mythology, it is believed that whenever Sage Birunki used to visit Kailash, he would take the form of a small insect and perform his worship by flying around Lord Shiva only. He would ignore the Ambal even though they were both sitting together. Angered by this, Ambal cursed Sage Birunki. Lord Siva intervened and pacified Ambal by explaining to her that Ambal is inseparable from Shiva. This legend is believed to be another reason behind this unique union of Swamy and Ambal as it represents the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies of the universe. Another reason for the origin of the androgynous nature of the lord is attributed to the belief that Ambal worshiped this Maragatha Lingam. Daily three times Pooja is performed to this Lingam and these poojas are believed to be performed by the Ambal herself.

Another legend associated with Thiruchengode is that when Saint Thirugnanasambanthar visited this place he found that the people were adversely affected by “vishakaichal“ (Viral Fever) due to “vishakkatru” (hazardous pollutants in the air). He sang the “Thiruneelakanda Pathigam” to relieve the people from their suffering. There is no separate Ambal Sannadhi as the Moolavar is of Arthanareeswarar. Senkottu Velavar shrine is on the back side of the main sanctum sanctorum. Mahavishnu, with his consorts Sreedevi and Poodevi, have a separate shrine here. Mahavishnu is worshiped here as Adikesava Perumal and a Battachariyar performs the daily poojas as per Vaishnava traditions. There is a small “Neer Ootru” (fresh water spring) under the Swami’s foot which has water in it always. This is called Devatheertham and is distributed to the devotees as prasadam. Here Lord Murugan is called “Senkottu Velavar” and is also a self-manifested idol constituted of “Vellai pashanam” (white poison).

According to the legend, once, in a contest between his brother Ganesha and himself, Lord Muruga lost the prize of the divine fruit (Gnana pazham). Angry with his parents, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi, Lord Muruga left Mount Kailash and came to south India and reached Thiruvavinankudi and thereafter reached Nagachala Hills (Tiruchengode) and took residence here and blesses devotees as Sengottu Velavar. A sixty feet long relief of Adiseshan inscribed in the hill on the way to the temple is very famous here. This relief of Adiseshan is revered by people hoping to mitigate the ill effects of “Sarbha Dosham”, Raghu Dosham, Kala Sarbha Dosham and Kalathira Dosham. The sculptures found in the hallway in front of the Senkottu Velavar shrine have intricate design and exquisite workmanship. The pillars in the hallway are beautifully chiselled with a number of rock reliefs. Overall this temple exemplifies the artistic expertise of ancient Tamil Nadu. Arthanareeswarar is considered to be the lord of the star “Sadayam” so special poojas are conducted on the days of Sadaya Nakshatram. It is believed that if one walks around the hill on a full moon day, he will get the benefit of visiting Mount Kailash and Vaikunth. It is also believed that serpent related Doshams are relieved by worshiping the Adiseshan here.

A special 21 day Pooja (Kedara Gowri Viradam) is performed in September – October (Puratasi month) by women for the longevity of their husbands and marital bliss. This temple celebrates the Vaikasi Visaga Festival every year in a grand manner. The special feature of this festival is that there are four car chariots – the first one for Lord Vinayagar, the second for Lord Sengottu Velavar, the third for Lord Arthanareeswarar and the fourth for Lord Aadhikesava Perumal. Great poets and saints like Arunagirinathar, Ilango Adigal, Kaviraja Pandithar have immortalized this temple in their divine poems. Saint Arunagirinathar has also composed Thirupugazh on Lord Senkottu Velavar here.

Route:

Thiruchengode is 20 kms from Erode and 35 kms from Namakkal. Nearest airports are at Coimbatore and Trichy both are at a distance of about 130 kms. Nearest major railway station is at Erode.

Temple Timings:

06.00 AM to 06.00 PM

Temple Telephone Number:

04288 255925, 93642 29181.

Temple Address:

Sri Arthanareeswarar Temple

Arthanareeswarar Hills

Thiruchengode

Namakkal District

Tamil Nadu

Pincode:637 211.

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