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Jambukeswarar Temple | History, Architecture, Facts of Thiruvanaikaval temple

Know the Divinity of Jambukeswarar Temple, Much Revered for Appu Lingam

Famously known as the Thiruvanaikaval temple, the Jambukeswarar temple is a renowned abode of Lord Shiva and is one of the five holiest temples which come under the reference of Pancha Bhoota Stalam. Among the five elements, it represents ‘water’, which in Tamil is called ‘neer’. The significance of the Jambukeswarar temple lies in the water stream underground in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, which keeps the holy place always filled with water.

The temple, which is situated in the Srirangam island in Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, has its existence in the Chola period, where Kocengannan Chola built it about 1800 years ago. Listed in the 275 Paadal Petra Stalams, the Jambukeswarar temple is much revered for the glories about the temple and the deity Shiva were sung by the Nayanars, famous saints during that period. Among the local people, the temple is known as ‘Appu Stalam’ and the deity ‘Appu Linga’.

Jambukeswarar Temple

Jambukeswarar Temple | Image Resource : i.pinimg.com

Enchanting History of Jambukeswarar Temple

The legend says that the Goddess Parvati was sent to the earth by Lord Shiva, in condemnation of her act of mocking his austerity. Shiva wanted her to perform ‘tapasya’ in the Jambu forest, which is now called Thiruvanaikoil. Parvati, who took the form of Akilandeswari, reached the forest and built a Shivalinga taking water from the River Ponni, under the ‘venn naaval’ tree and started worshipping Lord Shiva.

Since Goddess Parvati made the linga using the water, the Shivling is called Appu linga. After years of tapasya, Shiva appeared before Akilandeswari and gave her Shiva gnana (knowledge). Shiva stood facing west and gave lessons known as Upadesa to Akilandeswari who stood facing east.

Another legend says that two of the disciples of Shiva, called ganas, ‘Malyavan and Pushpadanta’ always fought with each other. Once, both of them out of rage cursed each other that Malyavan became the spider and Pushpadanta became the elephant and went to the earth. Both of them started worshipping Lord Shiva at Jambukeswaram. In the process, the elephant carried water in the trunk from the River Cauvery and showered it on the Shivalinga under the Jambu (rose-apple) tree.

The spider meanwhile built a web on top of the Shivalinga to protect it from sunlight, as well as from getting dusty. The elephant unknowingly destroyed the web while cleaning the Shivalinga. They kept doing this for years. One day, the spider, who saw the elephant tearing the web, crawled into its trunk and bit it to death, while it also killed itself.

Seeing this, Lord Shiva was moved by their devotion to him and he blessed them that they regained their forms. Since an elephant worshipped the Shivalinga at this place, it came to know as ‘Thiru Aanai Kaa’, which can be translated into holy (thiru) elephant (aanai) forest (kaa or kaadu). Over the time, it became Thiruvanaikaval.

It is believed that the spider, which killed the elephant and committed a sin, was born as a human in the earth and he was known as the King Kochengot Chola, who built 70 temples and the Jambukeswarar temple is one among them. The temple here has the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum of small size of 4-foot high and 2.5-foot wide to avoid entry to any elephant, with which he had enmity in the last birth.

Stupendous Architecture of Jambukeswarar Temple

The architectural brilliance of the Thiruvanaikaval temple is astounding. You can find five corridors, also called ‘praharams’. There is a huge wall of 25-foot high protecting the fifth precinct and it extends over a mile and is called Vibudi Prakara. Of the other four prakarams, the fourth one has a pillared-hall (mandapam), where you can find as many as 796 pillars. There is a small tank that is filled by springs.

There are two gateway towers on the third prakaram or precinct and it is protected by a 30-foot high wall. The second prakaram also has a tower or gopuram of 65-foot high and in and around it there are some small shrines. The ‘garbhagriha’ or sanctum sanctorum is in the first prakaram, which is of a size 126 feet by 123 feet.

Built as a square structure, the sanctum has a shikara or vimana on it. There are three entrances to it. You can find the holy tree Jambuka growing by the wall of the sanctum. There is a Mukha Mandapa, where there is an idol of Nandi. The Shivalinga can be viewed and worshipped through a stone window, which features nine-viewing apertures, representing ‘Navagraha’. There are several shrines and the most popular one is the Akilandeshwari’s shrine.

Some Interesting Facts about Jambukeswarar Temple

Here are a few facts about the Thiruvanaikaval temple:

  • The temple is ideally located between the two rivers, Coleroon in the north and Cauvery in the south.

  • A lot of prominence is attached to the temple for being one of the Pancha Bootha Stalams.

  • There are pillars made out of monolithic stones

  • It is believed that the poet Kalamega Pulavar, who was blessed by Goddess Parvati, wrote poems here.

Get to Know the Festivals at Jambukeswarar Temple

There are quite a few festivals that are celebrated grandly here. The most important one is the Thiruvanaikaval car festival. The festival is generally a part of brahmotsavam, when the festival commences with the hoisting of ‘ashtakodi’. Elaborate poojas happen during the time and the temple car procession takes place, with the devotees pulling the car carrying the god and goddess.

The Pancha Prakara festival is the other one, which is celebrated on the 37th day of brahmotsavam. During the time, Lord Shiva dressed as Goddess Parvati and Parvati dressed as Shiva are taken out on procession. Some of the other festivals are Aadi Pooram, Aadi Velli, Aadi Theppam, Thai Poosam, and so on.

About Thiruvanaikaval Temple Timings

The temple opens at 5.30 a.m. and closes at 1 p.m. During the time various poojas like ushakkala pooja, kaala sandhi puja and uchi kala pooja are conducted. The temple reopens at 5 p.m. and closes at 9.00 p.m., after artha jama pooja.

How to Reach Jambukeswarar Temple?

Trichy is easily accessible through road, rail and air. To reach the Jambukeswarar temple, there are buses from the Trichy central bus station and Chathiram bus stand. As for the train, there are several trains connecting Trichy Junction and from there, you can hire a cab or bus.

The Trichy Airport, which connects most of the major cities through direct flights, is just 15 kilometers away from the temple.

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