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The temple is among the 276 Devara Paadal Petra Shiva Sthalams and the 7th Sthalam in Kongu Nadu. It’s a very big temple, and its Rajagopuram or main tower is around 120 ft high and has two corridors and 7 tiers. The temple is East-facing. There is a Moolavar Lingam in the temple that is a Swayambumurthi or self-manifested.
Three things make this temple famous – the presiding deity or Moorthy, the Sthalam or place of divinity, and the Theertham or Holy Water. The first person to worship Lord Shiva in this temple was none other than Lord Brahma. There is a belief that Kamadhenu, the bovine goddess, also worshipped Lord Shiva here. One can see its hoof mark on the Lingam even now. The name Ahnilaiyappar for the deity is derived from the words, “Ah”, which means ‘cow’ and “nilai”, meaning ‘place’. This is where Eripatha Nayanar, one of the 63 Nayanmars, was born. King Pugazh Cholan also is from this place. He later became one of the Nayanmars.
Karur is the birthplace of the renowned Karuvarur Siddhar. He is one of the 18 divine Siddhars of South India. In his hymn, ‘Thiruvisaippa’, he has sung praises of the Lord. This hymn is a part of the 9th Thirumurai. The legacy of this temple is deeply connected with the life of Karuvarur Siddhar. According to legend, some Brahmins went and complained to the king that the Siddhar was a follower of the Vama Margam. This meant that he used to offer meat and wine to the Lord. When the king enquired into these allegations, he realized that they were false, and he imposed punishments on the brahmins. But the harassment continued, and unable to bear it, the Siddhar rushed to the shrine, and embraced the idol of Ahnilaiyappar and became one with it. Due to this, the Lingam is seen to be in a slanting position. One can see the Jeeva Samadhi of Karuvurar Siddhar inside the temple.
The temple was built during the period of the Cholas. Karur is believed to be among the five capitals of the Cholas. Inscriptions reveal that the temple was in existence during the rule of King Rajendra Cholan (1012 – 54 AD) and that he made several gifts of land to the temple.
The legend surrounding this temple is associated with Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva. Supposedly, Lord Brahma became very proud and arrogant as he was the Creator of the world. This irked Lord Shiva, and he decided to cut him down to size and teach him humility. Around this time, the bovine goddess Kamadhenu was trying to achieve moksha. Lord Shiva told Sage Narada to advise Kamadhenu to go down to earth and do penance in a Vanji or forest. The Vanji tree is found mostly in the Indian sub-continent. Instructed thus, Kamadhenu went to Karur, which had an abundance of these trees. Finding the Lingam here to be completely covered by an anthill, Kamadhenu cleared it and began worshipping the Lord here. When she was performing the abishekam for the Lingam, her hoof accidentally hit the Lingam, and the imprint is still visible on the Lingam. Lord Shiva was very pleased with her devotion and bestowed on her the blessing of creation, which was Lord Brahma’s role. On realizing this, Brahma was humbled, and his pride vanished. He begged Lord Shiva to pardon him. Shiva pardoned him and restored him to his position as the Lord of Creation. Also, pleased with Kamadhenu’s devotion, Shiva also said that henceforth he would also be known as Pasupati Nathar in Karur. The word Pasu means ‘cow’.
This temple was supposedly renovated by Emperor Musukunda, who belonged to the Skanda Mahapurana period. Historical accounts of this place say that Musukunda received an invitation to attend Lord Muruga’s wedding with Deivanai. The wedding was held in Thiruparankundram near Madurai.
Eripatha Nayanar was a great devotee of Lord Pasupatheesvarar. His life was dedicated to the welfare and protection of Shiva devotees like him. For this purpose, he used to carry an ax with him at all times, to be used against those who tried to harm them.
A Shiva devotee called Sivakami Andar also used to live in this place. It is said that every day, Sivakami Andar, made it a habit to gather flowers and make garlands which he would then offer to the Lord. One Navami day, Sivakami Andar was on his way to the temple with a basket of flowers to make his customary offering to the Lord. Suddenly, the king’s elephant, which was passing by, snatched the basket from his hands, flung it to the ground, and fled. Sivakami Andar began to weep, as the flowers meant for the Lord had been ruined.
Just then, Eripatha Nayanar was passing by and saw Andar crying. On hearing what had happened, Nayanar became angry. Seeing the distress caused by the elephant to the aged devotee, he vowed revenge. He ran after the elephant and killed it with his ax. He also killed the mahouts because they had not tried to prevent the elephant from causing mischief. So they were also responsible for Andar’s distress.
When he heard that his elephant and mahouts had been killed, King Pugazh Cholan arrived there with his soldiers. He was told that Eripatha Nayanar had killed them as they had caused distress to a devotee of Shiva. The king, too, was a great devotee of Shiva, so he did not get angry. Instead, he was filled with shame that an offence against Shiva, or ‘Shiva Aparadham’, had been caused by his elephant and its mahouts.
Filled with remorse, the king went to see Eripathar and asked him to kill him as well, as he felt that he was also responsible in a way for what happened to Andar. A stunned Eripathar was touched by the king’s devotion to the Lord. He felt that he had caused distress to the king, who was also a Shiva devotee. So, Eripathar decided to punish himself. He was about to cut his own throat when the shocked king, fearing that he would be held responsible for another offense, seized the sword and prevented Eripathar from taking his own life.
The story goes that at this point, God intervened and explained that the entire incident had happened as he wanted the whole world to realize how sincere and faithful Eripathar was in his service to the Lord. As soon as he said this, the elephant and the mahouts came back to life, and Andar found his basket full of fresh flowers.
The story of Soundarya Nayaki is also linked to Karur. She was Shiva’s second consort and was also known as Vadivudaiyal. Supposedly, Vadivudaiyal was born in Appipalayam, a place near Karur, and grew up to be an ardent devotee of Lord Pashupatheeswarar and wished to marry him. This worried her parents, and they tried their best to make her give up her foolish dream. But Lord Shiva appeared in their dream and told them that he would marry their daughter on the seventh day of Panguni Uthram festival. A floral shower over the whole village would act as a sign from heaven.
On the seventh day of Panguni Uthram, as Vadivudaiyal sat deep in meditation, the villagers saw flowers showering on her from the skies, and a glowing garland fall around her neck. Her parents then took her to the temple, and she merged with the Lord. At this point, she received the name, Soundarya Nayaki. Even today, in the month of Panguni, Lord Pasupatheeswarar ‘s idol is taken in procession to Appipalayam on the sixth day. On the seventh day, it is brought back along with the Soundarya Nayaki’s idol.
Ambal has two separate shrines here. While one is for Soundarya Nayaki, the other is for Alankara Nayaki. The latter is a symbol of ‘kriya shakti’ and the former, of ‘ichcha shakti’. Other idols include Vinayakar, Natarajan, Murugan, and his consorts, Dakshinamoorthi, Mahalakshmi, the 63 Nayanmars, Navagrahas, Kala Bhairavar with his eight arms, and the Pancha Lingams. Also seen here are the idols of Saint Sambandar, Eripatha Nayanar, king Pugazh Chola, and the Chola emperor, Muchukunda.
After entering the main tower, one can see a large stone pillar or Dwajasthambam. King Pugazh Chola Nayanar’s sculpture can be seen on one side of the pillar. His hand holds a head on a plate, and this indicates his readiness to offer his head. On the other side, is the sculpture of the divine cow, Kamadhenu, offering of milk to the Lingam. In front of the shrine is a Mandapam or 100 pillar hall, which is called Pugazh Chozhar Mandapam. An exquisite sculpture can be seen in the Prakaram or outer corridor, which depicts a cow offering milk to the Shivalingam.
In his famous Thirupugazh, Saint Arunagirinathar has sung 7 songs in praise of Lord Murugan, who graces this temple. Though Vanji is said to be the Sthal Vriksham, one can see only Vilva trees here, currently. The temple architecture has a special feature – on the 14th, 15th, and 16th days of the Tamil month, Panguni (March-April), the rays of the sun fall directly on Lord Shiva’s idol.
Hordes of people visit the temple to worship Lord Pasupatheeswarar. They come seeking relief from mental health problems, progeny blessings, and obstacles to marriage. They also seek good jobs and success in trade and business.
Panguni Uthram, the 13-day festival Brahmotsavam) in March-April, is an important festival here. So also is Arudra Darshan in December-January. New moon days, transition days of Saturn and Jupiter, are also significant and attract a large crowd. The Chariot (Ther) festival is quite popular. Every month, Pradosham poojas are also held in the temple.
Karur has good road connectivity with other major cities. There is a Railway station on the Trichy - Erode route. The temple is about 80 kms from Trichy, and from Erode, it is 65 kms. Trichy is the nearest airport.
Sri Kalyana Pasupatheeswarar Temple,
Karur, Karur District,
Tamil Nadu-639 001.
Telephone: +91 4324 262010
|S No||Temple Pooja Timing||Timings|
|1||Morning||6 am to 12.30 pm|
|2||Evening||4 pm to 8.30 pm|
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