Thiruanaikkaval is situated about 3 miles from Tiruchirapalli
and about half a mile from the famous temple Sri Rangam. The
temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is surrounded by a
beautiful grove. The Lingam is installed under a 'Jambu'
tree and the tree is said to be many hundreds of years old. Thus
the deity is also called Jambunathar, Jambukeswarar or
Jambulingam. The consort is called Akilandeswary or
Akilandanayaki. This is one of the five 'Panchabootha
sthala' representing one of the five elements - water.
Tiruchirapalli is a city served well by road, rail and air and
the temple is nearby.
The temple complex is quite large and is made up of five
enclosures. The fourth enclosure or 'praharam' contains a
large mandapam supported by 800 pillars. There is also a tank
(pond) surrounded by a corridor with about a hundred pillars.
This enclosure is called the 'viboothi' praharam and the
wall surrounding this enclosure is called the 'viboothi'
The legend connected with the 'viboothi' wall is this.
During the construction of the temple by a king a mysterious
voice told him not to build the wall surrounding the fourth
enclosure. After a few days an ascetic arrived on the scene and
started constructing the fourth wall. At the end of the day this
ascetic gave his labourers a pinch of holy ash (viboothi) as
their wage. When the workers arrived at their dwellings the
'viboothi' would turn into gold. Thus the wall came to be
known as 'viboothi wall' and the enclosure as
The story in sculpture
Once two minor devas quarrelled among themselves as to who was
more devoted to Lord Shiva. During one of these quarrels they
cursed each other and one became an elephant and the other a
spider. Realising their predicament they prayed to Lord Shiva to
redeem them from their curses. Lord Shiva instructed them both to
go to this jungle full of 'Jambu' trees and worship the
'Lingam' that had appeared there under a 'Jambu'
tree. Thus both the elephant and the spider were born in this
jungle of jambu trees. The elephant brought water from the pond
nearby in its trunk and washed the 'Lingam' and kept the
place tidy. The spider, however, wove a web over the
'Lingam' as a canopy to prevent dry leaves and rubbish
falling on the 'Lingam'. One day the elephant while
tidying up the area saw the spider's web over the
'Lingam' and pulled it down. The spider was outraged at
this and crawled into the trunk of the elephant and bit it. The
elephant unable to stand the pain dashed its trunk against the
trees and died. The spider too was killed. Lord Shiva took pity
on these two creatures and gave salvation to both of them. The
elephant by its ardent devotion to Lord Shiva gave this place the
name Thiru+Anai+Kaa (Holy+elephant+jungle) which later became
Thiruanaikkaval or Thiruvanaikkovil as it is known now.
There are many festivals conducted in this temple and one of
the important ones is the 'Mandala Brahmotsavam' during
March/April conducted over 40 days. On the 37th day of this
festival Lord Shiva dressed as a female and Goddess Parvathy as a
male are taken round all five 'praharam' and this
procession is called 'Pancha prahara utsavam'. There is a
legend attached to this festival.
Once Brahma fell in love with a beautiful girl whom he
created. He realised that he had committed a sin and arrived at
this 'sthala' and started a penance to rid him of his
sin. Lord Shiva wanted to test whether he was truly absorbed in
his meditation. So he appeared in front of Brahma dressed as a
beautiful woman. Brahma, however, recognised Lord Shiva and to
propitiate him performed the 'Mandala Brahmotsavam' for
40 days. It is this tradition that is carried on to this day.
The Lingam in this temple is said to be an 'Appu
Lingam' (Water Lingam) and when the river Kaveri or Coleroon
is in spate water can be seen oozing from the Lingam. The shrine
of Goddess Parvathy is facing east while Lord Shiva is facing
west as if facing each other. This is to depict that Goddess
Parvathy herself once worshipped Lord Shiva here and received
answers to her doubts about creation. Thus this temple is also
called an 'Upathesa sthala'. The priest of the Amman
temple, when he performs the worship to Lord Shiva dressed as a
woman, enacts this theme every noon.
There are many shrines in this complex dedicated to various
deities. One such is the shrine for Raja Rajeswarar. The Lingam
installed in this shrine has five faces and is known as
'Panchamukha Lingam'. This temple is full of sculptures
of rare beauty and exquisite workmanship. The thousand-pillared
mandapam as it is called is carved in the form of a chariot with
wheels and horses.
'Ko-pooja' (cow worship) and 'Annabhishekam'
(heaping of cooked rice on the deity) are a daily ritual in this
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