Once upon a time there was a king in the Pandya dynasty. He once embarked on a hunting trip in the dense jungles of his kingdom. While riding, his horse stumbled upon a piece of rock and both horse and master fell down. Dusting himself, he got up and noticed that the piece of rock on which his horse had stumbled was bleeding. The next moment the king was blinded.
“Why have I been punished thus Oh Lord!” he cried. At that moment an old man came upon the scene. He picked up some leaves growing nearby in the jungle and applied its juice on the king’s eyes. The king got back his eyesight. The king happy after regaining his eyesight thanked the old man, who in turn advised the king to build a temple at the site of his accident and vanished.
The king turned around to look at the rock but it had turned into a Shiva linga. Elated, he looked around him. The place was a huge plantain grove and he began planning to build the temple around it. That the hoof of the horse made a mark on the Shiva linga was enough reason for the place getting the name ‘Tirukulambur’. ‘Kulambu’ meaning hoof in Tamil. This later paved way for the town being called ‘Tirukalambur’.
As the temple is surrounded by a plantain grove, the deity here came to be known as Sri Kathalivaneswara. ‘Kathali’ meaning plantain. A unique feature in this temple is that the sapling taken from the temple to be planted elsewhere would never grow. Likewise, no sapling from outside the area grows when planted in the temple grove.
Another feature on hearsay is that there are several varieties of bananas of which, ‘kathali’, rasthali and the mountain variety are popular. In this temple, the bananas look like rasthali, taste like the mountain variety and the banana peel resembles the kathali . People believe that the bananas given by way of prasadam could cure ailments.
Once a King from the North came to Tirukalambur to pray to the deity here. A heavenly voice is said to have told him to build a temple for Kashi Vishwanath and Sri Visalakshi in the temple premises so that people unable to go to Kashi could get their darshan here. So the King built separate shrines for these Gods. It is said that once upon a time the deity here sported a ferocious look. Later, a Kanchi seer had advised the king to build a separate shrine for Ambal Soundaranayaki. Tirukalambur is 13 kms away from Pon Amaravathi town in Pudukkottai district.
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Agasthya was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Once on a pilgrimage he had the desire to see a shiva linga installed in a palm grove. So he went around all the palm groves looking for the linga. Soon he chanced upon one in the palm grove situated in a place called Tirupanangadu. He worshipped the lord in this place, where Shiva also came to be called as Talapureeswara. ‘Talam’ means Palm tree in Tamil. He once told his father Pulasthya about the shiva shrine here. Pulasthya was consumed by the desire to see the temple.
So he arrived in Tirupanangadu and began looking for the shiva linga, described by Agasthya. But after searching for a long time, Pulasthya could not find it. He realized that unless Shiva desired, his devotees cannot get to see his form.
He began making a Shiva linga and installed it on his own in Tirupanangadu. This idol came to be known as Kripanadeswarar. Hearsay has it that the Goddess Ambika urged Shiva to give darshan to Pulasthya.
Rishi Pulasthya, was one of the sons of Brahma, and the father of Agastya. Before the Krishna avatar, the Lord is said to have sent the river Viraja from the Netherworlds to flow as the Yamuna and the Govardhan as king of mountains to the earth. Govardhan was born to the mountain god Drona. Govardhan was situated in an island with utmost natural beauty. Pulasthya on hearing about the Govardhan being a very beautiful mountain wanted his presence in the yagna he was performing at Kashi. He asked the permission of Drona, Govardhan’s father. Drona agreed, but Govardhan laid a lot conditions. He said that Pulasthya should carry Govardhan in his palm and if due to any circumstance he was laid down by Pulasthya, he would reside in that place forever. Pulasthya agreed and carried him in his palm. While crossing the Yamuna, Govardhan decided that he would reside in that place to worship Lord Krishna. So he grew heavier and heavier. Pulasthya couldn’t bear the weight in his palm and laid the mountain on the ground where Govardhan sat like a rock without moving. Pulasthya was outraged and he cursed Govardhan saying that he could remain there but in very short stature and that he would never again be tall and majestic. According to mythology to this day, (even when Krishna carried the Govardhan with his little finger), Govardhan remained half the size of what he was earlier.
Tirupanangadu is in Kancheepuram district.
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Of the five pieces of the Amirthalingam which fell shattered in the earth, one piece fell in a place called Ksheeraramam. When Lord Rama was on his way to Ayodhya, he came across this piece and installed the idol in Ksheeraramam. Hence this deity came to be known as Ramalingeswarar. It is said that the neck part of the Amirthalingam fell in Ksheeraramam in Palakolluand is 2ft in height.
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Once Indra was cursed by rishi Durvasa that he would lose all his wealth and prosperity. Indra rushed to Vishnu and prayed that he be blessed with good fortune. Vishnu said that that Amirthalingam churned from the sea would be shattered by Kartikeya and will fall in different places. If Indra could only find one of them and install them in a temple and pray, Lakshmi would favour him. As instructed Indra goes to Amararamam where one of the pieces fell and installed the deity and prayed. Lakshmi showered him with wealth and prosperity in return. This linga which Indra installed is in Amaravathi on the banks of the river Krishna. The linga is about 35ft in height of which 15 ft is visible and 20 ft is covered in the ground.
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Two youngsters regularly went hunting for animals in the nearby jungle. Once they hired a plane and went into the jungle. After a long wait both of them caught an ox each and pulled the carcass to the plane to get back home.
When the reached the plane the pilot said they could not take the oxen on board and the plane cannot handle too much weight. So the youngsters told the pilot “We had similar oxen the last time we came into the jungle and the other pilot allowed us to carry the carcass on board.” The pilot agreed to board them along with their oxen and they were on their way. A few minutes after take-off, the plane crashed. Coming out of the debris one of them asked the other “Where are we?” The other replied “Just a few meters away from the place where we fell last time.”
(This story was retold by a writer recently in an article on self-improvement.)
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There is another tale related to the place mentioned in the Virajadevi story. Once there was an asura named Gaya. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. He prayed to the Lord that he should not be killed by anyone other than the Trimurthis.
He was also given the opportunity to rule the three worlds. Afraid of losing his place among the devas, Indra complained to the Trimurthis that people and the sages were finding it difficult to perform their yagnas peacefully under Gayasura’s rule and that the demon should be vanquished soon.
The Trimurthis assured Indra that they would tackle Gayasura. The met Gayasura in the disguise of three Brahmins. They told Gayasura “Oh Asura! There has been no rain in the earth for a long time and the lands are parched. So we plan to do a yagna for seven days on a pure part of the earth, which we believe is on your own body.” Gayasura gladly agreed to the idea of performing the yagna on his person.
However, the Brahmins told him that for those seven days he should lie supine on the ground without moving a bit. If he did move a little, they would be forced to kill him. Gayasura agreed.
While lying supine Gayasura is said to have increased in size, His head was in Gaya in Bihar, navel was in Jajpur in Orissa and legs extended up to Pitta puram in Andhra Pradesh.
Vishnu did his yagna on the head of Gayasura, Shiva performed his yagna on his legs and Brahma on his stomach. With the beginning of the rooster crowing at dawn on a Sunday the first day of the yagna began. It went on for six days without interruption. On the end of the sixth day Indra reminded the Trimurthis that if the yagna went smoothly they would not be able to kill Gayasura. So on the seventh day during the yagna, Shiva crowed like the rooster. Gayasura thought that the seventh day was over and stirred. The Brahmins immediately told him that their yagna was not complete and the day was not yet over and that they would now have to kill him. Gayasura knew now that the Brahmins were none other than the Trimurthis and he was happy that he would die in their hands.
He agreed to be killed and urged them to give him a boon. He requested them to declare the places where the yagna was done on his person, would be places of worship and that people could pray there for the well being of their ancestors.
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Once the demon Tarakasur was meditating upon Shiva. Pleased with his penance, Shiva appeared before him and told him to ask for a boon. Tarakasur asked for an Atmalingam for which Shiva replied that it would come to him on its own after the devas had finished churning the ocean for the Amirthalingam. So saying he disappeared. Just as promised, after the churning of the ocean, the Atmalingam went directly to Tarakasur. Tarakasur was jubilant. Now he could conquer all three worlds, he thought and he started destroying the yagnas conducted by sages and the Devas in the forests. The Devas went to Vishnu and complained about Tarakasur and how he was troubling them. Vishnu told them to be patient and that the son of Shiva and Parvati, Kartikeya, would soon come to their rescue.
As predicted Kartikeya was born and at the right time, he went to war with Tarakasur along with the Devas.
But the Devas could not continue their warfare with Tarakasur and they drew back in fear. At that moment, Kartikeya prayed to his father and threw his spear at the atmalingam, which adorned the neck of Tarakasur. The spear hit the lingam and broke it to smithereens. Tarakasur lost his power and fell down and Kartikeya kills him. The broken pieces of lingam fell in five different places of worship, the first being Draksharamam. This is also the place where Dakshayini had earlier fallen into the yagna fire. The lingam in Draksharamam is also known as Bheemalingeswar. (See previous post)
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