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Last year, I had gone for temple runs with my family from Chennai to Kumbakonam. We had planned for exactly four temples to visit while going to and from Kumbakonam. We planned to cover exactly four temples in Kumbakonam, a city located in the district of Thanjavur which is known for its temples and especially the famous “degree” coffee.
Arulmigu Siruvachur Mathura Kaliaman Temple
We had started with the “Arulmigu Siruvachur Mathura Kaliaman” temple due to its history. The temple is dedicated to the Goddess Chelliamman and its history dates 1000 years back. It is said that the Goddess Chelliamman granted a boon to an evil sorcerer due to his devotion. But the sorcerer wished that the goddess becomes his slave. The goddess was only freed by Kannagi, the woman who had burned down Madurai when her husband was punished there to death and to clear both her and her husband’s name for injustice. We had a wonderful darshan while visiting the goddess’s shrine.
Sarabha Soolini Durga Temple
The next temple we visited was the “Sarabha Soolini Durga” Temple. The Sarabha Soolini Durga Temple is located in the village of Pilanjeri and is devoted to the goddess Durga. The goddess is surrounded by 8 Bhairavas to protect her. The goddess Durga appears with 18 arms and is holding weapons like Damaru and Trishul. It is said that after Lord Vishnu took the form of Lord Narasimha to kill Hirayankaship, Father of Prahlada. But he could not control his anger.
So, to battle and stop the world from getting destroyed and maintain peace, Lord Shiva took on the avatar of Sarabeshwarar and with the help of Sri Pratyangara Devi and Sri Soolini Durga on either side of his wings, he had stopped Narasimha’s anger and had restored peace. To pray to the goddess Durga, you can offer a lemon to the priest and he will answer the prayers based on the direction in which the lemon runs.
The next temple we visited was one of our own “family” temples. Lord Shiva is the main god in this temple. The temple belongs to the descendants of the Kailash dynasty. Shiva or vaithyanathar (Vaithiyar in Tamil is known as the healer/doctor) is known as the “God of healing”). It is believed that prayer in this temple will cure all diseases.
It is said that the god Mars was suffering from Leprosy and was cured by Lord Vaidhyanathaswamy. So, it is said that a bath in the holy waters of the Siddhamirtham tank will cure all diseases. The place is also known for “naadi josiyam” (which is when astrologers look at the veins or lines of your palms and will predict your history, present, and future). The shrine of God Shiva is protected and surrounded by God Bhairava and Lord Ganesha shrines.
The last temple we visited was the “Oppiliappan” temple. The temple is dedicated to the God Vishnu. It is located in the village of Thirunageswaram, located on the outskirts of Kumbakonam. The temple was first started by the Chola dynasty and was later developed and completed by the Thanjavur Nayaks. This is the fourteenth Divya Pradesham among the 108 Vishnu Divya Desas. The god Vishnu is protected and surrounded by the shrine of Anjaneyar (Hanuman), Shri Ram, and the shrine of Dancing Krishna.
The shrine of Sri Ramanuja is also found there. It is said that the marriage of Lord Vishnu and the goddess Bhooma Devi took place during the month of Aipasi (October – November) when he had disguised himself as an old man to ask for Sage Markandeya’s daughter. As his daughter was young, she was permitted to cook the food without any salt by Lord Vishnu. So, that is why the offerings in the temple are offered without any salt every month when the Tirivonam star appears.