Jambukeswaram Temple or Tiruvanaikoil (T.V.Koil)

Jambukeswaram, near Trichy, is te ancient name of the present town of Tiruvanaikka, Tiruvannaikkaval or Tiruvanaikoil (T.V.Koil).  Both terms, Jambukeswaram, in Sanskrit and Triuvanaikka/Tiruvanaikoil relate to the same thing: the abode of Lord Jambukeswara.  This famous temple is dedicated to Shiva as the water aspect.  His divine consort here is Sri Akilandeswari.  The shrine, in fact, is known as Sri Jambukeswarar Akilandeswari temple.

There are two stories here related to the word "Jambu." One is that in ancient days this area was a jambu (crab apple) grove.  A sage, who did penance here, and, parhaps, therefore, got the name, Jambu, went to Mount Kailash to present a delicious fruit to Siva.  The Lord ate it with great relish, and spat the seed out.  The sage devoured the seed as a divine gift.  A tree started growing inside him and sprouted out of his head.  Shiva then commanded him to return to this place to do penance.  He further informed him that Parvati would perform pooja to a Lingam under the tree.  He did as he was told, and Sri Parvati duly installed a Lingam under the now big jumbu tree.

In course of time, an elephant began to offer prayers to the Lingam, bringing water in his trunk from the nearby river (Cauvery) to bathe the idol.  a spider became a devotee as well in due course.  He spun a web over the Lingam to protect it from falling leaves.  The elephant was furious at seeing what he thought was dirty cobweb and destroyed it.  The enraged spider than entered the elephant's brain through his trunk and strung him to death.  Caught inside the brain, the spider too died.  The elephant attained salvation, while the spider was born as prince Kotchengannan (him with the red eyes) in the royal household of Woraiyur, which was then the capital of the Chola empire.  Later, as king Kotchengannan Chola, he defeated a Chera rival.  But the death of the Chera king, Irumborai, in his custody, made Kotchengannan very sad. He declared that henceforth he would dedicate his life in the service of the lord.  The first temple he built was this shine at Tiruvanaikka, which should actually read as Thiru annaikka, that is, the Elephant Grove.  According to the "Naalaayira Divya Prabhandam," King Kotchengannan built in all seventy temples for Shiva and five for Vishnu.

It is said that Sri Rama had worshipped at this temple after defeating Ravana.  Likewise, sages Agastya, Gowtama and Parasara had visited this place.  According to the temple authorities, the present temple is the one that king Kochengannan built more than 2,000 years ago.  Some scholars say that he ruled in 600 BCE, while others maintain that it was actually 100 BCE/100CE.  The Cholas, Pandyas and the Hoysalas also contributed magnificently to its upkeep and expansion.  The sanctum is very small, secure, and at a lower level.  The base of the Lingam is always in water.  Goddess Akilandeswari is worshipped in a separate shrine.  A unique ritual here is that around noon a priest of Goddess Akilandeswari's shrine wears a sari, with a crown on his head, and proceeds to perform pooja to the Lingam is the sanctum.  This ritual is a dramatic re-enactment of the ancient past, when Sri Parvati offered worship to the Lingam here.

The pillars in the corridor are more immaculate than the ones in the long corridor in Rameswaram. The workmanship in the central mandapam is amazing. There is a huge almost curtain-like pillar near Sri Akilandeswari's shrine, with tapestry-type designs on it. There are any number of gopuras here.  There are three towers through which you have to go through before you enter the main temple.  The first one has seven tiers and the second one a modest four.  But the third one, surrounded by a grove, and in seven tiers, is by far the best.

How to get there:  Jambukeswaram is well connected by bus and train.  Srirangam railway station is only a kilometre from the temple.  Buses proceeding from Trichy to Srirangam, besides moffusil buses, stop here.

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