Sirgazhi Temple

Sri Brahmapureeswarar temple

Sri brahmapureeswarar temple is in Sirkazhi, near Chdambaram.  There are three big courtyards in this huge temple complex, and Shiva is worshipped at three levels.  At the ground level is the sanctum housing the presiding deity, Sri Brahmapureeswarar, in the Lingam form.  Since Brahma worshipped Him here, He is called Sri Brahmapureeswarar.  At the second level is th gigantic image of Shiva and Parvati, as Uma Maheswarar, seated on a thoni.  The thoni is the raft on which Shiva is said to have carried the 64 arts, to save them during the great deluge that submerged the earth.  Hence, He is also known as Thoniappar.  The third and highest level houses the image of Bhairavar or Sattanathar.  One school says Shiva, as Sattanathar,  quelled the arrogance of Sri Trivikrama (Lord Vishnu in his Vamana avatar), while others maintain that Sattanathar is Vishnu.  He is worshipped here on Friday nights.

The temple is also famously associated with Sri Tirugnana Sambandar, the great Shaivaite saint.  It is said that as an infant, Sri Sambandar was abandoned by his parents.  His hungry cries reached Sri Parvati, who is worshipped here as Sri Tirunilai Nayaki, and also for Sri Sambandar.  There are 22 theerthams associated with tis temple and several mandapams.  The impressive five-tiered Rajagopuram is badly in need of a coat of paint.

The original temple was built in the 10th century.  It was vastly expanded during the reigns of Kullotunga Chola, his son, Vikrama Chola, and Kollotunga Chola II, in the 11th and 12th centuries.  One can have a grandstand view of the entire temple complex from the second and third levels of the sanctum.  In ancient India, Sirgazhi was variously known as Brahmapuram, Thonipuram, etc.

How to get there:  Sirgazhi is only 20km from Chidambaram, and 90km from Pondichery.  It is on the Chennai-Pondi-Karaikal bus route.  Accommodation:  Sirgazhi is a municipal town, with facilities for lodging, or you could stay in Chidambaram.

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