Tirukkadaiyur Temple

Sri Abhirami sametha Sri Amrethakadeswarar temple

Tirukkadaiyur is the site of Sri Abhirami sametha Sri Amrethakadeswarar temple, a favorite with senior citizens, especially those who have completed Sashtiabdapporthi, that is, sixty years of earthly existence, or sixty years of wedded life.  Those who have completed eighty perform Sathabhishekam here.
It is said that the place was originally called Tirukkadiyur Mayanam, which was ravaged by the sea in the 11th century.  The temple was then re-built on an identical plan.

According to the sthala purana, this is the place where sage markandeya won over Yama, the god of death.  Mrikandu, his father, had prayed to the divine to bless him with a son.  God acceded to his request, but would live only up to 16 years, or he could have an idiot of a son who would live up to 100 years.  The wise man chose the first option, knowing full well that the pious kid would take care of himself.  Markandeya, as he was named, did exactly that.  Told by his parents, as he approached 16, that the end was near, he clung to the Shiva Lingam here for dear life.  Yama, the God of Death, had no choice but to retreat, for dear life.  Yama, the God of Death, had no choice but to retreat, for Lord Shiva emerged from the Lingam as Sri Amrethakadeswarar, and not only saved his devote from the death, but granted him immortality.  The boy grew up to become sage Markandeya.  A scar caused on the Lingam, when Yama unwittingly tightened the noose round it, can still be seen, it is said.

Incidentally, the sthala purana of Sri Uma Markandeswara Swamy temple, in Rajamundry, clims that the markendeya episode happened there.  However, in terms of fame and popularity, Sri Amrethakadeswarar templ is way ahead of its Rajamundry counterpart.  Devout Hindus from all over the world frequent this temple.  Another reason for its popularity is that it is also a Shakti sthal, the abode of Sri Abhirami Amman, in whose praise Saint Abirami Bhattar composed the Abirami Anthathi.  The Amman is said to have materialized before the saint, who composed a string of 100 verses.  Chanting the Anthathi is said bestow on one the Amman's blessings and prosperity.  Saints Appar, Sundarar and Thirugnana Sambandar have sung in praise of this place.

According to the puranas, Lord Vinayaka hid the pot of celestial nectar from the devas, as they had not propitiated Him.  On Shiva's advice, they apologized toSri Vinayaka and got back the pot, but when they returned to consume it, it had turned into a Shiva Lingam.  Since the Lingam originally contained amrita, the presiding deity here came to be known as Sri Amrethakadeswarar.

The utsavamoorthy of Sri Amrethakadeswarar shows Him wielding the trident on Yama.  There is no shrine for the Nine planets in this temple, as the Navagrahas, including Rahu, have absolutely no power here.  Sri Amethakadeswarar and Sri Abhirami reign supreme.  The Yama Samharam (destruction) festival is celebrated here during the annual Brahmotsavam in the Tamil Month of Chitrai (April-May).  This is probably one of the few shrines, where the female element, Shakti, is as powerful as its Purusha (male) counterpart.  Sri Amrethakadeswarar.

The six-tiered Rajagopuram, at the entrance, displays Shiva, Parvati and other gods.  Equally impressive is an arch at the entrance to the temple lane, which displays, among other gods, Sri Shiva, Sri Abhirami and Sri Subramanya.  There are 3 tanks here, Amritha Pushkarni, Kala theertham and Markandeya theertham.

Several dynasties had created endowment for the maintenance/renovation of this temple.  Inscriptions range from the Chola mperors Raja Raja to Kullothunga, the Pandyas from Jatavaraman Sundara Pandya (1251-70) to Maravarman Kulasekhara Pandya (1268-1312), to the Vijayanagar emperor, Sri Krishnadeva Raya.  The shrine is managed by Sri Dharmapuri Adheenam.

Not far from the shrine is Sri Amrita Narayana Perumal temple, dedicated to Vishnu.  Tirukkadaiyur is the place where the celestial nectar literally rained.  It was Vishnu, as Sri Amrita Narayana Perumal,  who had distributed the ambrosial liquid to the Devas.  In the middle of a vast, barricaded open space, on a huge pedestal, are the gigantic images of Sri Amrita Narayana Perumal and his divine consort, Sri Amritavalli Thayar.  The idols were reportedly retrieved from the ruins of the original temple, and are now protected by make-shift shelter.

How to get there: 

Tirukkadaiyur is on the Chidambaram Nagappattinam route.  Nagapattinam is further south (43km), while Chennai is up north (about 300km).  Mayiladuthurai (30km) is a major bus terminal that connects you to almost every part of Tamil Nadu.  If you are coming from Pondy, you can come directly on the Karaikal bus.  Accommodation:  There are plenty of good hotels, with halls attached to celebrate all occasions.

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