Tirukkandiyur Temple

Tirukkandiyur is just 3km from Tiruvaiyaru, on the route to thanjavur, is Tirukkandiyur.  there are two temples here on the main road, one dedicated to Shiva and the other to Vishnu, located on opposite sides.  The Siva temple is Sri Brahma Kandeeswarar temple, while the Vishnu temple is Sri Harasaapa Vimochana Perumal temple, one of the 108 Divya Desams.

Sri Brahma Kandeeswarar temple is considered as one of the seven saptastana temples of Tiruvaiyaru.  The other six are: Tirupppazhanam, Tiruchottruturai, Tiruvedikkudi, in Tiruppanturai, Tillaistanam and Tiruvaiyaru.  During the month of Vaikasi (May - June), the utsava moorthy of Sri Panchanadeeswarar of Tiruvaiyaru is taken to each of the saptastana temples.

Sri Brahma Kandeeswarar temple has an interesting story to it.  It is said that Brahma, the creator among the Trinity, originally had a fifth head on top of his four heads.  However, he became so egoistic with pride on account of his being the creator that he began to imagine he was the greatest of the gods.  Shiva then stepped in to teach Brahma a lesson.  He cut off his fifth head, the reason why Brahma a lesson.  He cut off his fifth head, the reason why Brahma has four heads now.  A chastened Brahma realized his folly, shed his arrogance, and prayed to Shiva for forgiveness.  Tirukandiyur or Kandiyur (literally, condemned) is the site where this episode is said to have taken place.  The temple faces west and has tow prakarams.  Shiva is worshipped here in the Lingam form as Brahma Shira Kandeeswarar (He who cut off Brahma's head).  Behind the sanctum, facing the Lingam, is the shrine of Brahma and Saraswati.  Gooddess Mangalambigai is the divine consort here.  Inscriptions dating back to the Pallava and Chola times can be found in the shrine.  A modest fivve tiered Rajagopuram greets us at the entrance.

Sri Harasaapa Vimochana Perumal temple is, as the name indicates, dedicated to the "Perumal (Vishnu) who redeemed Hara (Shiva)." Shiva, as explained above, had cut off Brahma's fifth head.  However, His act invited the Brahmagarthi dhosam,  a kind of taint/curse, the consequence of which was that he encountered terrible misery, with the decapitated skull stuck in His hand, and with which he had to beg for alms.  Vishnu and Lakshmi then intervened to relieve Shiva of the dhosham.  This shrine is the hallowed spot where Shiva received His remission.  It is also known as Trimurthi Kshetram, as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, appeared together here at the end of the episode.

Since Shiva was freed of His sin here, devotees who pray in this small temple will also be absolved of their sins, it is said.  The deity is in a standing posture, and is also known as Sri Brighunathar.  His divine consort, in a separate shine, is Sri Kamalavalli Thayar.  There are sub-shrines here for, among others, Lord Narasimha, Andal, etc.  The Pushkarni, holy tank, is known as Kapaala theertham.  The Rajagopuram of this temple has three tiers, and is shorter than that of the Shiva temple opposite.  The Rajagopuram of Sri Brahma Kandeeswarar temple is devoid of embellishments, while that of Sri Harasaapa Vimochana Perumal temple is crowded with depictions from the various puranas.

How to get there

Tirukkandiyur is on the main highway between Tiruvaiyaru and Thanjavur, and so are the temples.  All buses, in both directions, stop at Kandiyur, near the temples.

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