Vaitheeswarnkoil Temple

The celebrated Sri Vaidyanathaswamy temple is in Vaitheeswarankoil, a fifteen-minute bus journey from Sirgazhi, Lord Shiva is worshipped here as Sri Vaitheeswaran, the divine doctor.

According to legend,Sri Vaitheeswaran had healed the wounds sustained by the forces of Lord Subramanya during his battles with the asura, Soorapadman. Many people coming to this shrine believe that there are nearly 5,000 diseases that ail mankind, and which the Lord can cure.  He said to be ably assisted in this noble endeavour by His divine consort, Sri Thayalnayaki, with the medicated oil in her sannidhi.  Thayal is derived from the word Thailam (ointment).  The oil is particularly effective in curing skin ailments.  Also, the Goddess is said to have presented the divine Vel here to Sri Subramanya to fight the asuras.
Many people have a dip in the Siddhamirtham tank before worshiping the Lord, in the hope that they would be cured of their ailments.  Several great siddhas, reportedly, offered Amritabhisheka to the Lord. The tank was specially excavated to hold the divine nectar that was used for the Lord's abisheka, it is said.  Those afflicted with mental illness and skin diseases bathe in this pond, which is said to be free from all aquatic creatures.  The creatures were kept out of the tank by Shiva with His yogic powers, as they were considered an impediment to the therapeutic process.

It is said that the ashes from the Homa Kundam, and the sandal paste given here as prasad, along with the bilwa and neem leaves, if taken with the siddhamirtham waters, can cure any ailment.  So powerful is the Lord's presence as a divine doctor that, it is said, even medicines sold by quacks here, end up curing the sick.  The story goes that Lord Rama and Lakshmana worshipped at the shrine, while on their way to Lanka.  It was at the back of the sanctum, it is said, that the brothers cremated the body of the giant bird, Jatayu, who was killed while trying to prevent Sri Sita's abduction by Ravana.  There is a pond here called the Jatayu kundam.  Sage Thirunavakkarasar became a devotee of the Lord, after he was advised by his sister to pray to Sri Vaitheeswaran for relief from a recurring stomach ailment.

Mars, Angaraka, was once stricken by leprosy, it is said.  He came to Vaidheeswarankoil, bathed in the Siddhamirtham tank and meditated on Sri Vaitheeswaran.  The Lord Himself prepared the medicine, while Sri Thayalnayaki held the bowl of oil.  Mars was cured of his ailment it is said.  The small sub-shrine, for Angagaraka or Mars, adjoining the sanctum, is now as crowded as the main shrine.  It is one of most popular shrines on the Navagraha circuit.  Women, especially, come in large numbers to pray for removal of obstacles to marriage.  Angaraka, it is believed, helps remove the effects of the Mars affliction (Angarak dhosham) in one's horoscope, paving the way for a hassle- free marriage.

There are five shrines here, including one for Dhanvantri, the god of medicine, who is said to have attained eternal bliss here.  Sri Subramanya is worshipped as Sri Muthukumaraswamy, while Lord Ganesh is known here as Sri Karpaga Vinayaka.

The five-tiered Rajagopuram is preceded by an impressive mandapam with stucco figures of Lord Shiva, Parvati, etc.  Vaidheeswarankoil is famous for the temple, but also equally famous for its astrologers, who practise a kind of astrology called Nadi Jyothidam.  The readings, about a person's past, present and future lives, are supposedly based on ancient manuscripts, complied by rishis.  The manuscripts, it is claimed, have data about almost everybody on earth.
How to get there:  Vaitheeswaran Koil is 6k from Sirkazhi, and 36km from Chidambaram.  The bus network is excellent.  The nearest railway station is Mayiladuthurai (20km), which receives express/passenger trains to and from Mysore, Bangalore, Trichy, Erode, Thanjavur and Kumbakkonam.  Accommodation:  The Devasthanam and private lodges provide both AC and Non-AC rooms.

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