Temple Name – Jambukeshwar Temple in Thiruvanaikaval
Main Deity – Lord Shiva
Location – Thiruvanaikaval, Tamil Nadu
Thiruvanaikaval is a suburb in the city of Trichy in Tamil Nadu. It is a peaceful, quaint and unspoiled town located on the northern bank of the river Kaveri very close to the river island of Srirangam. It is famous for being the birth place of Nobel Laureate Sir C. V. Raman who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930. It is most famous for the Jambukeshwar temple which is one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalas of Lord Shiva depicting the Water element. It was built by one of the earlier Chola Rulers Kochengannan nearly 1800 years ago. The temple is one of the sthalas among the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams meaning the place which has found mention in the songs of the Shaivite Saints called Nayanmars.
Being one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalas, the deity worshipped here is Lord Shiva and the lingam here is made out of water from the River Cauvery (or river Ponni). Hence it is called Appu Lingam or Water Lingam.
There are a lot of inscriptions from 11th to 12th century by various Chola Kings indicating grants to the temple.
The temple was widely expanded by the Hoysala Kings including the 7 tiered Raja Gopuram. There were frequent conquests between the French and English forces in the temple and its pagodas. The temple has been maintained by the Nattukotai Chettiars during recent centuries.
Lord Shanmukha or Kartikeya is seen here in a very rare form with a demon under his feet. It is believed that a famous saint named Arunagirinathar approached Lord Muruga for protection from evil thoughts. The demon under the feet of Lord Muruga is said to symbolize evil thoughts.
Origin of the name Appu Lingam
Legends abound regarding the temple origins. Once, Parvati mocked Shiva’s penance for the betterment of the world. Lord Shiva then banished her to Earth to do penance and Parvati in the form of Akhilandeshwari as per Shiva’s wish went to the Jambu forest (Thiruvanaikaval) to do her penance. She made a lingam out of water from the Cauvery river (or river Ponni) under the Venn Naval (blackberry) tree and began her penance. Therefore the lingam is known as Appu Lingam(or water lingam). At last Shiva pleased with her (Parvati in the form of Akhilandeshwari) penance gave her darshan and taught her Shiva Jnana.
Origin of the name Thiruvanaikaval
There were two Ganas(Shiva’s disciples and guards) of Shiva who were always quarelling with each other. One day, one of them cursed the other to become an elephant on earth and the other in return was cursed to become a spider on earth. Both of them came to the Jambu
Forest and began their Shiva worship. Legend has it that the elephant would perform ablutions to the Lingam after collecting water from the Cauvery river. The spider constructed his web over the lingam to protect it from the harsh sunlight falling on it and also to prevent leaves from falling on it. The elephant would see the web and thinking it to be dirt would wash it with water that it carried in its trunk. This continued everyday till the spider one day in rage entered into the trunk of the elephant and bit it to death killing itself also in the process. Shiva in the form of Jambukeshwara was moved by their deep devotion and he relieved them of their curse. Therefore the place came to be known as Thiru-Aanai-Kaa, Thiru in Tamil meaning holy, Aanai meaning elephant and Kaa taken from the word Kaadu meaning forest. Subequently Thiruaanaikaa became Thiruvanaikaval. Due to the sin committed by the spider in killing the elephant, it was reborn in the next birth as the Chola King Kotchengannan Chola (meaning red eyed King). Remembering his enmity with the elephant in his previous birth, it is said that he not only constructed 70 temples but specially built this temple Sanctorum in such a way that not even a small sized elephant could enter. The entrance of the sanctum sanctorum of the Jambukeshwara temple is only 4 feet high and 2.5 feet wide.
Legend behind King’s red eyes
It is said that when the King was in his mother’s womb, the Palace Astrologer predicted the auspicious time to give birth to enable the new born’s well being. Unfortunately the queen went into labour earlier than the predicted time. She summoned her attendant and asked to be hung upside down so that the delivery would be stalled until the predicted time. This waiting time in the womb is alleged to have made the baby’s eyes red.
Legend behind Vibhuti Praharam
It is said that at the time of construction of the fifth enclosure, the Chola king had to go to war to defend his kingdom. Even in the battlefield his mind was constantly on the Lord and the incomplete temple construction. Lord Shiva in his infinite mercy is said to have come as Vibhuti Chitthar and completed the construction. Therefore the praharam is named Vibhuti Praharam and the walls around it are known as ‘Thiruneethran Thirumadhil’ where Thiruneeru in Tamil means Vibhuti and Madhil means wall.
Legend behind offering betel nus and leaves as Neivedhyam
Once, a Brahmin aspired to become a poet. He prayed to Goddess Akhilandeshwari seeking her blessings. The Goddess materialized as a woman chewing betel leaves. To test him she sought his permission to spit the betel juice in his mouth as she could not desecrate the temple. This angered the Brahmin and he refused to allow her to do it. Meanwhile another devotee named Varadhan who was very particular about cleanliness and purity in temples visited the temple. The Goddess went to test him and when she placed the same condition, he readily agreed. He later became a famous poet named Kalamegam. Thus even to this day betel nuts and leaves are offered to the Goddess to ensure success in education.
Origin of the name Jambukeshwar
There was a sage named Jambu who did penance of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva appeared before him and gave him some blackberry fruit(Jambu in Sanskrit and Naaval in tamil) as prasadam. The sage ate the fruit and consumed even the seeds. The seeds began to germinate inside his stomach and grew into a tree right through his head. The sage then attained salvation. This tree became the Sthala Vruksha (holy tree). Goddess Parvathi created the lingam and offered penance to the Lord under this tree. Therefore the Lord came to be known as Jambukeshwar or the Lord who gave salvation to Sage Jambu.
Architecture of the temple
The architecture of the temple is so classic that it is said to have even surpassed that of the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple which was constructed around the same period. There are five enclosures inside the temple.
There is a huge and magnificent 7 tiered Raja Gopuram in the entrance. The idols of Kali and Veerabhadra are on either side of the entrance. The outermost fifth enclosure is a massive outer wall known as the Vibhuti Praharam. It is two feet thick, over 25 feet high and stretches over a mile. Legend says that Lord Shiva himself assisted the labourers who built the wall.
There is another seven tiered tower with a shrine of Lord Ganesha at the entrance. The fourth precinct encloses a hall with 796 pillars and is 2436 feet by 1493 feet. It also has a tank with ever flowing springs.
At its entrance it has another tower called the Mallapan tower with two shrines of Ganesha and Subramanya at its entrance. The third precinct encloses two gopurams (gateway towers) which are 73 and 100 feet tall, a coconut grove and a small water tank. It measures 745 feet by 197 feet and is surrounded by a wall 30 feet high.
Beyond that there is a huge seven tiered tower. The actual temple starts from this area. The second precinct is 307 feet by 197 feet with a gopuram 65 feet high and several small shrines and pillared mandapas. On the left side there is a big sub shrine almost like a separate temple dedicated to Jambukeshwar-Akhilandeshwari. Beyond that there is ‘Oonjal Mandapa’. After that there is a mandapa full of pillars containing beautiful sculptures. A small Ganesha idol is located here. The right side area has a small temple like shrine dedicated to Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar, a tank named Indira Teerth, a small shrine with mandapa and prakara for Shiva linga called Kashi Vishwanatha and three sub shrines with small Shiva Linga idols named Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva. This enclosure has thinnais or raised platforms with lot of pillars on either side having beautiful sculptures on them. There are sub shrines of Bal Dhandayuthapani and Saneeshwara with Jyeshta Devi which is a rare sight. Few Dhwajasthambas or flag posts are found in the backside of the main shrine of this enclosure. A few small mandapas are located here. In a particular mandapa there are four statues of dancing girls found which are extremely attractive. The 100 pillared mandapa is also located here.
There are two towers found in this section. The area between the two towers have few sub shrines and Jambu Teerth or the holy tank. A big shrine more like a separate temple is dedicated to Shiva Linga named Sankaralingeshwara. The Goddesss Sankareshwari, Dakshinamurthy Narthana Ganapathy and Subramanya Valli are also located in this shrine. A big Linga named Kubera Linga , a small linga named Jambu Linga and Akhilandeshwari are found near the holy teerth.
Goddess Akhilandeshwari’s shrine
Unlike the other Shiva temples, there is no marriage conducted in this temple for Shiva and Parvati as here Parvati(Goddess Akhilandeshwari) was like a student and Lord Shiva(Jambukeshwara) was like a teacher(Guru). The temple idols are therefore installed opposite to each other. Such temples are known as Upadesha Sthalas. Goddess Akhilandeshwari and Prasanna Vinayaka are in the shape of the Pranava Mantra ‘Om’. It is believed that the Goddess was in deep anger hence during one of Adi Shankara’s visits he installed the Prasanna Ganapathy idol right opposite to her (as no mother would be angry in the presence of her child) and installed a pair of Shri Chakra earrings (Thatankas) to reduce her anger. This shrine is more like a separate temple with a separate flag post, Bali Peetha and Nandi idol facing the Goddess. The shrine has two prakaras. The idol of the Goddesss is very tall and attractive with four arms. The prakara has two Shanmuga-Valli-Devasena idols, four Ganesha idols and the rare Chandra with his Consorts Rohini and Krithika. The bas-relief images of Iccha, Kriya, Jnana, Durga and Chandikeshwari are found on the wall surrounding the shrine as the Goshta Idols. Few more idols like Saraswati, Ganesha and Bhadra are also located in the temple of Akhilandeshwari.
The Nandi Mandapa is adorned with four wide decorated pillars. There are intricate sculptures in the ceiling of this mandapa. Navagraha shrine is located near the Nandi Mandapa.
In the first enclosure there is a sub shrine which houses the tall idols of Nataraja and Sivakami. In this enclosure the idols of Dakshinamoorthi, Chandikeshwara, Bhairava and two Jura Deva (sandalwood idols of Shiva with three legs and three arms) are all located. The important subshrine here is Kochengannan’s shrine, the Chola King who built this temple. There is a sub shrine housing the big idol of Vallabha Ganapathi with 10 arms and holding his Consort.
There is a small tower at the entrance. In this inner enclosure there are shrines of Subramanya with his consorts, Kalyana Sundara, Nataraja and Sivakami, Navagrahas, Chandikeshwar, Mahalakshmi, Ganesha, 63 Nayanmars as Utsava idols and a big Shiva Linga- Sahasra Linga. The idols of Bhairava, few Goddesses, Surya, Subramanya Saptamata, Dakshinamurthy and Chandra are also found here. The Sahasra Linga with 1008 small lingams is opposite to the Navagraha Sannidhi. It is said that even Lord Rama on his return to Lanka after vanquishing Ravana installed a lingam called the Maragatha Lingam to get rid of the ghosts of the Asuras that were following Him. Hence devotees pray to Him for removal of obstacles in marriage leading to marital bliss and harmony.
The innermost precinct encloses the sanctum sanctorum which is a square structure open on three sides found independently situated at the centre of the enclosure and measures 126 feet by 123 feet. This structure has a shallow moat separating it from the circumambulatory path of the innermost enclosure. There is a Vimana on the roof of the sanctum. The Sthala Vruksha or the holy tree is the White Jambuka which grows along the South Eastern wall of the sanctum sanctorum. A walled structure protects the trunk of the tree. There is a large closed hall on the western side of the sanctum from where the deity is viewed called the Mukha Mantapa.
Mukha Mantapa-The principal entrance of the Mukha Mantapa has a large ornate western door gilded with silver. It contains four pillars and houses a bronze idol of Nandi. On the Southern and North Eastern sides, there are two additional entrances to the Mukha Mantapa. From the Mukha Mantapa, a set of three steps descend down to the level of the sanctum sanctorum. The western face of the sanctum sanctorum has a stone window through which the deity is viewed. The window has nine viewing apertures believed to represent the Navagrahas or could also mean the nine holes representing the nine outlets of the human body..Over the window there is a panel depicting the Sthala Puran of the Linga of Jambukeshwara under the tree, on the extreme right the jambuka tree growing out of a meditating sage’s head, a spider and an elephant worshipping the linga along with Goddess Parvati who is standing to the left of the Linga.
The sanctum sanctorum is divided into two parts, the Garbha Griha where the deity of Lord Jambukeshwara is housed and the Antaralam or the Ardha Mantapam whose western wall bears the window. A small door about 4 feet high on the southern wall forms the entrance into the sanctum. The Ardha Mantapam is 4 feet by 4 feet and contains an idol of Goddess Parvati on the right side of the door to the Garbha Griha. Small groups of devotees are permitted during special sevas into the Ardha Mantapa. The Garbha Griha is wider than the Ardha Mantapa. At the centre of the Brahma Sthana is the Linga of Lord Jambukeshwara. The upper conical part of the linga is copper colour and the pedestal or yoni-bhaga of the linga is of black granite. The linga is attached to the pedestal by a brass ring. The linga is at a height of three feet from the floor of the sanctum. The only source of illumination within the sanctum is the light from the ghee lamps. A stream of water is said to emerge from the Linga and this can be demonstrated by the soaking of clothes on which it is draped. The water increases significantly during the monsoon.
The image of Trimurthi Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva is present in the temple. There are separate shrines beyond the temple compound namely Lord Muruga in the form of Aandi having the same typical structure as the main shrines in Palani. The temple also has a shrine of Adi Shankara.
Religious Significance of the temple
It is considered as one of the Pancha Bhootha Sthalas of Lord Shiva depicting the element water, hence the linga here is called Appu Linga.
As Goddess Akhilandeshwari worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple, to this day the priest dresses like a female at noon and does pooja to Lord Jambukeshwara and ‘Go Matha’(Cow). Hence the noon pooja is very famous with a number of pilgrims gathered there at that time. For this occasion a special variety of black cow called ‘Karam Pasu’ is used. Ablutions with cooked rice or Annabhishekham is a daily ritual performed in the temple.
A festival of classical Indian dance called Natyanjali is hosted in the temple annually. A school for training of the classical pipe instrument called Nadaswaram in Tamil Nadu is also established in the temple.
Muthuswami Dikshitar, one of the foremost composers of Carnatic music has sung in praise of the Goddess Akhilandeshwari.
The Vaikasi Utsavam is celebrated in the month of Vaikasi(May-June).
Maasi Shivaratri Utsavam is celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day of the Maasi month.
Since Goddess Parvati performed penance in the month of Adi(July Aug),Fridays in this month of Adi is celebrated with great pomp. During this time the temple is open from 2am to 12 am.
Betel nuts and leaves are offered to the Goddess as Neivedhyam(sacred offering to God)
Hymn venerating Lord Jambukeshwara
O Lord Shiva
Consort of Akhilandeshwari
Who wears Ganges on the head
Who is the Lord of the five elements.
Who is gracious and sweet,
Who dwells in the crematorium,
Who has a blue neck
Who drank the poison,
Who is Lord Jambukareshwara,
In the land near Trichy.
Who dwells as Appu Lingam
Who ever remains underneath water
Salutations Unto Thee.
Open My Third Eye.
Om Namah Shivaya.
Address and Contact Details
Shri Akhilandeshwari Sametha Jambukeshwar Temple
Nearest major town or city
Trichy is connected by air with Chennai and other cities. It is a major railway junction between Chennai and Madurai. It is also connected with Erode on the Chennai-Coimbatore line. Trichy has several modern lodging facilities. The temple is situated 7 kms from Trichy.