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23. Tiruvarur

திரு ஆரூர் 

Location: Tiruvarur near Mayiladuturai, Kumbhakonam, Thanjavur
(Chola-South of Kaveri )
Shiva: Veedhi Vitankar, TyagarajarTirumoolattanar
Ambal: Alliyankothai, Kamalambika
Theertham: Kamalalayam
Patikam : Sambandar,Appar, Sundarar
Travel Base: Thanjavur
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Description: This Shivastalam is a huge temple of great historical and religious significance and is considered to be  one of the holiest of the 275 Saivite shrines.It has the most number of hymns in the Tirumurai collection after Sirkazhi and is the foremost of the 7 Saptavitanka shrines associated with the legend of Muchukunda Chola and Indra.. The evening worship service (Saayarakshai) here  is of great significance.  The Aazhither chariot here is of great beauty. Tiruvarur is regarded as the 87th in the series of Tevara Stalams in Chola Nadu south of the river Kaveri.


The seven Vitankastalams are Tiruvarur, Tirukkuvalai, Tirukkaaraivaasal, Tirumaraikkaadu, Tiru Naagai, Tirunallaaru and Tiruvaimur.  

Legend has it that Vishnu   worshipped Shiva in the form of Somaskanthar, associated with the Ajapa Dance. Shiva is also said to have appeared in an anthill and restored Vishnu to life.   

The image of Tyagarajar is the foremost of the 7 from which Indra is believed to have asked Muchukunda Cholan to pick the original image of Somaskandar worshipped by Mahavishnu. . Muchukunda Cholan is believed to have picked the right one (the image at Tiruvarur) , and Indra is believed to have rewarded him with all of the 7 images, which the latter installed at 7 different places within his territory, and it is these 7 temples which constitute the 7 Vitankastalams.

The image of Tyagaraja is housed in a separate sanctum with its own vimanam. An interesting feature of the image is that the bulk of it is covered with decorative cloth, flowers and jewelry, with only the faces of Shiva and Parvati being visible. Their feet are uncovered only on the occasion of  the Paada Darisanam festival. The image of Tyagaraja in a special vimanam, presents an awe inspiring site. This image is taken out in procession during special occasions such as the chariot festival during the annual Bhrammotsavam. The Ajapa dance is enacted every time, the image of Tyagarajar is taken out in procession.

History: This is a temple vibrant with the musical and dance traditions of the centuries. Tiruvarur was  a great cultural center for the Cholas who extended great patronage here; mention must be made of  especially of Raja Raja Chola I. Sundaramoorthy Naayanar is known for his close association with Tiruvarur. His shrine faces that of Tyagarajar.

Muthuswamy Deekshithar, Tyagarajar and Syama Sastri the trinity of Carnatic Music were born in Tiruvarur. Deekshithar in particular, while in residence at Tiruvarur composed several suites of Kritis addressed to Tyagarajar, Kamalambika and several other deities in this temple. .

Architecture: The imposing towers of the temple can be seen from a distance. The vast prakarams feature several shrines to Shiva and his parivara devatas. The vast Kamalalayam tank is situated to the West of the temple complex; the tank and the temple, together command an awe inspiring spectacle. The Achaleswarar Temple (Tiruvarur Araneri) in the prakaram is another of the Shivastalams sung by the Nayanmars. Aarurparavaiyumantali  is another Shivastalam located in the vicinity of this grand temple at Tiruvarur.

Festivals: Tiruvarur has a grand tradition of festivals. The Tamil saying 'Tiruvarur Terazhagu' speaks of the grandeur of the Aazhitter, which is taken out in procession during the annual Bhrammotsavam in the month of Pankuni. The Arudra Darisanam festival here is also of great importance.

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