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224. Mayiladuturai


Location: Mayiladuturai
(Chola Naadu-South of Kaveri )
Shiva: Vallal, Mayuranathar
Ambal: Anjalnayaki, Abhayambika
Vriksham: Maamaram
Patikam : Sambandar, Appar
Travel Base: Chidambaram
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Description:  This is a vast and well maintained temple with a beautiful tank, several gopurams and mandapams in the town of Mayiladuturai (Mayuram). This is a temple of great religious significance, and is a hub in the temple belt of Tamilnadu. Several Shivastalams are located in the vicinity of Mayiladuturai which is considered to be the 39th in the series of Tevara Stalams in the Chola kingdom located south of the river Kaveri. 

Legend has it that Dakshayani (Parvati) took the form of a peacock after her father's Daksha Yagnam, worshipped Shiva here; Shiva is said to have taken a peacock form, performed the Gowri Tandavam and united with her here. Mayuranathar is believed to have quelled the Kaveri floods to make way for Sambandar and 4 of the Vallalar shrines in the vicinity are said to be manifestations of Mayuranathar. Interestingly, the Tiruppariyalur Veerattam where the Dakshayagnam is believed to have been performed, is located at a distance from 8 km from this temple.

Mayiladuturai is in the midst of several shrines with puranic significance. The Sapta Matas are said to have worshipped Shiva at 7 of the temples in the vicinity including Vallalaar Kovil. Dakshinamurthy's shrine in the nearby Vallalaar (Gurumoorthy - Vadhaanyeswarar) Koyil is of great significance. On the banks of the Kaveri, near the bathing ghats is the Kasi Viswanathar temple with vimanams along the lines of those at Benares.

This temple spread  over 350000 sq feet has 5 prakarams, a 9 tiered 165 feet high Raja Gopuram, pillared halls with interesting sculptural work as well as 14 vimanams withseveral stucco images. Inscriptions from the Imperial Chola period are found here. The temple is managed by the Tiruvavaduturai Adhinam, while the Vallalar Koyil and Kaasi Viswanathar temple are managed by the Dharumapura Adhinam. 

This temple was reconstructed with stone, during the period of Sembiyan Mahadevi (10th century); however renovations from the 19th century have destroyed the older structures and the inscriptions. Thankfully  fine stone sculptures of Vinayakar, Natarajar, Siva-Uma-Alinganamurthy, Dakshimamurthy, Lingodbhavar, Bhrama, Ganga Visarjanamurthi, Durga and Bhikshatanar from the period of Sembiyan Mahadevi have been well preserved in their niches. From available inscriptions it is inferred that the Avayambal shrine came into existence during the period of Rajaraja Chola III (13th century). Till then, there must only have been a Bhogasakthi bronze image in the sanctum of Mayuranathar, as was the practice till separate Ambal shrines were introduced during the reign of Kulottunga Chola I (1075-1120).

Festivals: Thousands of pilgrims converge here during the Thulaa (Libra) festival. A noteworthy feature of the Mayuranathar temple is the daily processional ritual to the banks of the Kaveri throughout the monsoon month of Libra. Shiva's dance is enacted at the Aadi Sabhai on the 7th day of the grand festival in the month of Libra. The annual festival Bhrammotsavam is observed in the Tamil month of Vaikasi.

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