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237. Tirumudukunram


Location: Vriddachalam
(Nadu Naadu)
Shiva: Pazhamalainathar, Vridhagireeswarar
Ambal: Periya Nayaki, Vriddambika
Vriksham: Vanni
Patikam : Sambandar, Appar, Sundarar
Travel Base: Chidambaram
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Description: This Shivastalam is a  hill temple in the town of Vriddachalam, where the hill is believed to be a manifestation of Shiva. It is considered to be a Moksha Stalam on par with Chidambaram, Kalahasti and Banares. This is the 9th of the 22 Tevara Stalams in the Nadu Naadu  region of Tamilnadu.Several literary works have sung its praises. 

Legends: Shiva is said to have blessed the Devas with a vision of the Cosmic Dance here; it is believed that this stalam will stay untouched through the great deluge. Agasthyar, Surya, Chandra, Bhrama and Vishnu are said to have worshipped Shiva here. Sundarar is believed to have dropped his gold in the Manimuttar river here, and retrieved it in the Kamalalayam tank at Tiruvarur.

The temple covers an area of 4 acres; it has 3 vast courtyards surrounded by tall walls pierced with towered 7 storeyed entrances on 4 sides. The outermost prakaram is referred to as Kailasa Prakaram. A sage by name Vipachit is believed to have built the earliest structure of this temple, and his image is kept under the vanni tree here.

Sembiyan Mahadevi the Chola queen reconstructed the temple of stone in the 10th century. The innermost structures ie. the sanctum and the ardhamandapam belong to her period. The niche images here include those of Vinayakar, Dakshinamurthy, Lingodbhavar, Bhrama, Gangadharar and Ardhanareeswarar.

Panels of miniature sculpture as in Tirukkandiyur, Tirunanipalli and Tiruppullamangai are seen in this temple. The Natarajar and the Bhogeswari bronze images found in this temple go back to the period of Queen Sembiyam Mahadevi (10th century) who was known for her penchant for temple building. The Nandi Mandapam was constructed in her memory.

Festivals: Three annual festivals are celebrated here - one in the month of Aadi (Pooram), the Vaikasi Vasantotsavam and the Maasi Bhramotsavam. The Rishabha vahana procession lasts for more than 12 hours. The image shown above is that of the Rishabha vahana festival at Tirumayilai in Chennai.

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