This legend relates to the destruction of the three
evil cities Tripura, by Shiva. There are eight such legends narrating
Shiva's role as the destroyer of evil.
The demon Taraka had three demon
children Taarakaaksha, Kamalaaksha and Vidyunmaali.
These demon princes performed severe penances towards Bhrama and
won the gift of immense power. The boon that they received, granted them that they would
live for a thousand years in three invincible, moving cities or forts (Tripura)
and that they would be destroyed only by a cosmic arrow that would merge the three forts
into one, and set them to fire. The demons, armed with this boon, wreaked havoc on the
universe. At the end of the the stipulated time period, Shiva created a bow and an arrow
and a charriot with the various gods and goddesses and components of the universe. With
Bhrama as the charioteer, he sped across, and shot a single arrow of fire which destroyed
the three cities.
Tripurantaka, is the manifestation of
Shiva as the destroyer of the Tripuras. Tripurantaka is enshrined at Tiruvatikai near
Chidambaram. The Veeratteswarar temple here is one of the 8 Veerata stalas celebrating
Shiva as the destroyer of evil forces. Tripurantaka is also enshrined at Tiruvirkolam
(Koovum) near Chennai.