Akilandeswari temple at Thiruvanaikaval in Tamil Nadu is dedicated to goddess Akilandeswari, which is one of the forms of Goddess Parvati. According to legend Goddess Parvati was sent to earth to do a penance by Lord Shiva. She had offended the Lord and to win back his affection she had made a lingam known as “Appu Lingam” and started worshipping daily. Lord Shiva was pleased with her devotion and forgave her.
There is perennial oozing of water from under neath Sivalinga in the sanctum Sanctorum, which is emptied at regular intervals.
Lord Siva is said to have sat under a Jambu tree and done penance to have the darshan of Lord Vishnu in order to get rid of the sin of Brahmahatya(killing of a repository of Vedas).
Akilandeswari, the Mother of the Universe, is said to have worshipped the Lord in this temple. Symbolically even today, at noon the priest, dressed in a saree, performs pooja to sri Jambukeswara.
It is said Sri Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada consecrated the Thatanga(earrings) Chakra, now adorning the ears of the Devi. Sri Adi Sankara installed a Ganapathy Vigraha in front of Sri Akilandeswari and this contained her Ugrakalai-malignant aspects.
Jambukeswaram (known as Tiruvanaikkaval in Tamil), a place of pilgrimage in Tamilnadu. It is on the northern bank of the river Cauvery and 5 K.M. north of Trichy. The temple is one of the largest (having a spread of nearly 18 acres) and historic temples
in the country. It dates back to the 13th century and has been visited by the great saivaite saints who had sung hymns on the presiding deity - Lord Shiva in the temple. It seems that the temple was once a forest of jambu trees and there was a Shiva linga under one of the trees. So Shiva came to be known as Jambunatha or Jambukeswara. This is a Shiva temple associated with one of the five great elements.
The Lord after eating the fruit spitted the seed. Jambu Munivar took and swallowed the seed, as it is sacred as the seed came from the Lord’s mouth. Immediately a 'Naaval' tree began to grow in the Saint's head. The Saint prayed to Lord Siva that He should take his abode under that tree.
The temple was restored during the Vijayanagar rule and the worship also revived. The goddess Parvathi in the temple has the name Akilandeswari. She is said to have meditated on lord Shiva here. Her shrine is very famous and attracts large number of visitors. Adi Shankaracharya is said to have visited the temple and worshipped the Lord and goddess here. Legend. As said earlier the Shiva lingam was under a jambu tree. Two devotees of Shiva were born as a spider and an elephant in the forest due to a curse. Both were regularly worshipping the lord in their own way. The spider would weave a web over the lingam to protect it from the falling leaves. The elephant brought flowers and water in its trunk for bathing the lingam before offering the flowers. But it would clear off the web the spider has built first. This act angered the spider very much. Soon a fierce fight broke out between the two resulting in the death of both. Pleased with their devotion Lord Shiva appeared before them and blessed them. Shince Shiva was worshipped by an elephant (aanai in Tamil) here the place is called Aanaikkaa.
Devi Parvati as a student:-
Lord Siva at last gave dharshan to Akilandeswari and taught her Siva Gnana. Devi Parvati took 'Upadesa' (lessons) facing East from Shiva, who stood facing West. So as the temples idols are also installed in the same direction. Such places are known as 'Upadesa Sthalams'.
As the Devi was like a student and the Lord like a Guru in this temple, there is no 'Thiru Kalyanam' (marriage) conducted in this temple for Lord & the Devi, unlike the other Shiva temples. As Akilandeswari worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple, even today at noon the 'Archakar' (priest) dresses like a female and does Pooja to Lord Shiva and 'Ko Maatha' (Cow).
This noon Pooja is very famous and pilgrims wait for this Pooja every day. Annabhishekam to Lingam (Abishekam with cooked rice) is a daily ritual at Thiruvanaikoil.
The Story of Elephant and Spider:-
'Malyavan' and 'Pushpadanta' were two Siva Ganas (Siva's disciples who live in Kailash). They always quarreled with each other and fight for one thing or other. During a quarrel 'Malyavan' cursed 'Pushpadanta' to become an elephant in earth and the 'Pushpadanta' cursed the 'Malyavan' to become a spider in earth.
Both the elephant and the spider came to Jambukeshwaram and continued their Shiva worship. The elephant collected water from river Cauvery and conducted Abhishekam to the lingam under the Jambu tree daily. The spider constructed his web over the lingam to prevent dry leaves from dropping on it and prevent Sunlight directly felling on Shiva.
The elephant saw the web constructed by the spider and thought that as dust on Lord Shiva and tore them and cleaned the Lingam by pouring water. This happened daily. The spider became angry one day and crawled into the trunk of the elephant and bit the elephant to death killing itself. Lord Siva, moved by the deep devotion of the two relieved them from their curses.
In the next birth the Spider was born as the King Ko Chengot Chola and built 70 temples and Thiruvanaikoil is the one among them. Remembering his enmity with the elephant in his previous birth, he built the Lord Shiva ‘Sannathi’(Sanctorum) such that not even a small elephant can enter. The entrance on the sanctorum of Lord Shiva is only 4 foot high and 2.5 foot wide.
The goddess of this temple is 'Akilandeswari' ('Amman'). The Amman is also called as Akilandanyaki. Akilandeswari is pronounced as 'Akilam - Aanda – Eswari' (Akilam – Universe, Aanda – Ruler, Eswari – Goddess).
Legend of the temple in a Sculpture in a Pillar in the temple:-
Lord Siva at last gave darshan to Akilandeswari and taught her Siva Gnana. Devi Parvati took 'Upadesa' (lessons) facing East from Shiva, who stood facing West. So as the temples idols are also installed in the same direction. Such places are known as 'Upadesa Sthalams'. As the Devi was like a student and the Lord like a Guru in this temple, there is no 'Thiru Kalyanam' (marriage) conducted in this temple for Lord & the Devi, unlike the other Shiva temples.
As Akilandeswari worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple, even today at noon the 'Archakar' (priest) dresses like a female and does Pooja to Lord Shiva and 'Go Maatha' (Cow). This noon pooja is very famous and pilgrims wait for this pooja every day. For the purpose of this pooja the temple is growing a 'Karam Pasu' (complete black color cow). Annabhishekam to Lingam (Abishekam with cooked rice) is a daily ritual at Thiruvanaikoil.
It is said Sri Adi Sankara Bhagavadpada consecrated the Thotongo (earrings) Chakra, now adorning the ears of the Devi. Sri Adi Sankara installed a Ganapathy Vigraha in front of Sri Akilandeswari and this contained her Ugrakalai -- malignant aspects .
This is Appu or water linga among the five lingas dedicated to five elements. -Pancha Bootha Kshetras There is perennial oozing of water from underneath the Shivalinga in the Sanctum sanctorum which is emptied at regular intervals.
As this temple represents water this is also called as 'Appu Sthalam' and the Shiva lingam ('Swami') here is called as 'Appu Lingam'.
Goddess Parvati made a Lingam out of water of river Cauvery (also called as river 'Ponni').
The Shiva Lingam is placed under the Venn naaval tree in this temple. Even today one can see that Venn Naaval tree at the temple, which is said to be many hundred years old.
Chola King “Ko Chengot Cholan” (He is also called as Chenkannan) constructed this temple in 1st Century B.C. Ko Chengot Chola had built 70 other Shiva temples all over Tamil Nadu and he is one among the 63 “Nayannmars” (Holy Saivite saints). Thiruvanaikoil temple was built according to ‘Saiva Aagama Sasthra’. According to Saiva Agamam, the temple reflects the human body and the idol of Lord Shiva is considered as the soul. Many other kings like Pandiyas and Nayakars of Madurai later renovated this temple.
The 2nd and 3rd praharams were built in 13th century A.D. and the 4th Praharam was constructed in the late 13th century A.D.
There is eight other “Kodi Maram” (flag masts) in this temple in the 3rd praharam. Apart from the main huge “Kodi Maram” in front of the Lord and one in front of Devi Akilandeswari. Thiruvanaikoil temple was built in an area close to 18 acres and measures 2500 feet by 1500 feet. The temple has five “Praharams”. All the temple “Madhils” (wall) are 35 ft. high and 6 ft. thick and measures 2436 feet by 1493 feet. The “Swami” (Shivalinga) is installed facing West and “Ambaal” (Akilandeswari) facing East.
The Sri Jambukeshwara Temple is dedicated to Lord Siva and has five concentric walls and seven gopurams. It is built around a Siva lingam partly submerged in water that comes from a spring in the sanctum sanctorum. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. The complex was built in the same time when Sri Ranganathaswamy temple was also built.
There are many mandapams in the temple, a 1000 Pillar, on the North West corner of the 3rd praharam and a 100 Pillar Mandapam on the North East corner of the 3rd Praharam, Vasanta mandapam (The mandapam is surrounded by pool of water where Lord Shiva and Goddess Akilandeswari are worshipped on summer evenings), Somaskandha mandapam, Nataraja mandapam, Trimurthi mandapam, etc. The thousand-pillared mandapam looks like a chariot.
Gopurams Raja Gopuram:-
This is the Gopuram in the West 5th Praharam (the main entrance). The other 3 entrances of 5th praharam have no Gopurams.
The East Gopuram on the 4th praharam. Pandiya King Jadavarman Sundarapandian constructed this.
This is the West Gopuram in the 4th Praharam. King Sandhirabendiran son of King AdhithayDevan built this in 1435 A.D.
There are nine Theerthams in this temple, all of which held very sacred.
Legend behind king’s red eyes:-
There was a story behind the king’s red eyes – When he was in his mother’s womb the palace astrologer predicted a sacred time to give birth to enable the newborn’s well being. The queen went into labor early, before the time predicted by the astrologer. The queen hence told the servant to hang her upside down for the time to come so that she could have a wise and virtuous son who could head the kingdom righteously. This waiting time inside the womb made the baby’s eyes red. After becoming the king, he build the temple for Siva and Goddess Akilandeswari in the name of Aanaikka (elephant protected) later days it changed to Thiruvanaikovil.
How to reach:-
The nearest airport is at Trichy (10-km).
Srirangam is an important railway junction on the meter-gauge of Southern Railway and is well connected with the towns and cities of the state.
Srirangam situated on the National Highway No.45 on Tiruchirapalli-Madras route is well connected by road with the major towns and cities within and beyond the state. For local transportation taxis, auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and city buses are available.