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Thirukadaiyur Amirthakadeswarar – Abirami Temple – Timings, History & How to Reach

Thirukadaiyur Abirami Temple

Amirthakadeswarar – Abirami Temple in Thirukadaiyur is dedicated to Lord Shiva and an example of iconic Tamil architecture.  It is actually a group of temples with several other temples in its close vicinity.  All of them are connected by stories related to the temples. Thirukadaiyur Temple is the main shrine and  Lord Shiva is known as Amirthakadeswarar. Parvati Mata is Abirami. Lord Shiva is also known as Mrityunjaya – Defeater of Death. This temple is a Paadal Petra Sthalam and was written about by the Nayanars (Tamil Saint Poets). 

The Origins of the Temple

After the churning of the ocean known as Samudra Manthan, the Devtas were victorious in getting the pot of Amrit (Nectar of Immortality) after a fierce fight with the Asuras. The Devtas retired to a secluded spot to consume the nectar and did so, but forgot to invoke Lord Ganesh as was the tradition. Lord Ganesh was offended. He stole the pot of Amrit and hid it in Thirukadaiyur. Before He hid it, He created a Shivling and poured some of the Amrit on it. Thus Lord Shiva in the form of the Shivling came to be known as Amirthakadeswarar – Lord who leads to Immortality.

Mata Parvati in the form of Abirami is believed to have taken this Avatar by the power of Lord Vishnu.  

Thirukadaiyur became a pilgrimage then. A temple was built by the people and worship in the temple began. Over the centuries the pilgrimage endured and the temple must have been renovated, rebuilt, or enlarged several times. In about 1000 CE the temple was renovated and expanded by Rajaraja I of the Chola Empire.

 The Story of Markandeya Swami

In the ages unknown, there lived a saint of the Bhrigu Rishi clan in the place now known as Thirukadaiyur. His name was Mrikandu and his wife was Mardumati. They were ardent devotees of Lord Shiva and worshipped in the temple every day. Being childless, they prayed to Lord Shiva in earnest to be blessed with a child. Pleased with their worship, Lord Shiva appeared and gave them two choices – They could have a son of low intelligence who would have a long life or they could have a son of high intelligence who would live for 16 years only. The couple chose the second option. They were then blessed with a son whom they named Markandeya. 

Markandeya, following his parent’s footsteps, was also a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva. It is believed he brought Ganga Jal for Lord Shiva’s Abhishek through an underground passage. He gained vast knowledge at an early age. When Markandeya was 16 and destined to die, Yamaraj (God of Death) came to collect him. Markandeya ran and grasped the Shivling with both arms. Even so, Yamaraj tried to take Markandeya forcibly. This enraged Lord Shiva who appeared and put His foot on Yamaraja. Markandeya was saved and then blessed by Lord Shiva to remain 16 years old forever. Markandeya then came to be known as ‘Kala-Samhara’ (Destroyer of Time).

As a consequence of this Yamaraja was trapped under Lord Shiva’s foot and there were no deaths on earth. Births continued, resulting in the earth being overburdened. Mother Earth approached Lord Shiva and explained the situation.  Lord Shiva released Yamaraj with a strict warning not to disturb anyone protected by Him. Normalcy returned to the earth much to the relief of Mother Earth. 

The Story of Abirami Pattaar

In the early 1500s, there lived a man named Subramanian in the village of Thirukadaiyur. He was a devotee of Devi Abirami. In fact, such was his devotion to the Goddess that he saw Her in everyone and particularly in every woman. He would shower flowers and petals on every lady entering the temple. He considered all women a form of the Goddess. Subramanian was always immersed in the worship of the Goddess and lost to the world. One day the king came to the temple to pray. Everyone present bowed to the king, but Subramanian did not notice as he was lost in worship. This irritated the king. Someone told the king that Subramanian was mad, while another said he was a true saint. This confused the king and he decided to test Subramanian. Even during the test Subramanian was lost in contemplation of the Goddess and gave a wrong answer. He said it was a full moon night when it was the no moon night. The king ordered Subramanian to be burnt alive. When he was put on the lighted pyre, Subramanian started singing the ‘Abirami Antati’ to the Goddess. Abirami Antati is a compilation of 100 hymns in praise of Abirami Devi. The goddess appeared and threw one of Her earrings into the sky and it looked as if it were a full moon. The astonished king instantly forgave Subramanian and declared he would now be known as Abirami Pattaar (Priest of Abirami Devi).

More about Amirthakadeswarar – Abirami Temple

Amirthakadeswarar – Abirami Temple Is one of the Ashta Veerattanam temples dedicated to Lord Shiva representing His victories over eight demons. All the Tamil Siddhas have visited this temple and it has been glorified by Nayanars such as Appar, Sundarar, and Sambandar. The temple is spread over 11 acres of land with five courtyards, several tall towers, and large Mandapas. Besides the main temple, there are shrines dedicated to Rishi Markandeya, There is a separate shrine for Abirami. One more temple known as Amirtha Narayana Perumal temple is located within the complex.

Amirthakadeswarar – Abirami Temple is believed to bestow long life and many devotees offer special prayers when aged 60, 80, or more. Wedding anniversaries are also celebrated here. Brahmotsavam is celebrated in April/May.  A festival known as Shankha Abhishek is celebrated in the month of Kartik. Navratri is also celebrated with zeal.

Temple Timings

  • 06:00 AM to 01:00 PM
  • 04:00 PM to 09:00 PM

Temple Pujas

  • 05:30 AM –  Ushakalam
  • 08:00 AM – Kalasanthi
  • 10:00 AM – Uchikalam 
  • 06:00 PM –  Sayarakshai 
  • 08:00 PM –  Irandam Kalam 
  • 10:00 PM –  Ardha Jamam 

Each puja has four steps: Abhishek, Alangaram, Naivedyam, and Deep Aradhana 

How to Reach Thirukadaiyur

  • The nearest Railway Station – Mayiladuthurai is about 23 km from the temple.
  • The nearest Airport – Trichy is about 148 km from the temple. 

Distances from Thirukadaiyur

  • Kumbakonam – 57 km
  • Pondicherry – 111 km
  • Trichy – 141 km
  • Chennai –  261 km
  • Bangalore – 430 km
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