Location : 8 Miles From Arantangi Railway Station, Tamil Nadu
Deity Worshipped : Lord Shiva
Known For : Sculptural Work
Avadayar Koil, previously known as “Thiruperunthurai” is an important Shivasthala located 8 miles from the Arantangi railway station. The sculptural work of the temple is exquisite. It is perhaps the best architectural marvel in South India. Although the figures carved are seen everywhere in southern temples, still the workmanship and the vivid portraiture of this temple are worth seeing.
In times past, a Pandya king brought 300 priests from Benares to attend the temple services here and to honour them he wanted to present gold brocade shawls to them. While distributing he found one in excess and he searched for that priest in the crowd. An aged priest came forward and claimed that robe. On the next day, the king was astonished to find that garment, wrapped round the deity. Atmanadha was the priest who claimed that excess robe.
The king had given the priests lands of sustenance. But in later days a Kurumba chief Lundakshan seized those lands by might. The then reigning king wanted some proof to show that the land belonged to the priests. At that distance of time, no papers were available. Lundakshan merrily remarked that the proof that the land was his say in his intimate knowledge of the land, “Even if you dig to the length of a palm tree, you won’t get a drop of water” he said. Just then an aged priest came forward and struck the earth with a crow bar. In the first stroke itself water gushed out. The king restored the land to the priests. It is needless to say that the aged priest was none else but Atmanadha.
In Avadayar Koil, the God is bereft of any form. After passing through several thresholds devotees stand before sanctum and peep in hoping to have a glimpse of the Linga (also spelt as lingam), as is the case in all other temples. But it is empty! Only a peeta is formed and devotees are asked to pay obeisance to it. The bottom most peeta is the Sakti peeta and it represents the fusion of Shivam and Skati for realization of the Supreme truth. Since no Linga (also spelt as lingam) or idol is consecrated here, the Lord is known by the name of Atmanadha- Lord of the Soul.
Inside the temple there is an idol of Lord Vinayaka (also spelt as Vinayak) with 11 hands, an idol of Goddess Kali and an idol of Lord Virabhadra with 8 arms holding the sula athwart his body. There is also an idol of Manickavachakar, which is worshipped with all ceremonial rites and rituals. Avadayar Koil is a saivite shrine.
The construction of this temple is that the rays of the setting sun always fall on the sanctum sanctorum although it is inside three Prakarams. Another important feature here is the Panchakshara Mandapam. It is also known as “Kanakasabhai”.
In the first sector Panchakshara mantra is constituted. It is customary for pilgrims to repeat atleast 108 times the mystic syllable. In the next sector are 81 padams, 224 mantras arranged as a four petalled lotus. For those interested in Saivism, this temple offers a splendid opportunity.
HOW TO GET THERE
Rail : The nearest railway station is Arantangi railway station.
Road : There are regular buses to the temple from Pudukkottai.