Sri Vajrathampanatha emple at Thirumazhapadi, on the banks of the river Coleroon in Ariyalur district, 45 km from Tiruchi, has a rich and hoary past. The temple has been praised by the Nayanmars in their devotional hymns, and patronised by the Pallava, Chola, Pandya, Vijayanagara, Hoysala, Maratha kings, besides the local chieftains like the Mazhavarayars of Ariyalur.
This temple is known for Shiva`s Taandavam with the Mazhuvaayudam for Markandeyar. Purushamriga Munivar established a shrine for Shiva here and Brahma unable to remove it called it Vajrastamba Moorthy.
The presiding deity of the temple is Sri Vaidyanathaswami, also known as Mazhuvadeeswarar. A granite statue of Mazhuvadeeswarar holding an axe in his right hand, a spear and also a rope to control Yamadharma, who wanted to take away the life of Markandeya is seen in the ardhamandapam. The 108-ft. tall, seven- tiered Rajagopuram facing the east, situated just on the banks of the Coleroon (North Cauvery) presents a magnificent view from the river bed. The second gopuram with five tiers is about 80 ft. Both the towers are decorated with a rich array of sculptures.
The Vaidyanathaswami temple and the temple of Sundarambigai, situated on a sprawling 10-hectare campus full of coconut trees and palmyrahs, bear evidence to the meticulous care taken by the builders of the temple, the Pallavas, right from the seventh century. According to Mr. K. Sridharan, Registering officer, Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department, the temple was renovated by Rajaraja the Great who copied the inscriptions available at the time of renovation around 10th century, and also mentioned that they were re-copied from the old inscriptions in the temple. There are as many as 140 inscriptions in the temple from Chola to Maratha and Vijayanagara kings, throwing a wealth of information about the offerings made by devotees for the maintenance of the temple. An inscription of Rajaraja III mentions the construction of a well at the entrance of the temple, and appointment of a person to draw water from the well, and storing it in a tub so that devotees could enter the temple after washing their feet. There is a rare depiction of a linear measurement used by the stapathis and builders during the reconstruction of the temple by Rajaraja, which was called `idumadialavathi muzham’, roughly 60cm in length.
Somaskandar here is a monolithic stone image. There are two shrines dedicated to Dakshinamurthy. King Sibi got rid of his health problems here. This temple has no Navagrahams, only 3 pits in front of the sanctum. The temple is vast with a seven-tiered Rajagopuram. There are two shrines dedicated to Ambal here. It has a 100-pillared hall, Somaskanda mandapam and murals in the Natarajar shrine. The inscriptions give testimony to the contribution made by the Cholas.
The sthala vriksha is the palmyrah tree, and the entire temple complex was once called Thala Vanam (forest of Palmyrah trees). The palmyrah generally does not flourish on river banks. Perhaps, around the seventh century, the entire area was a dry pocket, and the Coleroon came closer to the present location much later.
Thirumazhapadi was significant for the kings of Thanjavur, Chembian Mahadevi, grandmother of Rajaraja the Great, hailed from Chembiakudi, 4 km from Thirumazhapadi and historical places like Pazhuvur, Alambakkam, Kandaradithyam, (birthplace of Kandraditha Chola), are all situated within a radius of just about 15 km. There are quite a few references to the temple in “Ponniyin Selvan” of Kalki.
The temple of Lord Vaidyanatha is closely connected with the Panchanadeeswara temple at Tiruvayaru on the opposite bank about 15 km from Thirumazhapadi. The most important festival in the temple is the Nandikalyanam in the Tamil month of Panguni. Lord Nandeeswara the bridegroom from Thiruvayaru marries Goddess Swayambikai Devi of Thiumazhapadi temple, and the entire village celebrates the wedding with involvement. The palanquin of Nandideva dressed with a Maratha cap is received by Lord Vaidyanatha on the banks of the Coleroon. The entire marriage ceremony is conducted by the priests of the temple, and the Celestial couple are taken out in procession through the main streets. The car festival is celebrated in the Tamil month of Masi. The temple car has over 300 exquisitely carved wooden panels, with over 100 figures, depicting stories from the Hindu mythology.
Bhramotsavam in the month of Masi. Nandi’s marriage with Suyahambikai is celebrated in the month of Pankuni when Aiyarappar of Tiruvaiyaru crosses the Kollidam and arrives at Tirumazhapadi and conducts the wedding, in a grand ceremony.
How to reach
This temple is located 13 Kms. from Tiruvaiyaru. One can reach Thirumazhapadi from Ariyalur also.Thirumalapadi Rajagopuram
Several colorful legends abound in this shrine, known primarily for Shiva’s Taandavam with the Mazhuvaayudam (hence Mazhapadi) for Markandeyar. (Parasu Nartanapuram in Sanskrit). Purushamriga Munivar is said to have established a shrine for Shiva, and Bhrama in his inability to remove it referred to it as Vajrastamba Moorthy.