TIRUCHERAI (KUMBAKONAM), TN,
One of the 108 Temples and Celestial Abodes of Vishnu revered by Tamil Hymns of the Alwars of the 1st millennium CE
LOCATION: Tirucherai (Udaiyar Koil) near Kumbakonam (Chola Naadu)
THAYAAR: Sara Nayaki
THEERTHAM: Saara Pushkarini
VIMAANAM: Saara Vimanam
TRAVEL BASE: Kumbhakonam
DESCRIPTION: This Divyadesam is located in Tirucherai, near 4km north Kodavasal and 15 km south of Kumbhakonam. In this town, is also the Tirucherai Shivastalam, enshrining Gnana Parameswarar (Senneriappar), glorified by the Tevaram hymns of Sambandar and Appar.
DEITIES: The Moolavar here is Saranathan, in a standing posture facing east; Taayaar is known by the name Saranayaki.
TEMPLE: This temple with 2 prakarams has a 90 feet high Rajagopuram. There is a shrine to Yoga Narasimhar here. Shrines to Lakshmi are in the Mahamandapam. There are also shrines to Rajagopala with his consorts Rukmini and Styabhama, and to Tiruvenkatamudaiyaan and the Alwars.
Legend has it that this temple was built with a part of the granite meant for building the Rajagopala temple at Manargudi, and hence the shrine to Rajagopala here. There are shrines to Kaveriamman and Anjaneyar near the temple tank.
LEGENDS: Legend Vishnu here is believed to have been worshipped by Markandeya and Kaveriamman. At the Tirucherai Shivastalam, it is believed that Shiva was worshipped by Kaveri and Markandeya. This legend states that the river Kaveri in the form of Kaveri Amman meditated upon Vishnu with the desire of obtaining the stature of the river Ganga.
Vishnu appeared in front of Kaveri with his consorts Sreedevi, Bhudevi, Neeladevi, Saara naayaki and Mahalakshmi and granted her request.
Legend also has it that during the time of the great deluge, a pot fashioned out of clay, was used to rescue and preserve the Vedas. It is believed that none of the pots made by Bhrama would last, and that he was directed by Vishnu to proceed to Tirucherai (Saara Kshetram) and make a pot out of the clay on the banks of the Kaveri.
FESTIVAL: Six worship services are offered each day here. The grand chariot festival happens on Taippoosam, in the Tamil month of Thai, when Saranathan is taken in procession in a chariot with Sree Devi, Bhu Devi, Neelaa Devi, Mahalakshmi and Saaranayaki in commemoration of the stala puraanam.
It is believed that the legend occured when the planet Jupiter was positioned in the Pushya asterism. Once in 12 years when Jupiter transits through the zodiac sign of cancer in the Pushya asterism, the chariot festival on Thaippoosam is considered to be of great significance (as in Jan – Feb 2003), and is said to be on par with the Mahaamagam festival in Kumbhakonam. (This chariot procession has ceased since 1982 and an attempt is being made to renovate the chariot to revive the festival in 2003
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