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The Ultimate Source of Information on Indian Temples

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Temples of Tamilnadu


The name Tyagaraja is probably the  best known of all in Karnatic Music Circles. It is the name of the most prolific of the trinity of Classical music. There is hardly a Karnatic music concert today not featuring compositions of this saint composer Tyagaraja.

In the world of tamil films, MKT - or M. K. Tyagaraja Bhagawatar who dominated the world of early black and white films also bore the name Tyagaraja. In fact Tyagaraja is a  commonly borne name in the Tamil speaking region of the Indian subcontinent.

Perhaps many may not be even aware of the fact that the afore-mentioned celebrities were named after the dominant deity in the now modest temple town of Tiruvarur in the fertile Kaveri basin near Thanjavur and Nagappattinam.

Tyagaraja or Somaskandar (Shiva) is the dominant deity of the Tiruvarur temple complex as well as the 6 other Vitanka stalams in the district. The Kamalambal shrine is regarded as one of the Shakti peethams of India.

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The Tiruvarur temple is steeped in mysticism. The Vanmikanathar shrine is amongst the oldest of Saivite shrines in Tamilnadu. The Tyagaraja shrine (representing Somaskanda) is of great significance.The Somaskanda (Shiva with his wife Uma and son Skanda) manifestation of Shiva is a representation of fertility. The temple is rich in legends, tradition and literary wealth.

The saints of the past millennium have sung its glory in no mean terms. Several miracles are associated with the saints whose lives were intertwined with Tiruvarur.In the days of Cholas of early 2nd millennium CE that this temple was the center of culture in Tamilnadu. Even during the the 1st millennium CE, during the period of the Nayanmars, Tiruvarur was a center of great festivities centered around the temple.

In its current state, it is a sprawling temple complex with regal bearings, bearing silent signs reflecting a past that exhuded grandeur. An atmosphere of quietude reigns where paegantry and festivities were the daily norm. A skeletal temple staff carries out the day to day duties of temple administration where once hundreds filled the space each day.

Barring festival days, this temple takes on the look of an ancient vibrant institution now in a temporary state of   hibernation.

The tell tale signs of its past grandeur are seen everywhere - be it the well maintained corridors or the clean prakarams or the murals or the works of sculpture. The Aazhitter, or the chariot in which the annual procession of Tyagaraja is carried out is the largest of its kind in the country.

Be it the richness of legend, tradition, patronage of the arts, association with the Tamil Saivite Saints, or the relatively more modern compositions of Muthuswamy Deekshitar (early 19th century), the temple has it all.

Yet, little is known to Tamilnadu - leave alone the rest of India, about this treasury of tradition-art-religion-culture-history all amalgamated in a grand living monument that is the Tyagaraja temple complex at Tiruvarur.

It is with great pride that Templenet brings out this long-delayed comprehensive electronic feature on this temple par excellence.