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Tradition Meets

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Saraswati Ambal Temple at Koothanur
Temples of Tamilnadu

Special Feature - Saraswati Puja (Navaratri) - October 6, 2000

The ancient Saraswati Ambal temple at Koothanur is a one of its kind temple dedicated exclusively to the Goddess of Learning Saraswati. Although there are shrines to Saraswati in most Saivite temples as well as niche shrines to Bhrahma, temples dedicated exclusively to Bhrahma or Saraswati are very rare.

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Koothanur is located near Poonthottam on the railway line between Mayiladuturai and Tiruvarur, in the heart of the Temple belt of India in Tamilnadu.

This ancient shrine is rich in legends and beliefs and is closely associated with the Tamil poet Ottakoothar - a contemporary of Kamban and the author of works such as Kulottunga Cholan Ula. Ottakkoothar enjoyed the patronage of the Imperial Chola rulers.

Legend has it that a young devotee desirous of knowledge performed severe penances at the Saraswati shrine here (11th-12th century CE), seeking the blessings of Saraswati. Saraswati took the form of a courtesan and materialized before him and expressed her desire to bless him. The devotee refused to accept her blessings, not knowing who she was. Upon hearing of this incident, and recognizing the identity of the courtesan, the poet Ottakkoothar rushed to the spot and prostrated before her seeking her blessings. It was after this incident that the fame of Ottakkoothar is said to have spread throughout the Tamil land. In fact, the name Koothanur derives from the poet's name Ottakoothar.

Antiquity: The shrine here is said to have been erected by the poet Ottakoothar very early in the 2nd millennium CE. He is also said to have celebrated Vijaya Dasami, the day following the 9 day Navaratri festival in the tamil month of Purattasi here.  Several stone inscriptions, validating the antiquity of the temple are seen here.

Also see:

The Sharda Temple (Birla) at Pilani, Rajasthan