This Shivastalam in the vicinity of Swamimalai
(Skandastalam - Aaru Padai Veedu) near
Kumbhakonam is a vast temple in a state of neglect, and is known more for the shrine
to Valanchuzhi Vinayakar or Sweta Vinayakar.
Tiruvalanchuzhi is considered to be the 25th in the series of Tevara
Stalams in the Chola kingdom located south of the river Kaveri.
Vinayakar (Vellai Vinayakar or Nuraippillaiyaar): A white colored image of Ganapati - Sweta
Vinayakar is the center of worship here. Legend
has it that the Gods (the Devas) fashioned this image out of the foam that was
generated when the milky ocean (Ksheera Samudram) was churned by them, in their
quest for the celestial nectar Amritam.
Indra the King of Devas is said to have had this image in his possession after
gaining immortality through Amritam, and during his penance at Swamimalai,
set the image down at Tiruvalanchuzhi, after which it became rooted to the spot.
The Vinayakar shrine is
encountered soon after entering the temple complex. The intricate stone windows and the
delicately carved granite pillars in this shrine are of great merit. A ten day festival is
celebrated here, during the time of Vinayaka Chaturthi.
Legends: This shrine is associated with Heranda Munivar as is another
shrine in the vicinity Kottaiyur. Durvasa muni is
said to have carried out a yagnam here, and the Devas who attended it are said to have
established several Siva Lingams here. It is believed that Kaveri went back into the
ground, and when Heranda Muni went after it to retrieve it, it came back to the surface in
this shrine, and made a complete circle to the right, hence the name Valanchuzhi.
The Temple: This
temple occupies an area of about 8 acres, has a huge tower decorating its entrance. There
are shrines to Brihannayaki (Periyanayaki), Subramanyar, Dakshinamurthy, Herandamuni,
Aarumugar and others.
There are several interesting sculptural features in this vast temple, now in a state
of neglect. Images of celestial nymphs display enormous amounts of detail. Inscriptions
reveal that Raja Raja Cholan had made several endowments here. There are inscriptions here
from the period of Parantaka Chola I.
There are as many as 5 mandapams
with intricately carved pillars and stucco images. Murals from the Nayaka
period, now in a state of disrepair are also seen here; these images depict the dance of
Shiva during the Pradosha worship. The sculptural work in the Valanchuzhi
Vinayakar shrine here are of great merit. Mentioned must be made of the lavishly
decorated pillars and the niche deities.Ambal's shrine is located to the right of Shiva's
Festivals: Vinayaka Chaturthi, and a festival on the 6th day of the
bright half of Margazhi (Sagitarius) are celebrated here. This temple is managed as a sub temple of the famed Swaminathar
Temple (Subramanya) nearby.
Festivities surround this temple
in the Tamil month of Pankuni, when an image of Subramanya is taken in
procession from Swamimalai to Tiruvalanchuzhi,
when episodes from Vallikalyanam
(in which Ganapati the elder brother of Skanda is said to have come to his aid, while the
latter attempted to gain Valli's hand in marriage).