Sooriyanar Kovil is the first of the 9 Navagraha Temples in Tamil Nadu, located about 1 km from Tirumangalakkudi. It lies between Kumbakonam and Mayavaram, near Thanjavur, in Tamilnadu. The presiding deity is Suriyanar, the Sun and his consorts Usha Devi and Pradyusha Devi. Sooriyanar Kovil Temple also has separate shrines for the other eight planetary deities. Sooriyanar Kovil is one of the few historic temples dedicated to Sun god and is also the only temple in Tamil Nadu which has shrines for all the planetary deities. Sooriyanar Kovil Temple tower has 15.5 meter in height and 3 tiers, 5 domes at the peak. Temple tank lies at the north of rajagopuram. It is to note that one should take sacred bath in the temple tank or just to sprinkle water on head before worshipping the GOD. There are 12+ theerthams in the temple.
Sooriyanar Kovil and Thirumanagalakudi are closely related. Navanayakars did their meditation and offered worship to pranavaradeshvarar and Mangalanayaki. People who offer worship at Sooriyanar temple have to go to Thirumangaladudi to offer worship there. In early days both places were same and it was called ‘Argavamam’ before dividing. Both the temples have Erukan plant as ‘Thalavirukcha.’ Though there are shrines for Lord Surya in many temples this is the only temple dedicated exclusively to the Lord. In the sanctum, Brihaspati(Guru) is depicted as performing puja to Lord Suryanarayana. Surya is the Lord of Simma Rasi and occupies the central place amongst the navagrahas. The adi devatha is Agni, prathyutha Devatha – Rudran. His color is red and his vahana is a chariot drawn by seven horses.
History and Legend of Sooriyanar Kovil
- Sooriyanar Kovil Temple was built by Chola King, Kulothunga Chola I in the year 1100 AD, the temple features a huge tower with three tiers and five domes at the top. The sanctum and the ardhamandapam are built of stone. This is the only Navagraha temple where all the nine grahas (nine planets) can be found in separate sannadhis (Sanctums).
- There is a tank called Surya Pushkarni, which lies to the north of the Rajagopuram. This is considered as a sacred bathing ghat. There are around 15 theerthams in the Suryanar Temple. The one which is located inside the temple is called as Jnana Koopam. The inscriptions from the period of Krishna Deva Raya speak about the endowments made to this temple.
- Once upon a time a great sage called Kaalava rishi was living in Himalayas region. He realized he will get a deadly disease of leprosy in the future and he was worried. His fellow sages advised him to worship all the navagrahas (nine gods for each planet).
- Kaalava rishi also did a very dedicated penance towards the navagrahas and they appeared as he wished. He told his concerns about leprosy and he prayed that the navagrahas should help him to get out of the deadly disease. The navagrahas granted the boon the rishi won’t get the disease and vanished.
- Later the God of creator, Brahma came to know this and called upon all the nine devas (navagrahas). He told them, the human beings have to face all the happy and sad incidents in their life and that can’t be changed. As navagrahas awarded the kaalava rishi navagrahas will get the disease on behalf of him and they should do a twelve weeks penance at south part of India.
- Based on this curse all the navagrahas arrived to south India and did a penance to get rid of Brahma’s curse. As god of Sun (Sooriyan) was heading this penance he was at the center in this temple and the other eight planet gods were surrounded by him at this temple.
Significance of the Sooriyanar Kovil
- Those who suffer the ill effects of Kalathara Dosham, Vivaha Paribandha Dosham, Puthra Dosham, Puthra Paribandha Dosham, Vidhya Paribandha Dosham, Udyoga Padhibandha Dosham, Surya dasai, Surya bukthi would benefit from worshipping at this temple. Father, Athma, physical strength, right eye, governmental largesse are the beneficial aspects of this planet.
- If one bathes in the nine ghats in this place continuously for 12 Sundays, they will be saved from sufferings and blessed with a happy and peaceful life.
- There are shrines to Kasi Vishwanath, Visalakshi and Brihaspati(Guru) within the sanctum while shrines for the other celestial bodies are located outside.The Kol Theertha Vinayakar shrine is considered very important. Malefic effects due to Dasa bukthi and gochara will be nullified by worshipping here.
- The peculiarity of this temple is that the eight other planets here, faces towards the Surya god. The Vahanam (vehicle) of Lord Suryanar is horse, which is called by the name “Saptha”, which refers to number “seven” in Sanskrit. The chariot of Lord Suryanar is drawn by seven horses.
- Sree Surya Puranam is the first Puranam when the world came into existence, the first sound that reverberated was ‘Ohm’. Surya was born from this ‘Omkhara naadham’. Sree Markandeya Puranam has explained this factor. Suryan was the son of Sage Kashyapa and was the grandson of Sage Maarisi. Surya married Soorvarsala, the daughter of Vishwakarma. Vaivasvatha Manu and Yamadharmaraja were his sons and Yamuna, his daughter.
Sooriyanar Kovil Temple Timings
Suryanar Temple is opened from 6:00 AM to 12:30 PM in the morning and 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM in the evening.
Festivals celebrated at the Sooriyanar Kovil
The annual Ratha Saptami festival (Rathasapthami) during the Tamil month of Thai (January – February) is one of the main festival celebrated here. The first Sundays in the months of Aavani (Leo) and Kartikai (Scorpio) is also considered very auspicious.
- Ratha Saptami: Ratha Saptami is dedicated to Lord Surya, the Hindu Sun God. As per the tradition in Hinduism, Lord Surya is believed to ride a chariot driven by seven horses – this form is worshipped during Rathasaptami puja and festival. Ratha Saptami has astrological significance. It is believed that during this auspicious day, sun travel from the zodiac sign Simha Rasi into Makara Rasi. The festival indicates the beginning of summer, and also indicates the rise in atmospheric temperature. Ratha Saptmi celebrated just before the festival of Ugadi.
- Vijaya Dashami: Vijaya Dashami also known as Dasara, Navaratri, Durgotdsav is one of the very important and fascinating festivals of India. It is celebrated in the lunar month of Ashwin (usually in September or October) from the Shukla Paksha Pratipada (the next of the New moon day of Bhadrapada) to the Dashami or the tenth day of Ashwin. Vijayadashami is celebrated as victory of Lord Rama over Demon Ravana and also triumph of Goddess Durga over the buffalo Demon Mahishasura. In the southern part of India Vijaya Dashami is celebrated with the worship of Chamundeshwari or Durga. Colourful toys of gods and goddesses are built and exhibited to mark the celebration which is known as “Golu” in Tamil Nadu.
- Brahmotsavam festival: According to the Varaha Puranam, the Brahmothsavam is performed in the month of Asweeja (according to the Salivahana calendar) when the Sun is in the Kanya Rashi. The commencement of the utsavam or festival is marked by a ceremony called the Dhwajarohanam or the hoisting of the flag. In the center of the outer court of the temple stands a huge stone-pillar called the flag-stand (Dhwajasthamba). And on this occasion a long strip of new cloth is wound round the pillar with solemn ceremony.
Poojas and Rituals at Sooriyanar Kovil
- There is a marked difference of worshipping in this temple from other temples, one has to follow the custom of worshipping. To offer worship at Sooriyanar Temple, one has to reach the Rajagopuram (Main Entrance) and more towards North where Pushkarani of temple is located.
- One can take bath in the tank or sprinkle holy water in the head as purification. Next after the bath one has to offer prayers at the RajaGopuram before entering the temple. After entering the temple, one has to turn towards Southeren side where Koltheertha Vinayagar is placed.
- One has to do the Sankalpam and Archana as Hindus find Vinayagar as turnover of all obstacles. After worshipping Vinayagar, one has to climb steps to reach ‘Narthana Mandapam’ at Northern Side. And then more towards ‘Sabanayakar Mandapam’ where one can offer prayers to ‘Urchava Moorthi’.
- After Sabanayakar Mandapam one can reach ‘Main Mandapam’ and offer prayers to SriKasivisvanathar and Smt. Visalakshi. Next to Main Mandapam, there is Maha Mandapam where Sannathi to Sun-God, there is Guru Bhavan(lord Jupitee) stands there.
- People do the Archana for Guru and offer prayers to lord Sun. One has to move South wards to come out of Sanctum to reach the lord Saturn (Sani). Lord Kuja, lord Mars are placed separately then more northwards to offer prayers to lord Moon and Kethu.
- Next movement would be towards west where lord Sukra and Raghu are placed. Finally one has to offer prayers to Sandikeswarar. After finishing prayers at Sandikeswarar, one has to come clockwise to reach the vinayakar to give final prayers.
How to Reach Sooriyanar Kovil
By Air: The nearest airport is the Trichy airport which is situated at 58 kilometers from Thanjavur. Tiruchirappalli is connected to Chennai through regular flights. The other airports situated nearby are the Bangalore airport and the Chennai airports which are again connected to all the major cities in India as well as several cities in abroad.
By Rail: The nearest railway station to Suriyanar koil is the Aduthurai Railway Station. The other cities that are close to the Aduthurai railway station are Mayiladuthurai and Kumbakonam.
By Road: Suryanar Koil is about 21 km from Swamimalai and 15 km from Kumbakonam. It is about 20 km from Mayiladuthurai on the Kumbakonam – Aduthurai – Mayiladuthurai Road.
Where to stay
There are many hotels and guest houses that are located near the temple. Approximately at a distance of 2 Kms one will find good place to stay that provides with all the necessary services.
- Sivamurugan Hotels Contact: 60 Feet Main Road | Near New Bus Stand,, Kumbakonam 612001
- Mantra Veppathur Resort Contact: 536/537A,No.1, Bagavathapuram Main Road Extension, | Srii Sailapathipuram Village, Veppathur,, Kumbakonam 612103
- Hotel Le Garden Contact: Thiruvidaimaruthur Road, Kumbakonam 612001
- DSR Madhanam Inn Contact: 75/3 Asoor By Pass Nh 45c | near Karuppur By Pass,Kumbakonam 612002
- Hotel Riverside Resort & Spa Contact: 32 College Road, Kumbakonam 612001
- Quality Inn VIHA Contact: #2, New Railway Road | Kumbakonam, Tanjore Dist,Kumbakonam 612001
Where to eat
Some of the restaurants near the temple that offers delicious food are
- Thanmayi Restaurant Contact: New Railway Road, Kumbakonam, India
- Raya’s Restaurant Contact: 18,19 Head Post Office Rd, Kumbakonam 612001
- Habibi RestaurantContact: 29/921 Sarangapani East Street, Kumbakonam
- Dosa Plaza Kumbakonam Contact: 332 Nageshwaran North Street Kurinchi Metro Bazzar
Brihadeeswara Temple: The Brihadeeswara Temple or the Peruvudaiyar Kovil is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. This temple is one of the most beautiful architectural sites in India. Raja Raja Chola I had this temple constructed in 1010 AD. The Brihadeeswara Temple was built for royal ceremonies and to display the emperor’s power and vision. The Cholas had a splendid eye for art and architecture, which shows in their temples, which have been constructed in a Dravadian style. The Brihadeeshwara temple has over a 29 sq.m base. It has a soaring vimana (Srivimana) and a relatively shortgopuram. The inner sanctum and the gopuram were constructed over a period of 12 years from a single piece of granite weighing around 80 tonnes. The presiding deity is Shiva in the form of a Lingam called Peruvudaiya, Rasjarajeshwaramudvya.
Neelamega Perumal Temple: Thiru Thanjaimaamani temple or Sri Neelamega Perumal Temple is situated in Vennathankarai village of Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu,dedicated to Lord Vishnu and also one of the 108 Divya Desam Temples. The Lord of the temple is praised by Saints Boothazhwar and Tirumangai Azhwar in their Mangalasasanam hymns. The Lord in this temple appears in sitting posture as Veera SingaPerumal and Narashimar. Sri Yoga Narasimha is in the front Mandap. Also Sri Lakshmi Narasimha is in the prakara of Neelmega Perumal temple. According to history the temple is thought to have been constructed by the rulers of the Pallava Dynasty. Later it was renovated by the rulers of Chola Dynasty and Pandya Dynasty.
Sarangapani Temple: This is an important divya desam of Vishnu and is also known as Tiru Kudanthai. This is one of the Pancha Ranga Khestras. Sarangapani temple is the biggest Vishnu temple in Kumbakonam and it belongs to 13th century. The Moolavar is Sarangan ,and the thayar is Ranganayaki. The temple sanctum is designed like a chariot with wheels and is drawn by horses and elephants.The main temple has a beautiful mandapam in front of the temple. The sanctum has two entrances. One is known as the Uttarayana dwara and other one the Dakshinayana dwara as is in Tiruvellarai.