Sri Naganathaswamy Temple or Rahu Sthalam is one of the 9 Navagraha Temples around Kumbakonam and is dedicated to Rahu. The Presiding Deity is Lord Naganathaswamy. There are two Shrines for the Goddess. Piraiyanivanudalumai’s Shrine is adjacent to Naganathaswamy’s shrine and GiriGujambika with Lakshmi and Saraswathy by her side has a separate temple. Rahu Bhagavan is seen with his two consorts Nagavalli and Nagakanni. Sri Naganathaswamy Temple is one where Lord Shiva was worshipped by Rahu and got relieved of a curse. Rahu is a shadowy planet and do not have any special day dedicated to him. He is depicted in art as a dragon with no body riding on a chariot drawn by eight black horses. When Rahu is affected one faces several miseries and obstacles in the way of success. Thirunageswaram is one of the 274 paadal petra sthalams of lord Shiva. It is one of the Panchakrosa Sthalams also. Thirugnana Sambandar, Thirunavukarasar, Sundramurthy Nayanar, and Arunagirinathar have praised the glory of the Lord.
Lord shrine of Lord Ganesha was believed to be installed by Sadasiva Brahmendra. He was a saint, a composer of Carnatic music and an Advaita philosopher. The presiding deity Naganathar Swamy of this temple is admired in Tevaram, the 7th century Tamil Saiva canon. The Dwarapalakas (door keepers) of Naganathar Swamy Temple are made out of Chunam clay (lime plaster). Rahu Bhagwan is said to be the cause for one’s good position, status, business, faithfulness, winning over opposition, to travel overseas, and for mantra power. It is believed that by doing Milk abhishekam here for Rahu during Rahu kalam. The wonderful halls of Naganathar Swamy temple are built by Govinda Dikshitar, the minister of three successive Nayaks of Thanjavur.The milk while being over poured over the idol, turns blue even today and it is really to be seen, to be believed . People from far and near throng here for performing milk Abhishekam and the number is ever increasing.
History and Legend of Thirunageswaram
- Legend has it that the mythological serpents Aadi Seshan, Dakshan and Kaarkotakan worshipped Shiva here. Legend also has it that Nala worshipped Shiva here as in Gowtama muni, Paraasarar and Bhageerata are also associated with legends related to this temple.The king of the nagas, Rahu prayed to Lord Siva and hence this place got the name Thirunageswaram. Here Rahu Bhagavan has manifested with both his consorts.
- King Sambumali who had incurred the wrath of sage Kaalangiri, attained moksha after bathing in the temple tank and praying to the Lord and Ambal of this temple.The devas and asuras churned the Paarkadal to obtain amirtham that would free them from death, keeping them alive for ever.
- When the amirtham emerged, Lord Vishnu in the guise of Mohini was distributing the amirtham only to the devas. He was worried that the evil deeds of the asuras will increase multifold if they consumed amirtham. Realising this, one of the asuras with the help of the asura guru Sukrachariyar, took the form of a deva and consumed the nectar. Suryan and Chandran who noticed this, complained to Lord Narayana.
- In anger, Lord Narayana hit the asura on the head with the spoon in his hand. The head was cut off and fell on the ground. But because the asura had consumed amirtham, his head and body continued to live. The body of a snake got attached to the head to become Rahu Bhagavan. Rahu prayed to Lord Vishnu (Narayana) and got the position of a Sayagraham. Rahu takes his revenge on Suryan and Chandran, whenever he gets a chance by devouring them. This is commonly called as eclipse.
- The Chola King Kandaraathithya (950AD-957AD) changed the inner sanctum into a granite edifice. The inner Mantapa was built by Seikkizhar, as it was a favourite place to him. Govinda Dikshitar (17th century A.D.) a minister to Acchuthappa nayak, constructed the outer mantapa. Sambumali, a King built the beautiful Surya Puskarani beautifully. The roof and other renovation work were done by Arimalazham Annamalai Chettiar.
Significance of Thirunageswaram Temple
- A unique feature of Naganatha Swamy temple is that Rahu Bhagavan is seen with human face. Usually in other places, Rahu Bhagavan is seen with a serpent face. Here Rahu Bhagavan is present with his two consorts Nagavalli and Nagakanni. This was originally a forest of Senbaka trees. A Shivalingam was found under one of these trees here and hence He came to be known as Shenbagarane Eswara.
- On entering the Eastern gate way, one can find the Vinayaga temple, Balipeedam, Nandeeswarar Mandapam and Dhwaja Sthambam (Flag post). On the southern side there is the temple tank. On entering the main gopuram, the Deity of Rahu Bhagavan is in the south West corner of the praharam
- Rahu is the source of plenty. Kalathra dosham, puthira dosham, communicable diseases, mental disorders, leprosy, fall in grace are caused by Rahu dosham. Praying to Rahu at this sthala helps to rid a person from these factors and also saves the person from all poisonous life forms. Trips to holy places, Gnanamarkam are his beneficial aspects.
- Lord Pambureswarar in the lingam form blesses in the sanctum sanctorum. The ‘utsavar’ form of Adhisesha is in the worshipping posture in the sanctum sanctorum. There is a most encompassing the sannadhi, with three sides of the moat covered by the mandapam
Thirunageswaram Temple Temple Timings
Thirunageswaram Raghu Temple opens daily from 6 AM to 9 AM in the morning and 1 PM to 5 PM, and 7 PM to 9 PM. The temple conducts six pujas daily Ushakkala Pooja (6 AM), Kalasandhi Pooja (9 AM), Uchikkala Pooja (1 PM), Sayaratchai Pooja (5 PM), Irandam Kala Pooja (7 PM) and Arthajama Pooja (9 PM).
Festivals celebrated at the Thirunageswaram Temple
Chithirai Brahmmotsavam: Brahmotsavam is the time when all the Gods and Goddesses literally come down and make their presence felt on the planet Earth in order to celebrate and commemorate a Deity. Chithirai Brahmotsavam is the celestial celebration of Devi Meenakshi’s divine marriage with Lord Sundareshwara.Therottam or Car Festival is celebrated on the 11th day of the festival. This Brahmotsavam is named after the Tamil month Chithirai (April-May) during which the celebration happens. Kumkumarchana is the offering of personalized puja in your name in which different names of Devi Meenakshi will be chanted along with the offering of Kumkum – vermillion. Kumkumarchana is offered by women for receiving special blessings for their wishes to get fulfilled.
Thai Poosa star float festival: Float festival is conducted on the Full Moon Day of the Tamil month of Thai (come in between mid Jan- mid Feb) every year. On the festive night, images of goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswara decorated with ornaments are taken out in a colourful procession to the huge Mariamman Teppakulam. The unique character of the Thai Pusam is the astonishing parade of people bearing kavadis. The kavadi which is associated with Idumban, vassal of Muruga, originated in Palani.There are several kinds of kavadis, the milk and rosewater kavadis being the principal ones. The central shaft of the semicircular wooden structure is placed on the shoulders and the pilgrims dressed in yellow costume and decorated with garlands, undergoing many privations to fulfill vows, dance. The divine songs are rendered in charming music by a trained singer and repeated by others in chorus and the emotion-choked dancer goes into raptures hearing them. Sometimes they react by shifting the kavadi over their shoulder, head, nose, etc.
Adipooram: The Tamil month Aadi is the fourth month of the Tamil Calendar. Aadi is a month of fervour and observances in Goddess related to Water-forces and Natural forces where prayers and pujas are offered to propitiate the powerful goddesses. And seek their protection from the inauspicious aspects that are often associated with the month. The month of Aadi is considered very auspicious to connect oneself to this Divine power. No weddings or other similar functions are celebrated during Aadi as is considered inauspicious. The day of Aadi Pooram is also observed as the day of Goddess Shakti as it is believed that the Goddess herself comes to Earth in this auspicious day, to bless her devotees. The devotees therefore worship their deity with full dedication to lead a happy and prosperous life. In the temples, Goddess Andal is adorned with silk saree, glittering jewelleries and garlands. An elaborate feast is offered to the Goddess that is contributed by every household in the community. As the festival of Aadi Pooram celebrated the marriage of God and Goddess, thousands of devotees visit the temples to witness this ceremony.
Masi Magam: Masi Makam or Masi Magam is an important festival in the Tamil speaking world. The festival falls in the Tamil Month of Masi (February – March). In this festival various traditional customs are observed like deities from the neighboring temples are brought around Karaikal and many devotees come to take holy dip in the sea to cleanse all the sins. The most significant deity is Sowriraja Perumal of Thirukannapuram. The mythological tale is that Sowriraja Perumal was married to a woman of fisherman community and that made him to enter the fisherman village. The festival is observed on that occasion as the deity enters human society and people offers a hearty welcome to him.
Poojas and Rituals at Thirunageswaram
Sundays are very auspicious and devotees perform milk abhishekam to Rahu, who is enshrined with His consorts. A noteworthy feature is that the milk turns blue. A dip in Soola Theertha is said to cure one of diseases and give prosperity.
Five kala poojas are being done everyday. Special Abhisekas are performed between 4.30 to 6 PM (Raaghu Kala) in all Sundays.
Astrologers suggest that doing Milk abhishekam (especially on Sundays) here for Rahu during Rahu kalam (period of 1 and 1/2 hours occurring every day ) the malefic effects of Rahu like marriage obstacles, lack of progeny, troubled marital life, Kalasarpa Dhosham, Kalasthra Dhosha , Sarpa Dhosha are all neutralized. During this milk abhishegam, the milk turns blue. Offering of blue cloth and ulutham paruppu (urad dal) is made here. Mantharai flower is considered special to him.
How to reach: Road, Rail and Air
By Air: The nearest airport to Naganathaswamy Temple is Tiruchirapalli International Airport.
By Train: Thanjavur railway junction has three rail heads leading to Tiruchirapalli, Kumbakonam and Thiruvarur. Thanjavur is connected by rail with most important cities and towns in India.
By Road: Buses Available from Kumbakonam (8kms), 10mins of travel form Kumbakonam, buses also available from Tanjore and major towns such as Trichy, Madurai.The Kumbakonam town is connected with Chennai, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Ernakulam, Nagercoil, Tirupathi, Ooty and other major cities through regular bus services.
Where to stay in Thirunageswaram
There are many hotels near the temple and some of them are:
- Hotel Kanakabhishegam Contact: No. 6, Sannathi Street, Thirukkadaiyur, Tamil Nadu 609311
- Mookambigai Residency Hotel Contact: Thirukadaiyur Main Road, Thirukadaiyur, Tamil Nadu 609311
- Hotel Chella Residency Contact: Thirukadaiyur, Tamil Nadu 609311
Where to eat in Thirunageswaram
The restaurants near the temple that offers some mouth watering and delicious food.
- Krishna Bhavan Veg Hotel Contact: Thirukadaiyur, Tamil Nadu 609311
- Majnu Restaurant Contact: Thirunagari – Mangaimadam Rd, Mangaimadam, Tamil Nadu 609106
- Annapoorani Contact: Tiruvengadu – Poompuhar Rd, Manigramam, Tamil Nadu 609107
Nearby Temples in Thirunageswaram
Brihadeeswarar Temple: Thanjavur Peruvudaiyar Kovil also known as Brihadeeswara Temple and Raja Rajeswara Temple which was achieved by Rajaraja Chola I (985 -1012 AD) in Tamil architecture. This big Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Siva.Tanjore temple architecture is one of India’s most prized architectural. The main deity of Brihadeeswara Temple is lord Shiva (Lord Brihadeeswara), with three eyes. However one eye is closed. Only priests are allowed to enter this inner most chamber. The entire surroundings of Brihadeeswara Temple contains of 250 lingams as a representation of Lord Shiva.
Thirunallar Temple: Sri Darbaraneswarar Temple is the abode of Lord Shani(Lord Saturn). The Temple is most famous to Lord Shaneeswarar (Saneeswaran in Tamil), one of the 9 Navagrahas(Nine Planets). Various poojas are offered to Lord Saneeswara(Shani) Bhagawan every day. The other deities of the shrine are Swarna Vinayaka, Lord Subramaneswara Swamy and Thyagarajar.