Tirunageswaram Naganathar Temple, also known as Rahu Stalam, is a Hindu temple dedicated to the Shiva, located in Tirunageswaram, a village in the outskirts of Kumbakonam, a town in Tamil Nadu, India.
It is significant to the Hindu sect of Saivism as one of the temples associated with the nine planet elements, the Navagraha Stalas, and specifically Rahu.
Shiva is worshiped as Naganathar, and is represented by the lingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Piraisoodi Amman.
The temple has a separate shrine for Rahu, who is seen with a human face instead of a serpent face, which is a unique feature of this temple.
- Address: Thirunageswaram, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu 612204
- District: Tirunageswaram
- Affiliation: Hinduism
- Deity: Naganathar or the Snake God
- Entry Fee: Free
- Timings: 6 AM TO 9 PM
- Visit Duration: 1 to 2 hours
- Dress Code: decent outfit recommended
- Festivals: Maha Shivaratri, Panguni Brahmmotsavam, and Thai Poosam
- Best Time to Visit: October to April
Here are the timings of Thirunageswaram Temple:
|Morning Darshan||6 AM||9 AM|
|Evening Darshan||1 PM||5 PM|
|Ushakkala Pooja||6 AM|
|Kalasandhi Pooja||9 AM|
|Uchikkala Pooja||1 PM|
|Sayaratchai Pooja||5 PM|
|Irandam Kala Pooja||7 PM|
|Arthajama Pooja||9 PM|
History of Tirunageswaram Naganathar Temple
The history of the Tirunageswaram Naganathar Temple, also known as the Rahu Stalam, is deeply rooted in ancient Hindu mythology and dynastic rule.
This temple, located in Tirunageswaram, a small town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has a rich history that dates back many centuries. Here’s a detailed account of the historical evolution of this sacred site:
The temple’s origins can be traced back to the Chola dynasty, one of the most prominent and influential dynasties in the history of South India.
The Cholas, known for their patronage of the arts and devotion to Lord Shiva, played a significant role in the construction and development of many temples in the region.
The Tirunageswaram Naganathar Temple is believed to have been built during the 12th century, and its architecture reflects the exquisite craftsmanship of the Chola period.
The temple’s history is closely associated with Hindu mythology, particularly the churning of the ocean (Samudra Manthan) episode from the Puranas.
It is believed that during this cosmic event, when the gods and demons churned the ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, a deadly poison called Halahala emerged.
To protect the world from the poisonous effects of this venom, Lord Shiva is said to have consumed it. In this temple, Lord Shiva is revered in the form of Naganathar or the Snake God, highlighting the episode where he tamed the poison with the help of serpents.
Architecture of Tirunageswaram Naganathar Temple
The architecture of the Tirunageswaram Naganathar Temple is a splendid example of the Chola dynasty’s architectural prowess, renowned for its intricate and ornate design.
The Cholas were known for their patronage of art and temple construction during their rule in South India, and this temple is no exception. Here are the architectural highlights of the Tirunageswaram Naganathar Temple:
Rajagopuram (Gateway Tower): The temple complex is adorned with a towering Rajagopuram, which is the gateway tower that serves as the main entrance to the temple.
The Rajagopuram is a striking feature, decorated with detailed sculptures and intricate carvings that narrate stories from Hindu mythology. The towering structure is a testament to the Chola architecture’s grandeur.
Vimana (Main Tower): The temple features a central vimana, the main tower above the sanctum sanctorum. The vimana is characterized by its pyramid-like shape and is adorned with sculpted panels and figures.
The vimana represents the architectural style of the Chola period, with its intricate details and craftsmanship.
Nandi Mandapam: Just before the entrance to the sanctum sanctorum, there is a spacious Nandi Mandapam, which houses a colossal Nandi (the sacred bull), the divine vehicle of Lord Shiva.
The Nandi sculpture is massive and beautifully carved, reflecting the Chola style of temple architecture.
Sculptures and Carvings: The entire temple complex is replete with intricate sculptures and carvings. The walls, pillars, and ceilings are adorned with depictions of various episodes from Hindu mythology, scenes from Lord Shiva’s life, and motifs from the Chola era.
The craftsmanship is highly detailed and showcases the artistic expertise of the Chola artisans.
Mandapams: The temple complex comprises numerous mandapams (pillared halls), which are used for various rituals, ceremonies, and gatherings.
These mandapams are embellished with finely sculpted pillars, each with unique motifs and figures. The Kanaka Sabha and Chit Sabha are notable among these mandapams.
Temple Tank (Sarpa Pushkarini): The temple also has a sacred temple tank, Sarpa Pushkarini, where devotees can take a dip before entering the temple.
The tank is an integral part of the temple complex and adds to the overall aesthetics of the site.
Inner Sanctum: The sanctum sanctorum of the temple houses the presiding deity, Lord Shiva, in the form of Naganathar, with his consort Piraiyanivanayaki.
The inner sanctum showcases the primary idol and is a place of intense devotion for worshippers.
The architectural style of the Tirunageswaram Naganathar Temple is a remarkable blend of artistic finesse and spiritual significance.
The intricate carvings and sculptures are not only a visual treat but also reflect the deep cultural and religious heritage of the Chola period.
The temple continues to be a testament to the rich history and architectural brilliance of South India.
How To Reach Tirunageswaram Naganathar Temple?
The nearest airport is Trichy International Airport, which is about 109 km away. There are regular flights to Trichy from major cities in India and abroad.
From Trichy, you can take a taxi or bus to Tirunageswaram.
Once you reach Tirunageswaram, you can take a taxi, auto-rickshaw, or bus to the temple. The temple is located in the heart of the village and is easily accessible.
Tirunageswaram has its own railway station, but only a few trains stop here. The nearest major railway station is Kumbakonam, which is about 6 km away. There are regular trains to Kumbakonam from major cities in India.
Tirunageswaram is well-connected to other major towns and cities in Tamil Nadu by road. There are regular buses from Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Trichy, and other places.
The journey from Kumbakonam takes about 30 minutes.
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