Karur Kalyana Pasupatheeswarar Temple

Pasupatheeswarar temple of Karur is one of the Shivasthalams. This place was called Karuvoor during the time of Sambandar’s visit to this temple. Based on the inscriptions deciphered, we know that the temple existed during the reign of the king Rajendra Chola (Eag1e clan) (1012-54 A.D.) as he donated land to this temple. The temple drew attention of the Kongu Cholas, Kongu Pandyas and the Vijayanagara rulers too.

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History of Karur Easwaran Kovil

Once, Lord Brahma felt proud of being Creator of the world. In order to suppress his pride and arrogance, Lord Shiva made the divine cow Kamadhenu descent to Earth with Narada to perform penance on Him in this place, which was then a forest of Vanji trees. A divine voice instructed Kamadhenu to worship the Linga hidden in an anthill there. Following the instructions, Kamadhenu was poured its milk on Lord in the anthill.

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As its foot hit the Linga, it began to bleed. Lord told Kamadhenu that He would be worshipped as Pasupathi Nathar as the cow-(Kamadhenu) worshipped Him and that Kamadhenu would conferred with the power of srishti, creation. Afraid of Kamathenu’s creativity, Brahma realized his mistake and went to Shiva for refuge. Shiva also forgave him and returned the work of creation to him and sent Kamathenu to Indra.

Main entrance after the gopuram - Pasupatheeswarar temple of Karur
Main entrance after the gopuram – Pasupatheeswarar temple of Karur

Thus, the Sthala Theertham is called the Brahma Theertham. Since Kamadhenu, the cow (locally called Pasu) worshipped the presiding deity, Shiva came to be known as Pasupatheeswarar.

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Building and Architecture

The temple at Karuvoor is built on a 2.65 acres (10,700 m2) site. The front Gopuram is 120 feet (37 m) in height. The presiding deity in the main shrine (Moolvar) is a swayambu lingam. He is called Pasupatheeswarar or Aanilaiappar. There are two images of Ambal here, Sundaravalli and Alankaravalli. The shrine of female deity Sundaravalli is facing south. Images of mythological characters are found on the tower. There are 2 corridors inside the temple. The 100 pillar mandapam is a prominent portion of the temple.

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The temple is architecturally unique and is understood to be according to Agama Vidhis, Vastu Shastra and Saiva philosophy. The Hundred-Pillar Mandapam here has been named as ‘Pugazh Cholar Mandapam’ when the kumbhabhishekam ceremony was held here in 1960. At the south-west corner of the temple is the sanctum of Karuvurar, one of the eighteen Siddhas. As the siddha merged with Aanilaiappar (Shiva), the idol of the Lord in the sanctum is in a slightly reclined position.

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Dakshinamurthy is enshrined on the southern wall of the sanctum sanctorum, Lingodbhavar on the upper wall and Brahma as well as Durgadevi on the northern wall. Nayanmars are displayed in the southern courtyard of the sanctum sanctorum. At the back, it is set up with features of a Saiva temple system like Esana Vinayagar, Murugan, Gajalakshmi.

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Chandikeshvarar is on the north side of Karurai. This also has the charecteristics of a Saiva temple. The temple is mostly built of granite stones. The pillars are decorated with beautiful sculptures.

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This temple must have been built during the Chola period and gradually developed into a big temple during the Pandya, Kongu Chola and Nayak periods. During the later period of Islamic rule, it must have reached a state of disrepair and neglect. Therefore, the inscription says that during the British rule, the Nathu Kottay Chettiars who lived in Karur, demolished and built this temple in 1905. Only after that, the structure of the temple as it stands today can be seen. So, it seems that Nathu Kottai Chettiars wanted to build it as unchanged as possible. That is why the temple looks like it was built very recently.

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Next to the Maha Mandapam is a tower entrance with a circular wall. This gateway is believed to be built in Pandya style. Next to it there is a tower with a surrounding wall. It is considered to have lost the Nayak architectural style.

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This temple is one of the shrines of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams. Sundarar and Sambandar have composed Thevaram Pathigam in this temple. The temple is counted as one of the temples located in the southern bank of river Amaravati, a tributary of Cauvery.

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The sun’s rays fall on the lingam 3 days (some source mention 5 days) in a year during the Tamil month of Panguni (mid-March to mid-April). The annual Brahmotsavam is also celebrated in the same month. Eripaththa Nayanar utsavam, Navaratri in September, and Arudra Darisanam are the other important festivals celebrated here.

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This temple’s flag post is made up of rock stone. On one side of the flag, famous sage Pughazh Chola Nayanar is holding a plate towards the god with his head on the plate as an offering and the other side of the flag Shiva Linga is there. There is a sculpture of Cow which is licking that Shiva Linga. Another specialty of this temple is it has got five Lingas. At this temple there are two dedicated Sannidhis for Goddess Devi. Karuvurar or Karvur Thevar, the famous Siddha who helped many Chola during their glorious ruling was born at this town. Purghazh Chola Nayanar ruled this area. Thirugnana Sampanthar sung about this temple.

View of main gopuram from inside the temple - Karur Eeswaran Temple
View of main gopuram from inside the temple – Karur Eeswaran Temple

The old temple of Karur is at least 2000 years old. Six times pooja had been happening every day for several centuries now. This town used to be the capital of Chera Kings. Shiva played his Thiruvilayadal (prank) with Brahma to bring down his ego about his ability of creation. As per hindu mythologies Kamadhenu (the holy cow) wanted to attain liberation through Lord Shiva. The holy Sage “Naradha” went and told Kamadhenu to worship lord Shiva from a Vanji forest (Vanji is a type of flower plant grows in the Indian sub-continent). So Kamadhenu came down to earth and reached Karur Area where Vanji forest was there. It started worshipping Shiva who was covered by the Anthill. Shiva was happy with Kamadhenu’s dedication and he awarded the power of creation to Kamadhenu. Lord Brahma ( creator) realized his mistake and apologized to Shiva. Later Shiva sent the Kamadhenu back to the Deva world and gave the job of creation back to Lord Brahma. In tamil “Karu” means the inner most particle in the living beings which is responsible to generate the life. As brahma got his job back at this place, this is called as Karur. As the Holy Cow worshipped Lord Shiva here the Lord is called as Pasupatheeswarar or Aanilayappar( pasu means cow).

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The glory of the temple is well known. The place was ruled by devout Pugazh Chola Nayanar. Eripatha Nayanar and Karuvur Thevar author of Tiruvisaipa forming part of the 12 Saivite hymns editions were born here. Another celebrated Nayanar, Sivakami Andar placed himself in the service of Lord in the temple. This is a very ancient temple renovated by emperor Mushukunda. According to Sthala Puranas, the invitation for the wedding of Lord Muruga with Delvanal at Tiruparankundram was dispatched from Karur. Karuvurar, one of the 18 Siddhas merged with Lord Aanilayappar in this place causing a slight siding of the Linga.

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The Aanilai Linga in the temple is a swayambumurthi. Lord Brahmma is mentioned as the ever first devotees to worship Lord Shiva in this temple. Divine cow Kamadhenu has worshipped Lord here. Its foot print is visible on the Linga. The temple of Siddha Karuvuruar is in the southwest corner of this place. Some Brahmins complained against him to the king that the Siddha was following the Vama Marga offering wine and meat to the Lord. The enquiry revealed that the complaint was blased and false and the king punished the complainants. As they continued to harass him, the Siddha merged with Lord Aanilayappar on Thai Poosam day (January-February).

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Lord Shiva is swayambumurthy in the templs leaning slightly on a side. The Avudayar-seat is of square type. Rays of Sun fall on the Lord for five days in Masi month, February-March.

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Temple Timings

Morning 6:00 A.M – 12:30 P.M, Evening 4:30 P.M – 8:45 P.M

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Published by The Cowherd

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