The Kanagagreeswarar Temple is situated on top of a hillock known as Kanagachalam or Ponnmalai . The renowned Periyanayagi Amman temple, is located at the base of the hill, in the centre of the town. Ponmalai Nathar Temple lies at an elevation of about 500 feet above the sea level. The temple is believed to have been built about 1000 years ago, during the reign of the Chola Kings. Later the temple is said to have been expanded during the period of Vijayanagara Empire, around the 15th century.
About The Temple
Situated at an elevation of 500 feet, a fleet of 365 steps helps us in reaching the temple on top of he hill. These 365 stairs are said to represent the days of a year and with the prayer that each day should turn out to be a good day for the devotees. The temple has a three tier Rajagopuram (Main Tower). Nandhi Deva in thisbtemple appears to be majestic. There are separate shrines for Lord Vinayaka, Muruga, Dakshinamurthi, Chandikeswara, Agora Veerabadra and Saptha Mathas. Ambal graces from her shrine which lies on the foot of the hill. The temple consists of few remarkably marvellous sculptures made during the Vijayanagara days.
The temple has a length of 140 feet and is 70 feet wide. The famous ‘Navanarikunjaram' sculpture is found on the inner prakaram (corridors). The southern prakaram (Corridors) of the temple has Sannidhis of Sri Visalakshiamman, Saptha Kanniyars and Sri Dhakshinamoorthy. The sanctums of Sri Vinayagar and Sri Murugar are located in the western prakaram.
The main sanctum sanctorum of Sri Kanagagreeswarar has three lingas. The Linga at the rear of the sanctum is a Swayambu lingam called Kanagagreeswarar alias Ponmalainathar which is around 2 ft high. The second linga is that of Kasi Viswanathar, who was worshipped by Periyanayagi Amman. According to Sastras, there shouldn’t be two Lingas in a Temple. Thus yet another Linga made of Rudraksha was installed in the wall behind the Kanagagreeswarar. Devotees get the darshan of Lord Viswanathar first, in this temple.
There are a number of beautiful sculptures in the inner mandapa of the temple. On the way down the hill, one can find the carved foot print of the Ambal indicating the place where she performed penance. At the foot of the hill is a shrine devoted for Lord Kameswara and Devi Kokilambal. The temple stands unique since the entire temple is built with just nine stones. Since there is no shrine for Ambikai at the hill temple, Pradosha Pujas are performed to the devi at this temple. Devotees go around the hill (Girivalam) for 3.5 km on all Poornima (full moon days).
There are a number of images of pigs depicted on the outer walls of the temple. This might have been intended to create sentimental feelings among Muslim invaders trying to destroy the temple in the olden times.
One of the unique features of the temple is that Abishekas are performed on the deities with hot water unlike other temples where abhishekas are usually done with cold water. There is an Abhisheka every day at 8AM for Lord Kanagagreeswarar with ghee and hot water.
Legend and stories
There goes a storyq around this temple that when a hunter named Irula was digging the forest and collecting roots, his axe hit a Lingam underneath. As a result of this sinful act, he fell unconscious. On account of his deep devotion to the Lord, the God appeared in his dream and told him that he is present inside the pit. At once, he found the Lingam, installed it on the top of the hillock and worshiped it. Since then the worship and abishekam began with hot water as Lord was injured. The hot water abishekam continues even today. As the Shiva linga is too tiny in size, Lord Kasi Viswanatha Linga is also installed by the side. Pujas are performed as per agama Sastras.
According to another legend, Sage Brungi is said to have casually visited Mount Kailash to worshipped Lord Shiva alone, though Mother Parvathi was by his side. Feeling neglected, Devi Parvathi had asked the Lord to part with her a part of his body. Lord Shiva had suggested her that she must go to Kancheepuram and perform penance in the form of Kamakshi Amman and that he would marry her there. Only then he would offer a part of his body to her at Thiruvannamalai. Thus accordingly, Devi Parvathi was born as Kamkshi in Kanchipuram and thus wedded Lord Ekambaranathar at Kanchi. On her way to Thiruvannamalai, she is believed to have performed penance on Lord Kanaka Giriswarar for a Mandalam, covering 48 days at a place called Devikapuram. Hence, the name of this place is called as Devikapuram. Stalls Purana mentions that Devi Parvathi became part of the Lord at Thiruvannamalai. The temple for Peria Nayaki Ambigai, also called Peria Nachiar in the centre of the place is as famous as that of Kamakshi Amman in Kancheepuram. This is one among the sacred Shakti Peetas. The temple has a 7 tier Rajagopuram and three corridors (prakarams). Since Devi Kamakshi wedded Lord Shiva at this place, those facing delays in their wedding pray the Ambal here. The wedding of the Lord with Kamakshi Amman is said to have taken place on Panguni Uthiram which falls in the months of March-April.
Once, a Pallava king who was marching through this place with his army to fight a war, came to know of this great temple. He is said to have worshipped the deity and vowed to build a temple for the Lord if he wins the war. The Pallava king won the war but forgot his promise to build a temple for the Lord as prayed. Later on when he was going through another problem, he was reminded of this promise and built the temple for the Lord with a Linga from Kashi, since the original Suyambu Linga was missing. Later the Suyambu linga which is linked to the hunter legend got found and thus both the Lingas were installed within the sanctum of this temple.
This 10 day Panguni Uthiram festival beginning on the Krithika-Panchami day commence with the flag hoisting ceremony and ends on the Uthiram star day, which is the day when the wedding of the Lord and Amman took place. Panchamurthis are said to visit the hill every day; Chithirai Natarajar abishek in April-May; Purattasi Navarathri in September-October; Aipasi Annabishek to Lord in the hill in October-November; Karthikai Deepam festival in November-December, Mahashivrathri in February-March are the festivals celebrated in the temple. Besides the above Poornima Girivalam-circumambulating the hill on full moon day, pradosha days, Deepavali, Makar Sankranti, Tamil and English New Year Days are also observed with special pujas to Lord and Mother, all drawing huge devotee crowd.
How to reach Sri Kanaka Giriswarar temple
The nearest airport is Chennai Airport.
The nearest railway station is Bolur.
Devikapuram is 50 kms from Tiruvannamalai, 21 from Arani, 15 from Bolur, 12 from Chetpet and 40 from Vandavasi. So the temple is well connected with government and private transport.
Sri Kanaka Giriswarar temple,
Arani - Devikapuram Rd,
Tamil Nadu 606902
Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-
- Relief from diseases
- Purchase of vehicles
- Gain Knowledge
Kailaasarana Shiva Chandramouli Phaneendra Maathaa Mukutee Zalaalee Kaarunya Sindhu Bhava Dukha Haaree Thujaveena Shambho Maja Kona Taaree
Meaning -Oh Lord Shiva who is seated on Mount Kailash, where the moon decorates his forehead and the king of serpents crown his head, who is merciful and removes delusion, You alone can protect me. I surrender to thee.
Aum Trayambakam Yajaamahey Sugandhim Pusti Vardhanam Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaath Mrutyor Muksheeya Maamritaat
Meaning -We worship the fragrant Lord Shiva, who has 3 eyes and who cultivates all beings. May He free me from death, for immortality, as even a cucumber is separated from its bond with the vine.
The hill temple of Lord Shiva is open inly from 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. The Amman temple at the base of the hills is open from 6.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. and from 5.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.