• Shiva

Tiru Kokarneswarar Rock Cut temple


The Tiru Kokarneswarar Rock Cut temple is located in Thirukokarnam and is dedicated to God Sri Kokarneswarar Brahandambal. It belongs to Mahendraverma Pallava's period. The presiding deity is Kokarneswarar and his consort Brahadambal. Some later additions have also been made. The idols of Gangesa, Gangadhara, Saptha Kannikas are artistic creations of perennial value. An image of the saint Sadasiva Brahmendra is seen at the foot of a Bikula tree. The deity is the family deity of the Raja and in reverence of Brahadambal, coins called 'Amman Kasu' were released by the king. The place is called Thirukokarnam.

About the temple

The cave temple has more architectural features compared to other cave temples of this region. The relief sculpture of 'Sapta - matrika' of this temple is important from the point of view of iconography. It contains about 30 inscriptions. Some of them are Grantha inscriptions of the 7th century AD. There are two main deities: Gokarnesvara and Bakula-vanesvara. There is no shrine for Navagraha ('the-nine-planets'). The temple has five temples - cars, which is a large number comparatively, with marvelous craft work, architecture and noteworthy features. Because of the benevolence of the royalty, the temple was the centre of dance and music of great repute. As per sthala - purana, Kamadhenu (celestial cow) is supposed to fetch waters of the Ganga in her two ears and showered one earful on the murti (main deity image) and one into the tank. This explains the name Gokarnam, Go for cow and Karnam for ears. Currently the erstwhile princess of Pudukkottai, of Tondaiman lineage, is the trustee of this temple. The temple would have come to Tondaimans after the fall of Vijayanagara and then Nayaka rulers of Tamilnadu. They patronized this temple and the God of Kokarnam is Kula-devata (main deity) of Tondaiman kings.

Thitukokarnam cave is probably the only cave where we have Ganesha as a stand-alone image and also in Sapta - matrika panel. Stand - alone image of Valampuri Ganesha (truck turned to right) is carved on the right lateral wall of the cave mandapa. He is shown with four hands and seated in padmasana posture. He carries his broken tusk in his left upper hand and ankusha (elephant goad) in upper right hand. A modaka (an Indian sweet) is held in his right lower hand and as well as in his trunk. He is shown wearing vastra - yajnopavita and karanda - makuta. The major shrines in this complex are Gokarneswara, Mahilavaneshwara, Brahadambal, Kasiviswanatha.

Though the presiding deity of the temple is Gokarneswara the goddess Brihadambal or Araikkasamman is popular in the locality. The rock cut shrine is on the western side of the temple complex facing east. The hillock in which the rock cut shrine is scooped is short outcrop and spread to a small region. In passage of time the rock cut shrine grow in, around and above the hillock as a big complex. The temple complex starts with a gopura entrance in the south. The gopura leads to the colonnade which has huge pillars and platforms on either side. The walls in the frontage and the ceilings of the entire colonnade are adorned with paintings that belong to Nayak period. The temple office and vahana mandapa lies on the west. In the end of the colonnade is seen the Kasiviswanatha shrine and a mandapa on the west. The second gopura entrance is flanked by dvarapalas and leads to the next passage in which a decorative mandapa lies on the west. Massive pillars with sculptures like Siva in Urthavathandava with Nandi as a percussionist, Brahma handling cymbal. Opposite to Siva’s Urthavathandava is seen dancing Kali, another pillar carry a male handling instrument sitting on the shoulder of a female, one of the pillar possess Manmathan-Rathi duo, some pillars also carry devotees which all are noted to speak. The third entrance is also a gopura passage which leads to a mandapa in which on the western side is a shrine for goddess Brahadambal facing east and followed by Mahilavaneswara shrine. On the eastern side of the mandapa is the shrine for goddess Mangalanayaki the consort of Mahilavaneswara.On the southern side adjoining the mandapa wall the sixty three Nayanmars are displayed on a platform. The temple tank and the stalavriksha are seen on the eastern side of the mandapa. A passage to the west of the Mahilavaneswara shrine leads to the mandapa in front of the rock cut shrine. The first mandapa which has a passage both on the south and on the east is pillared hall with Nandi, a small mast and hundi made of metal are placed facing the sanctum. The passage in the east leads to the second mandapa where dvarapalas flank the entrance.The second mandapa leads to the third mandapa where a Nandi is seated facing the rock cut shrine inside a small pillared pedestal. Next to the Nandi is the huge dvajastamba with metal casing. The second and the third mandapa gradually elevate up and the third mandapa has the partial filling of the mother rock on its north. Stairs on the eastern side of the mandapa leads to the shrines in the second floor.

Shrines for Muruga, Sarasvathi, Mahalakshmi, Durga, Annapurani, Rudraksha Linga are seen on the western side, Brahma, Jiragareswara, Bhairava, Surya are seen on the eastern side. The four great saints, Chandra and Dandayudhapani are seen in a single shrine. Among the shrines the shrine for Muruga is huge with a mandapa and single tier vimana. A tarn is seen on the north.

About the Deity

The deity is known as Gokarnesvara, and is associated with the Sthalapuranam of this temple. There is also another presiding deity, Vakulavanesvara (‘God of vakula forest’) and is named after the sthala Vriksham (temple tree) of the temple, namely, Magizha Maram (the Bakula tree, Mimusops elengi).

Legend and stories

The celestial Kamadhenu happened to arrive late one day at Indra’s court. She was banished from the heaven and condemned to live the life of an ordinary cow on earth until such time as she should have expiated her sins by worshipping the God Siva. On reaching earth, she sought the hermitage of the sage Kapila situated in the jungle at this place. Under his guidance she performed daily worship to the Siva lingam under the bakula (vakula) tree.

Every day she tramped too far away river Ganga and brought its sacred water in her ears for the God’s Abhishekam (ablution). Hence the god is called Gokarnesvara or the ‘Lord of the cow’s ear. In due course she had a she-calf, but stifling motherly instincts, she still performed her daily journey leaving her calf at the temple gate. But soon the time came for her salvation, and as she returned one day at nightfall with the sacred water in her ear, the God taking the shape of a tiger stood across her path at a place since called Thiruvengaivasal and threatened to devour her. On her remonstrating that it was time for the ablution of the God, she was allowed to go on condition that she returned immediately after the worship was over.

When the cow came back, according to her promise, the seeming tiger changed its shape, and Siva and Parvathi manifested themselves and carried the cow to heaven. According to a variation of the story the tarn on the top of the hill, was cut by the cow with her horn and stored with the Ganga water from her ear, and a cleft on the top of the lingam is said to be a hoof print that she left as she bathed the idol in the sacred water.


10 day Chithirai festival with flag hoisting in April-May, 11 day Aadi Poosam in July-August, 10 day Navarathri festival in Purattasi-September-October with Bow festival on the 10th day, Vinayaka Chathurthi, 10 day Thaipoosam in January-February, Skanda Sashi in October-November, Karthikai Lamp festival in November-December, Margazhi Tiruvadhirai Arudra Darshan in December-January, Fridays in Thai month (January February), Masi Magam in February-March, Panguni Uthiram in March-April are the festival grandly celebrated in the temples, besides monthly New Moon, Full Moon and Pradosha pujas drawing huge crowd.


This is a cave temple-Kudavarai temple. There is a shrine for Araikasu Amman. If anything is misplaced or lost, devotees place a little jaggery in the shrine praying for the recovery of the article lost. It is believed that the prayer does not fail.


The temple is situated very near to the heart of Pudukottai town. Bus facilities are available conveniently. Nearest Railway Station is Pudukottai & Nearest Airport is Trichy.


Tiru Kokarneswarar Rock Cut temple,
Tamil Nadu.


Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-

  • For wish fulfillment
  • For matrimony-related wishes
  • To be blessed with childbirth

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 temple is open from 6.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.

Weather in Thirukokarnam
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