In the territory ruled by kings of the Pandya dynasty, there
were 14 sacred shrines of Lord Shiva, which have been visited by the three
great Tamil saints, Sambandar, Appar and Sundarar. Of these fourteen
places Tirukanapper, presently known as "Kaliyar Koil" is an
important shrine and is known by many other names.
Kaliyar Koil is situated in Devakottai town, five miles away from Shivaganga on the railway line from Karaikudi to Rameshwaram. The presiding deity, Lord Shiva, in temple is known as "Kaleesar". The Gopuram of the temple is not only gigantic in stature but also immensely imposing, being visible from a great distance. As the Gopuram has become very old, devoted people have joined together to renovate it, which is being done now.
Other Names Of Kaliyar Koil
The other names of Kaliyar Koil are "Dakshina Kalipuram", "Jotivanarn", "Mandaravanam", "Mokshapradam", "Saiva Kshetram", "Gandaram", "Davasiddhikaram", "Devadaru-Vanam", "Bhooloka Kailasam", 'Agastya Kshetram" and "Maha Kalapuram".
The Teerthas At The Place
There are numerous Teerthas (also spelt as Theertham, Tirtha) here namely Shivaganga, Kali Teertha, Vishnu Teertha, Lakshmi Teertha, Digpalaka Teerthas, Sudarsana Teertha, Rudra Teertha and Chandra Pushkarani. Many eminent sages and pious people of the past have visited this place.
It is said that Sage Agastya came to this place and took bath in the holy Teertha of Shivaganga, where he visualized the real form of Lord Shiva.
The Legend Explaining Why The Town Was Named As Devakottai
Lord Shiva once cursed Parvati Devi for closing his eyes out of jest and throwing the entire universe into complete darkness, which caused untold sufferings to the people. As a result of the curse, she had to spend her time on the earth in the form of Kali, worshipping Lord Shiva.
At that time, there was a demon by name Chandasuran who was harassing all the Devas (Gods) including Vishnu, Brahma and Indra. All of them approached Lord Shiva for help and according to his advice they approached Kali.
The Mother of the Universe took pity on them and killed the demon in a fierce battle and relieved them of their sufferings. The place where the Devas first met the Devi, came to be known as "Kandadevi" (Kanda means 'seen' in Tamil', - The fort which was built by the Devas for the Devi to reside in is known as "Devakottai" (Kottai means fort).
The present town of Devakottai has derived its name thus. The place where the demon was conquered is known as "Vetriyur" (Vetri means victory); the place where the flag-mast of the Demon's chariot was broken into two is known as "Kodikulam" (Kodi means flag and Kulam means tank); the place where flowers were showered by the Devas on the Devi returning with victory after killing the Demon, is known as "Poongudi" (Poo - means flowers).
After the terrible fight with the Demon, Kali reached this holy place, worshipped Lord Shiva and at last got back her original form of Parvati and attained re-union.
Legends Relating The Significance Of God
Once the Discus (Chakram), the most powerful weapon of Lord Vishnu " Sudarsana Chakram" which, when once hurled, never returns without executing the command, lost its lustre, but got it back after worshipping Lord Shiva known as "Kaleesar" at this sacred place.
The eight Digpalaka came and worshipped the Lord here. Kings Veera Se Pandian and Vikrama Chola were blessed with the boon of getting children, as they appeased the Lord enshrined here, with prayerful meditation and worship.
By the grace of the Lord, King Varaguna Pandian defeated the Chola king with whom he had to wage a war. The Sthalapurana goes to say that the Chola king who suffered defeat at the hands of Varaguna Pandian gave him a beautiful damsel by name Sukandakesi whom Varaguna Pandian in turn offered to Kaleesar, the Lord of this place. The Lord accepted the Pandian's offer and the damsel merged with the Linga (also spelt as lingam).
Similarly five ghosts, who were wandering in a forest near Mount Meru, got salvation as a result of their worship in this place. It is said that in the month of 'Margazhi' (December-January) holy rivers like Ganges, etc. come to this place and take a purificatory bath in the Rudra Teertha.
"Airavata", the white elephant of Indra, as a result of a quarrel picked up with Nandi, the chief attendant of Lord Shiva, was cursed the latter to turn into a wild elephant roaming in the forests. To rid of the sin, Airavata came to this place, dug out a tank with its tusks and took daily purificatory bath in the Teertha and worshipped the Lord. The tank is now known as "Aanai Madu" (Aanai means elephant and Madu means tank).
"Devendra" (The King of Gods) who was cursed by Lord Shiva at Kailas in some connection came to this place and conducted many festivals and religious rites and at last got many boons and salvation. Even today a festival is celebrated on a grand scale every year in the Tamil month Vaikasi (May-June).
Shivaganga is well connected by rail and road with the
important places within and beyond the state.
Rail:The nearest railway station is at Karaikudi.
Road: From Shivaganga there are regular buses to Devakottai.
Accommodation is available at the small hotels in Devakottai town or at the moderate class hotels and lodges in Shivaganga.