Tirunallar

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Location : 5-Km From Karaikal
Deities Worshipped: Sri Darbaranyeswarar, Lord Saneeswara Bhagavan
Origin: Dates Back To Antiquity
Main Festival: Eighteen-Day Festival Celebrated During May-June

Tirunallar is a small village located about 5-km from Karaikal, where there is a temple dedicated to Sri Darbaranyeswarar. Sri Darbaranyeswarar temple was constructed during the Chola period.

Although the main deity is Sri Darbaranyeswarar, Lord Saneeswara Bhagavan who has a separate shrine in this temple is very famous. There is a separate shrine dedicated to Tyagaraja at Tirunallar, which is one of the 7 Saptavitanka stalams of Tyagaraja connected with the Mucukunda Chola legend and Tiruvarur - housing "Nagavitankar" ("Unmatta Natanam").

About The Temple
Darbaranyeswarar temple is a well-known temple featuring the shrines of Shiva and Saneeswarar (Saturn). It is one of the well-visited temples in the Tamil-speaKing region of India. The temple stands on the south bank of the Kaveri, in its vicinity there are many other temples like the Mariamman, the Pidariar, and the Ayyanar. There are also many well-known tanks, some of puranic celebrity. There is also a shrine dedicated to Tyagaraja and Sundarar.

The architectural features date back to the Chola period and inscriptions dating back to the twelfth century AD are found in the temple. Some paintings and potraits, which are of royal or baronial patrons, can be seen in the temple. The balipitha in front of the shrine of Lord Tirunallar is not in the direct line with it.

The presiding deity Shiva is known as 'Darbaranyeswarar', 'Adipureeswarar' and 'Naleswarar'. A green emerald lingam (also spelt as Linga) also adorns this shrine.

The Legend
Several legends are associated with this temple. According to one it is said that King Nala was under the influence of Sani, i.e. Saturn for an extended period of time in his life and went through several difficulties and obtained total relief only after worshipping Shiva at this shrine.

According to another legend Lord Vishnu worshipped Shiva in the form of an image of Somaskanda and that he later on parted with it to Indra the King of the Gods. An earthly King in return for his devotion to Shiva was directed by Shiva to obtain this image from Indra. Indra directed this King to construct six other shrines to Somaskanda before giving him the divine image. Accordingly the King, Muchukunda Chakravarti installed Somaskanda images at six other places besides Tirunallar.

History Of The Temple
The origin of this temple dates back to antiquity. The Saivite Saints of the past millennium such as Tirugnyana Sambandar, Appar and Sundarar have sung praises of this temple.

Since Sambandar has sung of the temple, it must have existed in or by the seventh century. It figures in the account of the saint's reclamation to Hinduism of the celebrated Pandya King, Ninrasir Nedumaran. After the King had been cured of his illness through the saint's interventions, the Jains, who had failed in their own efforts, challenged contest. It was agreed that both the parties should place in the fire some of their scriptures. The Jain works were burnt to ashes. But those of Sambandar were unaffected and, in fact, turned green. Among his works were the verses he had sung of this temple.

Services And Festivities
Religious services are performed five times a day. Other than these, a whole host of festivities are held throughout the year. On Tamil New Year's day, (marked by the transition of the Sun from Pisces to Aries according to the Indian astrological system) Tyagaraja is taken in a procession and oblations are performed to the Emerald Lingam (also spelt as Linga).

An 18 Day Long Extravaganza
A grand eighteen-day festival is performed in the month of Vaikasi (May-June). The tenth day of this festival, when the moon resides passes through the sign of Scorpio, Saneeswarar (Saturn) is taken in procession. This day is said to mark the day when King Nala was relieved of the influence of Saturn.

The month of Aani (June-July) witnesse's festivities related to Nataraja - Shiva - the Lord of Dance. The month of Aadi (July-August) marks the time for special services to Sundarar - one of the foremost Saivite poet Saints. The full moon night in the month of Purattasi (September-October) witnesses several special services to the Emerald Lingam (also spelt as Linga). This month also is the time for the nine-day festival for the Goddess "Pranambika" (Navaratri). In the month of 'Aippasi' (October-November) a festival is celebrated for Lord Subramanya.

During the month of Kartikai (November-December) Kartikai Deepam is celebrated, marked by a procession of the five principal temple deities and by the symbolic bonfire. The month of Markali (December-January) is when, a ten day festival dedicated to Natarajar is performed, where verses from Tiruvempavai are recited. There are several other festivals including one on Panguni Uthiram.

Perhaps, the best-known festival here is the one marKing the transition of Saturn between Zodiac sign. This happens once in two and a half years and is visited by hundreds of thousands of deities. The entire town wears a festive look as the deity Saneeswarar is taken in a procession around town.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: The nearest airport is at Trichy about 160-km away from Tirunallar. The nearest international airport is at Chennai around 300-km away. Various airline services connect Trichy with Chennai, Sharjah, Kuwait and Colombo.
Rail: There is a railway station on Peralam-Karaikal line.
Road: Regular government bus services are available from Karaikal, but Tirunallar is best accessed, driving from Mayiladuturai or from Nagapattinam. City bus services are available to all places of tourist interest around Karaikal from Karaikal bus stand. Tourist taxis, auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws are also available for local transportation.

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation is available at the budgeted hotels and lodges at Karaikal.



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