Tirunaraiyur (Naachiyaar Koyil)

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Location : Near Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
Deities Worshipped: Tirunaraiyur Nambi (Lord Vishnu)
Also Known As: Sreenivasar Or Vasudevar
Festivals Celebrated: Margazhi Brahmotsavam (Mukkoti Utsavam), Tirukkalyanam, Pankuni Brahmotsavam, Vasantotsavam And Krishna Jayanti

Tirunaraiyur is one of the 108 Divya desams of the Hindus and is almost an hour's drive from the temple town of Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district. It is also known as 'Sugandhavanam' or 'Sugandhagiri' or as 'Srinivasakshetram'.

Tirumangai Alwar, one of the famous poets of Tamil Nadu sung about this shrine. Nandipura Vinnagaram or Naathan Koyil is also located at Tirunaraiyur.

The Legend
It is believed that that the Chola King Chenkannan who built 70 madakkoyils (temples at an elevation) to Shiva, worshipped Vishnu here before he started off on battles with the Cheras and the Pandyas. It also believed that Lord Brahma worshipped Vishnu here. According to The Legend , Lakshmi was born as "Vanchulavalli", (at the foot of a Vanchula tree) to Madhava munivar, who is also known as "Medhavi Munivar". Vishnu came down to the earth and married Vanchulavalli at this place.

The Deity (Moolavar)
The Moolavar here is Tirunaraiyur Nambi, also known as "Sreenivasa" or "Vasudeva", depicted in the Kalyanakkolam with Vanchulavalli Taayaar (Nambikkai Naachiyaar) in the sanctum. Naachiyaar or Taayaar gets the place of primary importance in this shrine, as implied by the name Naachiyaar Koyil.

Vishnu is believed to have manifested himself in the Pancha Vyuha forms Sankarshana in the east, Pradyumna in the south, Anirudha in the west, Purushottama in the north and Vasudeva in the centre. The sculptures of all these deities are found in the Garbagriha.

About The Temple
Inscriptions dating back to 13th century are found here, although this temple was in existence during the time of Tirumangai Alwar. The temple has five Prakarams with Mandapams with artistically carved pillars. The garbagriha here is known as the "Sreenivasa Vimanam". Vanchulavalli, consort of Tirunaraiyur Nambi, has no separate shrine.

It is also believed that there was a shrine to Bhuvaraha Perumal even prior to this legend. Other shrines in the temple complex are that of Yoga Narasimhar, Veera Hanuman, Ramar and Chkrapani shrines.

Kal Garuda Shrine
The Kal Garuda shrine at the temple is very famous and it is on Garuda that the Utsava moorti (also spelt as murti) is taken during the temple festivals. The Gardua is seen with nine serpents, and has the power to remove the navagraha dosham also.

Unique Feature Of Kal Garuda
The speciality of the Kal Garuda is that the mount is said to increase exponentially in size as it is carried out and decrease the same way while it is brought back inside. When it is just taken out of the shrine, only four people are needed to carry the mount. With each step, the mount increases in weight and by the time it is carried out of the temple, 64 people are required to carry it.

Festivities
Few festivals are celebrated with great religious fervour, the most important being Margazhi Brahmotsavam ("Mukkoti Utsavam"), especially the KalGaruda Vaahana Sevai, where the festival image of Sreenivasar is taken out on a stone Garuda mount. Naachiyar leads the procession on a "Hamsa Vaahanam" during this festival. Other festivals celebrated here are the Tirukkalyanam, the Pankuni Brahmotsavam, Vasantotsavam and Krishna Jayanti.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: The nearest airport is at Trichy.
Rail: The nearest railway station is at Kumbakonam.
Road: Regular bus services are available from Kumbakonam. Tourists who wish to drive from Chennai can reach the temple via the Chennai-Kumbakonam-Thanjavur highway. For local transportation auto and cycle rickshaws are available.

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation is available at the small budgeted hotels and choultries in Kumbakonam.



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