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Navagraha Stalam

Surianar Koil (Surya - Sun)

is located in the hamlet of Tirumangalakkudi near Kumbhakonam and Mayiladuturai near Thanjavur in Tamilnadu. This is a one of a kind temple dedicated to the Sun God and it also houses shrines to each of the other eight celestial bodies - the Nava Grahams. Very closeby, are the Shivastalams Tirumangalakkudi and Kanjanur (Sukrastalam). Shrines for Surya are seen in many temples in Tamilnadu such as Tirukkodikka, Alagadriputtur, Ennayiram, (Rajendra Chola), Tirumanikkuzhi (Kulottunga), Tirupparaitturai, Tiruppattur, Kovilur etc. ; however a standalone temple for Surya is more of an exception than a rule. Suryanaar Koyil was built by the Chola kings. Inscriptions from the period of Kulottunga Chola I (1075-1120) refer to this temple as the Kulottunga Chola Martanda Alayam. Kulottunga Chola is said to have had a good relationship with the Gahadwal dynasty of Kanauj (1090 - 1194), whose rulers were Sun worshippers, and hence Suryanar Koyil, is considered to be an expression of their influence in South India. Inscriptions from the period of Krishna Deva Raya, speaking of endowments made to this temple are also seen here. The Suryanar temple faces west. The presiding deity here is Suryanarayana in a chariot like vimaanam, representing the sun's chariot. There are also shrines to Kasi Viswanathar, Visalakshi and Brihaspati (Guru) in the sanctum. Shrines to the other celestial bodies are located outside of the sanctum. The sanctum and the ardhamandapam are built of stone, while the rest of the shrines are brick structures. The Kol Theertha Vinayakar shrine is considered to be of importance here. An elaborate worship protocol involving circumambulating the entire temple nine times, is prescribed for devotees visiting the temple. Protocol requires that one visits the Tirumangalakkudi Shivastalam before visiting Suryanaar Koyil. Ratha Saptami in the Tamil month of Thai, and the first Sundays in the months of Aavani (Leo) and Kartikai (Scorpio) and Vijaya Dasami are celebrated in this temple.

Thingalur (Chandran - Moon)

The Kailasanathar temple known as the Navagrahastalam associated with Chandra the moon, is located in the hamlet of Tingaloor not far from Tiruvaiyaru near Thanjavur in Tamilnadu. The small temple here has a small shrine dedicated to Chandran. This is an ancient Saivite shrine, associated with the life of Tirunavukkarasar, although no Tevara Patikam dedicated to the shrine has been discovered so far. Tirunavukkarasar has mentioned Tingaloor in a patikam of 10 songs dedicated to another Shivastalam, and hence Tingalur constitutes on of the Tevara Vaippu talangal. Legend has it that there lived a merchant Appoodi Adikal in the village of Tingaloor who was a devotee of Shiva. Appoodi Adikal held Tirunavukkarasar in high regard and looked forward to the day when he would be able to host the saint poet. The day arrived, but his son got killed by a venomous snake bite while the saint was being hosted. The saint moved by Appoodi Adikal's devotion is said to have miraculously restored the lad to life.

Thiruvenkadu (Budhan - Mercury),

This is a vast temple known for its shrine to Aghoramurthy and to Mercury - Budhan; one of the 9 Navagraha stalams. Also known as Aadi Chidambaram, Natarajar's dance here is known as Hasti Natanam. Tiruvenkadu is considered to be on par with Benares and is located on the road linking Sirkazhi & Poompuhaar. Nearby Shivastalams include Keezhtirukkattuppalli, Tiruvalampuram, Tiruchaaikaadu, Pallavaneeswaram and Tirukkalikkaamur. Legends: Indra, Airavatam, Budhan, Surya and Chandra are said to have worshipped here.A sage by name Swetaketu is said to have been saved from the clutches of death by the grace of Shiva here , in a legend similar to that of Markandeya at Tirukkadavur. Meikkandaar the author of Sivagnanabodham is said to have been born by the grace of Swetaranyeswarar & there is a shrine to him on the banks of the Agni Theertham. It is also believed that Shiva took the fierce Aghoramurthy form, to vanquish the demon Maruttuvan, to whom he had given his Shoolam - which he had misused. The Temple: There are several shrines of significance in this well visited temple , including those to Durga and Kali. The image of Natarajar here is of great beauty.Worship to Aghoramurthy - Shiva's fiery form (Veerabhadrar) is said to be of significance on Sunday nights. The Aalamaram here is referred to as Akshayavadam (infinite one, indestructible banyan tree). Special worship services are offered to Natarajar and the associated Spatikalingam, as in Chidambaram. The Soma Theertham and The Surya Theertham created by the Sun & the moon are of great significance here. It is believed that the Somakundam & Suryakundam referred to in

Silappatikaaram refer to these tanks. Vilvam & Konrai are the other stala vrikshams here. .Inscriptions from the time of Aditya Chola I (870-907), Raja Raja I (10th - 11th cent) & his descendants speaking of endowments made by the Chola rulers to this temple are found here. Vikrama Cholan built the Vikramacholan Tirumandapam (1118-1135). The present structure of the temple as well as the beautiful bronze images in this temple are a contribution of the Great Chola emperor Raja Raja Chola I. Some of these bronzes were recovered in treasure troves unearthed here. The Ardhanareeswarar and Chandeswarar bronzes are now housed in the Chennai Museum. Natarajar, Somaskandar, Devi, Bhoga Sakthi are housed in the temple, while images of Subramanyar, Rishabhavahanadevar, Bhikshatanar, Kalyanasundarar Kannappar and others are housed in the Thanjavur Art Gallery.

Kanjanur (Sukra - Venus)

This Shivastalam is associated with Sukran - representing the plant Venus and is - regarded one of the nine temples in the Thanjavur area linked with the Navagrahams. Maintained by the Madurai Adhinam, it is located in a quiet hamlet in the vicinity of Tiruvaavaduturai, Suryanar Koyil and Tirumangalakkudi, near Tiruvidaimarudur and Kumbhakonam. This shrine is also referred to as Palaasavanam, Bhrammapuri and Agnistalam. Kanjanur is considered to be the 36th in the series of the Tevara Stalams located in Chola Nadu north of the river Kaveri. Legends: Bhramma is said to have been blessed with a vision of Shiva's marriage with Parvati here. Agni is said to have worshipped Shiva here, hence the name Agneeswarar. Haradatta Sivacharyar of Vaishnava origins - originally known as Sudarshanar is said to have undergone ordeals to prove the tenacity of his devotion for Shiva to fellow Vaishnavites. Images of Agneeswarar and Karpagambal are also seen in the Varadarajar Temple at Kanjanur. Several legends pertaining to events in the life of Haradatta Sivacharyar pertain to this shrine. The Temple: This temple with a two prakarams has a five tiered Rajagopuram at its entrance. Haradatta Sivacharyar is said to have composed many works in sanskrit here. Images depicting legends related to Haradatta Sivacharyar are seen in this temple. There are also shrines to Maanakkanjaarar Nayanmaar and Kalikkaamar here. Stone images of Natarajar and Sivakami are seen in this temple in the Nataraja Sabha referred to as the Mukti Mandapam. The Shivatandavam here is referred to as Mukti Tandavam. Legend has it that Shiva blessed Paraasara muni with a vision of the cosmic dance - Mukti tandavam here. Inscriptions from the Chola and Vijayanagar periods are seen in this temple. Appar is said to have visited Kanjanur on his way to Tirukkodikka from Edirkolpaadi.

Festivals: Six worship services are offered each day here. A festival commemorating Haradatta Sivacharyar is celebrated in the Tamil month of Thai each year. Mahasivaratri, Arudra Darisanam, Navaratri and Aadi Pooram are celebrated here.

Keezhperumpallam (Kethu)
The Naganathar temple known as the Kethu Navagrahastalam is located in the hamlet of Keezhperumpallam in the vicinity of Tiruvenkaadu near Mayiladuturai /Chidambaram in Tamilnadu. This is an ancient Saivite shrine where legend has it that Kethu, one of the 9 celestial bodies central to astrological beliefs worshipped Shiva. Rahu and Ketu are associated with the legend of the churning of the milky ocean. There is a shrine dedicated to Kethu in this temple where worship services are offered.

Thirunageswaram (Raghu -)
This Shivastalam is a vast temple known for its shrine to Raahu, one of the nine celestial bodies - Navagrahas- hence a Navagrahastalam visited by thousands. (Rahu and Ketu are associated with the legend of the churning of the milky ocean.) Tirunageswaram is considered to be the 29th in the series of Tevara Stalams in the Chola kingdom located south of the river Kaveri. It is located adjacent to the Vaishnava Divya Desam Uppiliappan Kovil outside the town of Kumbhakonam. Sekkizhaar, the author of Periyapuranam, named the temple that he built at Kunrattur in Tondai Nadu after this temple. Offering worship at Kudandai Keezhkottam (Nageswarar temple) in the morning, at Tirunageswaram at noon and at Tiruppampuram in the evening on a given day is considered to be of special significance. Legend has it that the mythological serpents Aadi Seshan, Dakshan and Kaarkotakan worshipped Shiva here. Legend also has it that Nala worshipped Shiva here as in Tirunallaar. Gowtama muni, Paraasarar and Bhageerata are also associated with legends related to this temple. The Temple: This temple occupies an area of 15 acres and it has Vast prakarams, towering gopurams, and several mandapams. The fort like walls which surround the outermost prakaram are pierced with four entry towers. There are as many as 12 Theerthams here. There is an image of Sekkizhaar and a mandapam built by him, here as well. This temple was built by Gandaraditya Chola son of Parantaka Chola I. The inner

mandapams and the outer mandapams were built by Sekkizhaar and Govinda Deekshitar (minister of Achyutappa Nayakar). There is a shrine to Raahu in one of the prakarams. The Piraiani Nudalaal Ambaal shrine is situated in the inner mandapam near the Naganathar shrine, while the Girikuchambika shrine is housed in a separate sanctum. Festivals: The annual Bhramotsavam is observed in the month of Kartikai while the Sekkizhaar festival is celebrated in the month of Vaikasi.

Thirunallar (Sani - Saturn)

This Shivastalam is a vast temple shrine of great significance, especially in light of Saneeswarar's sannidhi here, which attracts thousands when the planet Saturn transits between zodiac signs. Tirunallar is located in close proximity to Karaikkal and Nagappattinam, (is under the administration of Pondicherry) and is well connected by road to many other towns in the area. Tirunallar is best accessed, driving from Mayiladuturai or from Nagapattinam. Tirunallar is one of the 7 Saptavitanka stalams of Tyagaraja connected with the Mucukunda Chola legend and Tiruvarur - housing Nagavitankar (Unmatta Natanam). The seven Vitankastalams are Tiruvarur, Tirukkuvalai, Tirukkaaraivaasal, Tirumaraikkaadu, Tiru Naagai, Tirunallaaru and Tiruvaimur. The image of Tyagarajar at Tiruvarur is the foremost of the 7 from which Indra is believed to have asked Muchukunda Cholan to pick the original image of Somaskandar worshipped by Mahavishnu. . Muchukunda Cholan is believed to have picked the right one (the image at Tiruvarur) , and Indra is believed to have rewarded him with all of the 7 images, which the latter installed at 7 different places within his territory, and it is these 7 temples which constitute the 7 Vitankastalams. Tirunallar is also ssociated with Sambandar's Pachaippatikam which remained 'green' even in the midst of his 'Anal Vaatam' at Madurai. .King Nala of the puranas is said to have been relieved of his afflictions upon worshipping here. The Tirunallar temple is a one of a kind temple with a shrine of this grandeur exclusively dedicated to Saturn. The architectural features date back to the Chola period and inscriptions dating back to the twelfth century AD are found in the temple. Legends: Several mythological stories are associated with this temple. 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 ordeals and obtained total relief only after worshipping Shiva at this shrine. Worship 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. A grand eighteen day festival is performed in the month of Vaikashi (when the sun resides in the sign of Taurus). 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 (Gemini) witnesses festivities related to Nataraja - Shiva - the Lord of Dance. The month of Aadi (Cancer) marks the time for special services to Sundaramoorthy Nayanar - one of the foremost Saivite poet Saints. The full moon night in the month of Purattasi (Leo) witnesses several special services to the Emerald Lingam. This month also is the time for the nine day festival for the Goddess Pranambika (Navaratri). In the month of Aippasi (Libra) is celebrated a festival for Subramanya. During the month of Kartikai (Scorpio), Kartikai Deepam is celebrated, marked by a procession of the five principal temple deities and by the symbolic bonfire. The month of Markali (Saggitarius) 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 signs (Sani Peyarchi). 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.

Alangudi (Guru - Jupiter)

This is regarded as a 'Gurustalam' where Dakshinamurthy is held in great reverence, attracting huge crowds when Jupiter transits between zodiac signs. The festival image here is that of Dakshinamurthy & this stalam is considered to be one of the 9 Navagrahastalams of the Chola region. This shrine is regarded as the 98th in the series of Tevara Stalams in the Chola Region south of the river Kaveri. Legends: Dakshinamurthy is said to have preached to the Devas who had swooned under the impact of the poison that came out of the churning of the milky ocean. Parvati is said to have been reborn on the banks of Amrita Pushkarini and later on reunited with Shiva. Viswamitrar is believed to have worshipped Shiva here. The Temple: There are as many as 15 theerthams in this temple which occupies an area of about 1.25 acres, surrounded by lofty walls. One of the theerthams is a well located inside the temple and it is referred to as the Jnana koopam. East of the temple is the Poolaivala

river, whose waters are used in abhishekam ceremonies in the Tamil month of Aippasi. Inscriptions dating back to the period of Vikrama Chola (1131), referring to Alankudi as Jananatha saruppedimangalam, and to the Chidambaram Natarajar temple, are seen here. There are shrines to Surya, Gurumoksheswarar, Somanathar, Saptarishi nathar,Someswarar, Vishnunathar and Bhrameesar, Kaasi Viswanathar and Visalakshi. Festivals: Four worship services are offered each day. The annual Bhrammotsavam is celebrated in the month of Chittirai. In addition, Navaratri, Skanda Sashti, Aadi Puram, Arudra Darisanam, Kartikai Deepam, Thai Poosam and Pankuni Uththiram are celebrated here.

Vaitheswaran Kovil (Angaraha --Mars)

Vaithiswarankoil is a well known, well visited shrine with towering Gopurams; hailed as one of the 9 Navagraha Stalams, sacred to Mars - Angarakan it is visited by thousands. It is located in close proximity to Sirkazhi and Chidambaram. The Singaravelar - Subramanya shrine is also of importance here. There are several literary works about this shrine. Ramalinga Adigalar has sung its praises. Tiruvenkaadu is also located near Vaideeswaran Koyil. This temple is rich in legend and tradition. There are several works in Tamil dedicated to this shrine. It was visited by Tirugnanasambandar, Appar. Arunagirinathar's Tiruppugazh hymns also speak of the glory of this shrine. So do the hymns of saints such as Kumaragurupara Swamigal and Ramalinga Adigalaar. Poems of Kaalamega Pulavar and Padikkasu Tambiran also speak of the glories of this shrine. Legends: Shiva is considered to be the Divine Healer Vaidyanathar. His consort Thaiyalnaayaki is said to accompany him with a vessel containing medicinal oil. There is also a shrine dedicated to Dhanwantari here. The prasadam offered at this temple goes by the name Tiruchaandu Urundai and it is considered to be a panacea capable of curing many ailments. It is made of ashes taken out of the homa kundam in front of the Subramanya shrine. Rituals are performed where a mixture of earth and ashes from the homakundam are shaped into pills and placed at the Thaiyalnayaki shrine and distributed. Another prasadam offered here is sandal paste mixed with saffron again at the Murugan shrine here. It is referred to as Nettirapidi Chandanam. Offereings of salt and pepper are made in this shrine. Offerings of unrefined sugar are placed in the temple tank Siddhamrita Theertham. Rig Vedam (Irukku), Jatayu (Pull), Sambadi, the Surya (Oor) and Skanda (Vel) are said to

have worshipped Shiva here and hence the name PullirukkuVelur..Rama Lakshmana and the Saptarishis are also said to have worshipped Shiva here. It is also believed that Rama performed the last rites to Jatayu here. The nectar with which the Sidhas worshipped Shiva is said to have flown into the Sidhamrita Theertham. The Temple: This is a vast temple with several mandapams and gopurams. The Navagrahams are in a single file as in Tiruvarur and a few other places. Deities: Vaidyanathaswamy and ThaiyalNayaki are the presiding deities of this temple. The Selvamuthukkumaraswamy shrine here is also considered to be of importance. There are Shivalingams said to have been worshipped by Rama, Jatayu, Skanda, Surya and Angaraka. Angaaraka: The Angaaraka shrine here is also of great significance and is indeed unique to this temple. A bronze of image of Angaaraka is housed in this shrine and is taken out in procession on a goat mount every Tuesday. Angaaraka represents the planet Mars and is described as one with a fiery red complexion attired in red and as the overlord of the zodiac signs of Aries and Scorpia and as being the strongest in the zodiac sign of Capricorn. The Dharumapuram Adhinam has made several endowments to this temple. Inscriptions from the period of Vikrama Chola (12th century CE), the Nayakas (16th century CE) and the Mahrathas (18th century) are seen in this temple. Worship: Six worship sercvices are offered each day. Kartikai is celebrated in great splendour here. The final worship service (arthayama puja) is offered to Skanda before being offered to Shiva.The annual Bhrahmotsavams are celebrated in the months of Pankuni and Thai. Skanda Sashti is celebrated with grandeur here.