Shiva lingam at Thiruvadhigai

The temple which inspired Raja Raja Chola to build the Big Temple – Thiruvadhigai

The world famous Rajarajeswaram, or the Big Temple in Thanjavur is well known. But how many know that Raja Raja Cholan was inspired to build the stunning monument only after deriving inspiration from another temple, which is Veerataneswar temple at Thiruvadhigai, Panruti near Cuddalore.

Mahendravarma Pallavan started building this temple but it was completed by one of his successors Parameswara Pallavan in the year 720 – 725. The Pallavas were known to construct several temples in brick but the Cholas who succeeded them renovated those temples in granite. True visionaries. If not, it wouldn’t have been possible for us to immerse ourselves in the magnificence of ‘poetry in stone’ several centuries later…and these monuments will surely live on forever. It’s really up to us to take these hidden treasures to the world at large.

It was around 5.00 PM when we alighted from the car, we had mentally made up our mind to spend several hours here as the main reason for this temple trip was this temple, Thiruvadhigai. Although I had read up about the temple, the pleasant visual onslaught the minute we entered, was unexpected.  The 108 Karanas, Bharathnatyam postures carved in stone adorned the side walls at the entrance. The Thiruneetru mandapam just beyond the entrance was filled with exquisite carved pillars.

The 108 Karanas/Bharathnatyam Poses

108 karanas

Carved in stone

A large Buddha statue adorned the right side as one walked towards the Raja Gopuram. Thiruvadhigai obviously had Buddhists, Jains as well as Hindus living here in the yesteryears. The statue was about 5 ft in height and was built in the 11th century but mounted on a lotus built during modern days.

Just outside the main Gopuram was a Vaaraahi Amman statue which was found several years ago buried in the premises. Installed much later by probably the Nayaks. Vaaraahi is part of the seven mother goddesses or the Saptha Maatrikaas found in several temples together in the prahaaram as a line up. Vaarahi has the head of a boar and the body of a human.

Varaahi Amman


Tripura, the mythological 3 cities were constructed by the Asura Architect Mayasura.

The 3 Rakshashas, the sons of Tarakasura, had obtained a boon from Brahma that they be housed in an invincible fortress where none can destroy them or the 3 cities of Tripura. When Brahma declined the boon saying that nothing is immortal, the Rakshashas agreed to the boon of getting destroyed by one single arrow, believing that none can kill the mighty trio by just a single arrow.

Goddess Parvathy sought the help of Lord Shiva, to put an end to the atrocities of the 3 Rakshashas.  Lord Shiva with the help of the Devas and Lord Vishnu, killed the trio and destroyed Tripura. The place where this incident took place is Thiruvadhigai. This is one of the eight Veeratanam towns of Lord Siva, where heroic deeds were performed for vanquishing evil forces.

The Two Rakshashas were made dwarapalas (door keepers) for Lord Shiva and the third became the Damaru which Shiva holds in his hand. Shiva came to be known as Tripurantaka, the one who destroyed the celestial Tripura.

Door keepers of templeAshta veeratana sthalam Thiruvadhigai

The temple is shaped like a chariot symbolically suggesting the help rendered by the Devas to Lord Shiva in the form of a chariot to vanquish Tripura and the 3 rakshashas.

ashta Veerataana temple near Cuddalore

Stucco work at Thiruvadhigai

the Gopuram at Thiruvadhigai temple

The Model of the temple kept outside the Shiva Sannidhi. temple model Thiruvadhigai


It was here in this town that Appar/Thirunavukarasar who was a Jain in his early life converted to Saivism. Appar was affected by a stomach pain which would not go away. His sister Thilagavathy, a staunch Saivite, requested him to pray to Lord Shiva and applied the Thiruneeru (Vibhoothi/Ashes) and made Appar drink the water from the well in this temple. Miraculously Appar’s stomach pain ceased and it was then that he sang a song in praise of Lord Shiva. This became his first Devaram. The song is Kootrayina vaaru Vilakka Kileer.

The 18 pillared mandapam was constructed on the advice of Thilakavathiyaar and was thererafter called the Thiruneetru Mandapam.

As we went around the prahaaram taking in all the special features, I mentally pictured Raja Raja Cholan sitting there looking at the temple in wonder and deriving inspiration to build his Raja Rajeswaram.

The Holy Water which cured Appar

Dusk had set in. I sat near the Shiva Lingam idol which also housed an idol of Thilakavathiyaar nearby and sang the Devaram Kootrayina Vaaru.

Shiva lingam at Thiruvadhigai

An interesting Snippet:

People who receive the vibhoothi here must bow one’s head and then apply it on the forehead. It’s symbolic for freeing oneself from ego, so that one can lead a life with head held high. தலைகுனிந்து வந்து ஆணவம் இல்லாமல் திருநீறு பூசிக் கொள்வதால் தலை நிமிர்ந்து வாழலாம் என்பது ஐதீகம்.

People call this, திருப்பம் தரும் திருவதிகை வீரட்டானேசுவரர் கோவில். Your life will change for the better once you have visited this place and received the divine blessings.


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