Thirupathiripuliyur – Padaleesweerar temple

After learning the Namachivaya Padhigam Sottrunai Vedhiyan, from my Guru Smt Shyamala Krishnadas, I started researching more about the story behind this Thevaram and discovered that Cuddalore/Panruti area had some fascinating places which cannot be missed.

Thirupathiripuliyur was our first stop in this temple trip. (August 2022) We had booked a room at the Arcot Woodlands a decent hotel with good food. (Phone04142 230 707) But since the check in was only at 2 PM we thought we will complete seeing a couple of temples before they closed for the afternoon. Most temples in Tamilnadu open at 6 am and close by 11 AM or 12 noon. They open only at 4 PM or sometimes even 5 PM. So temple trips have to be planned well so that you don’t waste time waiting for gates to open or worse still rush from sannidhi to sannidhi during closing time.




Temple at Cuddalore


We went past the canopied stone mandapam at the entrance, a common feature in several temples (like the one at Thiruporur temple near Chennai) where travellers and other pilgrims were sitting. The Pallava and Chola architecture was apparent. The minute we entered the temple walking past the imposing Gopuram, the typical Nayak sculptures attracted one’s attention. We moved on to the main sannidhi, (although one part of us wanted to stop and stare at the sculptures) , where Lord Shiva called Padaleeswarar here, seemed to beckon us by some divine magnetic force. I had planned to sing to myself the song I had learnt: Sottrunai Vedhiyan, but ended up singing with gusto with fervour and devotion.  I was joined by the priest as well as a devotee who was seated on the floor. Yes, the temple was almost empty.

Was very fulfilling.

The story behind this Thevaram, Sottrunai Vedhiyan:

Thirunaavukarasar/Appar (who was called Dharmasenar)  was a Jain for several years and became a Saivite later in his life. Mahendra Varma Pallava King also  a Jain was angered that Appar became a Shaivite. So he tied Appar to a stone and flung him into the sea. This happened near Thirupathiripuliyur. It was at that time Appar sang, “Sotrunai Vedhiyan Jyothi Vaanavan” The rock which Appar was tied to, miraculously started floating like a boat and he was washed ashore at a place 2 kms from this temple called “Karai Era vitta Kuppam”

கற்றுணைப் பூட்டியோர் கடலினுள் பாய்ச்சினும் நற்றுணை ஆவது நமச்சிவாயவே

Click here to listen to this Thevaram

We went around the temple and like other big temples the sannidhis of  the deities were placed in the usual directional spots. The Murugan sannidhi is famous in this temple and Shri Arunagirinathar has sung Thirupugazhs on this Murugan.

The Pathiri Tree is the Stala Vrisksham, (each temple has a special tree) Here it seemed like the remnants of the tree encased in a metallic Kavacham. On the other side of the tree is the sannidhi of the Goddess Arunthava Nayagi. The Goddess is formless and one can only see the platform or Peedam.

padaleeswarar cuddalore

Here is the fascinating legend of Arunthava Nayagi:

Once Goddess Parvathi closed Lord Shiva’s eyes after she lost in a game and the whole world went dark and all the living beings suffered a great deal. Lord Shiva bade the Goddess to go to Earth and do Tapas/Meditation in several Shiva temples. She should continue her Tapas in the place where her left eye and left shoulder twitched. The twitching happened in this place Thirupathiripuliyur. So she continued her penance here as Arunthava Nayagi.

Padaleeswarar temple Cudalore

To reach the main Ambal sannidhi we had to cross a Ghoshala. There were several cows there and crossing over we reached a pillared hall with some excellent sculptures with the Pallava stamp of the Lion in several pillars.

Periyanayagi the Goddess was adorned in a green sari worn the Madisar style and had a smiling, genial countenance. Very big idol, true to her name, literally.

We saw a board which said Way to Pidari Amman temple, so we walked over and not surprisingly (as it was Aadi Friday), the temple was really crowded, so we donned our masks in a hurry. This masking and unmasking has become the new way of life. The idol of the Pidari Amman was petite, beautifully decorated in sandal wood kaapu.

Interestingly worshipping in the Padaleeswarar temple is known to bring together estranged couples. Sometimes tidbits like these seem to be the USP to bring in the crowd. Although being a Friday, the locals all seemed to be in the Pidari Amman temple and not at Padaleeswarar temple.

We both sat in the sannidhi for some time absorbing the beautiful sculptures well preserved for 2000 years.

How this place got its name:

  1. The Pathiri tree under which the Goddess meditated
  2. Vyakrapathar (2nd Century BC, a contemporary of the Sage Patanjali) or the Puli Kaal Munivar, Tiger Clawed Saint has visited this place. There are 9 Puliyur temples where Vyakrapadhar has visited in this area called the Nava Puliyur temples.

Temple Timings:

Morning 6 AM to 12 Noon

Evening: 4 PM to 8.30 PM


Cuddalore is about 175 kms from Chennai. About half an hour drive from Pondicherry.

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