Ubhaya Vitanka Temples: Thiruvotriyur, Thiruvanmiyur, Thirukachchur (Sri Thyagar)
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Ubhaya Vitanka Temples: Thiruvotriyur, Thiruvanmiyur, Thirukachchur (Sri Thyagar)

Item Code: NAM420
Author: Dr. P. M. Lalitha
Publisher: The Karnatic Music Book Centre, Chennai
Language: English
Edition: 2003
Pages: 106 (8 Color and 3 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 120 gm

In remote past in Tamil Nudu the entire stretch of land was divided into five major divisons knows as Mullai, Kurinji, Marutam, Neyal and Palai having Mayon Senyon, Vendan, Varunan and Korravai as their worshipful deity respectively. During Sangam period Siva, Visnu, Murugan, Korravai and Sridevi were prominent deities. Of them Siva and Vishnu were worshipped in different forms also.

In post Sangam period trinity (Brahma, Siva and Vishnu) worship seems to have occupied important position to this the Devis of them, Muruga, Ganesa and Jyeshta seems to have been given subsidiary position. Till the beginning the Pallava period Siva, Parvati and Skanda in union not found, though they were worshipped separately. Another noteworthy development of Pallava period was the temples created in non-perishable material i.e. stone, such as rock cut caves and the structural temples. Yet another significant feature of this period was the production of the bas-relief and round sculptures of stone in large number.

When the Pallavas excavated the rocks into temples they carved Linga in garbhagriha and sculpted bas-relief as Somaskanda in the rear wall of it. Most of the rock cut caves and structural temples of Pallavas have this special feature. Only one cave of early Panday origin at Tirupparankunram has Somaskanda panel on the rear wall of garbhagriha.

When the architectural and sculptural zenith attained under Cholas the idiom of having Somaskanda panel in the garbhagriha was disappeared. But they gave impetus in producing Somaskandar image in bronze with added elegance and beauty. This bronze image was used to take in procession (Vidiyla) during periods. Instead of having Somaskanda panel in the garbhagriha, the Somaskanda bronze was enshrined in a separate shrine at the right side of it.

In later days Somaskanda also been called as Thyagarajar or Vitankar. The place where the importance is attached to Vitankar is known as Vitankar sthalam. There are seven such main sthalams and are called as Sapta Vitankar sthalams. Besides, there are three Ubhaya Vitankar sthalams and seventeen Prathi Vitankar sthalams also.

In this book Dr. P.M.L. Lalitha retired reader in History, has chosen the three Ubhaya Vitankar Sthalams namely Adhipurisvarar of Tiruvorriyur, Maruntisvarar of Thiruvanmiyur and Thiruvalakkoyil of Thirukkacchur for detailed study. Elaborate description has been given on the location of the temples, main deity, Vitankar and other subshrines. The author's intention is to highlight the significance of Somaskandar and the legends and Puranas attributed to it. For her accurate description she has utilized the material found from the epigraphical sources. She has given sufficient information on Nitya Pujas monthly Pajas and Annual festivals of all these three temples. The special feature noticed in these temples only are also brought to light. Her delineation of sculptures and bronzes are remarkably excellent.

At the outset this monograph would be very useful to the tourists and the usual pilgrims for understanding the spiritual validity of these temples. I congratulate the author Dr. P.M.L. alitha for her venture in this field and request to write more books unfamiliar temples such as these to make popular to the entire public.



I am very happy to express my feelings that the response from the devotes to my previous book 'Saptha Vitanka Sthalam' inspired me to write this book " Ubhaya Vitanka Temples" These temples are situated in and around Chennai City. They are 1) Thiruvotriyur 2) Thiruvanmiyur 3) Thirukachchur.

In the 275 Siva temples in Tamil Nadu , the iconographic image of Lord Siva is in Linga form. Apart from this there is another metal or Panchaloha idol familiarly called as Somaskandamoorthy, popularly known as Thyagar in Vitanka temples. Out of 275 Siva temples 27 are reputed as Vitanka temples. Equal importance is given to both the Presidin Deity Siva Linga and the Panchaloha image Somaskandar / Thyagar. The word Somaskanda is a combination of three constituents sa + Uma + Skanda. Sa refers to He, the Divine Lord Siva, Uma refers to Goddess Parvathi, Skanda means Kumaraswami, thus forming the compound Somaskanda. Lord Siva, Goddess Parvathi and Kumaraswami Sat is being (Truth), Chit is Knowledge (Beauty) and Ananda is bliss (Goddess) Sachchidanandam represent Somaskandar.

These Vitanka temples are especially distinct for the Divine Dance of Lord Siva manifesting Hinself as Somaskandamoorthi / Thyagar. The appearance of the Moorthi itself is associated with numerous mythical and legendary stories. In these Ubhaya Vitanka temples the presentation of His Divine Dance as based on request made by the Devas and Rishis. Here He performed 18 different type of Divine Dances to satisfy the celestial beings and sages. It is said that Ubhaya is Sanskrit means two numbers. Since Lord wanted to satisfy the Celestial as well as Spiritual beings the name acquired as Ubhaya. The image Shanda in between the Divine Couple is also seen in dancing posture. In all these three Ubhaya Vitanka Temples there are some distinctive interesting special feature. In this book these special features are described briefly with a view that the devotees who visit these temples may have the chance to observe these significant features.

In all these three temples the rituals , festivals and other temple functions are centered around the Deity Thyagar / Somaskandar. Rver the name temples at Thiruvotriyur and thirukachchur is amiliarly called as Sri Thyagarajaswamy Thirukoyil. Hence the Deity Thyagar is holding a high and important position in al the temple activities.

Moe restricted discipline has to be maintained in the method of worshipping this Deity. Some of the significant rules that are applied in these temples as per Agama Sasthra are of note worthy. The Processional idol Somaskanda / Thyagar is the combination of the images of Siva, Parvathi and Kumara are fixed in a single Peetam (Seat) in a raised platform like throne. It is a composition of a single molding and is believed that the idols could not be separated. The Deity is considered to be more delicate that the rays of sun should not fall on the image. Hence the procession starts after the mid-night in the early hours at about 3 or 4 AM. And the Deity enters the temple before dawn. Further it is customary that the Deity will not accept any offerings from the devotees while on procession. The Deity will have no Vahanas. But there is a specially designed device Palanquin called Tottil Pallakku (Cradle Palanquin) in all the three Ubhaya Vitanka temples. A specific community people are entitled to shoulder the Palanquin. A good description of the Palanquin and about the procession is discussed in this book.

Another interesting thing to note is that 18 type of Divine Dances are performed as Her is seen in sitting posture. Even to day during festival seasons, this dancing mode is perfectly performed and exhibited to the devotees by the temple authorities.

There are numerous mythical and legendary stories that are woven around the Divine Dance of Thyagar. An attempt is made to elucidate some of the stories which are closely with the Main Deity and Thyagar.

Almost all these temples are rich in their epigraphical wealth. Some important inscriptions are quotes in this book which may help the research scholars of history. Daily rituals, temples are mentioned in detail.

In regard to the Ubhaya Vitanka Temples similarities in respect of special features, functions are rituals help in the particular temple are many. But there are subtle differences. Which has to be notes clearly. The functions of Bramotsavam, Sivarathri and Navarathri festivals are performed though in a similar manner, the underlying philosophy hidden is the same. To get a clear understanding the descriptions are given in the same manner.

There renowned Tevaram hymists hailed the Lord of these places in their Thirumurais. Some of the songs are narrated. In these three temples a unique and peculiar features can be seen. They are noted in the book. This may inspire the devotees to visit the temple and admire the architectural skill in Tamil Nadu temples.

I acknowledge my heartful gratitude to Sri Natana Kasinathan Director of Archaeology (Retd) Tamil Nadu who is kind enough to spare his valuable time and to give a brief foreword note to my book with all his encouragement. I am very much proud to say that he the author of 35 books in Tamil. 15 books in English and also who published more than articles both in English and Tamil, in the midst of his busy scheduled works highlightened my book with his foreword note. I am indebted to him for giving inspiration to write the next book on Prathi Vitanka Temples.

I am more indebted to record my sincere thanks to Siva Gnanaselvar Agorasivachariyar Sivasree S. Sundarama Gurukkal of Thiruvotriyue who gave lot of valuable information regarding the rituals, festivals and other functions followed at Thiruvotriyur. IT is a blessing from Almighty through Sivasree Sundararama Gurukkal who is proficient in preparing a note on the Agama Sasthra enlightens my book Ubhaya Vitanka Temples.

I deem it my most indebted duty to express my deep gratitude to Muralidhara Gurukkla of Thirukachchur for providing enough information regarding the culture, customs and tradition behind the temple activities.

It is my pleasant duty to record my heartfelt thanks to Sri M.T. Balasubhamanian, Thiruvotriyur who id kind enough to accept my request and contributes the line drawing of the cradle palanquin of Tiyagar to include in the Book.




1) Introduction 1
2) Ubhaya Vitanka Sthalam 4
3) Thiruvotriyur 8
4) Thiruvanmiyur 45
5) Thirukachchur 66
6) Siddhantha Saiva Tattuva Padakkam 86
7) 1. Figures Somaskandamoorthy 89
2 Thyagarajar 90
3 Sivakamasundari 91
4 Cradle Palanquin 92


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