Abirameshwarar Temple, Thiruvamathur, Villupuram
The Abirameshwarar Temple is a 7th century CE Pallava shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Muthambikai. This is the 21st Shiva temple in the ancient division of Tamilnadu, the Nadunaadu region (near Villupuram) that is featured in the Thevaram hymns of the big four of Tamil literature: Thirunavukarasar (Appar), Sambandar, Sundarar and Arunagirinathar.
On the right side of the Chennai-Tiruchi Road, near the bypass of Villupuram a board shows the way through a small road to this temple. At a distance you can see the gopuram (entrance tower).
It is located 7 km north-west, from Villupuram station, on the northern bank of a small river called as Pambai.
Lord Shiva, a swayambumurthy is facing east. Mother Muthambikai was installed by Sri Adi Sankara. As a tradition, Lord and Mother grace the devotees from a single temple. Here, Lord Shiva has his own temple facing east and Ambica her own facing west. The tail part of a serpent is on the Thirumeni (body) of Mother. There is a hole between the two temples through which Lord and Mother use to see each other. Shivalingamurthy of Tiruvattaparai is very famously treated here. According to history of the place, Lord Sri Rama and Sugriva entered into an alliance to fight and kill Ravana sitting at this spot.
Mother Muthambikai appears in a standing form facing west. There are shrines for Lords Mal Thuyar Theertha Vinayaka, Muruga, Nataraja, Dakshinamurthy, Lingodhbava, Brahmma, Mother Durga, Lord Bikshadana, Sahasralingas, Lords Sattanathar, Kasi Viswanathar, Arunachaleswarar, Sri Rama, Sapthamadhas, Naalvar, 63 Nayanmars, Chandesvara, Bhairava and the Navagrahas the nine planets in the prakara.
There is a mandapam called Sathya Palakai in the southwest corner. A Nandhi of big size, Padala Nandhi, Bali Peeta and the flag post receive the devotee at the entrance.
There are some epigraphic details related to the period of Koparakesari, Rajendra Chola I, Veera Rajendran and Kulothunga I.
Rishi Bhringi wanted to see Lord Shiva but was prevented by Nandi, the bull, as Shiva was with his consort Shakthi (Parvathi). This enraged the sage who took the form of a bee, entered their private chambers and only went around Shiva. This enraged Shakthi and when Shiva did not react to this invasion of privacy, she stormed out. She cursed the Rishi to become a Vanni tree (Prosopis Spicigera) which is the sthala Vriksham (temple tree) of the Abirameshwarar Temple.
Originally, it is believed that cows did not have horns and were harassed by other wild animals. They prayed to Lord Shiva and were blessed with horns to protect themselves. Legend says that this happened in this place, Tiru Aa Mathur (Tamil: Aa-cow). This place is now revered as the Mother House of cows.
According to the Hindu faith, all Devas (gods) including Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi reside in the body of the cow. As cows are worshipped here, this temple is an important pilgrimage center. Lord Abirameshwarar appears holding the feet of the cow on his head.
Legend has it that Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu and Sugriva (the monkey king of Kishkintha) entered into an alliance to fight and kill Ravana sitting in this spot. Lord Rama also visited this shrine with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana while returning to Ayodhya after the war. They worshipped the Shivalingam with abhimanam (reverence) so the deity in the Thiruvamathur Temple is also called Abhimaneshwarar. To cleanse himself of the sin of killing Ravana, the ten-headed demon, Rama worshipped Lord Shiva here and performed the abishekam (ablution) with Danda Theertham.
Before marching out to fight Surapadman, Lord Muruga worshipped his parents Shiva and Parvathi here and was blessed with his special weapon, Vel (spear). Others who have worshipped Abirameshwarar and Muthambikai in this temple are Vinayaka, Muruga, Parvathi, Maharshi Narada, Sages Vysa, Romasa, Madanga Muni and Ashta Vasus.
Saint Arunagirinathar had praised Lord Muruga in the Abirameshwarar Temple in his Thirupugazh hymns.
The Abirameshwarar Temple, built in the 7th century CE by the Pallavas, did not have a super structure or a Rajagopuram (entrance tower). A trust was formed and this was added a few years ago with public contributions. The new seven-tier Rajagopuram is 110 ft tall. The black Dhwajasthambham has an exquisite carving of Lord Siva with his Rishabha Vahanam (bull vehicle). The sculpture is highlighted with the vermilion and turmeric application to the deity.
There are two separate shrines for both the deities, Lord Shiva and Muthambikai, facing each other. The main deity is a Shivalingam, a swayambumurthy (self - manifested) facing east, which was the object of worship by cows that were unprotected and needed succor. The lingam has a hoof mark on the top and many fine lines marked on it that are said to have been formed by the dripping milk from these cows.
The lord granted them a boon that they would sport horns to protect them from assailants! As per legend, that is how the cows got their horns. Abirameshwarar Temple attracts many Veerashaiva’s of Karnataka as they consider Basava (Nandi) as their patron god.
Goddess Muthambikai was installed by Adi Shankaracharya in a separate shrine facing west. The tail part of a serpent can be seen on the body of the goddess. There is an ingenious hole created between the two temples through which they say Shiva and Muthambikai can see each other. Next to the shrine of the goddess is a famous Shivalingamurthy or Tiruvattaparai (a square-shaped lingam with ridges all over) which was used as a pramanam stone or as a symbolic presence of the divine by village leaders.
There is a narrow niche in the walls of Abirameshwarar Temple where the belief is that if you insert your hand and you have told a lie, your hand will get stuck.
The Abirameshwarar Temple complex also has shrines for an Akashalingam, Sri Murugan and his brother, the elephant-headed Vallabha Ganapathy, who is shown with his consort.
Look out for the beautiful sculpture of the Trimurthi’s of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The lofty hundred-pillar mandapam is an impressive structure.
Theertham: Well - Thanda Teertham and Pushkarani (Tank) known as Ambalam Poompoigai.
Temple Opening Time
The temple is open from 7.30 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. and from 5.00 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.
People pray to Mother Muthambikai for removal of obstacles in marriage talks, child boon. Devotees offer milk abishek to Amman and offer pudding-Pongal as nivedhana.
Shivarathri in Masi (February-March) and Navarathri in Purattasi (September-October) are the festivals celebrated in the temple.
Sri Abirameshwarar Temple,
Phone: +91- 4146-223 379
Mobile: 98430 66252
The temple is on the right side of the Chennai-Trichy By pass road, around 6 kms from Villupuram town. Nearest Railway Station is Villupuram & Nearest Airport is located at Chennai.