Thenupuriswarar Temple, Patteeswaram – The Temple
The temple of Patteeswarar presents a magnificent sight with five gopurams and three prakarams. It measures 650 feet (200 m) east to west and 295 feet (90 m) south to north. Pattisvara, the presiding form of Shiva manifests himself in the form of Linga, in the central mandapa of the first prakaram.
Subsidiary deities like Sapthamatha, Mahalakshmi, Renuka, Navagraha, Surya, Chandra and Bhairava are housed in the inner parts of the temple. Ganesha is represented at three different places in three different forms - Anugai Pillayar, Madhavarna Pillayar and Swarna Vinayagar. In the northern part of the first prakaram, the consort goddess Gnanambikai (Parvati) lies in a separate shrine. A sculpture of Parvati doing penance is also found inside the temple.
Towering gopurams on all 4 sides and a beautiful tank adorn this vast temple with 3 prakarams. Gnanambikai and Durga are housed in separate temples. Durga's shrine here is of great importance. The Koti Theertham well in the temple said to have been created by Rama is considered to be equivalent to Dhanushkodi. Shiva is said to have blessed Sambandar with an umbrella lined with pearls, to protect him from the scorching summer sun, and is said to have requested the Nandi to move aside, in order to be able to look at the sight of his arrival here.
Patteeswaram is also closely associated with Govinda Dikshitar, Prime Minister of Achyuta and Raghunatha Nayak, rulers of Thanjavur (late 16th and early 17th centuries CE). Govinda Dikshitar is associated with the construction of the Ramaswamy Temple at Kumbakonam. He also repaired and remodeled the Mahamagam tank in Kumbakonam and built the Pushya Mandapam at Thiruvaiyaru. The Ambal shrine is attributed to Govinda Deekshithar. Images of Govinda Deekshithar, his wife and four of the Nayak kings of Thanjavur are seen in front of the Ambal shrine.
Dhenupureeswarar Temple, Patteeswaram is a typical, huge Chola temple embellished with a great deal of beautiful and intrinsic sculptures, pillars and mandapams (halls). The complex is spread over 4.4 acres. It has a beautiful tank with Agaya Ganapathi installed near it.
Gnanambikai greets devotees with one of her feet stretched out in her own shrine. This is an unusual pose for a goddess and people say that she is shown as a deity who is ready to rush to the aid of her devotees. The door and entrance porch leading to the goddess’s shrine is a magnificent piece of art and sculpture.
Other deities like Swarna Ganapathy, Bhairavar and Shanmuga (Muruga) were also shifted from the Chola fort to this temple.