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Jambukeswarar Temple Thiruvanaikaval
The Jambukeswarar Temple Thiruvanaikaval, a famous temple devoted to Shiva in Thiruchirapalli Tamil Nadu was built around 1800 years ago by Kochenga Chola, one of the early Kings of Cholas. It is located in the Srirangam Island, where the famous Ranganathaswamy temple is placed.
This temple also known as Thiruvanaikal is one of the five major Shiva Temples of Tamil Nadu which is renowned by the name Panchabhoota Sthalams representing the Mahabhoota or five great elements; this temple represents the element of water. The sanctum here is blessed with an underground water stream which is always filled with water.
It is a Temple where the Temple Priest, Daily, at the stroke of Noon , dresses up like the wife of Lord Siva, Akilandeswari, and performs the Middy Pooja(Ucchi Kala Pooja).
There were two Siva Ganas (Siva’s disciples who live in Kailash): ‘Malyavan’ and ‘Pushpadanta’. Though they are Shiva Ganas they always quarrel with each other and fight for one thing or other. In one fight ‘Malyavan’ cursed ‘Pushpadanta’ to become an elephant on earth and the latter cursed the former to become a spider on earth. The elephant and the spider came to Jambukeswaram and continued their Shiva worship. The elephant collected water from river Cauvery and conducted ablution to the lingam under the Jambu tree (Eugenia jambolana) daily.
The spider constructed his web over the lingam to prevent dry leaves from dropping on it and prevent sunlight directly falling on it. When the elephant saw the web and thought it was dust on lingam. The elephant tore them and cleaned the lingam by pouring water and the practice continued daily. The spider became angry one day and crawled into the trunk of the elephant and bit the elephant to death, killing itself. Siva, in the form of Jambukeswara, moved by the deep devotion of the two, relieved them from the curse. As an elephant worshipped Shiva here, this place came to be known as Thiru Aanai Kaa (thiru means holy, aanai is elephant, kaa (kaadu) means forest). Later the name ‘Thiruaanaikaa’ become ‘Thiruvanaikaval’ and ‘Thiruvanaikoil’.
In the next birth, the spider was born as the King Kochengot Chola (kotchengannan cholan meaning red-eyed king) and built 70 temples and this temple is the one among them. Remembering his enmity with the elephant in his previous birth, he built the Shiva Sannathi (sanctorum) such that not even a small elephant can enter. The entrance on the sanctorum of Jambukeswara is only 4 foot high and 2.5 foot wide.
It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where all the four most sacred Saivite Saints have sung glories of the deity in this temple. The temple carries inscriptions of the Chola period.