Dharbharanyeswaraswamy or Dharbaranyeswarar temple at Thirunallar is dedicated to Saneeswaran or Saturn. Thirunallar in Karaikal, in the Union Territory of Pondichery, is one of the more famous and important navagraha temples. It is at a distance of 6 Kms from Karaikal town. This is one of the parivara sthalams. I shall explain what a parivara sthalam is in my post on Alangudi.
Though Saneeswaran here is very famous, the presiding deity is Dharbaranyeswarar. His Consort is Bogamartha Poon Mulayal or Praanaambikai. The lingam here is a self manifested Lingam or Swayambhu. The Sthala vruksham is Dharba or grass. This place was a forest of Dharba. Dharba is a type of grass and aranyam means forest and hence the name Dharbaranyeswaraswamy or Dharbaranyeswarar for the Lord. Even today you can see the impression of grass on the lingam here. Thirunallar is one of the “Saptha Vidanga Sthalam”. The idols in these temples depict Lord Shiva performing one of His seven dance forms. It is believed that Lord Shiva imparted the knowledge of the Vedas & Shastras to Brahma here. People pray to Swarna Ganapathy here to overcome financial problems.
Lord Surya was married to Usha or Light. Usha Devi was unable to bear the heat radiated from Surya and left her shadow or Chaya with Suryan while she herself stayed away. Saneeswaran is the son of Chaya Devi and Suryan. The very sigh tof Saneeswaran is dreaded and believed to be destructive. Suryan’s chariot is believed to have been destroyed when Saneeswaran as a baby first opened his eyes and looked at Suryan. Saneeswaran after intense penance on Lord Shiva attained the status of a celestial planet.
It is believed that Saneeswaran became lame when he was kicked by Lord Yama (Sani’s step brother – son of Surya & Usha) in a fit of anger. It is because of this that he is a slow moving planet, taking approximately two and a half years to move from one Zodiac Sign to another. Such a transit known as Sani peyarchi is very important and devotees from all over throng the temple to offer their prayers. Saneeswaran is believed to have a major influence on the course of ones life and also the most feared planet. The unique aspect here is that Saneeswaran is in standing posture with abhayahastha ie hand bestowing blessing.
Everyone experiences sade sati or ezharai sani in their life time. It occurs 2 to 3 three times in a life span as it recurs after approximately 30 years. Even the Lord himself is not exempt from the effect of ezharai sani. Once, Shiva hid himself in a remote cave to meditate and escape the effect of Sani. On his return he was informed by Sani that the Lord had went into hiding in the first place because of the influence of ezharai Sani. An astonished but pleased Shiva, declared to him to be Saneeswaran. No other planet has the tag eswaran to the name.
There is a saying in Tamil “Saniyaipol Koduppavanum illai, saniyaipol keduppavanum illai” which translates to “There is none like Saneeswaran who can give a good life or ruin a life”. Actually, even at the worst of times Saneeswaran only delays but never denies. The experience of going through the ezharai sani makes one mentally very strong. He does not test us more than we can handle. He affects a person based on his past deeds. He is supposed to be Just. Interestingly, the two sons of Suryan, judge us and give us the palan or results based on our karma or deeds. Saneeswaran does this during our lifetime and Yama does that after ones death.
According to a Legend, King Nala had not washed his feet properly while doing puja. Saneeswaran who was waiting for such an opportunity for about 12 years, immediately caught hold of him. This has probably prompted the tradition to wash our feet before entering the house. Getting back to the story of King Nala, under the influence of ezharai sani, he lost his kingdom, separated from his wife and children, had health problems and wandered around like a beggar. As per the advice of Bharadwaja muni he worshipped Dharbaranyeswarar at Thirunallar, after a dip in the holy tank here. It was then he was relieved of the effects of Sani. After this, Shiva asked Saneeswaran to be here and bless all his devotees.
Those visiting Thirunallar should first have an oil bath in the Nala theertham. Some believe that you should leave behind a piece of your cloth near the tank. There are lots of shops around the tank, selling black towels, sachet of gingely oil etc. The tank is usually clean but on occasions you may not want to get into the water. After the bath worship the Vinayakar in the small temple nearby, break a coconut there and then proceed towards the Dharbaranyeswarar temple which is about 5 minutes walk from there.
Devotees offer Blue cloth and light Gingely oil lamp. Special Poojas are performed on Saturdays as Saturday is the day of Saneeswaran.
Recite these mantras facing west to get relief from malefic influence and get His blessings.
Saneeswara Moola Mantra: Aum pram prim praum sah shanaisharaya namah.
Saneeswara Gayathri: Pangupadhaya vidmahe Surya putraaya dheemahi, thanno Mandha prachodayath
Other Saneeswaran Sthalams:
Agastheeswarar Temple at Pozhichalur near Pallavaram. This place is also known as Vada Thirunallaru
Saneeswarar Temple at Kuchanur near Dindigul
Sri Mandeswara Swami Temple at Mandapally, which is 38 kms from Rajamundy
Saneeswaran temple at Shanishingnapur in Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra
Boarding & Lodging: The temple Devasthanam has accommodation facilities. There are a few choultries in the Sannidhi Street. A few hotels with air-conditioned rooms are also available starting from Rs.600/- per day. This is a reasonably big town and hence there are quite a few eateries. There are a few households in the Sannidhi street that have allocated a portion of their house for use of pilgrims. If you want to rest for a couple of hours in the afternoons here they would charge a nominal rate of Rs.50/- to Rs. 100/-
290 Kms from Chennai
55 Kms from Kumbakonam
34 Kms from Mayavaram
6 Kms from Karaikal Town
23 Kms from Nagapattinam
19 Kms from Nagore
Thirukadaiyur Abhirami temple – 27 kms
Sikkal Murugan temple -31 kms
Thiruvarur – 40kms
Other Attractions Nearby:
Velankanni Shrine is 40 kms from here. Tharangambadi or Tranquebar, a former Danish colony from 1620-1845, is 18.5 kms from here on Karaikal Thirukadaiyur route. Fort Dansborg, built by the Danes in 1620, now houses a museum to exhibit Danish era there.
Temple Timings: 6 AM and 1 PM and 4 PM to 8 PM. Since Saturdays are the special days for Saneeswaran, the Saneeswaran sannidhi is open even between 1 PM & 4PM.
Sri Darbaranyeswara Swami Devasthanam,
Temple Phone No: 04368-236530 or 236504