Brahadambal temple, Thirukokarnam is situated just about 5 kms from Pudukkottai. This temple was built by the Thondaman Kings rulers who were ruling Pudukkottai. Arulmighu Brahadambal sametha Gokarneshwarar temple at Thirukokarnam is of Mahendraverma Pallava’s period. It is a rock cut temple. The presiding deity is Gokarneshwarar and His consort is Brahadambal. Additions have been made periodically to this temple. Various inscriptions are found in this temple that provides a glimpse into its rich past. The various rulers like Pandya, Pallavas and Nayaks have contributed a lot to the temple. The sthala vruksham is Vakula tree known as Mahizha Maram (botanical name Mimusops elengi).
The sthalapuranam or legend of the temple goes thus. Once Kamadhenu arrived late at the court and this infuriated Indira. He rebuked her and exiled her from Heaven. He denounced her to live the life of an ordinary cow on earth and repent for her deeds by worshipping Lord Shiva. She would not be allowed to return to Heaven until she was absolved of her sins. When she came down to the earth, she went to the ashram of the sage Kapila which was situated in the forests here. As instructed by him, she did her daily puja to Lord Shiva under the bakula (vakula) tree. She used to bring water in her ears from the Ganges daily for performing the abishegam to Lord Shiva. The Lord here is known as Gokarneshwarar, which means the ‘Lord of the cow’s ear. There is another Deity here known as Bakulavaneshwarar (Vakulavaneshwarar) or Lord of Bakula forest.
One fine day as she was returning from the Ganges with the water in her ears, she was confronted by a tiger at a place called Thiruvengaivasal and was poised to attack her. She pleaded with the tiger to let her go as it was time for the morning abishegam. The tiger let her go on the condition that she would come back after performing the abishegam to Lord. She returned as promised and saw the tiger change to Shiva and Parvathi. The blessed her and gave her salvation. She thus returned to Heaven. There is also a belief that the small pond on top of the rock cut temple was created by Kamadhenu, cutting into the rock with her horns, for storing the holy water from the Ganges. The split on the top of the Shivalingam is also believed to be accidentally created by her hoof while performing the abishegam.
Locally, this temple is known as Brahadambal temple and it is also known as Arakasu Amman temple. Brahadambal was the Guardian Deity of the Thodaiman rulers of Pudukkottai. The king once lost an important document. He could not find it after all efforts to find it. He then prayed to Goddess Brahadambal for getting back the document. Soon the lost document was found. The king was overjoyed and he minted coins with the image of Goddess Brahadambal on one side of the coin, He distributed these coins to his subjects on occasions of festivities. The coins were in a semi circular shape and hence came to be known as Ara Kasu or half coin. And the Goddess came to be known as Ara Kasu Amman. The reverse of the Amman Kasu bears the legend `Sri Vijaya’ (victory) in Telugu. People pray to Arakasu Amman whenever they misplace or lose something and immediately they find the lost object. I have experienced it in my family on a few occasions.
The present day structure of Goddess Brahadambal’s shrine seems to be a very recent one, probably added a couple of hundred years ago. The Goddess is East facing. Just before entering Gokarneshwarar’s shrine, on the left in the rock face are images of the Sapthakannigas. The garba graham is rock cut and Lord Gokarneshwarar is in the form of a lingam. The mandapams in front of the main rock-out shrine are the work of the Cholas and Pandyas, between 11th & 13th century AD. You can see a few beautiful bronze idols in the corridor of the mandapam. There is an upper tier in this temple, where the shrines of Subrahmanya, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Annapurani and Rudrakshalingam, Brahma, Jvarahareshwarar, Bhairava, Surya, the four Shaivait saints, Appar, Sundarar, Gnanasambanthar and Manikka-vachakar, Chandra and Dandayudha-pani are seen. From the upper tier one can have a view of the Rajagopuram and Mangala Kulam.The vimanams of Brahadambal’s shrine and Vakulavaneshwarar can also be seen.
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Temples near Brahadambal Temple, Thirukokarnam:
Arulmigu Arankulanathar Temple, Thiruvarankulam
Sree Naganathar Kovil, Peraiyur
Puradhana Vaneshwarar Temple, Thiruchchitrambalam
Sri Subramania Swamy Kovil, Virachilai
Arulmigu Sathyagireeshwarar Temple, Thirumayam
Temple Timings: 6.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Sri Brahadambal Temple,
Phone: +91-4322-221084, 9486185259