Thiruvaneswarar temple at Ranganathapuram near Thirukattupalli is the temple to be visited by people born under Pooratadhi, Purva Bhadrapada or Poorva Bhadra Nakshathiram (Birth Star) at least once in a year for leading a trouble free and happy life. This temple was built by Kochengat Cholan and is believed to be at least 1800 years old.
Kochengat Cholan was a staunch Shiva devotee and is one amongst the 63 Nayanmars or Great Devotees of Lord Shiva. Kochengat Cholan built or rebuilt at least 70 temples. These temples that he built were at an elevation so as to prevent elephants from entering the temple. There is an interesting story as to why Kochengat Cholan did this. Thiruvanaikaval, near Trichy, was once a Jambu (Indian Blackberry) forest. (Jamoon in Hindi, Nagapazham in Tamil). There was a Shiv Lingam under one of the Jambu trees which was worshiped by a Spider and an Elephant. The Elephant used to bring water in its trunk from the Cauvery to perform the ablution while the Spider displayed its devotion by weaving a web over the Lingam to protect dust and dry leaves from falling onto the Lingam. The Elephant which considered the web as dirty used to remove the web everyday and the Spider used to weave the web again. Each of them considered the act of the other as an act of desecration. Soon the two had a fight and both of them died. The spider was reborn as Kochengat Cholan. Since Kochengat Cholan or Kochenganan remembered his previous life and the “havoc” caused by the elephant, he decided to build temples which could not be accessed and disturbed by the Elephants. He called this “Yaanai Era thiruppani”. The first of such temples he built was at Thiruvanaikaval itself – Jambukeswarar Temple. The temple at Ranganathapuram could well be the second of those temples.
Between 1311 AD and 1373 AD, there were a few attacks by Mohammedans led by Malik Gafoor on Srirangam. Srirangam was under Mohammedan rule for some time, when the main idols at Srirangam and Thiruvanaikaval temples were brought to this village and kept hidden. Those idols were returned to the respective temples after Pandyas defeated the Mohammedans and regained control over Srirangam. As commemoration of these events, this village has since then been known as Ranganathapuram or Gajaranyam (Anaika).
The temple is built on top of the idol of an elephant, hence Lord Shiva is also known as Gaja Aaraohana Eswarar or one who rides an elephant. In this temple, elephant is Lord Shiva’s vehicle. The other names of the presiding deity at this temple are Gajaranyeswarar, Aneswarar, Karivananathar & Anaikaraperumanar. His consort is Kamakshi Ambal. The sacred tree or the sthala vruksham here is vilvam (a type of wood apple). Vajra theertham, Indira koobam is the theertham. Iravatham, Indiran’s elephant was once in deep penance here. Indiran who came in search of Iravatham was angry and use Vajrayutham on the elephant. By the grace of Lord Shiva the weapon fell on the ground here harmlessly. Water sprang from the place where the vajrayudham fell and that became vajra theertham. The well inside the temple is known as Indira Koobam. Indiran repented his act and sought forgiveness. Kanchi Acharya, His Holiness Chandrasekhara Saraswathy was captivated by the beauty of the place and stayed here for a few days. There is a small mandapam built to signify this event.
The main deity faces East and His consort faces South. There is an idol of Vinayakar in a separate shrine in the south west corner of the praharam (circumambulatory path). The style and architecture suggests that this was built by the Pallavas. The vinayakar is valampuri vinayakar. He is seen as though he is resting his left hand on the ground and raising to His feet. There is shrine for Murugan along with Valli and Devayanai. There is also a shrine for Mahalakshmi. In the North East corner there is a separate shrine for the navagrahas.
Donating clothes of seven different colours at this temple is believed to absolve one of all the sins.
Location: This temple is located at 4 kms from Thirukattupalli and about 40 Kms from Trichy and 30 Kms from Tanjore. Grand Anicut is about 15 Kms from this place and is a good picnic spot.
Boarding & Lodging: This is a less travelled and remote village. Have your travel base as Tanjore or Trichy
Other Temples Nearby:
Agneeswarar Temple at Thirukattupalli.
Temple Timings: It will be a good idea to call the temple priest before visiting the temple.
Temple Priest’s phone numbers: +91 94439 70397, +91 97150 37810
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