1) Sri Somnatheswarar Temple at Somangalam
Location: Somangalam is in the Kundrathur – Padappai road and can be reached from Tambaram as well. It is 6 kms from Kishkintha. After Kishkintha, while proceeding straight the road divides into two and you have to take the road at the left. Go beyond Sairam Engineering College and you will see a road to the left to Dhanalakshmi Engineering College. Go straight further and you will reach Somangalam and the temple. Somangalam is a Chathurvedimangalam, a village donated by the Kings to the Pundits of the four vedas to conduct various yagnas and regular poojas.
Significance: Chandra (Moon) sthalam of the Navagraha worship; Nandhi is looking the opposite side.
Main deity: Somnatheswarar with Kamkshi amman in separate shrines
Legend: Once Moon God (Soman) was cursed by King Dakshan and lost his beauty. Distressed by this, Soman penanced here towards Lord Shiva, took bath in the ‘Vinai Theerthan Kulam’ (the tank that eliminates all bad karmas) at half a km to the west of this temple and worshipped Shiva to regain his lost charm.
When the temple was being built, invaders came and the King prayed to God, who then asked Nandhi to go out and counter the enemies. Nandhi, without getting up from his place, vanquished the invaders just by blowing out his breath in force. With this, Nandhi got over-confident and thought that he was better than the Lord Himself. So he was made to be in the same position (looking at the opposite side) permanently by the Lord.
Sources say that a sage named Somanathar attained Jeeva Samadhi at the feet of Lord Nandhikeswarar, who is believed to have guarded Soman against any disturbances while doing penance.
Temple: This ancient tempe was built by the Chola king, Klothunga, in 1073 A.D. This has the Gajaprashta (look of the back of an elephant) vimanam. It is believed that 108 shiva temples have been built by the same king. Thirumazhisai, Somangalam, Manimangalam Dharmeshvarar and Mannivakkam (maniaandi, as it is called) are some of the temples of that group in this region. This has Somanatheeswarar as the main deity with the Chandra adorning Shiva.
Inside the main sanctum, there is an unique statue of Lord Muruga in Brahma sastha form with gindi in one hand and aksha mala in another hand. Once Brahma was put behind bars by Subramania himself and he took charge of the work of creation for 3.75 nazhi. During that period babies were born beautifully and so Murugar is also called Azahan. It is said that there was a seprate Kandaswamy temple housing this Subramaniar and when the temple became dilapidated in due course, He was brought into this temple. There is also another shrine for Murugar with His consorts in the outer praharam built later in 1935.
Natarajar as ‘Chathura thandava moorthy’ is present in the sanctum. Chathuram (square) is the shape of moon god that coincides with the Chathura thandavam of Natarajar. There are separate shrines for Ganesha, Surya, Bairavar, Dhakshinamurthy, Vishnu and Goddess Durga. There are inscriptions belonging to 5 different time periods but some of them have been painted over in the process of renovation.
In the outer praharam there are idols of Saptha mathars, the first in the row being Jeshta devi, the ambal of Lord Saturn, a rare idol. Also present is Maandhi with buffalo head born to Jeshta devi and Saniswaran.
People with Chandra and water related dhoshams, mind and water related problems like Cold, Asthma, mental sickness etc., can worship Somnatheswarar and Chandra here to come out of their problems. Also it is believed that Lord Somanatheeswarar blesses people with timely marriage, progeny, peaceful and healthy life.
Theertham: Soma theertham (Vinai theerthan kulam) at half a km to the west of the temple, created by Moon God and Chandeeswara Theertham adjacent to the temple created by Chandeeswarar.
Contact: Suresh Kurukkal – 044 – 2717 8330 (lives near the temple)
Temple Timing: 8 AM – 10 AM and 5 PM – 7 PM – It is preferred to visit the temple only in the mornings since the evening timing is not sure.
2) Sri Dharmeshvarar Temple at Manimangalam
Manimangalam is about 10 kms to the west of Tambaram and 20 km to the east of Sriperumbudur. From Tambaram, it can be reached through Mudichur. Like Somangalam, Manimangalam was also a Chathurvedimangalam, a village donated by the Kings to the pundits of the four vedas to conduct yagnas and poojas regularly. It finds a place in the history of Tamil Nadu as the place where Narasimha Varma Pallava defeated the Chalukyas in the 7th century A.D. This fact is mentioned in the copper plates discovered at Kooram. Kalki has written about the Manimangalam battle in his book ‘Sivagamiyin Sabatham’. He describes how Mahendra Varma Pallava was injured in the battle at Manimangalam, and how his son Narasimha Varma Pallava and his trusted lieutenant Paranjoti vanquished Pulikesi’s army.
Narasimha Varma Pallavan also defeated decisively the withdrawing forces of Pulikesi II which had tried to conquer the Pallavas under Mahendra Varman.
Sri Dharmeshvarar Temple at Manimangalam is an Archelogical Soceity of India maintained temple and so, as with other ASI temples, this is also nicely fenced and landscaped. The temple is very beautiful and is present in a nice environment with a mammoth Peepul tree in the huge open space in front. Priest lives in the ‘Kurukkal street’ nearby and since he was not there at that time, I was shown around by other people. Unusually Nandhi and Bali peetam are present outside the inner prahara wall. Nandhi was looking at the prahara wall without even a window in the compund wall. There is a small mandapam in front of the sanctum sanctorum with some nice sculptures. Ganesha is sitting under the Sthala Vruksham. The Koshta gods are beautifully done. This temple was also built by the same Klothunga king who built the Somangalam temple and so this also has the Gajaprashta Vimanam. Shiva is present in the sanctum sanctorum as Dharmeeswarar in linga form with Ambal in a separate shrine.
One is assured of immense satisfaction and peace with the serene atmosphere of the temple and the village.
Date of visits: 24th Feb 2008
Note: Since this is not a temple visited frequently by people, you may have to get the kurukkal from the next street when it is closed.
Other ancient temples at Manimangalam:
Sri Rajagopalar Temple
The presiding deity at this ancient temple is Sri Rajagopalar, who is seen in a standing posture facing east, with His consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi. There is a separate shrine for Senkamalavalli Thayar. A peculiarity of the deity here is that He holds the conch in His right hand and the Sudarsana Chakram in His left hand.
Note: I could not visit the temple since the priest was not available.
Sri Vaikuntanathar temple as old as the Rajagopala temple
Sri Kailasanathar temple built by Rajendra chola 1200 years ago, renovated recently.