The miniature wonder of Melakkadambur

Sri Amirtha Kadeswarar Temple at Melakkadambur

Location: 6 kms South West of Kattumannar koil; in the Vadalur (Chennai) – Kumbakonam highway, around 8 kms East diversion from Meensurutti


  • One of the 276 Thevara Paadal petra sthalams
  • An ornamental miniature wonder of later Chola architecture
  • It is the archaeological remains of the once magnificent Kadambur Palace of Cholas, where Adithya Karikala Chola was assassinated.
  • Writer Kalki’s magnum opus Ponniyin Selvan mostly travels around the Kadambur palace and its surroundings.


Main deities:
Sri Amirthagadeswarar as Swayambu moorthy with Ambal Vidyujothi Nayaki / Jyothi minnammai


  • Devas who churned the nectar ocean (Thirupparkadal) began to consume it without worshipping Lord Vinayaka who angrily took away the pot to teach them a lesson.  When He passed through this place which was a Kadamba forest, a drop of nectar fell here and became a Swayambu Linga.  Realizing their folly, Indira and Devas came here and begged Lord Vinayaka’s pardon who in turn advised them to worship Lord Shiva.  Lord Shiva, responding to their prayers gave them the nectar and stayed here as Amirthakadeswarar, Amirtha (nectar) – Kada (pot) – Easwar.
  • Athithi, mother of Devas, was coming here every day from Devalokam and worshipped Lord Amirthakadeswarar for granting the nectar to her children. Indira wanted to make her job easier by taking the Lord to his Indraloka itself.  He changed the temple as a chariot and tried to drive it towards his place without worshipping / getting permission from Lord Vinayaka.  So Lord Vinayaka pressed the left wheel which got stuck to the earth.

IMG_2624 IMG_2625

  • Indira’s attempts failed and he begged Lord Vinayaka for pardon who agreed to let the temple if Indira installed one crore of Lingas.  Indira took the challenge with pride but every piece got damaged in the making.  Realizing his fault over his pride, Indira fell at the feet of Lord Amirthakadeswarar.  Lord asked him to make one Shivalinga chanting His name one crore times and Indira thus made the Rudrakoteeswara Linga which is installed in the Keezha Kadambur temple closeby.  Lord appeared before Indhira and asked him to stay here itself and do the worship for his mother. Indira obeyed.  It is believed that Indira performs poojas to the Lord in this temple each day.

Temple Architecture:

The temple is the archaeological remains of the once magnificent Kadambur Palace of Cholas, where Adithya Karikala Chola was assassinated. The temple and the village are well known in Kalki’s magnum opus Ponniyin Selvan.
Though the origin of the temple goes beyond several yugas, the current stone chariot form of the temple was built by the famous Chola King Kulothunga-I in the year-1113 AD, the king’s 43rd governing year. Before that, it was a brick construction.

The temple was in a dilapidated condition after the invasion of Moguls. In the 1880s, the temple was renovated by Sri Aru.Arunachalam Chettiyar of Devakottai. It was an interesting event that made him renovate this temple. He was travelling in a cart loaded with stones towards the Thirukoodalaiyaturur temple, a thevara padal petras sthalam nearby. He was not only asked to renovate this temple in his dream by the Lord but also got diverted to this temple along with his cart in the night. He took more than 12 years to renovate this temple in a very big way with various mandapams, compound wall and others. Later, Sri.Somasundaram Chettiyar from his family completed it with the Kumbabhishegam in 1920.

Tamil literary sources describe nine categories of temple structures dedicated to Lord Shiva as: ‘Perunkoyil’, ‘Karakkoyil’, ‘Gnalarkoyil’, ‘Koudikkoyil’, ‘Ilamkoyil’, ‘Manikkoyil’, ‘Alakkoyil’, ‘Madakkoyil’ and ‘Punkoyil.’
Amongst them, this temple is a Karakkoil type where the Garbagraham is in chariot like structure pulled by horses with an enchanting appearance.
Also, in the language of Munda of the Kadambar who ruled this region, ‘Karam’ means ‘Kadambu’.

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Multi-tier adhisthana:
The manchabhadra upa-pita or pedestal forms the base. The padma banda adhisthana (socle) consists of 18 different distinct moulded tiers (from bottom up); Upana or upatala (the base), Padma (a layer of lotus motif), Jagathi (straight), Kumuda (round), Kanta (neck), Patti and Kapota (layer of lotus petals). This is the prime temple that consists of the maximum no of (18) distinct tiers among the Chola temples.

18 layered basement

Nagara vimana has kirtimukha kudu on each direction and a round kalasa and stupi.

Goshta walls:

  • Unlike the other Chola temples which are known for their huge size sculptures, this temple is a miniature wonder. Klothunga Chola I, himself, was an exponent in music, art and sculpture and so his personal involvement exhibits consummate artistic skills in every micro sculpture.
  • The Goshta walls are completely filled with innumerable miniature freezes depicting stories from Lord Shiva, the life history of the 63 celebrated Saivite saints (Nayanmars), Ramayana, Krishna Leela and other divine personalities. Not an inch of Goshta wall space is left without sculpting a moorthy / story.
  • Lord Aalinganamurthy and Lord Gangadhara as adjacent moorthies with Parvathi devi in two contrasting moods is a pleasure to watch. With Lord Gangadhara, She is in an angry mood since Lord Shiva is holding Ganga devi in His head whereas with Lord Aalinganamurthy in the just adjacent moorthy, She is seen with a pleasant smile sitting on His lap and the Lord embracing Her with love.
  • In every Yuga, some Devas visited this place to worship Lord Amirthakadeswara: in Thretha yuga, Surya, Chandra, Indira and Romarishi came to worship;
    in Dwabara yuga, Ashtaparvathas and Parvatharajan came to worship;
    in Kaliyuga, Pathanjali came to worship this sthala.
    In the goshta walls on the three sides, all these devas have been depicted with their respective lingas. So the origin of the temple goes beyond several yugas.

IMG_2611 Devendran IMG_2599 Sage Romasar Parvatharajan worshipping Shivalinga

  • Lord Dakshinamurthi in the goshta wall has a mesmerizing smile. A hole in this moorthy’s ear that extends to the next ear is a wonderful sculpting. The 3 tier vimana tower above Him depicts Lord Dakshinamurthi in 3 forms. One of them is the Yoga Dakshinamoorthy seated on a bull under a banyan tree with a flute and veena.

In the koshtam - Dakshinamoorthy In the koshtam - Dakshinamoorthy (3) In the koshtam - Dakshinamoorthy (2)

  • There are moorthies of Lord Ranganathar, Ardha nareeswarar with Nandhi, Agasthiyar, Pabakareswarar, Umamaheswarar, Meenakshi and Maha Lakshmi,
  • Lord Vishnu graces with a Shivalinga in His hand with Sri Andal, Garudazhwar and Sri Anjaneya.

Anjaneyar In the koshtam - Mahavishnnu Garudan

  • Lord Brahmma is seen worshipping Lord Shiva with both Yama, the Lord of Death and his assistant Chitra Gupta on either side.

In the koshtam - Brahmma In the koshtam - Kanni Vinayagar IMG_2605

  • Sage Pathanjali is holding Lord Nataraja on his head showing his overwhelming joy of enjoying the dance darshan of the Lord.
  • In the Ambal shrine, Sri Chakra yanthra given by Sri Kanchi MahaPeriyava has been installed
  • Mother Durga in the goshtam is very beautiful with her Simha Vahana on the buffalo head holding Chanku and Chakra, i.e., as Mahishsura marthini, Simha vahini and Vishnu Durga.

In the koshtam - Combination of VishnuDurga, Simha Vahini and Mahishasuramarthini

Dasabhuja Rishaba Thandava moorthy:

The invaluable treasure of this temple is a bronze procession deity called Dasa Bhuja Rishaba Thandavamoorthy which will be taken out once a fortnight only during the Pradhosha days between 4:30 and 6 PM. Due to security reasons, the deity will not be available for dharshan beyond this timing.
It is said that the deity belongs to the Pala dynasty of Bengal and was brought by the victorious King Rajendra Chola I after the Bengal war but it is also said that it is the personally worshipped deity of Srikanda Sivan from Bengal, the Rajaguru of Klothunga Chola I, who supervised the construction of this temple. He left the moorthy here when he returned back to Bengal after the completion of the temple construction.
The moorthy is small in size and depicts Lord Shiva dancing on His bull vehicle with all ten arms spread and holding weapons. In the peeta-stage below are Mother Parvathi, Lord Vishnu, Bhairava, Veerabadra, Lord Vinayaka, Maharishis Narada, Brungi and Mruganda, Nandhi Deva, Gandharvas – a group in the celestial world known for musical skills and Boodhaganas.

Dasabuja Rishaba Thandavamoorthy

The Temple:

  • The temple is east facing with a three tiered rajagopuram. The nandhi and balipeetam are found in the front mandapam. The main shrine is east facing and the ambal shrine is south facing.
  • The sanctum sanctorum is in the form of a chariot driven by horses with the left wheel stuck into the earth as Lord Vinayaka pressed it.
  • The prime deity Amirtaketeswar is in the form of Shiva Lingam in the square shaped sanctum. The moorthy is believed to be carved out of Navapashana (solidified compound of nine poisonous substances as per Siddha procedure). The entrance to the sanctum sanctorum, Gubera entrance, is protected by Sanganidhi and Pathumanidhi.
  • It is believed that all the nine planets pray to Lord Shiva in this temple on their respective days.  Accordingly, Lord Shiva is dressed with clothes of different colours attributed to the planets.  The shrine is regarded as one meant to seek relief from various planetary problems faced by devotees.
  • Mother Vidhyu Jyothi Nayaki (Vidya-Saraswathi, Jyothi-Mahalakshmi, Nayaki-Durga) combining the powers of three Shaktis graces as Saraswathi with Veena in the morning, as Mahalakshmi with elephant in midday and as Durga with trident in the evenings.
  • Vinayagar:
    Like the Ganapathy brought from Vathapi by Narasimha Varma Pallavan (Siruthondar) after the war with the Chalukys, whch is now kept in the Thiruchenkattankudi temple, King Rajendra Cholan I also brought a Vinayagar after the war with the Ganga dynasty which is now kept in this temple in the SouthWest corner in the name of Aaravara Vinayaka. This Vinayaka is now linked to the legend event of creating great noise by pressing the chariot and taking the nectar pot (Amirta Kalasa).
  • Place for planet Mars:
    Before waging war against demon Surapadma, Lord Muruga did penance here and got the bow from His mother.  Hence, the urchava Murugar here is seen with a bow in the name வில்லேந்திய வேலவர் along with his consorts Valli and Deivanai.  Planet Mars worshipped Lord Muruga here. Mars is a procession deity here.
  • It is said that Sani Baghwan had eagle as his vahan initially and King Dasaratha, father of Sri Rama, gave him the crow vehicle later. Hence the Sani Bhagwan in this temple with the eagle vehicle is considered belongs to the period prior to Ramayana days. Special poojas are performed to him on Saturdays in the tamil month of Purattasi (September-October).
  • Lord Kunjithapada Nataraja graces with Mother Sivakami in a leaning position.
  • Sundarar, Sambandhar and Thirunavukkarasar sung Thevara hymns
  • Saint Tirunavikkarasar’s popular hymn reminding the Adiyars’ only duty is to dedicate themselves to the service of Lord by saying “என் கடன் பணி செய்து கிடப்பதே” (My job is only to serve my Lord) as well as commanding the Lord that His duty is to protect us (Adiyars) only, was sung in this temple.
    The full hymn with the meaning is here
  • Manikka vasagar and Vallalar Ramalinga Swamigal worshipped here.
  • Sri Pamban Swamigal and Vannachrabam Dhandabani Swamigal lived and sung hymns of this Lord here.
  • Arunagirinathar sung Thirupuggazh on this Lord Murugar

Sun and Moon Worship:
The rays of Sun fall on the Lord on 3rd, 4th and 5th day of Panguni-March-April during morning for about 15 minutes. It is said that the rays of moon also falls on the Lord from the front entrance during Purattasi / Aippasi but can not be confirmed.  Even if it falls, it is said to be very feeble

Sthala Vruksham: Kadambu. This village is named as Kadambur because of the Kadambu tree
Theertham: Siva theertham on the northern side and Sakthi theertham on the western side
Timing: 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM and 5 to 8 PM (3 times pooja)
Contact: Vijay (Trustee): 98426 76797,
Gurukkal +91- 4144 – 264 638

IMG_2643 IMG_2635 IMG_2636 IMG_2637 IMG_2638 IMG_2640


Festivals are being celebrated every month in a grand scale.

  • Chithirai—Tamil varuda pirappu, Nataraja abishegam Thirunavukarasar guru pooja
    Vaikasi – Visaga uthsavam for Murugan, Thirugnanasambandar guru pooja
  • Aani – Aani Thirumanjanam, Manickavasaga guru pooja
  • Aadi – Amman Abishegam in pooram, Sundarar guru pooja
  • Avani – Vinayagar Chathurthi
  • Purattasi – Navaraththiri
  • Aippasi – Kandhasashti, Thirukkalyanam
  • Karthigai – 108 sangabishegam in somavaram
  • Margazhi – Thirupalliyezhuchi in early morning
  • Thai – Pongal pooja, Magarasangranthi
  • Maasi – Mahasivarathri
  • Panguni—Soorya pooja on 3rd, 4th and 5th day of the month at early sunrise

Our Trip:

This temple was part of our 3 days temples trip in and around Chidambaram. We wanted to have the dharshan of Dasabhuja Rishaba Thandava moorthy which is available only on the Pradhosha days and so planned our trip accordingly along with the visits to the nearby Thevara paadal petra sthalams – Omampuliyur and Kanaattampuliyur. Since the other two are far off places, we first went to Kanaattampuliyur early enough, before the temple opens at 4 PM. We had the dharshan and witnessed the pradhosha pooja arrangements. We then came to Omampuliyur and had the pradhosha dharshan there. We finally arrived at Mela Kadambur by around 6:30 PM. As we entered the Maha mandapam, the archagar was coming towards us carrying the Rishaba Thandava moorthy in both his hands. I thought they were going to keep the moorthy somewhere for the worship but only later I realized it was being carried inside to the locker! A one-two minutes delay would have meant that we missed the dharshan and got disappointed. In the same way, the archagar called us inside to have the dharshan of Lord Amirthagadeswarar in silver covering. There also, the silver covering of the Lord was about to be removed and taken to the locker. Since the location is very remote, due to security reasons, the temple authorities are very strict in their timings and so make sure you be there before 5 PM, when you plan a visit. We were elated with the grace and kindness of the Lord for having brought us here “just in time”.

We also met Sri.Kadambur Vijay, the trustee of the temple, who was kind enough to take us around the temple and explain each and every minute sculptures in the goshta walls, in spite of his busy responsibility with the temple and locker closure procedures.


Links: Weblink Photo Album1 (Raju) Photo Album2


  1. ஐயா தங்களின் இறை பணி மென் மேலும் தொடர்ந்து எங்களுக்கு இதை போல் பலன் தர வேண்டும் என்று எல்லாம் வல்ல இறைவனை வேண்டிக் கொள்கிறேன்

  2. Namaskarams,
    We were in the nearby villages. But we were not aware of this temple. Now I decided to make it a point to visit this temple on a pradosham day. Thank you for the details.


  3. As ever “Arpudham” Sir.
    Would like to add a word. However modern they may be, people are basically religious. But of late people hesitate to visit temples because of the untoward attitude of the priests, untidiness etc. I only wish the temples have priests who are dedicated, sincere, unbiased and create an aura of devotion. Also take the responsibility of performing the necessary puja kainkaryams religiously with honesty.Most temples today are used by the temple priests as their corporate office. There are no daily abhishekams or regular pujas. If only they correct all these matters, there will be absolutely no looking back regarding the renovation. Bakthadhis are very generous.

    • I fully agree with Madam’s comments. Here in Malaysia, you leave 1 ringgit on the priest’s tray, he doesn’t even look at you. You put 50 ringgit, he does a 10 minute puja for you. 100 ringgit, he will fall on your feet. Such is life now. Money is everything. Things are not going to change. But we consider the priest as secondary. Our devotion towards God can be expressed directly irrespective of the attitude of the priest or temple committees. In India, the ancient temples are the heritage not only of Hindus there, but also all Hindus worldwide. We are depending on you to maintain this heritage. It is so sad to see beautiful and ancient temples being abandoned and falling into disrepair. To those who read this, please continue to do your good work. God will bless you and your future generations.

  4. Thank you for sending above.keep sending more.i would like to contribute for genuine temple renovation work but I dont want to contribute for any new temple construction only old temple renovation.

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