before we proceed to the sthalapuranam of this ancient temple, a few words about the man who passionately travels and meticulously collects details about these dilapidated hearts of the dharma.. aniruddh. he has far more details and data than any such work in this genre and disseminates the treasure for us in a website he runs. it is tntemplesproject.in. he also kindly allowed me to copy and use his work here. thank you aniruddh.
raappatteechcharam , is a thevara vaippu sthalam and finds mention in one of the tiruthandagams of appar, where the saint sings about peruvelur (the nearby abhimukteeswarar temple at manakkal ayyampet). the pathigam states this as the place siva spent a night at, on his way to tiruvarur!
adiseshan, upon whom vishnu rests, worshipped at this temple, thereby giving the moolavar his name here. this story is represented by the image of a serpent on the baanam of the lingam. for this reason, this temple is considered a sarpa dosham nivritti sthalam.
kamadhenu is said to have taken a bath in the temple tank, and then worshipped siva here, as a result of which she was bestowed with patti – the first of her four children, and after whom patteeswaram is named. for this reason, bathing in the waters of this temple’s pond is said to bless devotees seeking to have children.
while today the place is called manakkal ayyampet, the historical name here is raa patteeswaram. the “raa” comes from the raktri sukta of the rig veda, while patteeswaram comes from the puranam of kamadhenu and patti, as above.
once, a lady who visited this temple with her children, absentmindedly left her youngest child in the temple, and left. the temple was locked and she could not get her child back for a few days. when she finally managed to get back here, the child was healthy and happy, and said that a lady had come and fed him milk. it is believed that it was amman herself who fed the child.
amman’s name here is unique, and derives from one of the many stories on the siva-parvati wedding, parvati undertook penance at peruvelur, in order to be reunited with siva. they eventually married at karaiveeram. after the wedding, parvati stayed in the andhapuram (ladies’ chamber) at raa patteechuram, before proceeding to kailasam the following morning, and hence she is enshrined there separately as andhapura nayaki.
dakshinamurti here is regarded as special, as he is said to have imparted wisdom to saraswati and knowledge to lakshmi, at this place. this is the reason for lakshmi and saraswati being present on the left and right of the outer western wall of the maha-mandapam; and also why saraswati is depicted without her veena.
bhairavar, who is depicted as a 5-foot tall murti, is considered very powerful here. he is offered curd rice and vada, on a banana leaf, on the 8th day of the waning phase of the moon (தேய்பிறை அஷ்டமி).
this west-facing chola temple dates back to the 12th century, although it is currently maintained by the nagarathar community. for a late-medieval chola temple, the absence of any kostha shrines is striking. instead, vinayakar, murugan, dakshinamurti, bhairavar, etc are inside the maha-mandapam, which suggests that these may be later additions.
the temple has some unusual and unique architecture and iconography as well. for instance, dakshinamurti is represented as ardhanareeswarar, sporting a somewhat feminine posture and also depicted with bangles on his wrist, anklets, and toe-rings (metti). also, as stated earlier, the dakshinamurti shrine is located inside the maha-mandapam – between the moolavar and amman shrines – and not on the southern koshtam. interestingly, the nandi in front of the moolavar, has his face turned 90 degrees, to face dakshinamurti instead of seshapureeswarar! this is absolutely unique.
there are several damaged murtis lying scattered around the temple premises, which itself requires significant clean-up effort – at present, it is not even possible for most people to walk around the outer prakaram.
other information for your visit
interestingly, a vaishnava bhattar performs the daily puja at this temple.
on a 4km stretch of road between kumbakonam and tiruvarur where this temple is located, there are several large and small temples. of these, 7 important temples (primarily paadal petra sthalams, divya desams or vaippu sthalams) are:
- bhaktavatsala perumal, tirukannamangai, tiruvarur
- dharmapureeswarar, vadakandam, tiruvarur
- brahmapureeswarar, karaveeram, tiruvarur
- agasteeswarar, manakkal ayyampet, tiruvarur
- seshapureeswarar, raa patteeswaram, tiruvarur
- vaikunta narayana perumal, deepapuram, tiruvarur
- abhimukteeswarar, manakkal ayyampet, tiruvarur
babu bhattar: 9025846904
the temple’s caretaker lives next door, and opens the temple for visitors when the temple is otherwise closed.