tiruvanduthurai is located about 10 km from mannargudi. on the road from mannarkudi to tiruthuraipoondi, maravaraayanalloor comes first. from there one should take a road that goes left which reads thirukkollikkaadu sani sthalam. vanduthurai is the first village on the road.
surely we have read the legend of ardhanariswarar, but this temple, its legend and its sculptures bring that story to life. tiruvanduthurai can be a starting point to visit various temples – specifically paadal petra sthalams – on the mannargudi-tiruthuraipoondi-nagapattinam route.
sage bringhi was an ardent devotee of lord siva and worshipped siva to the exception of all other gods, which upset parvati. livid, she drained all the blood and removed the flesh (considered the feminime aspect of the human body) from his body leaving bringhi reduced to just bones. even so, bringhi refused to acknowledge her, and continued to worship only lord siva. seeing this, parvati prayed to lord siva and became a half of him, effectively creating ardhanariswarar (half-parvati, half-siva). it still did not dawn upon bringhi that the lord and the mother are inseparable. so he took the form of a bee and tried to do pradakshinam only to siva, by boring a hole through the middle. this infuriated the goddess so much that she cursed the sage to remain a bee forever. realizing his folly the sage pleaded for mercy, and the kind mother parvati blessed him, advising him that she and the lord were inseparable. she also advised him to pray to both of them to obtain salvation. since bringhi stayed inside as a bee, the lord is named vandurainathar or vanduthurainathar (vandu = bee / insect).
various kings including harischandra and thyagachozhan (son of muchukunda chakravarti) are said to have prayed here.
nangai, a female sage, saw the particles of dust here as lingams, and prayed looking in the northern direction. due to this, nandi at this temple is faces north.
it is said that even today by keeping his ears in the gomukham in sanctum, one can hear the humming of the bee.
on the western koshta, in place of lingodhbhavar, there is an absolutely amazing and intricately carved stone idol, of ardhanariswarar on rishabha vahanam. similarly, the bhikshatanar on the northern koshtam is simply stunning.
the temple priest lives in the house adjacent to the western entrance to the temple, and can be reached easily if the temple is otherwise closed. he was extremely kind to open the temple when we visited it, even though it was out of normal temple timings.
a fantastic blog site maintained by aniruddh shankaran provided the base for this article. his site is at www.tntemplesproject.in