This is a temple that I want to visit very often, but so far have had the opportunity to visit just the once. Nallur is a Sivan temple near Kumbakonam. When I was young, I was not aware of the existence of this temple. In 1974, an astrologer reminded my Pattu Paati of this temple and a yearly pooja our family was supposed to perform to the Kaali here.
My father gathered information about the temple and the yearly rituals to be performed. I had the chance of visiting this temple only in the year 1989 with my father for that year’s mandakapadi (மண்டகபடி) which is usually on the third Monday of the Tamil Karthigai month. It was raining heavily when we reached Kumbakonam. We had a bath in the Cauvery River and proceeded to the temple. When I saw the Shiva lingam, I fell in love with the Lord! Appa had earlier told me how the colour changes every 2 ½ hours but his description had not prepared me for what I saw with my own eyes!
The Goddess at the temple is Girisundari Ambal and I prayed to her for a good career. I had just finished my graduation that year and had been wondering about what to do. The Goddess blessed me with a good job.
This temple is a Maada Kovil. Kochengan Chola built many such Shiva temples. In a Maada Kovil one has to climb 10-15 steps to reach the sanctum. It is said that he built such temples to ensure the elephants do not reach the sanctum.
Lord Shiva is called Kalyanasundareswarar here. When Shiva married Parvathi, the whole world went to Himalayas to witness the wedding. With the result, North was pulled down by the weight and South went up. To level this, Shiva sent Sage Agastya down south, assuring him that he will be able to see the wedding (கல்யாண காட்சி) in Nallur. Behind the Lingam, one can see huge structures of Shiva and Parvathi in Kalyana kolam.
Another name of this Lord is Panchavarneswarar – meaning Lord of five colours. Nobody knows out of what material the Lingam is made, but the Lingam changes colour every nazhigai (2 ½ hours). I had the chance of seeing the colour change from a reddish shade to a golden colour. கண் கொள்ளா காட்சி! The Lingam also has hole-like marks (வண்டு குடைந்த லிங்கம்). The story behind this is once Bhrigu Maharishi said that he will pray only to the Lord and not Goddess Parvathi. When Parvathi said that it is not possible as they were Ardhanareeswara, Bhrigu Maharishi took the form of a vandu (bee) and went through the Lingam to pray only to the Lord.
This is the only Shiva temple were Shadaari (சடாரி) is offered. Usually Shadaari is part of Vishnu temples. It is said that Appar (திருநாவுக்கரசர்) had Lord Shiva’s Paadha darisanam here and that is why devotees are offered Shadaari on the premises.
It is said that when Kunti was in this region, she was advised to have a bath each in the seven seas to cleanse the sin of having had a child before marriage (Karnan). As she wondered how to manage this humungous task, all the seven seas came into the temple Pushkarani (pond). The Pushkarani here is called Sapta Saagaram. The conch (சங்கு) that is kept at the Lord’s feet came out of this Pushkarani. It is said that bathing in this Pushkarani cures all diseases.
Girisundari Ambal is a small but very beautiful Goddess. As I have mentioned earlier, my career took off only due to her blessings!
The Kaali here is very powerful and to this day in my parents’ house for any wish to be fulfilled, we pray to this Kaali and put some coins in a knot and keep it. Once the wish is fulfilled, the knot is opened and the coins are offered to the Goddess.
Every year my father makes it a point to collect money from all his cousins and their children’s families for the yearly mandakapadi and ensures the money reaches on time. He also goes to the temple for this occasion whenever he can.
So far I had the chance of going to this temple only once. I strongly believe that you can visit any temple only if the God is ready to give you darshan. Within a year, I tried visiting this temple twice, once was during the last year’s ritual when the trip was cancelled due to heavy rains and now during the recent trip to Kumbakonam, we decided to go to the temple, but in the last minute we were informed that it is too out of the way from the other temples and difficult to cover. Hope Girisundari grants me a darshan soon!