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Also known as Darbaraneswarar Temple (Lord Shiva is known as Dharbaranyeshwarar here), it is one of the most famous Lord Shani Temples though he is not the presiding deity there. It enshrines Lord Shiva as the main deity. Lord Shiva is known as Darbaranyeswarar here and Goddess Parvati Devi as Pranamambika. She is worshipped in a separate shrine near the one dedicated to Saniswara.
Tirunallar Shani temple is associated to many myths. This is the only temple in the world where Lord Shani lost his power to Lord Shiva in order to save his devotee Nala from Saturn’s curses. According to a legend, King Nala was badly affected with numerous problems. Narada said that this was the result of Lord Sanisvara's displeasure and advised Nala to go on pilgrimage. When he came to Tirunallar, he took a holy dip at the temple tank Nala Theertham and the influence of Lord Sanisvara left him and he was cured. After this incident, he made great gifts to the temple, building structure and instituting fesitvals.
This belief is carried over even today and thousands of people visit this temple to get rid of their troubles inflicted by Saturn.
Tirunallar is one of the 7 Saptavitanka stalams of Tyagaraja connected with the Mucukunda Chola legend. The place was originally called as Darbaranyam or the place in a forest of Kusa grass (Darbam).
The temple which stands on the south bank of the Kaveri, is quite a large one. In its vicinity there are many other celebrated temples too, the Mariamman, the Pidariar, the Ayyanar. Also, there are many well known tanks, some of Puranic Celebrity.
Thirunallar temple has a five-tiered Rajagopuram and faces east. Around the compound wall are trenches, which have been silted now. The inner gopuram is known as ‘Kattai Gopuram’ and it is near the shrine of Saniswara. Inside the shrine, he faces east with `Abhaya Varada Hastham' and is considered the 'Anugraha Murthi' (one who bestows good things). His idol is placed in between the presiding deities.
Thousands of devotees from all over the country thronged the Dharbaneeswarar Temple to worship Lord Saneswarar on the occasion of 'Sani Peyarchi'. Sanipeyerchi, the transit of Saturn from the Zodiac of Leo to Virgo, is celebrated once in two and a half years. On this day, Saneeswarar’s deity is taken in a procession around the town. Devotees after having a dip at the Nalatheertha had darshan of the presiding deity during Mahadeeparadhana at the time of the transit.
There are shrines to Sundarar and to Lord Thyagaraja among many others. Thyagarajar shrine is found at the southern entrance. Inside of the temple, there are paintings as well as portraits of royal patrons.
Aapart from 'Sanipeyarchi', the temple hosts a number of festivals throughout the year. Among them, the main festival, is held for 18 days in the Tamil month of Vaikasi. Navaratri, Kartikai Deepam and Panguni Uthiram are celebrated here with much devotion.