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Arulmigu jambukeswarar Akhilandeswari Temple, Tiruvanaikka,Jambukeswarar Temple island is also known as a centre for religious philosophy and learning. The great Vaishnava acharya Ramanuja taught and wrote in the Srirangam School during the 11th century. It is considered as the capital of vaishnavas.
Jambukeswarar Temple is situated about 2.5 km east of the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple on the bank of the River Kaveri. Built by Kocengannan (Kochenga Chola), one of the Early Cholas, around 1,800 years ago it enshrines one of the five Lingas (Panchabhoota Sthalams) connected with the elements. This temple represents the element of water, or neer in Tamil. There is water around the Linga in sanctum always and because of this, the Linga is called the 'Appu Linga'.
It is also one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where all of the four most revered Nayanars (Saivite Saints) have sung glories of the deity in this temple. The temple has inscriptions from the Chola period.
The legends behind this temple is that, once Parvati mocked Shiva’s penance for betterment of the world. Shiva wanted to condemn her act and directed her to go to the earth from Kailasam (Shiva's abode) to do penance. Devi Parvathi in Her Incarnation as Devi Akilandeswari as per Shiva's wish found Jambu forest (Thiruvanaikoil) near a tank called Chandrairtha to conduct her penance. She made a lingam out of water of river Kaveri. Lord Shiva appeared as a Linga under one of the trees. The Linga came to be called Jambulinga.
There were two servants 'Malyavan' and 'Pushpadanta' born hers as spider and as a white elephant. They always quarrel with each other and fight for one thing or other. The elephant and the spider came to Jambukeswaram and continued their Siva worship. The elephant collected water from river Cauvery and conducted ablution to the lingam under the Jambu tree (Eugenia jambolana) daily. The spider constructed his web over the lingam to prevent dry leaves from dropping on it and prevent sunlight directly falling on it. When the elephant saw the web and thought it was dust on lingam. The elephant tore them and cleaned the lingam by pouring water and the practice continued daily. One day the spider got into the elephant trunk and bit it. The elephant fell dead. So did the spider. Siva, in the form of Jambukeswara, granted salvation to both. As an elephant worshipped Siva here, this place came to be known as Thiru Aanai Kaa (thiru means holy, aanai is elephant, kaa (kaadu) means forest).Later the name 'Thiruaanaikaa' become 'Thiruvanaikaval' and 'Thiruvanaikoil'.
By the 10th century, the temple had been built of stone. According to inscriptions, the temple renovated by the early Chola kings. About 156 Inscriptions have been found at this temple. Inscriptions of King Madurai konda Parakesari varman paranthaka cholan is the oldest among them. Informations about renovations and wealth of this temple are found in these inscriptions.
Additions were made to the temple by successive dynasties.
This temple is endowed with 5 praharams. It contains a number of shrines and mandapas. The 5th praharam, is known as ‘Thiruneettan thirumathil’. It is believed that, it is here lord Siva blessed a spider and elephant to attain moksha.
It has an interior with a large central court, an excellent example of the Dravidian architecture of A D 1600. The rampant dragons, elaborate foliated brackets and royal Nayak portraits are incorporated to its courtyards pillars.
Monolithic stone pillars (made from single stone) are found in the mandapam, situated at the entrance of Aariyavittan tower in 3rd Praharam. Stone chains and 12 zodiac signs are beautifully carved on these pillars. Pillars found in 1000 pillar hall and in various parts of temple have artistic sculptural works.
Car festival and Panchaprakara festival are important festivals held here. Other main festivals are Vaikasi - Vasantha Urchavam (10 days), Aadi - Aadipuram festival (10 days), Purattasi - Navarathiri festival (10 days), Thai - Thai Poosam and Panguni - Brahmotchavam (40 days).