Temples in Tiruchirapalli
Tiruchirapalli popularly known as Tiruchirapalli or Tiruchirapalli is about 320 km south of Chennai. Tiruchirapalli has both a historical and mythological background to it. It was once the capital city of one of the Chola kings. In the heart of the city stands a rock on top of which is a Vinayakar temple. The deity is called ‘Uchchi Pillaiyar’ because of the higher elevation of the shrine. At the base of the rock is another temple dedicated to Lord Shiva called Thayumanavar temple.
Tiruchirapalli is the second most important commercial town in Tamilnadu and is easily accessible by road, rail and air.
The Steps to the Temple
Once there was a dispute between Adishesha, the serpent that serves both as a canopy and the couch of Sri Mahavishnu, and Vayu, the god of wind. They agreed to a contest to decide who was the stronger of the two. Adishesha would coil round Mount Meru and Vayu would try to dislodge the mount from the grip of Adishesha. The challenge was taken up and Vayu threw himself with all his might and tried to dislodge the mountain while it was held firmly in the coils of Adishesha. The contest became very intense and the whole world suffered from a deluge of rain and battering storm. During this combat a chip of the mountain had dislodged and fell on the earth. However, Vayu could not loosen Adishesha’s grip and conceded defeat. The chip of Mount Meru that fell on the earth is believed to be the rock now called Rock Fort in Tiruchirapalli .
There is also another legend associated with the deity at Rock Fort. Vibishana of the epic Ramayana was returning to his country Sri Lanka, carrying the ‘Ranga Vimanam’ presented to him by Sri Rama. He stopped near the river Kaveri for his daily religious rites. There he handed over the ‘Ranga vimanam’ to a boy standing near by with strict instructions that the vimanam should not be put on the ground. When Vibishana returned after his ablutions in the river he found that the boy had placed the vimanam on the ground. He became angry and tried to lift it on to his arms. The vimanam got stuck where it was placed and would not budge. Vibishana became so angry that he slapped the boy on his face and chased him to give him more blows. The boy ran away to the top of the rock and stood transformed into Vinayaka. Thus a shrine was built where he stood transformed. Devotees believe that the depression on the deity’s face was the result of Vibushana´s slap.
On the way to the Vinayagar temple, there is a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva cut into the rock. The deity is called Thayumanavar
Once upon a time a woman devoted to Lord Shiva was living on the other side of the river Kaveri. She visited the temple daily even during her pregnancy. One day she could not return home as the river was in spate. While she waited for the waters to subside she developed labour pains. She had no one to look after her as all her relatives were on the other side of the river. Then suddenly her mother arrived at the scene and attended to her as a midwife. When the child was safely delivered her mother disappeared. That was when she realised that it was the Lord, to whom she was devoted who had come in the disguise of her mother and had helped her in her hour of need. From that time the Lord in this temple came to be known as Thayumanavar. (One who became a mother).
The eastern part of the rock looks like a bull with its head raised. The temple appears on its hump and the bell house on its crest. Because of this the temple is also called ‘Richabachalam’.