Vaitheeswaran temple known in Hindu scriptures as ‘Pullirukkuvelur’ (Pul – Irukku – Vel – Ur, the words in Tamil meaning Bird (Jatayu), Rig-veda, Lord Murugan and Sun respectively) is one of the important Shiva temples in the South. People with various illnesses come here to get cured and hence the popular name Vaitheeswaran – the one who cures of illnesses.
The station of the same name is about 1 km from the temple, on the Madras – Mayavaram route. There are good public transports from the surrounding towns such as Chidambaram, Mayawaram, Kumbakonam, etc.
The temple is situated in the middle of the town and is enclosed by a tall wall. There are two large entrance towers on the east and west side of the temple compound and a smaller tower on the north and an entrance with no tower on the south. The outer perimeter wall encloses two large corridors within which there are corridors surrounding the separate shrines to the Lord and the Goddess. The Lord is known as Vaithianathaswamy who is facing west while the Goddess is called Thaiyalnayaki and is facing south. There are other minor deities along the corridors. Lord Kumarakuruparar is enshrined on the inner side of the western corridor and the shrine to Lord Muththukumaraswamy is in the northern corridor with a small tower adorning the shrine. On the eastern outer corridor is the ‘neem’ tree that is the ‘sthala vriksha’ of this temple. On the southern side opposite the sanctum of the Goddess is the ‘theertham’ known as ‘Siththamirtha theertham’. There are also other minor deities enshrined on the southern corridor. ‘Jatayu kundam’ where Jatayu is believed to have been cremated by Sri Rama is also situated on this corridor. The sacred ash –(Viboothi) available in the ‘Jatayu kundam’ is supposed to have miraculous power to cure illnesses.
There are many legends associated with this temple. It is said that Lord Murugan received his ‘Vel’ in order to vanquish the demon king Soorapathman in this place. It is also believed that Lord Shiva himself appeared at this place with Goddess Thaiyalnayaki carrying the ‘Sanjeevi thailam’ (panacea for all ills) and the soil from the roots of the ‘vilva’ tree in order to cure all illnesses of mankind.
A king by the name of Veerasena was a devotee of Lord Shiva and he found that his son Chithrasena was suffering from an incurable illness. So he took the advice of his Guru and arrived at this place, and after offering ‘pooja’ to the deity smeared his body and that of his son Chitrasena with the sacred ash ‘viboodhi’ found in the ‘Jatayu kundam’ whereupon he found that his son was cured of his illness.
The tank in front of the temple of Goddess Thaiyalnayaki is a very holy ‘theertham’. It is said that this water cured the white leprosy of a devotee called Suntharan and red leprosy of Ankaragan, and when this ‘theertham’ was sprinkled on the severed head and body of Thakkan, the two pieces miraculously joined together and he was brought back to life.
Festivals and Opening Hours
There are six daily worships and the temple is closed in the afternoon between12 noon and 5pm. There are festivals throughout the year. There are special pooja every month during ‘karthikai’ with the main festival falling on the month of ‘Thai’ (Jan/Feb) to Sri Selvamuththukumarar. There are special ‘pooja’ for Ankaragan on Tuesdays and he is taken in procession. On these days large numbers of devotees bathe in the water of the Siththamirtha theertham and offer their prayers to the deities in order to receive divine blessing.
On entering the temple by the western tower you can see two pillars (Thwajasthambam), one made of gold and the other of silver. This is an unique feature in this temple. There are about 18 ‘theerthams’ scattered in and around this temple of which some are more sacred than others depending on their association with incidents in ‘puranic’ legends.
Another feature of this temple is that there are no frogs or snake living in ‘Siththamirtha theertham’. The legend is that a sage by the name of Sathananthar was praying on the banks of the theertham. A frog chased by a snake jumped on him. Angered by this disruption he pronounced that there should be no frogs or snakes in this theertham and accordingly there are no frogs or snakes in this tank of water.