Vashishteswarar Temple, Thittai

Thittai is located at a distance of about 10 kilometres from Tanjavur on the Tanjavur-Melattur-Kumbakonam route. The Vashishteswarar Temple or Thittai Guru Temple is one of the 276 Devara Paadal Petra Shiva Sthalams and 15th Shiva Sthalam located on the Southern Bank of River Cauvery in Thenkarai. The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva as Sri Vashishteswarar.

Lord Shiva is Swayambumurthi (self-manifested form) in this temple. The temple is also famous as Guru (Jupiter) Parihara Sthalam (a place for absolution of one’s sins through Guru Pooja).

Historical Significance of the Temple

The temple is believed to have been built by the Chola King Kulothunganin in the 12th century AD. Later in the year 1922, the entire temple was reconstructed using granite by Sri Ramaswamy Chettiar of Chettinadu Nagarathar family.

There are many legends associated with this temple. It is believed that, when the whole universe was submerged at the time of great deluge (pralayam), this place stood atop resembling a sand dune(Thittai in Tamil) and hence the name Thenkudi Thittai. Another legend associated with the temple is that this is the place Guru (teacher of the Devas) appeared and forgave Lord Indra when he had disrespected him.

There is also a story that Sage Vashishtar had his hermitage here and performed penance after placing a lingam. And hence Lord Shiva is revered as Sri Vashishteswarar.

Deities in the Temple

The main deity (Moolavar) is Lord Shiva as Sri Vashishteswarar and Goddess (Thayaar) is Parvathy as Loganayaki. Other deities found in the temple are Sidhi Vinayagar, Murugan with his four consorts, four Shiva Lingams placed at four corners, Gajalakshmi, Mahalingam with Ambal, Navagraham and Bairavar.

The precincts of the temple houses shrines of Narthana Ganapathi, Dakshinamurthy, Lingothbavar, Brahma and Goddess Durga. A separate shrine and Vimanam (tower) for Guru Bhagavan is also found.

Unique Features of Vashishteswarar Temple

  • This temple has the uniqueness of Guru Bhagavan in standing posture with four hands.
  • Another prominent feature of the temple is that a drop of water falls on the main deity from the roof, every 24 minutes (1 Nazhigai in Tamil). It is stated that there is no source of water on the temple tower, however the two precious stones by name ‘Suryakaanthakkal’ and ‘Chandrakaanthakkal’ placed at strategic points above the tower that absorbs moisture from atmosphere and converts it into droplets is the reason for this wondrous phenomenon.
  • The ceiling in the hall that is in front of Goddess Loganayaki’s shrine has stone carvings of 12 zodiac signs. Apart from being an architectural wonder, there is a belief that one’s desires are fulfilled by praying to the Goddess by standing under one’s zodiac sign.
  • The pillars of the temple shows artistically carved granite sculptures including those of the Nalvars, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathy seated on a bull mount, Lord Murugan and Lord Vinayagar.
  • The four lingams installed at the four corners of the temple gives it the name ‘Pancha Linga Kshetram’
  • The glory of the temple has been sung by Saint Tirugnana Sambandar in his hymns.
  • Lord Suryan (Sun God) is believed to offer his prayers to Lord Shiva by directing his rays on the Lingam twice in a year – 15th,16th & 17th of the Tamil month of Avani (August-September) and on 25th,26th &27th of the Tamil month Panguni (March-April).
  • The temple has the significance of being fully constructed using granite.
  • The temple pond Chakra Theertham is at the entrance of the temple.

Temple Timings of Vashishteswarar Temple

Morning 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM and Evening 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Festivals observed in the Temple

  • Chitra Pournami – in the Tamil month of Chithirai (April-May)
  • Vinayakar Chaturthi – in the Tamil month of Aavani (August-September)
  • Annabishekam – in the Tamil month of Aippasi (October–November)
  • Thiru Karthikai – in the Tamil month of Karthikai (November-December)
  • Thiruvadhirai – in the Tamil month of Markazhi (December-January)
  • Maha Shivrathri – in the Tamil month of Masi (Febuary-March)
  • The annual Brahmotsavam and the festival commemorating Vasishtar’s marriage with Arundhathi – in the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May-June).
  • Guru transition day
  • Surya Pooja is performed when sun rays fall on the main deity.
  • Pradosham once every fortnight.

How to reach Thittai Vashishteswarar Temple

Regular buses ply from Kumbakonam (around 33 kilometres away) and Tanjavur (around 10 kilometres away). Tanjavur is the nearest railway station and Trichy International Airport (72 kilometres away) is the nearest airport.