The Mallikarjuneswara temple in Dharmapuri district stands out for its architecture.
NO RAJAGOPURAM: The entrance to the Mallikarjuneswara temple.
Dharmapuri, on the Salem-Bangalore route, was known as Thagadur in the Sangam Age. Situated in an area called, `Fort,' is the temple for Lord Mallikarjuneswara, popularly known as Eswaran Koil or Kamakshi Koil.
According to chief priest Sivachariar Selva Muthukumaraswami, the Lingam of Mallikarjuna at this temple is equated with the presiding deity of Sri Sailam in Andhra Pradesh and is hailed as Banalinga.
The shrine is considered one among the 1,008 ancient Siva temples. Arjuna worshipped the deity by offering jasmine flowers. Hence the God came to be known as Mallikarjuna. Dharma (Yudhishtira), the eldest of the Pandavas took to austerities here and hence the place came to be called `Dharmapuri.' It was here that Indrajit, son of Ravana, performed a sacrifice to get boons from Goddess Nikumbalai.
This is also the only temple where Prathyankira and Sulini, consorts of Sarabha, are worshipped.
PHOTO: N. BHASKARAN
HANGING PILLAR: A paper can pass through the gap.
History has it that Dharmapuri was the place where Adiyaman gifted to the Tamil poetess Avvayar, the boon of immortality, by giving her `Nellikani' (amla fruit).
Saint Puri Siddha appealed to Kulothunga Chola to renovate the shrine which was then known as Thiruvaliswaram, and accordingly, the king renovated the temple which came to be called `Chanayiram Muzhamayiram'.
The inscriptions speak of the renovations made from time to time by several kings including Tipu Sultan. Sundaramurthy Nayanar, in one of his hymns, gives a passing reference to the temple.
The temple is built on an area of about 1.5 acres. Though the shrine is conspicuous by the absence of the front Rajagopuram, the vimanams attract one's attention.
The Lingam of Mallikarjuna is placed on a square shaped `Avudayar' with 36 `pattigais,' which denotes the 36 philosophical tenets in accordance with `Sivagama.' The Maha mandapam with its so-called `hanging pillars' (so called because the base does not touch the ground) is an architectural marvel.
Each of the pillars weighs about two tonnes and the carvings of beautiful damsels are engraved on them. In the sanctum sanctorum of the presiding deity is the sculpted figure of Goddess Lakshmi with elephants on either side showering water on the deity.
The deities in the temple are worshipped in accordance with the Kamika Agama. Chandi Homam and Thiru Vilakku Puja are performed apart from the regular Rahu Kala pujas. `Thiruvala Puja' and `Nisi Puja' are performed on full Mondays.
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