|Location of the temple||Tirukkarukavur, near Papanasam in Thanjavur Dist.|
|Lord Shiva known as||Mullaivananathar, Mullaivaneswarar|
|Female deity known as||Garbha Ratchaambikai|
|How to reach||This temple is located at Tirukkarukavur which is 7 Kms from Papanasam, a small town on the Kumbakonam - Thanjavur main road.. This sthalam is 20 Kms in the south-west direction from Kumbakonam and 20 Kms in the north-east direction from Thanjavur.|
Map showing location of Tirukkarukavur temple from Kumbakonam
Map courtesy by: Google Maps
The five temples which collectively make the Pancha Aranya Sthalams are Thirukkarugavur, Alangudi, Avalivanallur, Haridwaramangalam and Thirukollambudhoor. Thirukkarukavur is the first among this group of temples. The first temple to be visited is Thirukkarugavur, which is 22 Kms from Kumbakonam, and 7 Kms from Papanasam. Traditionally, this temple is to be visited early in the morning, between 5:30 and 6AM.
Temple: The temple is 460 feet long and 284 feet wide. There is a main rajagopuram on the east and the temple has also got an entrance on the south side. Both the shrines of Lord Mullaivana Nathar and Goddess Garbha Ratchaambikai are situated in the main outer prakaram facing the east direction. The sivalingam in the main sanctum of this temple is a Swayambu Lingam, one out of the 64 in the world. This Lingam is made up of ant hill mud. Hence there is no water abhishekam for this Lord. Instead, the Lingam is merely pasted with a kind of must called "punuhu" in tamil. People who are afflicted with incurable diseases come to this temple, offer "Punuhu" Chattam" to the Lord and get themselves relieved of their diseases. It is believed that the Nandi and Karpaga Vinayagar inside the temple are also Swaymbu. In the Sivalingam one can see even today the impression of jasmine creepers which once covbered the Sivalingam. The shrine for presiding female deity Garbha Ratchaambikai is situated to the left of the Siva temple. There is also a shrine for Lord Subramanya. Inscriptions from Raja Raja Chola's period as well as those from Parantaka Chola's period (early 10th century) are seen inside the temple.
The special feature of this temple is that the moon's rays falls on the Sivalingam on the full moon day in the Tamil month of Panguni (March/April) every year.
Legend: Vedhikai, wife of Niruthuva Munivar and resident of this sthalam, was in the advanced stage of pregnancy. Her husband had gone to a distant place on some work. As it was summer time, she was very tired and was taking rest in her house. Another sage by name Oorthuva Paathar, who was passing by her house, was also very tired due the hot sun and hoped to get food and water from the inmates of this house. In spite of calling for help, no one came from inside the house and when the sage looked inside, he saw Vedhikai in a sleeping position showing her back to the sage. Not realising that Vedhikai was pregnant, he cursed her and went away. But by the time Vedhikai realised that someone has visited her house, sage Oorthuva Munivar had already left the place. Afrai of sage's curse, Vedhikai prayed to Mullaivana Nathar and His consort for safe delivery of her child. Lord Shiva's consort Uma Maheswari took necessary precautions and saw to it that Vedhikai gave birth to the child normally without any trouble. Vedhikai's husband Niruthuva Munivar came to know about these details from his wife on his return. He prayed to the goddess Uma Maheswari that She should protect the foetus of any pregnat woman who visits this sthalam and offers worship to Her. Goddess Uma Maheswari gave this boon to Niruthuva Munivar and She is known from that day as Garbha Ratchaambikai.
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