|Location of the temple||Avalivanallur|
|Lord Shiva known as||Satchi Nathar|
|Female deity known as||Soundaranayagi|
|How to reach||This sivasthalam temple is situated 3.5 Kms to the west of another paadal petra sthalam at Tiruaradai Perumpaazhi (Haridwara Mangalam). Town bus service from Kumbakonam to Ammapettai goes via this sivasthalam. Likewise the town bus service from Thanjavur to Haridwara Mangalam also goes via this sivasthalam. Avalivanallur is situated 13 Kms west of Alangudi.|
Map showing location of Avalivanallur temple from Kumbakonam
Map courtesy by: Google Maps
The five temples which collectively make the Pancha Aranya Sthalams are Thirukkarugavur, Alangudi, Avalivanallur, Haridwaramangalam and Thirukollampudhur. Avalivanallur is the second among this group of temples to be visited between 9:30 and 10 AM. It was once situated in a forest of Trumpet Flower trees, called Pathiri Vanam in Tamil. This is an ancient temple and according to the sthala puranam, lord Shiva was worshipped here and at Haridwaramangalam nearby during his avatar as Varaha - the boar.
The legend of the temple is an interesting one. The priest of this temple was an ardent devotee of Shiva, and soon after his marriage, decided to visit Kashi. Leaving his young and beautiful wife behind, he proceeded north for the long and arduous journey to Kashi. Completing all the rites and rituals required, he returned after a few years. Meanwhile, his wife fell sick, and her sister arrived to nurse her. When the priest returned home, he saw the two women in the house - one sick and covered with rashes, looking rather ugly, and the other as a beautiful girl, resembling his wife. He immediately assumed that the beautiful one was his wife, and proceeded to the river to bathe and came back and claimed the beautiful woman is his wife. His real wife who turned ugly due to her illness prayed to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva came to the rescue of the real wife and hastened to correct the error. He appeared in front of the priest with Parvati, informed him about his wife's illness, and explained that the beautiful one was his sister-in-law, not his wife. Since the lord acted as a witness, he is named Sakshi Nathar, and the goddess - Soundarya Nayaki. Behind the lingam in the sanctum is a panel with the image of Shiva and Parvati on the Rishabha Vahanam, the form in which they gave darshan to the priest. The statues of the priest, his wife, and his sister-in-law can be seen in the prakaram along with the other deities such as the Navagrahas.
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