Monday, September 20, 2010

Sree Aatcheeswarar Temple, Achirupakkam

Rajagopuram of Aatcheeswara Temple

The post on Aatcheeswara Temple of Acharapakkam is one of the earliest posts on Aalayam Kanden. At that point, I had not been able to take any photographs inside the temple and therefore, the post had been brief with just one photograph of the Rajagopuram. Although I had travelled past the temple several times over the last two years, the opportunity to visit again did not present itself.

Last week, there was a sudden invitation to visit the temple and without a second thought, we hit the road. 
The temple is off the National Highway No 45 at Achirupakkam (The Chennai-Trichy Highway) after Melmaruvathur. For those who frequent NH45, the Ganapathy Vilas Hotel at Achirupakkam is a favourite stop. The Aatcheeswarar temple is not far from there.

The story about the temple goes like this:

Three demons - Tharaka, Kamalaksha and Vidyunmali, powered by the boon received from Lord Brahma, built fortresses of gold, silver and iron with wings, and flying about in the air, started harassing the Devas to no end. The Devas in distress, approached Lord Shiva to kill the Asuras and save them from the misery. The boon from Lord Brahma meant that the Asuras could only be killed through a single arrow that shot through all three of them and since the fortresses moved about in the air, the feasibility of them coming on a straight line was very rare and to kill them through a single arrow was next to impossible.

A small Vinayaka opposite to the Rajagopuram
Lord Shiva set out on this difficult task using the heavens as the roof of the chariot, the lower worlds as the base, The Sun and the Moon as wheels, the four Vedas as the horses, the Mount Meru as his bow and Vasuki as the string and Lord Narayana as the arrow. While he ascended the chariot, he forgot the most important thing, which was worship of Lord Ganesha. 

Although Lord Ganesha is his son, he was not an exception to the fact that any task has to begin with the worship of Lord Ganesha, the preventor of hurdles. Since Lord Shiva had forgotten this important aspect, Lord Ganesha broke the axle of his chariot. 

Achu Muri Vinayakar

Lord Shiva realising his mistake, came down and worshipped Lord Ganesha and then set out on his task and he was able to defeat the Tripuras at Thiruvathigai. Since the achu (axle) broke at this place, it came to be known as அச்சு + இறு + பாக்கம் = அச்சிறுபாக்கம் (Achu+Iru+pakkam = Achirupakkam).This Lord Ganesha, is called Achu Muri Vinayakar (the Lord who broke the axle) and is located a little distance away from the main temple. We stopped by first to offer lamps and coconuts ( சிதறு காய் ) at the temple of Achu Muru Vinayagar.

We then entered the main temple, and found that the Dwajasthambam and Bali peetam are away from the Sanctum Sanctorum. This is probably the only temple that has two main sanctum Sanctorums - containing two Shivalingams, one Swayambu (Umai Atcheeswara) and the other installed (Emai Atcheeswara). How did this happen?

The shrine of Aatcheeswara with Tharakan and Vidyunmali as Dwarapalas

Once a Pandya King was passing through this area,he saw a giant golden lizard running through the bushes. He ordered his men to trace it and soon they found the lizard disappear near the root of a "Sarakondrai" tree. The king ordered the tree to be axed down and when the men tried to do that, blood started oozing from the roots. The King was shocked. That night, Lord Shiva appeared in his dreams and asked him to find the Swayambu Lord under the tree and build a temple for him.

The King sought the assistance of Sage Trinetradhari to build the temple. He then proceeded onwards on his journey. On his return, he found the temple had been constructed with two sanctum sanctorums. When he questioned Sage Trinetradhari about it, he said one is for the Lord who occupied your heart (Umaiaatcheeswarar) and the other is for the Lord who occupied my heart ( Emaiaatcheeswarar). The shrine that Sage Trinetradhari built for the Swayambu Lingam is in line with the Dwajasthambam, and Bali peetam. The special feature here is that the Asuras Tharakan and Vidyunmali who were killed by Lord Shiva are the Dwarapalakas in this shrine.

The other shrine called Umaiaatcheeswarar which the Sage built for the King is in line with the Rajagopuram. It has a Nandi which is in a meditative posture and it is believed that the samadhi of Sage Trinetradhari can be found below this Nandi. This shrine also has the idols of Lord Shiva and Parvathi behind the Shivalingam in a marriage posture.
Meditative Nandi with the Samadhi of Sage Trinetradhari under it.

The Sage also had darshan of Lord Shiva and Parvathi under the Sthala Vriksham - the Kondrai Tree. A beautiful shrine which has idols of Shiva, Parvathi and Trinetradhari under the tree.

Kondrai Adi Shiva Temple

Lighting lamps at the shrines of Ganesha, Lords Umaiaatcheeswarar and Emaiaatcheeswarar, Goddess Elangili Amman, and Achu Muri Vinayagar is said to bring power and position to the worshipper.

The temple also has the shrine of Lord Srinivasa on an avudaiyaar. The walls around the shrine of Aatcheeswara have beautiful murals around them that depict various scenes.

Hiranyakasipu Vatham
Lord Shiva reaching out to stop Kannappa Nayanar from digging out his second eye

Karaikal Ammaiyaar walking on her head to Mount Kailash

An elephant and snake worshipping Lord Shiva

Chandesa Nayanar cutting off his father's leg for having stamped
upon the shivalingam made of sand
These are just a few of the wonderful murals. There are several others which one can witness if they go around in leisure.

Temple timings:

The temple is open from 7 am to 12 pm and then from 4 pm to 9 pm.

Contact Details:

Mr. Srinivasan, Trustee of the Nadu Palani Murugan Temple was very useful during the temple visit. He can be contacted on 94431 93933.

The Gurukkal at the temple - Karuna 99945 41154 and his elder brother Shankar - 98423 09534

If you happen to be travelling from Chennai towards Trichy or Vice Versa, do stop by to visit Aatcheeswara - the Lord who will then rule your hearts! 


  1. Hi Priya,
    Good narration. Crisp and to the point. Especially Achiruppakkam is one temple I have been longing to visit. Very nice. Keep going on the good job. Wishing you many more such temples on ur blog.

  2. Thank you so much visit the blog whenever you find time. Your feedback is very valuable to me.

  3. Hello Priya,
    It's nice compilation of temples. Most of the temples you have written are rare temples which could be a NEWS for many. Please write more on those kind of temples.
    More photos (atleast some 5 photos per writeup)
    No of entries on the first page are some of the suggestions I have.
    We need effort from many of us to bring our temple glories.
    Wish your Blog a great success.
    Raju (Raju's Temple visits)

  4. Thank you so much for your valuable comments Sir. It is a privilege to hear from you.

  5. Namasthe Priyaji.
    Glad to visit your blog. You have been doing a great job of visiting temples and writing about them. A small correction. It is not Udaiaatchiswarar; It is Umaiaatcheeswarar.

    Please correct and republish. Thanks.

  6. Dear Ashwinji,
    Thank you for your feedback and taking time out to read my blog. I have verified the contents of my post with the HR & CE Department, Govt of Tamilnadu handbook on Kanchipuram Division page no.116 and find that I have mentioned the lingams name correctly.

    Thank you once again for all the encouragement and support and do keep viewing my blog whenever you find time.

    Warm regards

  7. hi,
    grt job!!!!

    any samadhi is der in this temple????

  8. Thank you...Is there is the samadhi of Sage Trinetradhari who built this shrine!

  9. your write ups are very interesting-could you also in future write the sthala vriksha of each temple please?

  10. Gr8 job priya...
    Thank you so much

  11. Great job mam. My mother visited this this temple 40 years ago. She used to mention at this temple always. I was always Wanting to take her back to this temple. Thank u. Very soon I will take her to this temple.