Thiruvanaikaval (Tamil: திருவானைக்காவல்) (also Thiruvanaikal) is a famous Shiva temple in Tiruchirapalli (Trichy), located in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The temple was built by Kocengannan (Kochenga Chola), one of the Early Cholas, around 1,800 years ago. It is adjacent to the Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam.
Thiruvanaikoil temple is one of the Panchabhoota Stalams (signifying the 5 natural elements) and represents water ('Neer'). The other four temples are Kalahasti for wind ('Kaatru'), Tiruvannamalai for fire ('Neruppu'), Kanchipuram for earth ('Mann', 'Bhoomi') and Chidambaram for space (“Aagayam”). As this temple represents water this is also called as 'Appu sthalam' and the Shivalinga ('Swami') here is called as 'Appu Linga'. Even today you can see water oozing out near the Shivalinga idol in the temple. The goddess of this temple is 'Akilandeswari' ('Amman'). The Amman is also called as Akilandanyaki. Akilandeswari is pronounced as 'Akilam - Aanda – Eswari' (Akilam – Universe, Aanda – Ruler, Eswari – Goddess).
The main deity of the temple is Jambukeswara, representing the element water. Jambukeswara is depicted sitting under a jambu tree, which grows over a small stream that engulfs the deity during the rainy season. The temple is also considered the abode of goddess Akilandeswari, one of the forms of the goddess Parvati.
The massive outer wall, known as the Vibudi Prakara, stretches over a mile long, and is two feet thick and over 25 feet in height. Legend maintains that the wall was built by Shiva working along with the laborers. The temple is one of the hosts for the annual Natyanjali, a festival of classical Indian dance.
The greatest of works related to this temple include Tiruvanaikaval and Kilvelur Akshyalingaswamy temple.
Goddess Akilandeshwari's Sannathy Akilandeswari deity at Thiruvanaikoil
The Sannathy of the goddess Akilandeshwari and the Sannathy of Prasanna Vinayaka are in the shape of the pranava manthra called "Om". It is believed that people who go round the sannathy (which is in the shape of "Om") 12 times and for one full mandala (48 days) will get the blessings of the goddess Akilandeshwari and have a good, healthy and wealthy life. It is believed that the Amman in the temple was in deep anger hence during one ofAdi Sankara's visit he installed the Prasanna Ganapathy Idol right opposite her Sannathy and thereafter her anger subsided.
MAIN STORY :
Long time ago the place was a jungle where an elephant and a spider was Worshiping the Lord Siva under the Jambu Tree. The elephant was cleaning the statue of Siva with water and put some flower under him every day. At the same time the spider made a web over the Siva statue for shadow. The elephant always clean the spider's web because it thought it is dust. The spider was curious to know who ruined its web. One day the spider waited to see who is that. The elephant came and clean the web by showering the water on Lord Siva. The spider got angry and get into the elephant's trunk. Both died and went to the heaven. Over there Lord Siva gave them an eternal lift of "Motcham". The spider got a rebirth as a king. The king name was Kotchengannan cholan means red eyed king.
There was a story behind the kings red eyes, when he was in his mother's womb the kingdom astrologer predicted a time to give birth. If she gives birth that time he would be a wise king and rule the kingdom very well. when the queen got the labor pain the time was to early. The queen told the servant to hang her upside down for the time to come. so the waiting time made a the baby's eyes red. After his birth and became the king and he build the temple for Lord Siva and Goddess Akilandeswari in the name of Aanaikka (elephant protected) later days it changed to Thiruvanaikovil.
The Siva sannathi was made very small to keep the elephant away from the god.
The Formation of 'Appu Lingam' (Parvathi’s Penance):
Once Devi Parvati mocked at Lord Shiva’s penance for betterment of the World. Lord Shiva wanted to condemn her act and directed her to go to the earth from 'Kailayam' and do penance. Devi Parvathi (Akilandeswari) as per Shiva's wish found 'Jambu' forest (Thiruvanaikoil) to conduct her penance. Devi made a Lingam out of water of river Cauvery (also called as river 'Ponni') under the 'Venn Naaval' tree (the Venn Naaval tree on top of the saint Jambu) and commenced her worship. So, the Lingam is known as 'Appu Lingam' (Water Lingam).
Lord Siva at last gave darshan to Akilandeswari and taught her Siva Gnana. Devi Parvati took 'Upadesa' (lessons) facing East from Shiva, who stood facing West. So as the temples idols are also installed in the same direction. Such places are known as 'Upadesa Sthalams'. As the Devi was like a student and the Lord like a Guru in this temple, there is no 'Thiru Kalyanam' (marriage) conducted in this temple for Lord & the Devi, unlike the other Shiva temples.
As Akilandeswari worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple, even today at noon the 'Archakar' (priest) dresses like a female and does Pooja to Lord Shiva and 'Ko Maatha' (Cow). This noon pooja is very famous and pilgrims wait for this pooja every day. For the purpose of this pooja the temple is growing a 'Karam Pasu' (complete black color cow). Annabhishekam to Lingam (Abishekam with cooked rice) is a daily ritual at Thiruvanaikoil.
The Legend of the Name - 'Thiru Aanai Kaa'
There were two Siva Ganas (Siva’s disciples who live in Kailash) by name 'Malyavan' and 'Pushpadanta'. Though they are Shiva Ganas they always quarrel with each other and fight for one thing or other. On top of all in one fight 'Malyavan' cursed 'Pushpadanta' to become an elephant in earth and the latter cursed the former to become a spider in earth.
Both the elephant and the spider came to Jambukeshwaram and continued their Shiva worship. The elephant collected water from river Cauvery and conducted Abhishekam to the lingam under the Jambu tree daily. The spider constructed his web over the lingam to prevent dry leaves from dropping on it and prevent Sunlight directly felling on Shiva.
When the elephant saw the web and thought that as dust on Lord Shiva and tore them and cleaned the Linga by pouring water. This happened daily. The spider became angry one day and crawled into the trunk of the elephant and bit the elephant to death killing itself. Lord Siva, moved by the deep devotion of the two relieved them from one other curse.
As an elephant worshipped the Lord here, this place came to be known as 'Thiru Aanai Kaa' (Thiru – Holy, Aanai – Elephant, Kaa (Kaadu) – Forest). Later the actual name 'Thiruaanaikaa' become 'Thiruvanaikaval' and 'Thiruvanaikoil'.
In the next birth the Spider was born as the King Ko Chengot Chola and built 70 temples and Thiruvanaikoil is the one among them. Remembering his enmity with the elephant in his previous birth, he built the Lord Shiva 'Sannathi'(Sanctorum) such that not even a small elephant can enter. The entrance on the sanctorum of Lord Shiva is only 4 foot high and 2.5 foot wide.
Thiruvanaikoil is also called as 'Jambukeswaram' and the Lord as Jambukeswara, Jambunathan and Jambulingam. The myth behind this is, there was a Sage by name 'Jambu Munivar' (munivar – sage). He once got a rare and sacred 'Venn Naaval' (Venn – White, White variety if Naaval fruit) fruit and he offered that fruit to Lord Siva. The Lord after eating the fruit spitted the seed. Jambu Munivar took and swallowed the seed, as it is sacred as the seed came from the Lord’s mouth. Immediately a 'Naaval' tree began to grow in the Saint's head. The Saint prayed to Lord Siva that He should take his abode under that tree. Lord accepted and asked him to continue his penance in the forest on the banks of river Cauvery and said that he will one day come there and abode under that tree. After many years Devi Akilandeswari worshiped Lord Shiva under that tree during her penance. Thus as he took adobe under the tree on Jambu Munivar he was called as 'Jambukeshwara' and the place is called as 'Jambukeshwaram'. Also thus the 'Venn Naaval' became the 'Sthala Vriksham' (Temple’s Sacred tree). The Shiva Lingam is placed under the Venn naaval tree in this temple. Even today you can see that Venn Naaval tree at the temple, which is said to be many hundred years old..