Punnainallur Mariamman Temple
The Punnainallur Mariamman temple is located on the outskirts of the culturally-rich Thanjavur city in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The main deity worshiped here is Goddess Mariamman and she is believed to have special healing powers.
The temple itself is a perfect example of Dravidian architecture and has three prakarams and a 7-tiered, highly embellished gopuram that have been added over the centuries. Aside from this the temple has its own pond and is a true representation of Tamil culture and civilization. The temple also comes with its own share of interesting legends that culminate with its existence and its deity.
It is said that the Maratha King Venkoji Maharaja Chatrapathi was on a pilgrimage to Trichy in 1680 to worship goddess Samayapuram Mariamman. On the way, while he was resting under a tree, he had a dream that goddess Mariamman told him that she could be found about 3 miles away in a forest of ‘Punnai’ trees in Thanjavur itself. On reaching there, he found a white anthill. He then proceeded to build the Punnainallur Mariamman temple around it. Other Maratha rulers including Thulaja and Serfoji also worshiped at this temple and expanded it further. Even now, the temple is being maintained by the descendants of the erstwhile royal family.
There is another legend that says that Lord Shiva was once going to wage war on the demon Tanjan Asuran. Before going into battle, he installed the ‘Ashta Shaktis’ (Eight Goddesses) in all the eight directions. It’s believed that Goddess Mariamman is one of these Shaktis stationed in the eastern direction and who was built in the form of an anthill initially. It is said that the daughter of King Tulaja Raja of Thanjavur lost her eyesight, but after praying at this temple, she regained it again. The goddess is believed to cure her devotees of all ailments.
The great saint Sadasiva Brahmendra Swamy also worshiped here and shaped the anthill with the face and form of goddess Mariamman and installed a powerful ‘chakra’. The goddess is also known as Muthu Mariamman as pearls of moisture form over her face during the summer months.
Some important events held here are Brahmotsavam (August-September), Floating festival (September –October) and Thailabishekam (once every five years) with Sundays being considered the best day to worship here.
Thanjavur is really worth a visit with its famous temples and important monuments. It’s well-connected by road and rail and neighboring Trichy provides air connectivity. You could stay over at the centrally-located Sangam hotel here and enjoy true Thanjavur heritage.