Thayumanaswami Temple – Rockfort Complex
Tiruchirapalli is an ancient city located on the banks of the Kaveri River in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The city had a tryst with many past kingdoms including the Chola, Pallava, Vijayanagara, Pandyan and Madurai Nayakar kingdoms. These rulers left behind beautiful monuments that are still standing tall today and revered by many.
There are exquisitely sculpted temples and fortresses built in the Dravidian style of architecture. The Rockfort temple complex is one such gem and houses many rock-cut cave temples; it has been declared as a monument of national importance by the Archeological Survey of India. The Thayamanaswami temple is a part of this Rockfort complex which is located atop a giant rock outcrop rising from the plains. The rock is 273-foot high and is visible from all parts of the northern part of the city. It accommodates a fortress which consists of a set of monolithic rocks and many rock-cut temples.
The temple complex consists of three main temples, two of which are dedicated to Lord Ganesha and one to Lord Shiva. There is a Ganesha temple at the base of the rock and another at the top called the Ucchi Pillayar temple; the Thayumanaswami temple rests in-between these two temples and is the largest amongst the three.
Legend has it that a pregnant woman, Rathnavathi, who was a faithful devotee of Lord Shiva, wanted her mother to be present during her delivery. But her mother couldn’t come in time as the Kaveri River was flooded. She prayed to Shiva for intervention and he took the form of her mother and helped her with a smooth delivery, immediately after which he vanished. When her mother came later, Rathnavathi realized it was Lord Shiva who had appeared to her as a mother and hence Thayumanavar came to be known as Thayumanaswami – meaning the Lord who can be a mother.
The temple is believed to have been built by the Pallava king Mahendravarman 1 during the 6th century and Lord Shiva is worshipped here as the lingam and his consort Parvati as Mattuvar Kuzhalammai. The temple is said to have been reconstructed further by the Vijayanagara rulers and the Madurai Nayaks. Twelve festivals are celebrated here annually with the Chittirai festival being celebrated for fifteen long days.
If you are planning on visiting Tiruchirapalli, then getting here is easy as it has an airport as well as excellent rail and road connectivity. There are excellent hotels here too, including the luxurious Sangam hotel located ideally in the city center.