(Last Updated on : 19/02/2019)
There are 7 temples where Vidanga Murtis are worshipped. These are known as Saptha Vidanga Sthalams, located near Thanjavur. The processional deity in these temples is Thyagaraja or Somaskanda Murti. Each Murti has a special name and is known to perform a unique dance during processions. Legend has it that a Chola king by name Muchkunda Chakravarty helped Indra to win a battle. He wanted the Thyagaraja idol as a gift. Indra, not willing to part with the idol, made six more similar images and asked the king to choose one from them. With divine help, the king picked the original image. Indra, pleased with the king, gave him all the seven Thyagaraja idols. These were later installed in Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Thirunallar, Thirukkuvalai, Thiruvoimur, Vedaranyam and Thirukarayil.
Thiruvarur is located at a distance of 55 km from Thanjavur. The principal deity at this shrine is Sri Vanmikanathar, a Swayambu Lingam enshrined in an ant-hill. His consort is Somakulambigai. She is never taken out of the temple precincts. To the right of the sanctum is the shrine of Sri Thyagaraja.
The idol of Thyagaraja (Veedhi Vidangar) and that of His consort Kondi on an artistic Ratna Simhasan are very impressive. The processional deity is known to perform Asaba Natanam. The Spatika Lingam is kept in a golden box inside the shrine. The Nandi
is in standing posture.
The images of saint Sundarar, his wife Paravai Nachiyar and Cheraman Peruman are also installed here.
Navagrahas are placed in a row in a shrine opposite to the sanctum. The Rudra Durga
shrine, in the second prakaram, attracts a large number of devotees, particularly for the Rahukala Puja.
The Sthala Vinayaka in the innermost prakaram is called Vathapi Ganapathi. This has been brought from Vathapi.
The image of Goddess Nilothpalambika, in standing posture, is in a separate shrine. She is depicted as blessing child Muruga with Her left hand. In another temple, Sri Kamalambal, the virgin form of Parvati, is seen performing religious rituals to marry the Lord.
There is an inscription and sculptural representation of the story of King Manu Neethi Chola
who ordered his son to be crushed under the wheels of a ratha or chariot because he killed a calf by driving his carriage negligently over it. Lord Shiva
is said to have intervened and revived the boy and the calf.
On the western side of the temple is the celebrated tank, Kamalalayam, with the shrine of Sri Naganathaswamy in the middle. Here is a rare musical instrument called Panchamukha Vadyam (with five faces of Shiva) and also a Shiva Lingam made of sapphire, known as Maragatha Lingam.
Thiruvarur is the birthplace of the great musical trinity, Sri Thyagaraja, Sri Shyama Sastri and Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar.
During the festival, Sri Thyagaraja is taken round the streets in a mammoth ratha called Azhi Ther.
The next one is Nagapattinam, situated 25 km away from Thiruvarur. The temple here is dedicated to Karayoganaswami and Neelayadakshi. It is hailed as one of the Shakti Peetams. Lord Thyagaraja is known here as Sundara Vidangar and He performs Paaraavaara Tharanga Natanam. The intricate workmanship of Panchamukha Vinayaka seated on a lion is noteworthy.
Another temple located nearby, dedicated to Sri Soundararaja Perumal, is one of the 108 Tirupatis. His consort is Sundaravalli Thayar.
Thirunallar is known for the temple dedicated to Darbharanyeswarar. The processional deity, Somaskandar, is also known as Nagara Vidangar and His dance is Unmatha Natanam. A rare Maragatha Lingam is kept in a box. Lord Vinayaka here is known as Swarna Ganapathi
. The Sthala Vriksham is Dharba grass. Nala Theertham, Brahma
Theertham and Saraswathi Theertham are considered very sacred. As a Navagraha Sthalam dedicated to Lord Saniswara, Thirunallar is visited by thousands of devotees. It is located 5 km from Karaikal.
Thirukkuvalai or Thirukkolili, 3 km from Ettukudi, is considered the abode of Lord Shiva. The Lingam, made of white sand, was installed by Brahma. The Navagrahas worshipped Shiva here to absolve themselves of their sins. The processional deity of Lord Thyagaraja is known as Avani Vidangar and His dance is Bringa Natanam.
Thiruvoimur is the place where Sri Thyagarajaswami is known as Neela Vidangar and His dance is Kamala Natanam. Neelothpalambika is the Goddess. There are special shrines for Bhairava, Nataraja and Navagrahas. Rishaba Dakshinamurthi, a rare image, is enshrined in this temple.
Vedaranyam is also known as Thirumaraikadu as the four Vedas - Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana - worshipped Lord Vedaranyeswara (Shiva).
Here the temple of Thyagesar is adjacent to that of Vedaranyeswara. The Maragatha Lingam enshrined near the Thyagesar shrine is known as Bhuvani Vidangar and His dance is Hamsa Paada Natanam.
The main door of the temple opened when Saints Appar and Sundarar sang in praise of the Lord. Navagrahas are found in a row in this temple. There are three Theerthams - Mani Karnika, Vedha Nadhi and Kodi. Festivals on Full Moon day in Adi (July-Aug) and Thai (Jan-Feb) attract a number of pilgrims.
Thirukarayil, 5 km from Thirunattayattankudi, is the 7th Saptha Vidanga Sthalam. It is dedicated to Thyagarajaswami or Adi Vidangar. His dance is Kukkuda Natanam. There are beehives in the sanctum of Goddess Abhishekavalli Thayar.
Other shrines around Thiruvarur comprise of Lord Veerateswara in Thiruvirkudi; Sri Bhaktavatsala in Thirukkannamangai (8 km); Mannargudi Sri Rajagopalaswamy; Sri Gnanapuriswarar in Thirumakkottai; Murugan Temple in Ettukudi; Vinayaka Temple, Thiruchenkattankudi; Sikkal Singaravelar or Murugan; Ammayar, Karaikal; Goddess Lalithambika shrine in Thirumeychur (near Peralam).