Legends: There was a forest of Jambu trees near the Chandrateertha tank (filled with water from the Kaveri) here and Shiva appeared under one of the trees as a Shiva Lingam. Two devotees of Shiva were born under a curse as a white elephant and a spider. The elephant worshipped Shiva with flowers and water brought in its trunk hence the name Tiru Aanaikka. The spider worshipped by spinning a web on top, to protect it from falling leaves. The elephants worship would destroy the spider's web, and the spider's web amounted to desecration in the eyes of the elephant leading to animosity between the two. A fight between them resulted in their death.
The spider was born again in the Chola family in Uraiyur. His parents Subhadeva and Kamalavati prayed to Nataraja of Chidambaram for a male successor. The royal astrologer predicted an auspicious time for the birth of a successor. The hour of birth approached the queen delayed the time of birth to the one predicted. She achieved her objective although the royal offspring was born with red eyes, earning for himself the name 'Chenkannan' - the red eyed one. In his lifetime Ko Chenkannan built several temples - out of reach of elephants, keeping with the legend of his animosity with an elephant in his previous birth.
The stala vriksham grows out of a munivar, who offered worship here. Akhilandeswari (Parvati) is said to have meditated upon Shiva here, and her shrine is considered very important.
History: This temple record show the patronage of Chola, Pandya, Hoysala and Madurai Naik rulers. The temple was built by Ko Chenkannan. Inscriptions from the 10th century AD testify to later Chola patronage. The Hoysalas had a base near Samayapuram and built four temples. The Pandyas and the Hoysalas contributed to the Eastern tower. Adi Sankara is said to have adorned Akhilandeswari with earrings bearing the symbol of the chakram.
Temple: This temple covers 18 acres with lofty gopurams, 5 prakarams and ornate mandapams. The second and third prakarams date back to the 13th century. The dwajasthampa mandapam has grand sculptures. There is an image of Ekapada Trimurthy in this temple. The Akhilandeswari shrine is located in the fourth prakaram. The Eastern tower has seven levels and is covered with fine sculptures of musical scenes. The Western tower has nine levels. The first prakaram was renovated in this century.
Festivals: Annual festivals here include the Pankuni Bhrammotsavam, Vasanta Utsavam, the float festival in Thai (Capricorn), Aadi Pooram (Cancer) and the Pancha Prakara festival.
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