Thirunageswaram Naganathar Temple

Shiva & Rahu



Tirunageswaram Naganathar Temple, also known as Rahu Stalam is a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Shiva, located in Tirunageswaram, a village in the outskirts of Kumbakonam, a town in Tamil Nadu, India. It is significant to the Hindu sect of Saivism as one of the temples associated with the nine planet elements, the Navagraha Stalas, and specifically Rahu. Shiva is worshiped as Naganathar, and is represented by the lingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Piraisoodi Amman. The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the nayanars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam.

It houses four gateway towers known as gopurams. The temple has numerous shrines, with those of Naganathar, Rahu and Piraisoodi Amman being the most prominent. The temple complex houses many halls; the most notable is the ornamental entrance hall built during the Nayak period.
Many serpents, including Adishesha, Takshaka and Karkotaka, worshipped Shiva at this place, leading to the name “Tirunageswaram”. As per Hindu legend, the king of snakes, Adisesha did penance at this place, called Senbaranya Kshetram on account of the presence of large number of Senbaga trees. Shiva was pleased by the penance and appeared to him. Since Shiva gave a boon to the king of Serpents, he is called Naganathar. A Goddess Girigujambal is believed to be worshipping Shiva here with goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Ganesha, Muruga, and Shasta. Maha Bhairava is still believed to be guarding and assisting the divine mother during her prayers. The Goddess is said to be Swayambu as she is present in the form of Meru. Hence, no abhishekam (ablution) is performed for the image. As per a Hindu legend, Indra was cursed by sage Gautama as he misbehaved with the latter’s wife Ahalya. To obtain deliverance from the sage’s curse, it is said that Indra worshipped Giri-Gujambigai with a scented material termed Punugu for 45 days. Sages like Gautama and Parashara and kings like Bhagiratha and Nala are said to have worshipped Naganathar at this place.

The name “Kumbakonam”, roughly translated in English as the “Jug’s Corner”, is believed to be an allusion to the mythical pot (kumbha) of the Hindu god Brahma that contained the seed of all living beings on earth. The kumbha is believed to have been displaced by a pralaya (dissolution of the universe) and ultimately came to rest at the spot where the town of Kumbakonam now stands. The drops of nectar are believed to have fallen onto five shrines around Kumbakonam, namely Mahlingeswarar temple at Tiruvidaimarudur, Tirudharasuram, Naganathar Temple at Tirunageswaram, Tiruvorgam and Tirupadalavanam.

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