Mythology plays a significant role in Hindu religion. It is really interesting to see how legends are interconnected and related to pilgrimage sites. Have you ever thought about Hindu gods and their different manifestations? Each God and Goddess has different forms and each manifestation has a shrine or two! Similarly, Lord Shiva is one of the most prime Gods and he is worshipped in several forms. One such icon of Shiva is the Ardhanareeshwara, representing the fusion of male and female. Ardhanareeshwarar Temple in Tiruchengode is one of the unique shrines in Tamil Nadu.
Photo Courtesy: kurumban
The temple is located on top of the hill called Nagamalai in Thiruchengode and it is said to be one of the oldest temples in Tamil Nadu. Visitors have to climb around 2000 steps to reach the shrine on top of the hill.
Legend of the Formation of 'Ardhanareeshwarar'
Once Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Sage Birungi come to visit Lord Shiva. Usually, the guests used to visit Goddess Parvathi first and then proceed to Lord Shiva. This time Sage Birungi went to see Lord Shiva without visiting Parvathi. Angered by his act, Goddess Parvathi removed the flesh from his body through her powers. Lord Shiva gets to know about this and blesses the sage with a third leg. Later, Goddess Parvathi performs penance and seeks forgiveness from her husband. Finally, pleased by the devotion of Goddess Parvathi, Lord Shiva granted her a wish to give one side of his body to her. Thus, the formation of Ardhanareeshwarar, (half male half female) was created.
Photo Courtesy: Kuruban
In Thiruchengode Temple, we get to see this unique form of the unity of Lord Shiva and Parvathi in one idol. Hence the main deity is called as Ardhanareeshwarar or Arthanareeshwarar. There is also a shrine for Lord Shiva who is named as Mothoru Paagar and his consort (Parvathi) who is called as Baagampiriyalammai.
Thiruchengode Temple is also famous for the Murugan Temple in this premises. Here Subhramanya is worshipped as Chengottu Velar.
Legend of Nagamalai
This holy place is related to another legend of Adhishesha (King of Snakes) and Vaayu (Lord of the Wind). According to the legend, once Vaayu and Adishesha started to fightto prove their powers. During that time, Vaayu released a fierce wind and Adhishesha who was circling the Mount Meru fell off with the mountain. Chengode or Chengodu was formed when Adhishesha's body falls in to pieces. Hence, the name of the hill is called as Nagamalai. There is also a big carving of snake on one of the rocks. A shrine dedicated to Adhishesha can also be seen here.
A visit to Ardhanareeshwarar Temple will be very exciting not only because of the age-old temple complex but also because of the hill which provides the scenic vistas of the surrounding areas.
How to Reach Ardhanareeshwarar Temple
The temple is also known as Thiru Kodimaada Chenkundrur Temple situated in Namkkal District.
Thiruchengode is around 20km from Erode and 46km from Salem. It is easily accessible by road. .
By Bus: Regular buses are available from the cities like Erode, Coimbatore and Salem. Visitors can also hire private vehicles to reach the place.
By Train: Erode Railway Station is the nearest railway station to Thiruchengode.
Make a visit to this unique Shiva temple in Tamil Nadu!