Navagraha temples are temples dedicated to Navagraha - the nine (nava) major celestial bodies (Grahas) of Hindu astronomy. These celestial bodies are Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Mangal (Mars), Budhan(Mercury), Guru/Brihaspati(Jupiter), Shukra(Venus), Shani(Saturn), Rahu (North Lunar Node) and Ketu (South Lunar Node).
There are Navagraha temples or a cluster of Navagraha temples spread across the country and in South India, Tamil Nadu is famous for its cluster of Navagraha temples near Kumbakonam. The temples date from the Chola dynasty and each is one abode of each of the deities. Some of the temples pre-date the Cholas and go back to Pallava times.
As the name suggests, this temple is dedicated to the Sun god. It is located in the village of Suryanarkoil in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. It is stated in a temple inscription that it was built during the reign of Kulottunga Choladeva (1060-1118) and was called Kulottungachola-Marttandalaya. Amongst the nine temples, this is only one where all the navagrahas are present with separate sannadhis.
The Kailasanthar temple is dedicated to the planet moon and is in the village of Thingalur, 18 kilometres from Kumbakonam. The presiding deity is Soma(Moon). However, the main idol in the temple is that of 'Kailasanathar' or Shiva.
Vaitheeswaran Temple or Pullirukkuvelur is a temple revered in the Tevaram hymns of the 7th century Saiva nayanars - Tamil Saint poets and it is one of the nine Navagraha temples. It is dedicated to Mars. Shiva is worshipped as Vaitheeswaran or 'God of healing'. The waters of the Siddhamirtham tank within the temple complex contains nectar and a holy dip is believed to cure all diseases.
Dedicated to the planet Mercury, Swetharanyeswarar temple is located in the town of Thiruvengadu near Sirkazhi. The temple is especially known for its unique incarnation of Lord Shiva called 'Agora Murthi'. The temple is also known for its three unique pools. It is believed that whoever takes bath in these pools will be free from all problems.
Apatsahayesvarar Temple, Alangudi
Apatsahayesvarar Temple, Alangudi or Guru Sthalam or Tiru Irum Poolai is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the village of Alangudi of Tiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu, India. The temple is dedicated to the planet Jupiter. According to legend, Lord Siva, consumed deadly poison, giving rise to the name Alangudi and the deity being termed Apatsahayesvarar, which translates to 'saviour during troubled times'.
Agniswarar Temple, Kanjanur
This is one of the nine Navagraha sthalas located in the Cauvery delta region dedicated to Venus. Unlike other Navagraha temples, the main deity, Agniswarar, in the form of a lingam depicts Lord Sukra. The temple is revered by verses of the Tamil poet-saint Appar and hence referred as Padal petra Stalam.
The temple was built by the Medieval Cholas and renovated by the kings of the Vijayanagar Empire. The temple has a 5-tier rajagopuram surrounded by two prakarams(closed precincts of a temple).
Tirunallar Saniswaran Temple
Dedicated to Lord Sani, the presiding deity here is Dhrabaranyeswarar (Lord Siva).
According to popular legend, this was the place where many serpents worshipped Lord Siva. Adisesha, the king of snakes did penance at this place thus leading to the name, Tirunageswaram. Rahu is the navagraha associated with this place. A miracle associated with this temple is the incidence of milk turning into blue colour during Rahukaalam and this attracts devotees from distant places.
Nagannathaswamy Temple, Keezhaperumpallam
Located in the village of Keezhaperumpallam, the presiding deity in this temple is Ketu, a shadow planet. Like most other Navagraha temples, the presiding deity is of 'Naganatha Swamy' or Shiva.
Image credit: Wiki Commons