On our repeated pilgrimages to Kumbakonam region, a visit to Kovilvenni a town near Needamangalam in Thiruvarur District about 24 km away from Thanjavur, was missed due to some reasons or the other. When we went to Kumbakonam Navagraha circuit in December 2021, we had resolved that we had to have a darshan in this temple at any cost. But then Arulmigu Soundara Nayagi sameta Shri Vennikarumbeshwararar blessings was not forthcoming as we had to rush back to Bengaluru. Finally on 14th August 2022, our wishes fructified and By Shiva! What an amazing time was in the offing. It only goes on to prove, it is His time and call not ours anyway. The highlight for us, after Darshan of the Bhagwan, was very learned and knowledgeable Chief Archaka Shri Prabhakar Shivacharya AVL – his affable, patient explanation of the sthala purana (Historical Significance of the Shrine).
The temple dedicated to Shiva, as the Moolavar (Presiding deity), manifested as Shri Vennikarumbeswarar. Upadevata is His consort, Parvati, known as Arulmigu Soundaranayagi. The historical name of the place is Tiruvenni. It is one of the shrines of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams – Shiva Sthalams glorified in the early medieval Tevaram poems by Tamil Saivite Nayanars Tirugnanasambandar and Tirunavukkarasar. Koilvenni Arulmigu Karumbeshwarar Temple in 102nd of Paadal Petra Sthalams on the Southern bank of River Kaveri. He is also known as Venni Nathar, Rasapureeswarar, Triambakanathar It is believed that patients suffering from any ailments especially diabetes will be cured of the disease if they make an offering of sugar to the main deity at this temple. “Karumbu” in Tamizh means sugarcane and the main linga is in the form of a bunch of sugarcane stems tied together.
Sthala Purana or Historical Significance
In ancient times, the sthala vruksham was Nandivardhanam, a flower white in colour and hence called Venni or Nandivardhanam Flower (Pinwheel Flower or Crepe Jasmine). This is one of the favourite flowers of Bhagawan Shiva and used in His worship.
This place was also surrounded by dense Sugarcane fields. In Tamizh Sugarcane is called Karumbu. King Musukunda Chola Chakravarthy was a Chola ruler who ruled the parts of Chola Kingdom from Aarur (Thiruvarur). He was a great devotee of Bhagawan Shiva. He also had renovated the Thiruvarur Sri Thyagarajaperumal temple, after which he was passing by Venniyur with his troops. and when he overheard two Sages arguing between them on the sthala Vruksha of the place – one saying it was “Sugarcane” and the other claiming that it was “Venni“. Not wanting to take any sides, fearing curse of the other sage, King asked them why this argument about the Temple Tree, when there is neither a temple nor a Vigraha of Bhagawan Shiva. They hear an Akashavani (A voice from the Skies) which was that of Bhagawan Shiva saying that He should be named after Sugarcane (Karumbu) and the Temple Tree or Sthala Vruksha will be Venni. He also says that He is present in a self manifested form (Swayambhu), in a form that has seen all the Yugas (Krita or Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapara Yuga, and Kali Yuga), whose stem looks like a bunch of Sugar cane tied together, a form that has been worshipped by Devas and Rishis over the yugas. He continues saying He be found deep inside the earth below the very place the argument was going on, bring it up, build a shrine and perform Kumbhabhishekam. It is also said in Kanda Puranam that the wedding invitation of Devasena – Subramanya was sent to this place.
King then uses his men to dig the field and he finds the Shiva Linga whose stem part was spread deeper and deeper and he was lost how to bring it up. Once again Bhagwan Shiva gives him a solution to tie it up at the stem and lift it up. The height of this Linga pratishthe from Surya Teertham towards the East is 36 feet, signifying surpassing of 36 tatvas or elements. This incident is believed to have happened 5000 years ago. After the historic “Venni war” the Chola King , Karikala Chola rebuilt and renovated this temple.
This place which gained prominence even in the Sangam times, had found significance in the songs of Thirugnanasambandar and Thirunavukkarasar. Sundarar had hailed the Lord here as the one who heals diseases, in his song “ Kshetra Kovai.” So, the Lord of this temple, “ Sri Venni Karumbeswarar,” remains the Lord who heals all the diseases , especially diabetes, of his devotees. Thirunavukkarasu had sung in praise of the Lord in his “ Thiruthandakam” , singing the history of the Lord’s marriage in Mayiladuthurai.
The Goddess of this place is Shri Soundaranayaki. True to her name, this Goddess is amazingly beautiful, and showers her blessings. It is believed that if ladies whose Seemanta (Valai Kappu) ceremony is over visit Her to seek Her blessings and tie bangles in front of the Goddess, for having a safe delivery.
The holy waters of this place, “ Surya Pushkarani” and “ Chandra Pushkarani,” have the power to heal all diseases.
The Main Temple, Shri Vennikarumbeshwarar faces East and the Surya Teertham is right opposite to Him. Shri Soundara Nayaki faces South in this Temple in standing position with four hands, one of which shows the Abhaya Hastham. Surya Theertham, is where Surya worshipped the Lord. Since it is an East facing Lingam, the rays of the Sun fall on Him on 2nd, 3rd and 4th days of Tamil month Panguni (Mid of March) during Sun rise. Ambal Soundara Nayaki is in a south facing shrine. The shrine of Nataraja is in between the shrines of the Lord and the Mother.
Sri Ikshupureeswarar (another name of the presiding Deity, who is self – manifested remains with so much greatness , is also called” Sri Venninathar “ and “ Sri Venni Karumbeswarar.” ( The word “ Ikshu” means sugarcane.)
Other deities in the temple include Murugan,Narthana Vinayagar, Gajalaxmi, Bairavar and Navagraha. Goshta moorthies include Narthana Vinayagar, Dakshinamoorthy, Lingothbavar and Durga.
The sanctorum is constructed in such a way that the outer mandapam looks like a moat. The Peetham or the Base of the Shiva Linga is Square as against Round that we usually find elsewhere just as the form of Linga is square and not round. In the recent past, this temple saw extensive renovation, done by Nattukottai Chettiar community.
The main offering here is Rava and Sugar. After the Sankalpam and offering at His feet, Rava and Sugar is mixed and strewn around the temple. The ants eat the Sugar and only Rava is left behind. This is said to cure Devotees of Diabetes. Once they are cured, Bhaktas return back and perform a Ghee Abhisheka to Bhagawan Shiva.
Since there are not any shops around, it is better to carry all Puja offerings when we go to the temple. Typically we will need to carry Betel Leaves, Betel Nuts, Some fruits, Coconuts, Ghee and Flowers, apart from about a kg each Rava and Sugar.
Driving Directions to the Temple
Temple Opening Hours:
8:00am to 12 noon; 4pm to 8pm
Chief Archaka Shri Prabhakar Shivacharya AVL Contact
Requesting Bhaktas to donate for Conduct of Abhishekas on Pradoshas (2 per month) which costs about ₹1501 per Pradosham or ₹3001 a month
Also requesting Bhaktas to donate liberally for maintenance and renovation of the temple. Please contact Chief Archaka on the number given before for the same.
Signing off with the link to Sthala Purana (in Tamizh) recorded by me on 14th August 20222 explained beautifully by Shri Shri Prabhakar Shivacharya AVL
Om Namah Shivaya
PS: If there are any errors please leave it in the comment and I shall edit this article after verification.
Sharing some more pictures clicked