Travel Magazine

Manavur Karkadeswara

By Priyabaskar

Manavur Karkadeswara

The Karkadeswarar Temple at Manavur

While I was involved in the mapping of temples along the river Cooum, the Koova Puranam served as the main source of reference about sites along the Cooum river. This puranam mentions Koovam was made up of 18 kottams and 24 cheris. Since the river has shrunk over time, and the areas along the coasts have got habitated, some of the kottams and cheris are no longer close to the river. Also, temples have been converted to other buildings or places of worship in some places. Hence the temples from these places did not get featured in the director " The Gods of the Holy Koovam" which was released in February 2017. 
However, that does not make these temples less significant. I have always been wanting to write about them in Aalayam Kanden, but as I have mentioned several times before in earlier posts, which post gets written has always depends on divine will and only now has the time come true to write about Manavur Karkadeswara.
Manavur is on the Chennai - Arakkonam rail route. It has a number of temples out of which the most popular and well known temple is the Thirunandhiswarar Temple, where Lord Shiva is said to have given a vision to Sage Agasthya and Nandhi in Kalyana Kolam after his visit to Tiruvalangadu. Very close to the Thirunandhiswara temple is the equally ancient Karkadeswara Temple. 

Manavur Karkadeswara

The sad plight of the Karkadeswara temple


The Legend
Jayantha, the son of Indra was notorious for his annoying deeds. Several puranas quote instances of curses he incurred because of this.  On one occasion, Jayantha met Sage Athri on his way. Rather than pay his respects or even greet him, he mocked that the sage was walking like a crab. Angered by his arrogance, the Sage cursed him to become one. 
Mortified, Jayantha sought pardon and remedy for his curse. Sage Athri asked him to go down to Thiruvalangadu, where Lord Nataraja showed his divine dance to Karaikal Ammaiyar. After worshipping him, he asked Jayantha to reach Manavur and worship Thirunandheeswara in order to regain his form. 
Jayantha did as suggested. He came to Manavur and worshipped Thirunandhiswara in his crab form. He dug a tank near his temple, called Karkada Theertham. He meditated on the Lord on its banks. Days and months passed. One day, as he was praying, there was a flash of light and the Lord appeared before him as a Swayambu Linga. The crab was overwhelmed with his mercy, and prayed to him and as he did he regained his real form. 

Manavur Karkadeswara

Swayambu Karkadeswara at Manavur

Jayantha performed abhishekam and pujas to the deity before leaving to his abode. A temple was subsequently raised by the Kings of Thondaimandalam, out of which Manavur was a Kottam. Shrines were added for Poi Sollaa Pillayar and Goddess Kamakshi. Those born under Kataka Rasi or the Sun Sign of Cancer came here to worship Lord Karkadeswara. It is also believed that those suffering from cancer get solace by performing abhishekam to the Lord with milk, and consuming jaggery offering to him. 
Situation Today

Manavur Karkadeswara

Goddess Kamakshi

Over time, this temple became less patronised and started getting dilapidated. The temple tank dried up and the festivities stopped. There is a priest who is performing one time puja now at the temple. A few months ago, a devotee of Lord Shiva from Gudiyatham, has come forward to perform repairs and renovate the Swami and Ambal shrines and Mahamandapa. Balalayam has been performed and the cleaning and construction work has begun. However, there is still a lot to be done. The Chandikeswara shrine and the beautiful Poi Sollaa Pillayar shrines are to be renovated. A compound wall needs to be constructed to ensure there are no encroachments, as already a water tank has been built by the Panchayat, precariously close to the heritage structure.

Manavur Karkadeswara

Water tank precariously close to the heritage structure

The Ganesha here is found in a separate shrine which is at some distance from the Karkadeswarar shrine. This Ganesha is called Poi Sollaa Pillayar. He has been treated as a judge for deciding disputes in the village. When there is a dispute between two parties, they are brought before the Ganesha and asked to swear that they are speaking the truth. If anyone still lies, then they have unpleasant occurences in their lives and therefore, they normally confess or agree and the dispute is amicably resolved. Therefore, the Ganesha has come to be called Poi Sollaa Pillayar.

Manavur Karkadeswara

Poi Solla Pillayar Shrine

The Nandi here is equally unique. He looks more like a calf and is found in a seperate mandapa that also needs immediate repairs.

Manavur Karkadeswara

Nandi at the Karkadeswara Temple

Likewise, the huge Kataka Theertham tank has to be restored and fortified, before it turns into a "Chennaikku Miga Arugil" site. The priest and volunteers at the village are eagerly looking for patronage. When the Chola inscriptions were read at the Thirunandheeswarar and Kandaswamy temples at Manavur, the priest says the inscriptions at this temple were also read and recorded. However, he does not have access to the same. The inscriptions are no longer found in the temple, so any help with the inscriptions of this temple would greatly help the villagers to document history and period of the temple. Similarly, the priest says that there are local tales that Adishankara had visited and worshipped at this temple. However, there are no documented evidences regarding this.

Manavur Karkadeswara

Poi Sollaa Pillayar

I have a personal experience of getting jaggery from this temple, for the benefit of my friend's uncle who was suffering from cancer. Although the doctors had given him only a few months to live at the time I sent the prasadam, his belief and the grace of Lord Karkadeswara, prolonged his lifespan to over a year and a half and he was able to have a peaceful Mukthi as well.

Manavur Karkadeswara

Construction work has commenced in the Karkadeswarar temple

Patronage and resources are eagerly sought for this temple. You may contact the numbers provided below to directly support the temple or may send your donations to Aalayam Kanden Trust for onward transmission to the cause through Account No. 6028000100005596, Punjab National Bank, West Mambalam, IFSC Code: PUNB0602800. All donations enjoy Sec 80G exemption as per the provisions of the Income Tax Act. If you prefer to send a check or demand draft, please do so to Aalayam Kanden Trust, Flat A Nutech Saradambal Apartments, No 36 Kripasankari Street, West Mambalam, Chennai 600 033
How to reach here: 
This temple is about 300 metres from the Thirunandheeswara Temple in Manavur. The nearest suburban train station is Manavur from where share autos are available to the temple. GPS Coordinates: 13.102158, 79.805257

Manavur Karkadeswara

Kataka Theertham tank today

Contact :
For worship, please contact priest Mr Srinivasan at 80987 95873 prior to visiting so that he is available to open the temple. For donation and information, please contact the Arulmigu Kamakshi Samedha Karkadeswarar Aalaya Thiruppani Kuzhu at 8012247358, 9444799854, 9444060815, 9841060503, 9941927877

Manavur Karkadeswara

The Thirunandheeswarar Temple as seen from the Karkadeswarar temple

To read more about the Cooum temples, check out this link in Aalayam Kanden : http://aalayamkanden.blogspot.in/p/cooum-riverside-temples.html
To purchase an e-version of the book "The Gods of the Holy Koovam" on Amazon, please click here: https://www.amazon.in/Gods-Holy-Koovam-Priya-Baskaran-ebook/dp/B06VX6VCBB.All proceeds from the sale go towards supporting the Tamil section of the Madras Literary Society Library, one of the oldest libraries in Chennai and a Cooum heritage landmark.

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