Swamimalai Murugan Temple is a Hindu temple located in Swamimalai, 8 kms from Kumbakonam on the banks of a tributary of river Cauvery, 250 km from Chennai, the capital of Tamilnadu, India.The temple is one of the six holy shrines of Murugan called Arupadaiveedu. The shrine of the presiding deity, Swaminathaswamy is located atop a 60 ft (18 m) hillock and the shrine of his mother Meenakshi (Parvathi) and father Shiva (Sundareswarar) is located downhill.
The temple has three gopuram (gateway towers), three precincts and sixty steps and each one is named after the sixty Tamil years.The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and three yearly festivals on its calendar. The annual Vaikasi Visakam festival is attended by thousands of devotees from far and near.
It is located on the main road connecting Kumbakonam and ThanjavurThis is the place where the Lord Murugan in childhood taught the meaning of mantra “OM” to his father Lord Siva. It is Lord Muruga’s Fourth home.There are no hills in Thanjavur district. It is in this region, Swamimalai stands. As hills are the abodes of Lord Muruga, He is gracing from this hill temple. There are 60 steps to reach the hill temple representing the 60 Tamil Years. These are considered at par with the importance of 18 steps in Sabarimalai. The deities of the Tamil years are praying to Lord Muruga in the form of steps. Hence, the Padi Puja (puja for the steps) is conducted on Tamil and English New Year days with coconuts, fruits and singing hymns.
Swamimalai Temple, near Kumbakonam is an artificially made hill temple called `Kattu Malai’ and is dedicated to Lord Muruga.The word Swamimalai means ‘God’s hill’.The temple is on the banks of River Cauvery on the road connecting Kumbakonam to Thiruvaiyaru. Swamimalai is world famous for its school that teaches the ancient craft of making bronze icons.
Swamimalai Swaminathaswamy Temple Legends
As per Hindu legend, Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, disrespected Muruga (the son of Shiva) at the time of visiting Mount Kailash, the abode of Shiva. The child Muruga got angry with Brahma and asked him how he was creating living beings. Brahma said that he was creating living beings with the help of the Vedas (Hindu scriptures). On hearing the reply, Muruga asked Brahma to recite the texts from Vedas. Brahma started to recite the text with the holy word called Pranava Mantra, “Om”. At that time Muruga stopped Brahma and asked him to explain the meaning of the Pranava Mantra. Brahma could not reply and hence Muruga knocked Brahma on his forehead with his clenched fists and punished him with imprisonment.
Muruga took up the role of the creator. The Devas (celestial deities) were surprised by the absence of Brahma and they requested Vishnu to negotiate with Muruga to release Brahma.Vishnu could not help and as the last resort, Shiva went to the rescue of Brahma. Shiva came to Muruga and asked him to release Brahma from imprisonment. Muruga refused to release him stating Brahma was unaware of the meaning of the Pranava Mantra (AUM). Shiva asked Muruga to explain the meaning and Muruga extolled to Shiva the meaning of the Pranava Mantra. Shiva behaved like a student to a teacher, listening with rapt attention from his son, giving Muruga the name “Swaminathan Swami”. The meaning of this name is “The Teacher of Shiva”. Following the legend, the shrine of the son Muruga is atop the hillock, while the father Shiva’s shrine is located at the basement
It is said that once, as a result of the curse laid on him by Bhrigu muni, Lord Shiva forgot the “Pranava Mantra”. He immediately sent for his son Subrahmanya and asked him if he knew the Mantra.The young Subrahmanya smilingly replied that he does and he asked Lord Shiva that if only the Lord is prepared to learn the Mantra in a proper manner, then he would teach him. There upon with folded hands and bowed head, Lord Shiva stood before his young Guru (Subrahmanya) with great veneration and learnt the Mantra. As this incident took place in this sacred place it came to be known as “Swamimalai” and the deity as Swaminathan, indicating that the son was superior to his Father.
It is in keeping with this legend that the shrine of Subrahmanya is built on the hillock and that of Lord Shiva below the mound.
As per another legend, once all sages and gods assembled in Kailash, the abode of Shiva. It resulted in the tilting of earth towards one direction. Shiva asked sage Agasthya to move towards South to balance the tilt.Agastya employed a demon by name Ettumba to carry two hills in his shoulders to be placed in the South.The demon carried the hills down south and rested in a place. When he tried to lift one of the hills, it didn’t budge and he found a young man standing at the top of the hill not allowing it to be moved. The demon tried to attack the young man, but was smitten. Sage Agastya identified the young man as Karthikeya and asked him to pardon the demon. Karthikeya readily did so and let the hill remain there at Pazhani. It is a practice followed in the modern times where people carry milk in both their shoulders as a devotion to please Karthikeya.The demon carried the other hill to Swamimalai.
Hymns in praise of the presiding deity have been sung by saint Nakkeerar in Tirumurukatrupadai and by Saint Arunagirinathar in Thirupugazh.
Swamimalai Swaminathaswamy Temple History
The temple of Swaminathan is very ancient one and it is known to have existed even in the 2 nd century BC. It is said that Parantaka Chola I built the temple. The temple was damaged to a great extent and the Gopurams were demolished and razed to ground in the year 1740 when the Anglo-French War was waged later when war broke out between Hyder Ali and the British. Swamimalai is fourth among the six padai Veedu or sacred shrines dedicated to Lord Muruga.The presiding deity here expounded the meaning of the Pranava mantra OM to his own Father Lord Siva Himself.
The temple, in modern times, is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
Swamimalai Swaminathaswamy Temple Speciality
Lord Muruga graces devotees in his best attire. He looks with a ripe, wise and philosophical look during the Vibhuthi (sacred ash) abishek, a majestic Balasubramania in Sandal abishek. If one closely observes the sanctum sanctorum, the peeta — stage- on which the Lord stands looks like the Shivalinga Avudaiyar and the Lord as Shivalinga itself. This represents the philosophy that Lord Shiva and Lord Muruga are but one and not different from each other. In the place of the traditional peacock before the Lord, there is elephant here, which was gifted by Indira after the destruction of demon Harikesa, according to scriptures.
Tamil word Murugu means all youthfulness and handsomeness. Needless to say that Lord Muruga is handsomeness personified.
Greatness of Swamimalai Temple
Swamimalai is the 4th Padaiveedu (army camp) of Lord Muruga. This is where he taught his Father himself-Lord Shiva. Six feet tall Lord Muruga graces with his tuft, sacred thread on the chest and a staff in the right hand and the left on the lap. It is his Vel weapon that created the Nethra Theertha in the temple. He graces in meditation style as a Guru. He graces with the Vajra Vel representing three divine powers — Itcha Shakti, Gnana Shakti and Kriya Shakti. Mother Earth worshipped Lord Muruga for relief from a curse of Mother Parvathi and even after realizing her boon, she is staying here in the form of a gooseberry tree.
Swamimalai temple is praised in the hymns of Arunagiriar’s Thirupugazh and in Tirumugattrupadai by poet Nakkeerar considered as the invocation song in Sangam Tamil literature edition. Brahmma, Bhoomadevi, Indira worshipped the Lord in this temple. As the Lord was a Guru to his own Father Lord Shiva, the place is revered as Gurumalai, Gurugiri.
In Swamimalai, Muruga is known as “Balamurugan” and “Swaminathan Swami”.The temple is built on an artificial hill. In Tamil language, such an artificial hill is called “Kattu Malai”.Another name for this place is “Thiruveragam”.The temple has three topurams’ with three `Praharams’.The `Gopuram’ on the south side of the temple is decorated with statues and contains five storeys while the other two entrances have no towers above them.
The arrangement of the Praharam (also spelt as Prahar) is peculiar in this temple. The first Praharam is at the base of the hill, the second halfway up the hill and the third at the top surrounding the sanctum. Once you pass the ‘Raja Gopuram’ and the `Kalyana Mandapam’, you reach the shrine dedicated to Goddess Sakti at the base. In addition to this there are other shrines for various other deities and the well with Vajra Teertha’.
Steps lead from here upwards towards the top of the hill.When you reach half way up the hill there is a small area where beautiful statues depicting the legend associated with this temple have been created. Further above is the second Praharam.You climb further to reach the level where the shrine for Lord Swaminathan is built.There are various shrines to other deities on the first Praharam.
There are sixty steps and each one is named after the sixty Tamil years. The first thirty steps lead to the second precinct of the temple. The image of Swaminathaswamy is 6 ft (1.8 m) tall. There are golden armours, golden crowns and a diamond lance for Swaminathaswamy. There is a shrine of Vinayagar outside the first precinct. The central shrine houses the granite image of Swaminathaswamy. The first precinct has the images of Dakshinamurthy, Durga, Chandikeswarar and the festival image of Swaminathaswamy.The images of Sundareswarar as lingam (Shiva) and Meenakshi (Parvathi) are located downhill and the first precinct around their shrines have the images of Dakshinamurthy, Durga, Chandikeswarar and Navagrahas.The second precinct and the largest one of the temple house a marriage hall and the chariot of the temple. The temple is one of the most visited temples in the district.
The temple dedicated to Meenakshi Sundareswarar (depicting Lord Vishnu giving his sisters hand in marriage to Lord Shiva) — this temple is known as Kizh Koil. The main temple that enshrines Lord Muruga as Swaminathan swami is known as Mel Koil. There are several small temples around the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. As we enter the 2nd Prakaram, there is a very beautiful structure that portrays the teaching of Omkhara by Muruga to Lord Shiva. Once we cross the 2nd prakaram we can see the temple of NetraVinayagar (Lord Ganesh who blessed a devotee with eyesight) -along with statues of several other gods and goddesses including Karthaveeryarjuna, Idumban and Subramanya swamy. As we approach the sanctum sanctorum, we pass across worshipping Sabhabathi, Senapathi, Shanmuka with Valli and Devasena — all being various manifestations of Lord Kumara or Karthikeya.
There is a beautiful statue of Nataraja or dancing Lord Shiva as well. Poet Saint Arunagirinathar — who sings about this temple in detail in this sacred Tamil hymn Thirupugazh is also represented in the form of an idol here. The main lord of swami malai — affectionately called as Swaminatha — is 6 feet tall with broad shoulders holding Sakthi vel and dhandam (staff). Instead of Mayil Vahanam or the peacock vehicle, Elephant is depicted as the vahana (divine vehicle) in front of the lord. This feature is very unique, not available in any other temples of Lord Muruga. The stala Vriksham for this temple is the Amla tree (Nellimaram).
There are five Theerthams or divine water sources, in and around the temple. They are: Vajra Theertham, Saravana Theertham Netra Pushkarani (well) and Kumaratturai (Kaveri). Legend has it that a blind devotee by name Sumathi lost his eyesight because of his sins. Sage Bharadwaja asked him to go and worship Netra Vinayaga and take a dip in the Netra Teertham to get over his sins and regain his sight. It is believed that the devotee took a dip in the sacred waters and regained his sight as he approached the NethraVinayagar temple.
Nelli tree (Physemblica, Linn Euphorbiaceae).
Scared Tank (Theertham)
There are four Holy Theerthams;
The temple has an imposing golden chariot made of seven kilos of gold, 85 kilos of silver and other metals like copper, beautifully illuminated with electric bulbs.
Devotees on payment of Rs. 1001 can take the deity in a procession in the golden chariot around the outer corridor. Devotees are offered a shawl, ever silver pot and a small box with the Lord’s Prasadam.
Swamimalai is one of the Arupadaiveedu, believed to be the six main abodes of Muruga that mark the different phases of his life. According to Hindu belief, Swamimalai is where Muruga preached “Pranava mantra” to his own father, Shiva, at a young age, after arresting Brahma for not answering his question about Pranava Mantra.The teaching capabilities of Murugan are found as one of his identifying features. The cult of Murugan is of pride to the Tamil people who identify six with Murugan connoting six directions and six chakras in human anatomy.
Worship & Religious Practises
The temple priests perform the puja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Shaiva community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day; Ushathkalam at 5:30 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 10:00 a.m., Sayarakshai at 5:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 7:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 8:00 p.m.
Each ritual comprises four steps: Abhisheka (sacred bath), Alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for Swaminathaswamy.The worship is held amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred texts) read by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast.
There are monthly rituals like Amavasai (new moon day), Kiruthigai, Pournami (full moon day) and sathurthi.The major festival of the temple,Vaikasi Visakam, is celebrated during the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May-June).As per Hindu legend, the celestial deity Indra worshipped Subramanyaswamy on the day of Visakam star and gained strength to defeat the demon Arikesa.
Like other Murugan temples, the worship practises include tonsuring in the temple, ablution of the deity with sandal, panchamirtham (a mixture of five ingredients) and milk are performed by devotees. Carrying milk pots (called palkudam) and Kavadi are other common forms of worship. A few years ago, a popular event called Subramanya Sahasranama, meaning doing archana with 1008 forms of Muruga was celebrated every month. Like in Palani Murugan temple, Vibhuti Abhishekam, the ablution of the central deity with ash is performed.The central deity with adorned with diamond Vel every Thursday.
Swamimalai Swaminathaswamy Temple Opening Time
The temple is open from 5.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and from 4.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Pooja Timings & Fees Structure
Daily pujas to the deities are performed six times a day (six kalams). Usha Kalam, Kalasandhi and Uchikala poojas are performed in the forenoon and the afternoon poojas commencing from Sayaratchai and Rendam kalam are concluded with Arthajama pooja in the night.
Thanga radham swami purapadu
Swamimalai Swaminathaswamy Temple
Lord Muruga is the destination for solution of all problems in human life. People appeal to the Lord for happy wedding life, child boon, family prosperity, longevity, education, wisdom, higher education, job opportunities, and promotion in jobs and for removal of obstacles in their various endeavors.
Tonsuring in the temple, abishekam with sandal, panchamirtham (a mixture of five ingredients), and milk are performed by devotees. Feeding is undertaken by some. Devotees light ghee lamps. Carry milk pots and Kavadi and arrange pujas. Those facing enemy troubles perform Thirisada archana. The rich offer liberal contributions for the maintenance and renovation of the temple.
10 day Tirukarthikai festival in November-December is the important festival of the temple drawing crowd in lakhs. 10 day Chithirai Brahmotsavam in April-May, Vaikasi Visakam in May-June, Aavani Pavithrotsavam in August-September, 10 day Navarathri in September-October, Aipasi Skanda Sashti in October-November, 10 day Margazhi Tiruvadirai in December-January,Thai Poosam in January-February, Panguni Valli Kalyanam in March-April are the other festivals celebrated in the temple.
Of these, the festivals falling in Chithirai, Karthikai and Thai Tamil months are inaugurated with flag hoisting. Thirupadi festival for the steps is celebrated on the English New Year day. Also, monthly Kruthika star days, Monthly Tamil new days, New moon and full moon days, Sashti days, Visakam star days, Tamil and English New Year days, Deepavali and Pongal are devotionally celebrated in the temple. The crowd in the temple is huge on Tuesdays and all festival days.
The temple possesses gold, jewels, diamonds, and rubies, silver vessel and other costly articles worth many lakhs of rupees. Every Thursday, Lord Swaminathan is decorated with Diamond Vel. The day of Krittika is very important and thousands of people worship the Lord every month on this day.The main festivals are the Brahma Utsavam, Skanda Shashti and the festival of Subrahmanya marriage with Valli.
A popular event performed a few years ago is the Sri Subrahmanya Sahasranama (1008 names of Subrahmanya) Archana.A Sahasra namamala, a garland of gold coins on each of which one of the 1,008 names of the Lord was inscribed, was made and offered to the deity. Devotees from far and near in large numbers participated in this holy and pious act.
Here also pilgrims carry Kavadis to the shrine and Abishekams are performed to the idol on behalf of the devotees. Bathing of the deity in holy ashes, known as “Vibhuti Abhishekam” is a feature here as in Palani temple, and in that Abhishekam the idol has a very captivating and awe-inspiring aspect.
The Important Festivals Conducted in the Temple are
Monthly Kiruthikai Festival
Krithigai is an important festival celebrated in the Tamil month of Adi or Aadi.The festival is dedicated to Lord Muruga or Subrahmanya. Incidentally, the festival is also referred as Aadi Krittika, Krithigai, Krittika and Krithika. The festival is celebrated with fervor in the Murugan Temples in Tamilnadu. Krithigai in some regions is celebrated to symbolize the victory of good over evil, when Murugan slew the demon Surapadma.After the annihilation of the demon, Muruga blessed devotees with boons.
Temple Car Festival in April
Navarathri is a festival dedicated to the worship of the Hindu deity Durga.The word ‘Navarathri’ means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Devi are worshipped. The tenth day is commonly referred to as Vijayadasami or “Dussehra” (also spelled Dasara). Navarathri is an important major festival and is celebrated all over India and Nepal. Diwali the festival of lights is celebrated twenty days after Dasara. Though there are total five types of Navarathri that come in a year, but Sharad Navarathri is the most popular one. Hence, the term Navarathri is being used for Sharada Navarathri here.
Visakam Festival in May
The hallowed full moon day in the month of Vaikasi, under the Visakam star is the Vaikasi Poornima also termed Vaisaki Paurnima.The Vaikasi moonlight floods the world with a glorious effulgence making the over arching sky infinite and vast. In our tropical skies, the moon, ‘slowly and silently walks the night in her silver shoon.’ The transparent clouds seem to salute her as she moves unhurriedly. This is indeed Nature’s magnificence manifesting itself with an overwhelming grandeur. And with this mysteriously beautiful soft light of sanctity, comes a hush, deep and strange reminding the Hindus and Buddhists of the significance of this sacred day.
Navarathri Festival in May
Navarathri commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashwin. The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during the beginning of October, although as the dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar, the festival may be held for a day more or a day less.
Kanda Shashti Festival in October
Skanda Sashti is observed on the sixth day of the bright fortnight of the Tamil month of Aippasi (October — November).This day is dedicated to the second son of Lord Shiva — Lord Subramanya, also known as Kartikeya, Kumaresa, Guha, Murugan, Shanmukha and Velayudhan, who on this day, is believed to have annihilated the mythical demon Taraka. Celebrated in all Shaivite and Subramanya temples in South India, Skanda Sashti commemorates the destruction of evil by the Supreme Being.
Thiru Karthikai Festival in Nov/December
Many legends and lyrical poetry have grown round this star. The six stars are considered in Indian mythology as the six celestial nymphs who reared the six babies in the Saravana tank which later were joined together to form the six faced Muruga. He is therefore called Karthikeya, the incarnation of lord Shiva as his second son after lord Ganesha. Stories tell lord Shiva created Muruga from his 3rd eye of six primary faces (Tatpurusam,Aghoram, Sadyojatam,Vamadevam, Eesanam, and Adhomukam).
Stories tells the six forms made into six child and each of them brought up by the six Karthigai nymphs and later merged into one by his mother Parvati. While merging, he also formed into a six faced (Arumugam and twelve handed god.The Lord Muruga is also portrayed with his six plays and worshiped with six names. As the six nymphs helped in growing the six Childs, lord Shiva blessed immortality to the six nymphs as ever living stars on the sky.
Any worship performed to these six stars is equal to worshiping lord Muruga himself. They are worshiped by lit up with rows of oil lamps (Deepam) in the evening of the festival day around the souses and streets. Karthikai Deepam is also known as Kartikeya, or Muruga’s birthday.
Thaipusam Festival in January
The Kavadi Attam is the ceremonial sacrifice and offering performed by devotees during the worship of Murugan, the Hindu God of War. It is often performed during the festival of Thaipusam and emphasizes debt bondage.The Kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore for help from the God Murugan. Generally, Hindus take a vow to offer a Kavadi to the deity for the purpose of tiding over or averting a great calamity. For instance, if the devotee’s son is laid up with a fatal disease, he would pray to Shanmuga to grant the boy a lease of life in return for which the devotee would take a vow to dedicate a Kavadi to him.
Panguni Uttiram Festival in March
This month is special because the Uthiram nakshatram coincides with the full moon. This full moon signifies the marriage of Parvati and Paramesvara (Lord Shiva), Murugan and Deivanai, and Aandaal (also known as Kothai) and Rangamannar took place. On Panguni Uthiram, Narayana marries Komalavalli Naachiyar and give his Kalyana Kola Seva to his Bhakthas.Again,Valmiki’s Ramayana says it is on this day and star that Sita’s marriage with Rama was celebrated. From Brahmanda Puranam we learn that on Panguni Uthiram every holy water joins Thumburu Teertha (also spelt as Tirtha), one of seven sacred tanks in Tirupati Tirumala.
“The Best Donation is Food Donation one Who Gives food, gives Life.”
Annadhanam scheme is in operation in this temple. Since there is no adequate space for accommodation for pilgrims and devotees, an additional land of 2.26 acres has been purchased to build up cottages provided with all amenities like dining halls, bed rooms, batch, toilet etc., and for constructing orphanage, office quarters for temple servants etc., Now steps are being taken to commence the works.
The Donor may participate in this scheme by investing Rs.20000/- and from the interest of this investment every year Annadhanam is given to 100 persons on any one day the donor decides, or the donor may participate in this scheme by giving Rs.2000/- for a particular day for Annadhanam to 100 persons.
Donations are eligible for deduction under section 80G of the IT Act.
Swamimalai Swaminathaswamy Temple Facilities
For the convenience of the pilgrims and devotees, I I rooms, four cottages, two VIP cottages, one donor cottages, three marriage halls and one dining hall have been constructed and are let out at nominal rent ranging from Rs. 20/- to Rs. 100/- per day only.
Among the sub-temples under the administration of the Swamimalai temple, the Sveta Vinayagar temple at Tiruvalanchuli is an important one. The presiding deity Lord Sadaimudinathar and Goddess Perianayaki have been sung by Tirugnanasambandar and Thirunavukarasar in Tevaram.A unique feature of this temple is the Sveta Vinayagar or White Pillaiyar made of the sea foam formed at the time of churning of the Milky Ocean by the Devas and asuras to get the nectar. The sacred Cauvery River flowing nearby herself has turned around in a right semicircle around this shrine and hence the name Valanchuli or right twists. Renovation of this temple at a cost of Rs. 50 Lakhs is progressing.
Another architecturally beautiful temple at Kilpazhayarai dedicated to Lord Somanathaswami is also under renovation at an estimated cost of Rs. 50 Lakhs. It is worth mentioning that this shrine is the birthplace of Saint Mangayarkarasi, one among the 63 Nayanmars. Hymns in praise of the presiding deity have been sung by Thirunavukarasar.
Other sub-temples mentioned below under the administrative control of Swamimalai temple are also to be renovated at a modest cost of about Rs. 5 lakhs each.
Dharmapureeswarar Temple,Vallalar kovil
Chakravageeswarar Temple, Chakkrapalli
Ezhutharinathar Temple, Innambur
All the above temples along with the Swamimalai temple are administered by an Asst. Commissioner / Executive Officer appointed by the Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Dept, Chennai.
The kumbhabhishekam of the temple was performed on 9 September 2015.
How to Reach Swamimalai Murugan Temple Kumbakonam?
Frequent bus facility is available to Swamimalai from Kumbakonam. The temple can be reached very easily.
The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation has buses that connect Swamimalai to almost all the major cities of the state. One can avail of regular buses to Swamimalai from Kumbakonam, Trichy, Chidambaram and Chennai.As this is a popular religious spot for tourists, the number of buses varies from season to season depending on festivals, poojas, etc being held.