Semmeninathar temple at Thirukkanur near Vishnampettai is one of the 275 padal petra sthalams. This is on the banks of River Coleroon or more commonly known as Kollidam River. Vishnampettai is special to me because it is the village of my maternal ancestors. I have spent the summer holidays in this small village with my brother, sister and cousins. My Great grandfather started the school at this village about 125 years ago, around the year 1885. His father had earlier started the School at Thirukattupalli which later became the Sir Siva Swamy Ayyar Higher Secondary school.
The Shiva lingam here is one of the 64 Suyambhu lingams. The Lord’s concert at this temple is Soundarya Nayaki and She is also known as Sivayoganayaki. The ambal here has not got a crown but is seen to be having Jadamudi (long braided hair). The theertham here is veda theertham. This temple is believed to be over 2000 years old. This temple was actually submerged in the sands on the banks of Kollidam. It was accidentally discovered by a shepherd. There was a single sugarcane tree at the spot where the temple was unearthed. Hence He is also known as Karumbeswarar; Karumbu meaning sugarcane in tamil. This temple was originally built by the Pandyas and was later renovated several times by the Cholas.
The Great Chola King Karikala Cholan was hiding in exile here. Karikala Cholan’s father died when Karikala was very young. His mother raised him in this village to protect him from enemies. When political normalcy returned, the Chola courtiers sent the royal elephant in search of the young Prince. The elephant found him here. Karikala Cholan went on to become one of the most renowned of the Chola rulers. He built the Kallanai or Grand Anicut on Cauvery. This dam is the oldest in the world and is more than 2000 years old. It is a nice little picnic spot about 20 kms from this village. Grand Anicut is just about 17 kms from Trichy or Srirangam. Wonder why this place is not as famous as it should be.
Getting back to the story of the temple, Paravathi was once separated from Shiva and had come to the earth to perform Her penance to unite with Him. She found this village at Thirukkanur suitable for the same. Pleased with Her devotion, the Lord appeared before Her as a column of fire. Due to the heat He was red in colour and hence He came to be known as Semmeninathar; sem meaning red and meni meaning body in tamil. There is a belief that visiting this temple as a couple will clear all misunderstandings and result in a happy marital life. Reuniting with estranged spouse is also one of the benefits of praying at this temple.
This temple faces east and the sun’s rays fall on the lingam on the 2nd, 3rd & 4th of April. These days are special days at this temple when Lord Surya is believed to come here and worship the Lord.
The nandi at this temple is seen in a very unique posture. It can be seen with its front left leg planted on the ground and ready to get into a standing position. It is in a posture ready to execute instructions from Lord Shiva. Praying at this temple is said to improve career prospects and result in job for the unemployed.
Those who are afflicted with chronic illness can do puja to the Lord here with the Vilva leaves and get cured. People (especially women) who are facing hurdles in getting married can overcome these hurdles by offering garland of red arali (oleander) to Soundaryanayaki and then lighting a ghee lamp in her sanctum sanctorum. The childless couple are blessed with progeny by doing abhishegam to Shiva and Ambal and offering garland of erukkam flowers (Crown flower). Generally sweets are also offered to the God and Goddess. The Ambal at this temple is made out of Salagram stone.
Parasurama had pledged to wipe out 21 generation of Kshatriyas and did so. The slaying of the Kshatriyas by him resulted in him being afflicted with Kshatriya Hatti Dosham. He had prayed at 21 Shiva temples to get rid of the affliction. This was the eighth of those 21 Shiva temples.
This place was once ruled by the Pandyas. The Pandyas ruled though local Chieftains who ruled on behalf of the Pandyas. The local Chieftain here was very just and had taken good care of his subjects. The Cholas waged a war on the Pandyas and reclaimed some of the lost kingdom. During this time, the local Chieftain here was captured, while his wife was let off because she was pregnant. However, the Chola rulers also said that those who helped the woman would be banished from the Kingdom. The lady who was in the advanced stage of pregnancy was not helped by anyone at Thirukkanur due to the fear of being thrown out of the kingdom. She was heartbroken and angered by the conduct of the very same people for whom they had done a lot. She cursed that the whole village be submerged by sand, and so it did happen. The villagers then moved a little further away to Vishnampettai and settled there. An ancient name for Thirukkanur is Manalmedu (mound of sand).
When you visit the temple, do not miss the bath in the Kollidam. You will find locals there on the banks of the river. Be sure to enquire with the locals before entering the river as Kollidam is notorious for quicksand. It is safe provided you know the areas to avoid.
Thirukkanur is about 4 Kms from Thirukattupalli and 30 Kms from Tanjore. From Trichy/Srirangam it is 35 kms.
Other Temples Nearby:
Sri Vadivazhagiya Nambi Perumal Temple, Anbil
Agneeswarar Temple at Thirukattupalli
Temple Timings: 10 AM to 11.30 AM & 3.30 PM to 5 PM
This temple is not known and there are not many visitors excepting those tracing their roots to Vishnampettai. The timings given are only indicative and the priest who goes to a couple of other temples also nearby may tweak it to suit his convenience. Hence, it is advisable to call the temple priest and inquire before proceeding to the temple.
Arulmigu Semmeninathar Thirukovil
Thirukkanur, Vishnampettai Post
Sri Vivek +91-4362-320 067, +91- 93450 09344