Lord Shiva here is one of the 64 swayambhu lingams. The Lord faces West in this temple. This village is the birthplace of Manakanjarar, one of the 63 Shaivite Nayanmars. Krithika nymphs who took care of Lord Muruga are also believed to be born here. This is believed to be the temple where those born under Krithika Nakshathiram are to pray regularly for a trouble-free life. Visiting on the day of Krithika Nakshathiram is said to do immense good to those born under the star.
The legend associated with the temple goes thus. Tarakasura, after severe Tapasya or penance to please Brahma, wanted the boon of being immortal, undying and invincible. Brahma could not grant this boon as it would make the demon all-powerful. So, Tarakasura added a condition that he may be killed only by the son of Lord Shiva. Tarakasura added this condition because, at that time Lord Shiva was in a state of Self-imposed exile. Sati had burnt her body in Daksha’s Yajna and since then Lord Shiva had gone into this state. So, Tharakasura reasoned that and there was no way that Lord Shiva was going to come out of this in the near future and thereby it was impossible for Him to beget a child. Emboldened by this boon, he attacked the Devas regularly.
The worried gods came to Lord Vishnu seeking a solution. They were asked by Lord Vishnu to get Lord Shiva out of the reclusive state. Meanwhile, Sati was born as daughter of Himavan, the Mountain-King. She was named Girija or Parvati.
The Gods came up to Himavan and made him agree to give his daughter Girija in marriage to Lord Shiva. Himavan took his daughter Girija to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva did not agree to the proposal. Girija protested and got into a tapas to get married to Lord Shiva.
The Gods now approached Kamadeva or the God of Love to distract Lord Shiva from His ascetic state. Kamadeva was reduced to ashes in his endeavor when Lord Shiva opened His third eye and was burnt by the Rays arising from it. When Lord Shiva came to know of the facts and the circumstances that lead to Kamadeva’s misadventure, He pardoned Kamadeva and reinstated him.
Lord Shiva in the meanwhile, tested Parvati’s devotion to Him when He went to Her in the guise of a a young Brahmachari and asked Her to marry Him. She declined. Lord Shiva was satisfied and granted her the boon. Now the intensity of the rays emanating from Lord Shiva was so powerful that it could potentially devour the whole Universe. Agni was entrusted with the mission of disquieting the Lord’s privacy to save the Universe. Agni sneaked into the Lord’s private room and asked for alms. An angry Lord lifted his Trident to obliterate Agni but was calmed by Parvati. Parvati went in and reappeared with the offering of Bhiksha by when Agni appeared in his original form. Parvati was infuriated and cursed him and to be all-devouring.
In the early hours of a cold winter morning, in the month of Karthika, Agni was blazing on the Banks of the Ganga. The wives of the Rishis had come for their morning bath. The cold was overwhelming and they went to Agni to warm themselves. As they reached the proximity of the fire they were all impregnated. The rays of Lord Shiva entered their bodies and Agni was released.
Unable to bear the heat, these rays were thrown into the Ganga by them. These rays were cooled by Ganga and a six-headed child was born. This child was known as Shanmukha or Karthikeya and a variety of other names. He is revered and famous as Muruga in South India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore. Elsewhere, He is probably not accorded the same importance that is given to Him in these places. He is especially prayed by the Tamils all over the world.
Karthikeya was made the ‘Senapati’ or the leader of the army of the Gods. Karthikeya waged war or Tarakasura and killed him.
As per Kandha Puranam, the origin of Karthikeya’s is different. Rays of fire emanated from Lord Shiva’s third eye and fell on six lotuses in a lake called Saravana Pogai. These six balls of fire then changed into six charming children. Krithika nymphs or Karthigai penngal as they are called in Tamil, were sent by Lord Vishnu to take care of the Six children and nourish them as their own. On hearing this, Lord Shiva and Parvati arrived here. As soon as Parvati embraced the six children,they became one child with six heads and twelve hands.
It is believed that the ray of golden light emerged from the Lord here and hence this place came to be known as Kanchana Nagar, Kanchana meaning gold. The present name Kanjanagaram is a corruption of this. The Lord here is known as Gathra Sundareswarar or Karthika Sundareswarar. Since this place is associated with the birth of Lord Muruga and the Karthika Nymphs, it has special relevance for the people born under the Krithika Star.
His Consort here is Thungabalasthanambigai. She is seen holding a Nilotpal flower or blue lotus, discus and conch. Supposedly Lord Shiva himself, in the form of a parrot is seen on Her left Shoulder. Darshan of the Goddess and this parrot on Pradosham days is believed to bless the devotee with a happy marital life.
Kanjanagaram is at a distance of 4.3 km from Sembanar Koil. It is 41.7 kms away from Nagapattinam. It is at a distance of 6.5 kms from Mayiladuthurai and 12.5 Kms from Sirkazhi. If you intend to perform any pooja or archana, please do take the necessary things with you. There are no shops here.
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Temple Timings: This temple is relatively unknown which is visited by very few from outside the village. It would be a good idea to call up the priest and inquiring his availability before visiting the temple.
Sri Gathra Sundareswarar Temple,
Nagapattinam district – 609 304.
Phone: +91 4364- 282 853, 94874 43351