This is one of the most ancient paadal petra sthalams sung by saint Appar .The lord has fed appar as a Brahmin here. The temple is famous for the rebirth of Yama,the famous tiger stone granite construction. legend says it is 64 yugas old!! you can see the striped granite here
How to reach:
On the trichy salem road after you cross tollgate look for the road to Mannachanallur on the right (SH64).Take a turn and in 25 kms you will reach Mannachanallur. Thetemple is 6 kms north east of this town. It is also only 3 kms from Tiruvellarai pundarikaksha perumal. It can also be reached from Samayapuram on the Trichy Chennai Highway . It is about 20 kms from here.
There is no Rajagopuram. The temple was constructed by Mahendra Pallava and the beginnings of the tower were built by Sundara Chola.There are archeological evidences in the nearby rock cut cave temples about the grants to this temple.You can see the unfinished gopuram and the Kasi viswanathar on the right
Legends of the temple:
This place was the ashrama of Markandeya maharishi and he and his daughter Lakshmi were in penance here.
Sibi Chakravarthy was the ruler here many yugas ago. He was an ancestor of Dasaratha. The atrocities of asuras like Ravana perturbed him and he came with his army and rested here in the neeli vanam. Neeli is a peculiar Banana not consumed by people or animals. This is the sthala vruksham here.
Sibi saw a white boar (swetha varaha) and chased it to the ant hill at tiruvellarai and found the image of Pundarikaksha perumal. Markandeya maharishi asked him to stop the army’s march as perumal will take an avatar later to vanquish Ravana and directed Sibi instead to build the Tiruvellarai temple.There is a Raavana kulam here .
This place was also the ashrama of Vashishta who prayed to the lord to give him darshan of the Cosmic dance given to vyagrapada and Patanjali at Chidambaram. So the lord did so .This place is also called Vada(north) Chidambaram.
Once Ganesha and Adiseshan were playfully combating and in a rare display of strength adiseshan hugged the kailas mountain and crushed it. One of the pieces was dispersed here. There are statues of ganesha and Adisesha in the vasantha mandapam here where they did penance to repent for their mischief. This is seen below.
When Yama was to take the life of Markhandeya Siva saves markhandeya and kills Yama(temple at Tirukadaiyur). As a result no death takes place and the earth becomes heavy. and chaotic with the increase in population.Bhudevi found that only here things were peaceful. She then prayed to Siva to resurrect Yama to restore balance. There is a cave here where in the form of Somaskanda Siva restored Yama to life. Yama emerged from a pillar here as a pilaka form . It is believed that prayer here will remove the fear of Yama.It is customary to first visit this shrine then wash your feet and then visit the main temple complex.
We then move into the main temple into third praharam by the entrance below
The Third praharam has the Dwaja sthambam , Amman sannidhis(yes two) and the Vasantha mandapam and sannidhis for vinayaka and adisesha
There is no Navagraha sannidhi here. Just before the Dwajasthambam all the navagrahas are depicted as pits “Navgraha kuzhi” and lamps are lit in these pits
The kulam in front of the second Amman's temple
when you move to the second praharam A small entrance leads you to the Sivan sannidhi.
Sooryan and chandran are also present.