Friday, November 22, 2013

Karakkoyil - Amirthakadeswarar Temple, Melakadambur


Karakkoyil - Amirthakadeswarar Temple, Malakadambur (early name Tirukkadambur) - 608 304, Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu is known by the name Karakkoil. From Tamil literary sources we learn that there are nine categories of temple structures dedicated to Lord Shiva. They are: 'Perunkoyil', 'Karakkoyil', 'Gnalarkoyil', 'Koudikkoyil', 'Ilamkoyil', 'Manikkoyil', 'Alakkoyil', 'Madakkoyil' and 'Punkoyil.' 

Thirunavukkarasar (Appar) Thevaram mentions eight kinds of temples. They include They are: 'Perunkoyil', 'Karakkoyil', 'Gnalarkoyil', 'Koudikkoyil', 'Ilamkoyil', 'Manikkoyil', 'Alakkoyil', 'Madakkoyil' and 'Punkoyil.' 


Thirunavukkarasar (Appar) Thevaram (English Meaning)

If the seventy-eight great temples of the Lord Whose matted crest is adorned with the great flood,
Gnaazharkoyil girt with well-protected Groves,
the hill-like Kokudikkoyil of Karruppariyal,
IIangkoyil where with the chanting of the Rig Veda The Brahmins hail and adore the Lord,
Aalakkoyil and every Tirukkoyil where Siva abides,
Are circumambulated and hailed in humble Adoration,
evil karma will get annulled.
Translation: T. N. Ramachandran,Thanjavur ,1995

Thirunavukkarasar (Appar) Thevaram - Original Tamil Text

ஆறாம் திருமுறை

பெருக்காறு சடைக்கணிந்த பெருமான் சேரும்
பெருங் கோயில் எழுபதினோ(டு) எட்டும் மற்றும்
கரக்கோயில் கடிபொழில்சூழ் ஞாழற் கோயில்
கருப்பறியற் பொருப்பனைய கொகுடிக் கோயில்
இருக்கோதி மறையவர்கள் வழிபட்(டு) ஏத்தும்
இளங்கோயில் மணிக்கோயில் ஆலக் கோயில்
திருக்கோயில் சிவனுறையுங் கோயில் சூழ்ந்து
தாழ்ந்திறைஞ்சத் தீவினைகள் தீரும் அன்றே
- திருநாவுக்கரசர் தேவாரம்-

Amongst them, Karakkoil is a structure that the vimana is in chariot like structure. The structure, pulled by horses looks an enchanting appearance. This temple was built by the famous chalukkya chola Kulothunga-I (1070–1120 A.D.) in the year-1113 A.D. the king's 43rd governing year. 

Meaning of Karakkoyil

The region was ruled by Kamba and the term 'karam' in Munda language gives the meaning as Kadambur. Therefore 'karam' + 'koyil' means the temple adopting the 'kadmba' (Botanical Name: Anthocephalus cadamba) as its shrine tree.

Amirthakadeswarar Temple Architecture

The temple is east facing and there is three tiered rajagopuram. The nandhi and balipeetam are found in the front mandapam. The main shrine is east facing and the south facing ambal shrine.


This nine hundred year old temple is the symbol of continuing architectural tradition of the Chola craftsmen and it is one of the later Chola temples which have remained unparalleled in terms of architectural excellence to date.  The architecture and sculptures exhibit consummate artistic skills. The temple vimana (shrine portion of a temple and its superstructure) is built like a chariot (ratha) like structure drawn by two horses. The left wheel is stuck to the earth since Lord Ganesha pressed it. 

The manchabhadra upa-pita or pedestal forms the base. The padma banda adhisthana (socle) consists of 18 different distinct moulded tiers (from bottom up); Upana or upatala (the base), Padma (a layer of lotus motif), Jagathi (straight), Kumuda (round), Kanta (neck),  Patti  and Kapota (layer of lotus petals). Nagara vimana has kirtimukha kudu on each direction and a round kalasa and stupi.

Sanctum Sanctorum

There is prime deity Amirtaketeswar in the form of Shiva Lingam in the square shaped sanctum. The idol is believed to be carved out of Navapashana (solidified compound nine poisonous subtances as per Siddha procedure). The sun rays fall on the Shiva Lingam on 3, 4 and 5 of the Tamil month Panguni (March-April) and the moon rays also fall on the Tamil month Aipasi (October-November) i.e. on Annabhishekam day. The consort is  Jothiminnammai (Vidyujothi Nayaki). There is a rectangular mandapam before the sanctum.

Accessory Deities

This temple comprises innumerable miniature freezes depicting stories from Ramayana, Krishna leela, Lord shiva and life history of  Saivite saints (Nayanmars) from Periya Puranam. (refer the blog for pictures: At the vimana, Lord Dakshinamurthy (Yogic form of Lord Shiva) from the Vimana looks seated on a bull under a banyan tree with a flute and veena, a hole in this statue's ear that extends to the next ear was a wonderful sculpturing. On the upper part of the right outer wall of vimana, Lord Arthanareeswara appears with the bull vehicle while Lord Ranganatha appears below. On the rear side of the outer wall, Lord Vishnu appears by holding a Shiva Linga in his hand with Sri Andal, Garudazhwar and Sri Anjaneya. Lord Gangadhara and Lord Aalinganamurthy also appear from separate wall niches. Lord Aaravara Vinayaka (Ganesha), who pressed the chariot with lot of sound and Lord Muruga with his consorts Valli and Deivanai appear in speparate shrines. Lord Saturn (Lord Sani) also appears with his unique vehicle eagle (normally crow as his vehicle).

Vrushaba Thandavamurthi and Ganesha


The unique and rare panchalokha idol of Lord Vrushaba Thandavamurthi (Lord Shiva), the procession deity with 10 hands appears in a dancing form on his Vrushab or bull vehicle, while  all Devas surrounding his feet. This idol believed to be a Pala dynasty idol. Pala dynasty ruled over Bengal and produced masterpieces of art of a unique style. The idol was brought to Tamil Nadu by the victorious King Rajendra Cholan I of the Bengal war and later it was placed at Melakadambur temple by King Kulothunga Cholan I. King Rajendra Cholan I also captured the Chalukya town Vathapi and brought two idols of Lord Ganesha. The first one was installed at Thiruchenkattankudi and the other one was located at Melakkadambur.

Temple Timings:

 Morning: 07.30 to 09.30 and evening: 05.00 to 08.00

How to Reach

The temple is located at about 32 Kms from Chidambaram and about 6 Kms. from Kattumannarkudi. There are bus services from nearest town Kattumannarkudi to Eyyalur passes via Melakadambur. From bus stop the temple is located within a short distance.


  1. Melakadambur. Wikipedia.
  2. Sri Amirtha Kadeswarar temple

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