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Sirkazhi, Chidambram Overview

Sirkazhi is a small town in Nagapattinam district of the Tamil Nadu located 250 km from the capital city of Chennai. It is a part of Cauvery Delta region and is situated at a distance of 13 km from the shores of Bay of Bengal. The small town encompasses an area of 13 sq km and is graced with the number of historic edifices from the Medieval period to the modern period of British colonization. Temples, beaches, fort, museums and very intriguing history, the town of Sirkazhi has everything imbibed in its relatively small parameters. A pleasant, peaceful town with historical past, Sirkazhi is adopting modern developments while upholding and honouring its customs and beliefs of a traditional South Indian village.

Graced by many historical antiquities and edifices, the town has been ruled by the Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Later Pandyas, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Marathas and the British, giving it substantial historical value. It is also believed that the Tamil Trinity of Carnatic music; Arunachala Kavirayar (1711 to 78), Muthu Thandavar (1525 to 1600) and Marimutthu Pillai (1712 to 87), has its origination in Sirkazhi. According to legends, it is in this village that Lord Brahma prayed to Lord Shiva and asked him to rescue 64 art forms during a devastating flood that was destined to destroy the entire planet. This is the reason why Lord Shiva is the principal deity in the town and has some beautiful temples dedicated to his worship. Pilgrims from all over the country flood to this small town to take the Lord's blessing especially during Mahashivratri and Diwali. During these festivals, the whole town is decorated with festive lights and diyas and the people are filled with joyous spirits.

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Etymology and Origin of Sirkazhi

In the ancient times, Sirkazhi had been given twelve different names including Brahmapuram, Venupuram, Thonipuram, Kazhumalam, Pugali, Sirkazhiswaram and Shri Kali. According to Hindu mythology, it was here in this town that Lord Shiva rescued and 64 arts on a raft (called thoni in Tamil) during one of the disastrous storms that was destined to submerge planet earth. This is one of the reasons that Lord Shiva has been worshipped as the principal deity and is called "Thoniappar" (the one who carried the "thoni"). The legend also says that it was Lord Brahma who worshipped Shiva and requested to do the deed and hence he is also given the name of "Bhramapureeswarar" (the one was worshipped by Brahma) and the region is called "Bhramapureeswaram".

Another legend narrates that here Lord Shiva quelled the arrogance of Lord Vishnu, showing his dominance over the three worlds and hence got the name "Sattainathar". The town was thus named "Sattainathapuram", which now is a suburb of the town.

Sirkazhi is also known as the birthplace of Tirugnanasambandar. It is believed that goddess Parvati herself feed the infant saint the milk of wisdom at a temple Bank. Upon drinking it, the child started reciting the anthology of Tevaram hymns, commencing with "Todudaiya Seviyan". Sambandar refers to the town as "Kazhi" in his poem.

Later, during the Chola period, the town was named as "Kalumalam" and then as "shiyali" during the British rule. It was only after independence that the town was called by its present name "sirkazhi".

Places To Visit in Sirkazhi

Sattainathar Temple 
Also known as the Bhramapureeswarar temple, this is an ancient temple located at the heart of the town. It is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva and is mentioned in the Shaiva canonical work, "Tevaram", composed by Thirugnanasambanthar, Tirunavukkarasar and Sundarar, the foremost of Saivite saints during the 7-8th century. Shiva here is worshipped in three divine forms, the Shivalingam (Bhrammapureeswarar), Uma Maheswarar (Toniappar), and Bhairavar (Sattanathar). A separate shrine of Goddess Parvati feeding an infant tSambandar is also at the temple banks. Every year during the Tamil month of Chithirai (April/ May), a 10-day festival is celebrated in the reverence of the presiding God.

Timings: 6:00 AM - 1:00 PM, 4:00 - 9:00 PM

Kazheesirama Vinnagaram
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is also known as Thadalan Koil. The lord here is worshipped in the form of Trivikrama, who is Vishnu in his Vamana avatar, wherein he asks for 3 footsteps of land and measure 3 worlds in those steps.

Timings: 7:30 AM - 11:30 AM - 4:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Sattanatha Swamy Temple
The temple is one of the major pilgrimage centres of the town. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva in his Bhairava form and offers a beautiful panoramic view of the Brahmapureeswarar Temple. The imposing gopurams (towers) and mandapams (shrines) are a sight to behold and are a perfect example of South Indian Architectural motifs.

Thirunangur Divyadesams
This is renowned as the birthplace of Thirumangai Azhwar. It is believed that the place comes alive during the Thai Amavasai (New Moon day in January). During this time 12 different deity of the Divya Desams is taken for a procession on Garuda. It is one of the most thrilling beautiful sights to be seen in the town.

Timings: 8:30 AM - 11:30 AM, 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Sirkazhi also forms the base of several outlying attractions like Poompuhar, and the temples Thirusaikkadu, Thiruppallavaneeswaram, Melapperumpallam, Keezhaperumpallam, Thiruvengadu and Thirunangur.

History of Sirkazhi

The foremost historical reference of Sirkazhi found of the town was in the history of Chola King Kocengannan from the Sangam Age (3rd century BCE to 4th century CE), who is believed to have won a bloody battle here. The Cholas ruled over this place for more than four centuries, from 850 to 1280,  and commissioned many temples during their reign. In fact, there are over 41 inscriptions found at these temples recording various gifts like land, sheep, cow, and oil by the kings.

The city was also famous during 6th-7th century. This town became the sight of the infamous battle between the two sects of Hinduism, Saivism and Vaishnavism. The battle was caused when two saints Tirugnanasambandar and Thirumangai Azhwar, belonging to Shaivism and Vaishnavism respectively had disputes over the richness of their religious compositions and theologies.

After the long Chola kingdom fell apart, the region came under the control of Pandya in 1532 and later became a part of Thanjavur kingdom. In the year 1674, the region was conquered by Ekoji I (1675–84), the Maratha enemy of the Nawab of Bijapur and half-brother of Shivaji. Later, during the mid 18th century the region came under the control of the British East India Company. After independence also, the city remained a part of the Thanjavur kingdom until 1991, when it finally became a part of newly created Nagapattinam district.

Best Time To Visit Sirkazhi

You can visit the place during any part of the year, but it is best to visit during the winter months, to have some respite from the scorching heat. Thus, the ideal time to visit is from October to March.

Tips For Visiting Sirkazhi

1. You can buy the Artistic works made of kilinchal, and sea items from Poombuhar.
2. Enjoy the delicious South Indian cuisine at local restaurants.

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