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Time Required : 1-2 hours

Entry Fee : No entry fee

Timings : 6:00 AM - 9:00 PM

Alangudi Guru Temple, Thanjavur Overview

Alangudi and its temple are famous for being the Holy Sthala surrounded by the three holy rivers Cauvery, Kolidam and Vennaru. The place and the temple are intimately connected with each other and have some historical, mythological and local folklores tied to its past origin and present legend. The Alangudi Guru Temple is devoted to Abathsahayeswarar form of Shiva - the one who digested the poison of Vasuki Nag to save humanity from its toxin during samudra manthan. It also houses his female counterpart Elavarkuzhali and some other deities as well.

The temple is also known for being the home of Devguru Brihaspati or the planet Jupiter. As per Hindu Mythology, the nine planets are considered to be gods of heaven, where Earth, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are replaced by Sun, Moon, Rahu and Ketu. Tamil Nadu has nine temples dedicated to each of these nine celestial beings, and this one is for Jupiter. Staying true to the yellow hue of the planet we see in pictures, gifting yellow garments here is considered sacred. The transition of Jupiter from one zodiac to another's constellation is celebrated here as a big festival. Other festivals like Thai Poosam and Chithhtirai Purnima are also celebrated with pomp and show.

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History and Legend of Alangudi Guru Temple

History and legend have been mixed up with each other where the background of the Alangudi temple is considered. While some say that it was constructed by the Cholas and later on renovated by the 16th century Madurai Nayak rulers who were known for revamping many Hindu temples previously rampaged by the Delhi Sultans. However, the temple authority's website says a different story which sounds more like a myth than history.

The temple is said to be built by King Masukuntha Chakravarti. He beheaded his minister Amuthokar when he refused to give up his merit of virtue in the king's name. However, the land echoed with the minister's name "Amuthokar when the beheading was done. This scared the King and thus he built the temple and piously worshipped Lord Shiva to rinse his sins. No real date of the temple's origin can be pinpointed from any historical accounts or documents.

Mythological Significance of Alangudi Guru Temple

Like every temple of India, the Alangudi Temple also has a mythological significance with ancient Hindu texts and beliefs. The story of how Lord Shiva ingested the poison of the snake Vasuki that he spat out while he was being used by gods and demons to churn the ocean to retrieve the nectar of immortality is known by many. As per the myth, Vasuki's poison would kill anyone on earth, hell or heaven if they come in touch. So, Lord Shiva took it himself to save the three worlds and thus was named 'Abathsahayeswarar' which in Tamil means 'rescuer'.

The Abathsahayeswarar form of Shiva is the principal deity in this temple, even though it is represented by the lingam only. However, Lord Shiva is not the only celestial being to whom the temple is dedicated. Among the nine Navagraha temples of Tamil Nadu, where each one is devoted towards one of the nine planets in our solar system, Alangudi is the abode of Jupiter or Guru Brihaspati, the master of the gods.

Architecture of Alangudi Guru Temple

The temple has a distinct Chola architecture of the end of BCE - beginning of CE age, along with certain Nayak-era highlights. It has two gopurams which are the special layered and ornate gateways that South Indian Hindu temples are so famous for. The rajagopuram facing the Abathsahayeswarar deity is five-tiered. The other one faces the north. The Alangudi Temple premise is over two acres in area and houses shrines of some good many gods and goddesses. However, Lord Shiva himself and his loyal consort Elavarkuzhali - an avatar of Parvati, are the most popular ones.

Navagraha Temple of Guru Bhagwan

In the Abathsahayeswarar Temple of Alangudi, Lord Shiva is worshipped as the master of supreme knowledge 0 Guru Bhagwan. Guru translates to teacher and thus this aspect of him is considered to be the preacher of music, wisdom, yoga, textual knowledge and everything else. In this context, the temple is said to be the abode of the Guru graha Brihaspati or Jupiter who is considered to be the Guru of the gods. It is one of the nine Navagraha temples scattered across Tamil Nadu - each of them devoted to one of the Grahas of the universe.

Devotees flock here to offer their respects to the all-knowledgeable deity for good education, long life, prosperity and valour in life. Offering yellow clothes and yellow lentils to Guru Bhagwan is a tradition here. Devotees light 24 ghee lamps and do pradakshina of the Shiva shrine 24 times. Thursdays being Guru-var or the days of Guru, are quite crowded. For the same reason, the Guru Peyarchi festival is also celebrated here in a big way. It is the day of transition of the planet Jupiter from one zodiac symbol's constellation to another's.

Important Festivals at Alangudi Guru Temple

The Gurupeyarchi festival is an important one in this temple since it is believed to be the home of Guru graha. The day of transition of planet Jupiter from the constellation of one zodiac sign to that of another is celebrated here as Gurupeyarchi and devotees consider this as a very special occasion. Other than that, Masi Maham, the ten days long Chaitra Pournami festival, Chitthirai Purnima, Thai poosam, Panguni Uthiram and the chariot festival of Lord Dakshinamurthy are all celebrated here with much pomp and devotion. If you visit the temple on any of these days, you will find it pretty crowded.

Special Meal Service at Alangudi Guru Temple

Any devotee who wants to conduct a free meal service can do so by donating to the Annadham facility of the temple. Upon donation of INR 25,000, 100 devotees of Guru Bhagwan will be provided with a free meal on any day the donor wants to arrange the service.

Alangudi Guru Temple Pooja Timings

The Abathsahayeswarar temple in Alangudi witnesses six daily worships from the first one at 6:00 AM to the last one ending at 9:00 PM with gaps and other occasional pujas in between.

Kalasanthi at 6:00 AM
Irandam Kalm at 9:00 AM
Uchikalam at 12:00 PM
Sayarakshai at 6:00 PM
Irandam Kalm at 7:30 PM
Arthajamam at 9:00 PM

Each ritual comprises of four steps: abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram (bedecking), naivethanam (prasad offering) and deepa aradanai (puja with lamps).

How To Reach Alangudi Guru Temple

Alangudi can be reached via bus services from Kumbakonam side, where the nearest railway station is around 14 km away, or from Tiruvarur side as well. Buses and open auto-rickshaws are easy transportations in Alangudi. For convenience, you can hire a car.

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