The Temple
    Chola King “Ko Chengot Cholan” (He is also called as Chenkannan) constructed this temple in 1st Century B.C. Ko Chengot Chola had built 70 other Shiva temples all over Tamil Nadu and he is one among the 63 “Nayannmars” (Holy Saivite saints). Thiruvanaikoil temple was built according to 'Saiva Aagama Sasthra'. According to Saiva Agamam, the temple reflects the human body and the idol of Lord Shiva is considered as the soul. Many other kings like Pandiyas and Nayakars of Madurai later renovated this temple.
The 2nd and 3rd praharams were built in 13th century A.D. and the 4th Praharam was constructed in the late 13th century A.D.

There is eight other “Kodi Maram” (flag masts) in this temple in the 3rd praharam. Apart from the main huge “Kodi Maram” in front of the Lord and one in front of Devi Akilandeswari.

Thiruvanaikoil temple was built in an area close to 18 acres and measures 2500 feet by 1500 feet. The temple has five “Praharams”. All the temple “Madhils” (wall) are 35 ft. high and 6 ft. thick and measures 2436 feet by 1493 feet. The “Swami” (Shivalinga) is installed facing West and “Ambaal” (Akilandeswari) facing East.

View of the 3rd praharam in the temple, an example for Thiruvanaikoil temples architectural marvel

There are many mandapams in the temple, a 1000 Pillar (This Mandapam is on the North West corner of the 3rd praharam. To be precise its on your left when you enter the temple) and a 100 Pillar Mandapam (this is on the North East corner of the 3rd Praharam), Vasanta mandapam (The mandapam is surrounded by pool of water where Lord Shiva and Goddess Akilandeswari are worshipped on summer evenings), Somaskandha mandapam, Nataraja mandapam, Trimurthi mandapam, etc. The  thousand-pillared mandapam looks like a chariot.


Raja Gopuram: This is the Gopuram in the West 5th Praharam (the main entrance). The other 3 entrances of 5th praharam have no Gopurams.

Sundarapandiyan Gopuram: The East Gopuram on the 4th praharam. Pandiya King Jadavarman Sundarapandian constructed this.

Mallappan Gopuram: This is the West Gopuram in the 4th Praharam. King Sandhirabendiran son of King AdhithayDevan built this in 1435 A.D.

Karthigai Gopuram: This Gopuram is the West Gopuram after Mallapan Gopuram. This was constructed in the early 13th century (at the period of Third Kulothunga Chola)

Vibhoothi Praharam

There are many interesting legends in this temple. When the king “Thirruneetru Sundara Pandiyan” was constructing the 5th Praharam wall on the East Side, he was running out of money to pay to the laborers for the next day of work. On that night in the Kings dream Lord Shiva asked him to continue the work.  As per the Lords wish the King continued the construction and at the end of that day a Sanyasi (saint) came there and he gave the laborers pinches of sacred ash. That sacred ash turned into gold equivalent to the work done by them. Then only the King and others came to know that the Sanyasi is none other than the Lord himself. Because of this instance the East Side praharam is known as “Vibhoothi” (sacred ash) praharam.