The village called Adiyamaan Kottai (அதியமான் கோட்டை) is located eight kms from Dharmapuri in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu. It was once the historic fortress of the Adiyamaan kings – a line of Tamil Velir(வேளிர்) kings who ruled over Dharmapuri, Salem and surrounding regions.
Some ancient temples are located within this area. One of them is the temple of Lord Kaala Bhairavar, the God of Time. It is a small and beautiful temple with only one shrine –the shrine of Kaala Bhairavar. There are no shrines for other deities not even for Lord Vinayaga. It is thought to be as important as the Kaala Bhairav temple in Varanasi, one of the holiest cities in India.
Originally believed to have been built in the Sangam era(4th century BC to 2nd century CE) by Adhiyaman Neduman Anji,( அதியமான் நெடுமான் அஞ்சி) the most famous king of the Adhiyaman dynasty, this famous king was also one of the seven great donor kings of ancient tamilagam –the kadai ezhu vallalgal(கடையேழு வள்ளல்கள்).
It is said that holy men and sages were sent to Kasi/Varanasi by King Adiyamaan to bring the idol of Kaala Bhairavar which was duly consecrated in a temple in his fort. The reign of King Adiyaman Neduman Anji spans a turbulent period in the history of Tamilagam which was rife with wars between the kings known as kuru nila mannargal(குருநில மன்னர்கள்). The temple was built by Adiyaman Anji to ensure victory in the many battles he fought.
It is believed that when King Adiyamaan was killed in battle by his foe – the Chera king Peruncheral Irumporai, the royal ladies and children used a secret underground path from this temple to escape from the enemy.
These stories belong to a genre known as karna- parambarai (கர்ண பரம்பரை) which means they have come down to us by word of mouth. Often happenings that span a couple of thousand years are told as stories from generation to generation. These stories are a unique way of remembering history and are as good as the written word.
The present temple was constructed in the 9th century CE.
Importance of Kaala Bhairavar
Kaala Bhairavar is a form of Lord Siva.
Worship of Lord Bhairavar is common to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
The Sanskrit word kaala denotes time.There are good times and bad, moments, hours, the daytime and night-time, sunrise, sunset, years, lifetimes, yugas and so on, all of which are a part of the great circle of time, the Kaala chakra. A Sanskrit verse from the epic Mahabharata quotes Vidura as saying,
kālaḥ pachati bhūtāni, kālaḥ saṃharate prajāḥ |
kālaḥ supteṣhu jāgarti, kālo hi duratikramaḥ ||
Time devours all things, Time kills all that are born.
Time is awake while all else sleeps, Time is insurmountable.
– Vidura in Mahabharata
It is this unseen reality of the universe -Time, that Siva as Lord Kaala Bhairav rules.
Lord Bhairava is also known as kshethra paalaka and is worshipped as a protective guardian deity. Shrines for Kaala Bhairav can be seen in all Siva temples. It is a temple ritual to submit the temple keys at closing time to KaalaBhairav who guards the temple at night.
He is the custodian and protector of the 52 shakti peetas all of which have a shrine for Bhairava.
He is also the protector of pilgrims and travellers.
It is believed that he liberates us from the influences of the navagrahas, cures chronic diseases and fulfills wishes in no time.
This temple has a pillared maha mandapa, an artha mandapa and the Garba griha.
The Mahamandapam of this temple is unique. The ceiling is divided into nine sections – each is designed as a diamond shaped recess called a chakra. Thus each is a chakra for each of the nine planets. The chakras representing the planets are designed around the central Surya chakram. Devotees are asked to walk under the chakras and then offer prayers to Kaala bhairavar.
The idol of Kaala Bhairava is seen with his vahana, the dog, on a Padma peedam, the lotus pedestal. It is about three feet tall and faces south. Although the deity holds a trisul, a kabalam and has a halo of flames around its head, it is a very peaceful, benevolent form.
An ancient idol of Nandi is seen facing Kaala Bhairavar in the maha mandapam .Behind the image of Nandi is a stone pedestal that is used for lighting a lamp. There is a carving of Vinayaga at the base of the pedestal and one of Nandi at the top. The images are typical of a Siva temple, though this is not one in the traditional sense. They are probably there because kaala bhairav is worshipped as an avatar of lord Siva.
There are running reliefs of sculptures that go all around the outer walls of the temple. Take time to look at these sculptures that depict war scenes, gods, and armed soldiers and so on.
In the outer courtyard there is a statue of Parshvanatha Tirthankara on a raised pedestal. Called as Mahavirar by the local people, not much is known about it though it is generally thought that the saint supported the king when the temple was built. In any case it is a classic example of religious harmony of the age.
In fact the temple itself was lost to time until over a decade ago when a swami from Karnataka visited the temple and explained its importance. The area around the temple was covered in vegetation so much so that it was almost impossible to go near the premises. On the sanyasin’s advice,it was cleared, a kumbabishekam was done and worship was resumed. Devotees from the state of Karnataka were the first to visit, followed by people from Tamil Nadu.
The temple did not have a gopuram until the present gopuram and other mandaps were added around three years ago. Although the extensions are necessary considering the enormous crowds that this temple attracts, it is a fact that they detract a little from the beauty of the temple and its location in an idyllic rural setting.
Some customs are unique to this temple and perhaps to the worship of lord Kaala bhairava.
Palm leaf plates with unusual diyas made out of white pumpkin halves, coconut diyas, and diyas made of lemon halves are sold for Rs.50 a plate. Lighting these deepams/diyas is said to ward of the evil- eye, bring success in business and relief from all kinds of problems in life.
Another unusual custom is to circle the temple 18 times on ashtami – the eighth day of the lunar fortnight and on Sundays. Given the big crowds that come to the temple on ashtami days every month, it is an unusual sight to see so many people circling the temple at the same time.
Why this temple is unique
Temples dedicated solely to lord Kaala Bhairavar are rare and this temple is one of them.
It is a 1200 years old temple and the deity belongs to a much earlier period in time – the Sangam Age of 2000 years ago.
It is one of the temples situated within the historic area known as Adhiyamaan kottai, which is the Tamil word for fortress of Adhiyamaan.
Note:Adiyamaan was the name of the one of the dynasties that ruled ancient Tamilagam which was as powerful as the better known Chera, Chola and Pandya dynasties of the time.
Best time to visit
Although it is considered auspicious to visit the temple on Thei-pirai ashtami days, Sundays and new moon days if you hope for a peaceful visit sans crowds avoid visiting at these times. Weekdays are usually quiet. The temple is a great favorite with astrologers.Special homam and poojas are conducted on certain days. Priests urge you to take part in these, temple shop-keepers urge you to buy the deepams unique to this temple… but even without all this it is a fact that this is a temple where prayers are answered.
The temple is located just off the Salem-Dharmapuri road, 6 kms from Dharmapuri in Tamil nadu.
7 a.m to 12 noon
4 p.m to 8 p.m.
Sri Kaala Bhairavar Swamy temple
Tamil Nadu – 636 807