The ancient village of Pandamangalam near Namakkal in Tamilnadu has a history that connects it with the great Indian epic poem, Mahabharatha. It is believed that the Pandava brothers lived here for a brief period during their vanavaasam – their years in exile. In fact, many places in Tamil Nadu have local legends about one or all the five Pandavas visiting or living briefly there during their exile and tell of incidents that took place during their stay.
The legend of the Venkataramana swamy temple which is the most famous temple in Pandamangalam, says that when the Pandava brothers lived here, they were saved from a demon by Krishna. The demon was engaged by enemies to kill the brothers. Krishna in order to save them, made the waters of the Varaha Theertham near the temple, poisonous. The brothers fell dead when they drank the water. The demon was confused on seeing their lifeless bodies and in a fit of anger returned to destroy the persons who had sent it. Then Draupadi prayed that they may be revived and Venkataramana swamy appeared before her and brought the Pandavas back to life. There is a temple for Draupadi in the village.
Pazhaya Kasi Vishwanathar Temple
Down the road from the Venkataramana swamy temple, is a small Siva temple that is known locally as the Pazhya Kasi Vishwanathar temple, or the old Kasi Vishwanathar temple. The prefix Pazhaya meaning old is used because there is another newer Kasi Vishwanathar temple in the village.
It is this tiny, Siva temple at the edge of the village that local people say, has a lingam which was worshipped by Arjuna, the third of the five Pandava brothers.
Surrounded by fields of sugarcane, betel vines and banana, the temple is not immediately obvious. There is no gopuram tower indicating the presence of a temple, just a gateway with an arch in a compound wall with a small board bearing the name of the temple.
A paved pathway amid tall trees leads to the temple. This is a very small temple, a Siva temple in miniature!
The main sanctum has a lingam with the name Kasi Vishwanathar. The goddess is Kasi Visalakshi. A small Nandi is seen outside. Dakshinamurthy, Durga, lingothbavar are ensconced in tiny alcoves in the outer walls of the sanctum. There is a shrine for Chandikeswar. A shrine for Lord Sani and one for Lord Bhairava are built a little away from the sanctum.
An ancient stone pillar in front of the temple called as sthambam in Tamil, has an image of a warrior with a bow carved on it, which is believed to be the image of Arjuna.
The speciality in the temple is that the sanctum is built insuch a way that the early morning rays of the sun fall on the Sivalingam and the setting sun’s rays fall on the shrine of Saneeswara.
It is believed that sage Kapilar on his way to fetch water from the Cauvery for worship at the Murugan temple on Kabilar malai, stopped every day to worship at this temple. It is believed that great Siddhas have visited the temple. In recent times, when new temples are constructed, before consecration, idols of the deities are brought to Kasi Viswanathar temple and due pujas are performed.
The temple is located away from the village and the other bigger temples in it and surrounded by lush farmlands. It is not surprising that Arjuna chose this secluded peaceful place for worshipping his beloved Siva.
Trees and herbs in temple worship
The village people and devotees from neighboring villages have planted medicinal trees, herbs and shrubs around the temple, and they say that it is important to live in harmony with nature and protecting Nature and trees will give us abundant good health.
Medicinal herbs like siddha arandhai, thumbai, karunthulasi, karu oomathai, karu nocchi, keezha nelli, manjal karisilai, siva karandhai and trees like Jack, Betel palm, Neem, Mango, Guava, Nagalingam, Vilvam, Nelli, Coconut and Banana trees are grown and maintained.
Devotees take pride in the rituals for Pradosham, Pournami, and Tiruvathirai days every month. Abhishekam in this temple is done by using 96 varieties of sun-dried and powdered medicinal herbs dissolved in water. During the Pournami puja on full moon days, in addition to the above, 7 kinds of herbal oils are also included in the rituals.
It is heartening to see the community’s involvement in all the activities of the temple. It is only when the local community is involved that such ancient temples are preserved for future generations.
We sat for some time in the temple as it is customary to do so. On the far side the fields of sugarcane and banana stretch as far as one can see.
It is a very peaceful place and when the fragrant breeze blows from the surrounding farmlands, it is tempting to close my eyes and let myself become completely immersed in the peace. One day I would like to come before dawn to see the rising sun’s rays enter the sanctum.
The temple lies close to Venkataramana swamy temple and both can be visited together. All you have to do is walk down the road from the Venkataramana temple. The entrance to the Siva temple is on the left hand side of the road, past the Garuda sthampam.
Mornings – 5 a.m to 10 a.m
Evenings – 4.30 p.m to 7 p.m
Arulmighu Pazhaya Kasi Viswanathar Aalaya archagar