Thiruvanaikaval (Tamil: திருவானைக்காவல்) (also Thiruvanaikal, Jambekeswaram) is a famous Shiva temple in Tiruchirapalli (Trichy), in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The temple was built by Kocengannan (Kochenga Chola), one of the Early Cholas, around 1,800 years ago. It is located in the Srirangam island, which has the famous Ranganathaswamy temple.
Thiruvanaikal is one of the five major Shiva Temples of Tamil Nadu (Panchabhoota Sthalams) representing the Mahābhūta or five great elements; this temple represents the element of water, or neer in Tamil. The sanctum of Jambukeswara has an underground water stream and in spite of pumping water out, it is always filled with water.
It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where all of the four most revered Nayanars (Saivite Saints) have sung glories of the deity in this temple. The temple has inscriptions from the Chola period.
Formation of 'Appu Lingam' (Parvathi’s penance)
Once Parvati mocked Shiva’s penance for betterment of the world.
Shiva wanted to condemn her act and directed her to go to the earth from
(Shiva's abode) to do penance. Parvathi in the form of Akilandeswari as
per Shiva's wish found Jambu forest (Thiruvanaikoil) to conduct her
penance. She made a lingam out of water of river Cauvery
(also called as river Ponni) under the Venn Naaval tree (the Venn
Naaval tree on top of the saint Jambu) and commenced her worship. The lingam is known as Appu Lingam (Water Lingam). Siva at last gave darshan to Akilandeswari and taught her Siva Gnana. Akilandeswari took Upadesa (lessons) facing East from Shiva, who stood facing west.
The legend of the name 'Thiru Aanai Kaa'
There were two Siva Ganas (Siva’s disciples who live in Kailash):
'Malyavan' and 'Pushpadanta'. Though they are Shiva Ganas they always
quarrel with each other and fight for one thing or other. In one fight
'Malyavan' cursed 'Pushpadanta' to become an elephant on earth and the
latter cursed the former to become a spider on earth. The elephant and
the spider came to Jambukeswaram and continued their Shiva worship. The
elephant collected water from river Cauvery and conducted ablution to
the lingam under the Jambu tree (Eugenia jambolana) daily. The spider constructed his web over the lingam
to prevent dry leaves from dropping on it and prevent sunlight directly
falling on it. When the elephant saw the web and thought it was dust on
lingam. The elephant tore them and cleaned the lingam by
pouring water and the practice continued daily. The spider became angry
one day and crawled into the trunk of the elephant and bit the elephant
to death, killing itself. Siva, in the form of Jambukeswara, moved by
the deep devotion of the two, relieved them from the curse. As an
elephant worshipped Shiva here, this place came to be known as Thiru
Aanai Kaa (thiru means holy, aanai is elephant, kaa (kaadu) means forest). Later the name 'Thiruaanaikaa' become 'Thiruvanaikaval' and 'Thiruvanaikoil'.
In the next birth, the spider was born as the King Kochengot Chola
(kotchengannan cholan meaning red-eyed king) and built 70 temples and
this temple is the one among them. Remembering his enmity with the elephant in his previous birth, he built the Shiva Sannathi
(sanctorum) such that not even a small elephant can enter. The entrance
on the sanctorum of Jambukeswara is only 4 foot high and 2.5 foot wide.
Legend behind king's red eyes
There was a story behind the king's red eyes - When he was in his
mother's womb the palace astrologer predicted a sacred time to give
birth to enable the newborn's well being. The queen went into labor
early, before the time predicted by the astrologer. The queen hence told
the servant to hang her upside down for the time to come so that she
could have a wise and virtuous son who could head the kingdom
righteously. This waiting time inside the womb made the baby's eyes red.
After becoming the king, he build the temple for Siva and Goddess
Akilandeswari in the name of Aanaikka (elephant protected) later days it
changed to Thiruvanaikovil.