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Cultural and religious significance of the Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval

Thiruvanaikaval also known as Thiruvanaikal, in Jambukeswaram, is a famous Lord Shiva temple in Tiruchirapalli (Trichy), in the state of Tamil Nadu. The temple was built by Kocengannan (Kochenga Chola), one of the early Cholas, around 1,800 years ago. It is located on the Srirangam island, which has the famous Ranganathaswamy temple.


Pancha Bhoota Stalam refers to the five Lord Shiva temples, each representing the manifestation of the five prime elements of nature - sky, air, fire, water and earth. Pancha means five, Bhoota means elements and Sthala means place. All these temples are located in South India, with four of these temples in Tamil Nadu and one in Andhra Pradesh. The five elements are believed to be enshrined in the five lingams, and each of the lingams representing Lord Shiva in the temple has different names based on the elements they represent. In the temple, Lord Shiva is said to have manifested himself in the form of water (Appu Lingam). The other four manifestations are Prithivi Lingam (representing earth) at Ekambareswarar Temple, Akasa Lingam (representing sky) at Thillai Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram, Agni Lingam (representing fire) at Annamalaiyar Temple and Vayu Lingam (representing air) at Srikalahasti Temple.


In the third enclosure, there is a coconut grove with a small tank where the festival image of Vaishnavite Srirangam temple used to be brought once a year. The practice is abandoned due to the conflict between the Saivities and the Vaishanvites. As Akilandeswari worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple, even today at noon the 'Archakar' (priest) dresses like a female and does puja to Jambukeswara and 'Ko Maatha' (cow). The noon puja is very famous and a host of pilgrims attend it every day. A special variety of black cow, called Karam Pasu is used for the occasion. Annabhishekam to the lingam (ablution with cooked rice) is a daily ritual performed at the temple. The temple is one of the hosts for the annual Natyanjali, a festival of classical Indian dance. The temple also has a school for training nadhaswaram, a classical pipe instrument in Tamil Nadu.