Raahu is God of the Ascending / North lunar node. Raahu is the head of the demonic snake that swallows the sun or the moon causing eclipses, according to Hindu scriptures. He is depicted in art as a dragon with no body riding a chariot drawn by eight black horses. He is a Tamas Asura who does his best to plunge any area of one’s life he controls into chaos. The rahu kala is considered inauspicious.
According to legend, during the Samudra manthan, the asura Raahu drank some of the divine nectar. But before the nectar could pass his throat, Mohini (the female avatar ofVishnu) cut off his head. The head, however, remained immortal and is called Rahu, while the rest of the body became Ketu. It is believed that this immortal head occasionally swallows the sun or the moon, causing eclipses. Then, the sun or moon passes through the opening at the neck, ending the eclipse.
Tirunageswaram, one of the famous Navagraha shrines, is located in Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu, India. This temple is mentioned in the hymns of Thevaram and is thus classified as a Paadal Petra Sthalam. Rahu is the Navagraha associated with this temple.
Many serpents, including Adishesha, Takshaka and Karkotaka, worshipped Shiva at this place, leading to the name “Tirunageswaram”. As per Hindu legend, the king of snakes, Adisesha did penace at this place, called Senbaranya Kshetram on account of the presence of large number of Senbaga trees. Shiva was pleased by the penance and appeared to him. Since Shiva gave a boon to the king of Serpents, he is called Naganathar. A Goddess Girigujambal is believed to be worshipping Shiva here with goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Ganesha,Muruga, and Shasta. Maha Bhairava is still believed to be guarding and assisting the divine mother during her prayers. The Goddess is said to be Swayambu as she is present in the form of Meru. Hence, no abhishekam(ablution) is performed for the image. As per a Hindu legend, Indra was cursed by sage Gautama as he misbehaved with the latter’s wife Ahalya. To obtain deliverance from the sage’s curse, it is said that Indra worshipped Giri-Gujambigai with a scented material termed Punugu for 45 days.
Sages like Gautama and Parashara and Kings like Bhagiratha and Nala are said to have worshipped Naganathar here. The ablution of the image of Rahu during Rahukaalam with milk turning to blue colour in this temple is considered to be a miracle and attracts devotees from distant places.
The Stately Temple
The temple is located on the southern bank of the river Kaveri 7 km from Kumbakonam. The temple campus encompasses exclusive shrines for Lord Naganatha Swamy (Shiva), Goddesses Pirayani Amman (Parvathi), Giri-Gujambigai (Parvathi) and Rahu with his divine spouses. Goddess Girigujambal has a separate shrine inside the temple campus as it is believed that the goddess is in thava kolam (mode of deep penance). Four worship services are held each day and the annual celebration is held in the Hindu month of Pankuni(March–April). There is a local belief that the worship during morning, afternoon and evening needs to be performed at the three Nageswaran temples namely 1
The temple is another masterpiece which exhibits the Chola style of architecture. It is believed to have been built by Aditya Chola I in 10th century A.D. Later rulers have modified the temple with their own additions.
Description: This Shivastalam is a vast temple known for its shrine to Raahu, one of the nine celestial bodies – Navagrahas- hence a Navagrahastalam visited by thousands. (Rahu and Ketu are associated with the legend of the churning of the milky ocean.)
Tirunageswaram is considered to be the 29th in the series of Tevara Stalams in the Chola kingdom located south of the river Kaveri.
It is located adjacent to the Vaishnava Divya Desam Uppiliappan Kovil outside the town of Kumbhakonam. Sekkizhaar, the author of Periyapuranam, named the temple that he built at Kunrattur in Tondai Nadu after this temple.Offering worship at Kudandai Keezhkottam (Nageswarar temple) in the morning, at Tirunageswaram at noon and atTiruppampuram in the evening on a given day is considered to be of special significance.
Legend has it that the mythological serpents Aadi Seshan, Dakshan and Kaarkotakan worshipped Shiva here. Legend also has it that Nala worshipped Shiva here as in Tirunallaar. Gowtama muni, Paraasarar and Bhageerata are also associated with legends related to this temple.
The Temple: This temple occupies an area of 15 acres and it has Vast prakarams, towering gopurams, and several mandapams. The fort like walls which surround the outermost prakaram are pierced with four entry towers. There are as many as 12 Theerthams here. There is an image of Sekkizhaar and a mandapam built by him, here as well.This temple was built by Gandaraditya Chola son of Parantaka Chola I. The inner mandapams and the outer mandapams were built by Sekkizhaar and Govinda Deekshitar (minister of Achyutappa Nayakar).
There is a shrine to Raahu in one of the prakarams. The Piraiani Nudalaal Ambaal shrine is situated in the inner mandapam near the Naganathar shrine, while the Girikuchambika shrine is housed in a separate sanctum.
Festivals: The annual Bhramotsavam is observed in the month of Kartikai while the Sekkizhaar festival is celebrated in the month of Vaikasi.