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Suriyanar

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Surya is the chief, the solar deity, one of the Adityas, son of Kasyapa and one of his wives Aditi, of Indra, or of Dyaus Pitar(depending by the versions). He has hair and arms of gold. His chariot is pulled by seven horses, which represent the seven chakras. He presides as “Ravi” over “Ravi-var” or Sunday.

The Suryanar Temple is a Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu, South India. It is located in the village of Suryanarkoil in the Thanjavur district. It is dedicated to the worship of the Hindu Sun-God and the other Navagrahas, and is considered one of the Navagraha temples.

It is stated in one of the inscriptions found in the temple that is was built in the reign of Kulottunga Choladeva (AD 1060-1118) and was called Kulottungachola-Marttandalaya.

Suryanaar Koyil was built by the Chola kings. Inscriptions from the period of Kulottunga Chola I (1075-1120) refer to this temple as the Kulottunga Chola Martanda Alayam. Kulottunga Chola is said to have had a good relationship with the Gahadwal dynasty of Kanauj (1090 – 1194), whose rulers were Sun worshippers, and hence Suryanar Koyil, is considered to be an expression of their influence in South India.

Inscriptions from the period of Krishna Deva Raya, speaking of endowments made to this temple are also seen here.The Suryanar temple faces west. The presiding deity here is Suryanarayana in a chariot like vimaanam, representing the sun’s chariot. There are also shrines to Kasi Viswanathar, Visalakshi and Brihaspati (Guru) in the sanctum. Shrines to the other celestial bodies are located outside of the sanctum.

The sanctum and the ardhamandapam are built of stone, while the rest of the shrines are brick structures. The Kol Theertha Vinayakar shrine is considered to be of importance here. An elaborate worship protocol involving circumambulating the entire temple nine times, is prescribed for devotees visiting the temple. Protocol requires that one visits the Tirumangalakkudi Shivastalam before visiting Suryanaar Koyil.

Ratha Saptami in the Tamil month of Thai, and the first Sundays in the months of Aavani (Leo) and Kartikai(Scorpio) and Vijaya Dasami are celebrated in this temple.

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