From Kanchi, we set of to Uthiramerur and enroute we stopped at Magaral. I was told that the temple here was built in 7th-8th C by Rajendra Chola. If the date is right, it should have been Vijayalaya Chola and if it was Rajendra Chola, it must have been 11th C. Anyways, lets go ahead with just 'Cholas'. The Lord Shiva here is called Magaraleeswarar. His consort here is Goddess Thiru Bhuvana Nayaki.
The legend of the temple is that once the king tried to catch a Golden Monitor Lizard. However it ran away and got into a ant hill. But before it could go in completely the king caught hold of its tail. Well, the monitor lizard was an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Since he got into an anthill, which is called Puttru in Tamil, the Lord is also called Puttridam Kondar. The Shivalingam here looks sharp and thin like the tail of monitor lizard. When the King caught it, it got hurt at the tail. The scar of that would supposedly is seen still and so the Lord is also called Paarathazhumbar. And ofcourse He's also called Udumbeesar, coz monitor lizard is called Udumbu in Tamil.
The best part is that this entire story is depicted in the lowest row of the Gopuram. The present gopuram structure was built in 1963 and a little Bhootha Gana at the edge carried a scroll that says 1963! Beside him is a man seen carrying a whole jackfruit.
The Carriers of the Gopuram - a man and woman. Just look at the way the fabric drapes on them, so realistically!
The King, minister and soldier spotting the monitor lizard.
The monitor lizard getting into the anthill as its being attacked.
The King with Lord Brahma worshipping the Sivalingam.
The King with Lord Ganesha worshipping the Sivalingam.
Also, there's another important legent associated with the temple. Magaran was a demon who was killed by Lord Muruga who came on the white elephant called Iravatham, from Thirukazhukundram (another temple located close by). That's why the Lord Shiva here is called Magaraleeswarar. And that's why a sculpture here shows Lord Muruga on an elephant instead on his regular peacock!
Here are some intriguing relief sculptures in the Maha Mandapa...
Just outside the Ardha Mandapa were these 2 bronze items that caught my attention. One was a bell plate and another was a 5 in 1 bell. The plate bell has inscriptions on it. The 5 in 1 bell has bulls (rishabam) on the 4 corners!
This temple too like Madambakkam and Ponneri, is a Gaja Prashta Sivalayam in architecture. That is the back of the temple is curved.
The entire lower section of the temple is filled with several lines and lines of inscriptions. The sthala vruksham (tree of the temple) is Lemon tree. Hymns from Thevaram have been sung on this temple. Some of the shrines around are of Ardhanari Bhairavar, Valli Devasena Subrahmaniya, Goshta Vinayaka, Arupathumoovar, Dakshinamurthy, Vishhnu, Durga, Chandikesa, Brahma, Nataraja, Navagraha.
Btw, the Lord Shiva here has several names - Adaikkalam Thandha Nathar, Parindhu Kaathavar, Paarathazhunbar, Putridam Kondar, Nilayitta Nadhar, Mangalam Kaathavar, Aabathsagaayar, Agasthishwarar, Udumbeesar, Thaduthaatkondavar, Udumbeesar, Magamvaazhvithavar, and ofcourse Magaraleeswarar!!!
TO GET THERE:
From Chengalpet: 40 km via Uthiramerur towards Kanchipuram
From Kanchipuram: 16 km towards Uthiramerur
Ph. no. of the priest: Shanmugasundara Gurukkal - +91 94448 10396
Google Coordinates: http://goo.gl/maps/s48W3
Dedicated to Shiva, Gopu & Vishwa