Temples of Swargapuram Kingdom
Ambar Mahakalam Koil
This ancient temple is situated on the northern banks of the river Arasalaru. As per the stone inscriptions available in this temple, the temple was first built in the 12th Century AD by King Kulothunga Cholan-I and later extended by King Vikrama Cholan. The historical names of this place are Marapuri and Indirapuri.
Puranic History of Ambar Mahakalam Koil
It is said in Hindu Scriptures that Sage Durvasa (an incarnation of Lord Paramashiva) was once traveling to worship Paramashiva in the form of Sri Brahmapureeswarar (where Paramashiva is worshipped as Lord of the Universe). On his way, a demon-woman named Madhalolai saw him and fell in love with him. She pleaded for a child through him. He blessed her, and she conceived two demonic children named Amban and Ambarasuran. When she breastfed her two children, they drank her blood instead. In this way, she died, but before dying she told her two children to worship Brahmapureeswarar. They obeyed her and worshipped Paramashiva in this form every day. They grew to be skilled fighters, archers and wrestlers.
However, due to their demonic nature, as they grew older, they killed many humans and even tried to kill Devas (divine beings). All the Devas and sages rushed to Lord Paramashiva to address this problem. However, as the two demons’ powers came from the devotion that they had towards Paramashiva, He was could not stop them nor take back his boons. Hence, they turned to Devi parvati, the divine consort of Lord Paramashiva, to help defeat these demons. Devi parvati then, assumed the form of a Mohini, a seductive and beautiful maiden. She was accompanied by Lord Vishnu, who took the form of an old man. They made their way to a temple in Thanjavur dedicated to Lord Vishnu called the Veetrirundha Perumal koil. People began to gather there, and the men in the kingdom began to line up in asking for the beautiful Mohini’s hand in marriage. Hearing of this, Amban and Ambarasuran rushed to the temple. They saw Devi Parvati in the form of Mohini and both fell in love with her. They individually expressed their wish to marry her, but Vishnu, in the form of the old man advised them that she would only choose one of them, and she would choose who is fit to marry her amongst them.
Hearing this, both the demons began to fight with each other. Amban won the fight, and in doing so, killed his brother Ambarasuran.
Upon victory, amban turned to the Mohini to finally ask for her hand in marriage. However, when he turned to her, he saw that she had turned into Bhadrakaali – a ferocious form of Devi parvati. He became extremely afraid and transformed into a bull, and ran away from her. This place, where Amban transformed into a bull, is called Kidamangalam. On seeing him run, Bhadrakaali ran after him and killed him with her trishul (trident) at a place called Ambagarathur. To this day, the soil in Ambagarathur is naturally red, marking the spot where Bhadrakaali defeated this demon.
After this incident, the people of the village requested Bhadrakaali to reside there and protect them always. Thus, she stands in the temple, facing North (which gives her the name Vatabhadra Kali).
The temple was initially known as Ambara-harattur meaning victory over Ambaran, which subsequently became Ambagarathur.
However, since Bhadrakaali had committed Brahmahatya (the sin of killing of brahmins, the priestly caste in Hinduism), one of the gravest sins to commit, she created a Shiva Linga with her own hands in Thirumangalam village and worshipped it to clear the repercussions of this. This Shiva Linga is now worshipped in an adjacent temple called Kovil Thirumahalam. Anyone with the dosha (sin) of Brahmahatya can worship Paramashiva at this temple to be free of it.
Anyone who goes to the Ambar Mahakalam Koil to worship Bhadrakaali must also go to the Kovil Thirumahalam to worship Paramashiva in order to finish the entire ritual of visiting this temple.
Many years later, a sage named Madanga Maharishi lived in the same village. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Paramashiva. Due to his sincere love and devotion, Paramashiva appeared before Madanaga Maharishi in the form of Shanteshwara, and decided to live in that place in the form of a Shiva Linga which is now called the Mathangeeswara Shiva Linga. Madanga Maharishi also prayed for a boon to have a child, and Lord Paramashiva blessed him with a daughter who was an incarnation of Devi (consort of Lord Paramashiva) Herself. She was named Raja Matangi. When she grew older, she prayed to Paramashiva for the boon to marry him. He granted her this boon, and she married Paramashiva at this temple. Since then, the deities of this temple are known for granting boons of successful marriage to all the young couples and unmarried persons who come here. An unmarried couple can bring two red Oleander(Arali flower) garlands for the deities and perform archanas (rituals and offerings). After that, the boy or girl should get back one garland and wear it.
Somayaji Mara Nayanar
Somayaji Mara Nayanar is one among the sixty three Nayanmars (saint-poets known for their devotion to Paramashiva). He wanted to perform Somayagam with his wife Suseelai in this temple on the day of Vaikasi Ayilyam star (2nd day of the Vaikasi Brahmotsavam festival). He was going to perform a yaga, ( a fire ritual) in the temple and wanted Paramashiva Himself to accept the offerings and attend the yagam. Another of the Nayanmars, Sundarar, had fallen ill, and Somayaji Mara Nayanar had healed him.Then, Somayaji Nayanar asked for Sundarar to help him invite Paramashiva for his Yagam. Sundarar agreed, and Paramashiva appeared before them, saying that he would surely come for the yagam. However, his only condition was that Somayaji Nayanar should welcome Him in whatever form he appeared, no matter how ghastly. Somayaji Nayanar agreed and on the day of the yagam, he waited eagerly to spot Lord Paramashiva. At the time of offering the final oblations, a poor and haggard-looking man walked in with his wife and a dead calf on his shoulder. Four dogs accompanied him. Many were frightened at this sight and left the ceremony, taking it as a sign of inauspiciousness. However, Vinayagar, the son of Paramashiva, appeared and revealed that this poor man was Paramashiva Himself, accompanied by Devi and Skanda (his consort and son), the dead calf was Nandi (his protector) and the four dogs were the four Vedas (source scriptures of Hinduism). He was overjoyed and welcomed them to the yagam, offering the oblations to Paramashiva Himself as per his wish.