What are the Navgraha Temples?
As the name ‘navgraha’ suggests these holy temples are dedicated and devoted to the nine celestial planets which are considered to be the most powerful influences on our lives. The planets included in these temples are surya (sun), Chandra (moon), mangala (mars), Budha (mercury), Brihaspati (Jupiter), shukra (venus), shani (Saturn), Rahu (north lunar node) and ketu (south lunar node). South India is known for being home to these temples which were built between the 7th and 9th century, making it one of the prime centres for religious tourist attractions in India.
Here are the navgraha temples of South:
Sooriyanar Kovil (Sun) (Thanjavur district)
Dedicated to the almighty Hindu sun deity, Surya, the temple is located in a village close to the south Indian town Kumbakonam. The presiding deity of the temple is the sun Lord and his consort Ushadevi and Pratyusha devi. Separate shrines are also present within the temple premises which are dedicated to the other eight planetary deities which complete our entire solar system. This temple is considered to be unique for being the only temple to house the eight other planetary deities. This magnificent temple boasts of classically depicting the typical Dravidian and south Indian architecture styles making it a complete treat for the eyes.
Kailasanathar (moon) (Thanjavur district)
This Hindu temple is dedicated to the moon god soma and is situated at a distance of few minutes from Kumbakonam. Although dedicated to the moon lord, the presiding deity image is that of Lord Shiva or ‘kailasanathar’. This majestic looking temple consists of a 5 tier of massive rajgopuram structures which is surrounded by two other closed boundaries of a temple. A mystical and magical feature about the temple is the fact that during the Tamil month of Purattasi which takes place between the months of September and October, and during Panguni which is held between the months of March and April, the moon light illuminates the presiding deity’s image by falling directly on it.
Vaitheeswaram koil (mars) (Nagapattinam district)
This Hindu temple is dedicated to the celestial planet of Mars (Angaraka) and is one of the prime navgraha temples in Tamil Nadu. The presiding deity is that of Vaidyanathar or ‘god of healing’ who is an incarnation of Lord Shiva. It is believed that a worshipping to the lord here will rid you and cure you of all your diseases and ailments. Inside the temple premises there is a tank present here and is supposed to contain nectar by dipping in which will cure all your physical problems. Legend has it that, during the age of Ramayana, this place had served as the place of worship for Lord Rama, his brother Lakshman and the holy saptarishis making this a hub for worship.
Swetharanyeswarar temple (mercury) (Nagapattinam district)
This hindu temple which is situated in the town of Thiruvenkadu and is an important shaivite pilgrimage destination in Tamil Nadu. The presiding deity is dedicated to a form of Lord Shiva which is of Swetharanyeswarar as well as his consort of Brahmavidya ambal. The temple is an important navgraha site since it is the home for the celestial planet of mercury. Being home to a unique incarnation of Lord Shiva, Agora Murthi, this place is a hub for Shiva worshippers. Sitting on the banks of the holy river Kaveri this temple site is also known as the Kashi Vishwanath of South. The premises of the temple houses 3 pools and 3 gods, and a dip in the pool is supposed to free you of all your life problems like diseases and even delays in marriage.
Apatsahayesvarar temple (Jupiter) (Alangudi)
Devoted to the celestial planet of Jupiter, the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is situated in the tiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu. The entire temple complex pans over an area of 2 acres and is home to a two tier of massive gateways which are known as gopurams. The Brahmotsav festival here is celebrated with great pomp, show and colour. The original temple structure is said to have been built by the powerful cholas and during the modern times it has become one of the prime centres of religious tourist attractions.
Agniswarar temple (venus) (kanjanur)
This Hindu temple is dedicated to the celestial planet of Venus, and is located in the Kumbakonam district of Tamil Nadu. The presiding deity of the temple is that of Shukra (venus lord) however, like other temples, the main idol is that of Lord Shiva.this has been done in concordance with the popular Shaivite belief that Lord Shiva is the almighty. Another reason for the main idol being dedicated to Lord Shiva is the fact that venus is said to reside in the stomach of the Lord, making it even more holy. This massively majestic temple houses a 5 tier of classically designed rajagopuram which attracts a swarm of visitors each day.
Tirunallar dharbaranyeswarar temple (Saturn) (Karaikal)
This Hindu temple is dedicated to the celestial body of Saturn or Shani and is located in the Karaikal district of Pondicherry. The presiding deity is that of Lord Shiva and the temple has also found mentions in the 7th century hymns of Tamil shaivite poets like Appar, sundarar and sambandhar. The worship and puja rituals are all centred on the icon of planet Saturn which was originally treated as the door keeper of the entire shrine. The temple is also classified as an important Paadal petra sthalam and is one of the 275 temples which have found its mention in the Saiva canon.
Tirunageshwaram temple (rahu) (Thanjavur district)
This place is also known as Rahu stalam and this Hindu centre of worship id dedicated to the almighty deity Lord Shiva. Situated in the outskirts of Tamil Nadu in Kimbakonam district, this temple is an important temple among the Hindu sect of avid Shiva followers called Shaivites. Represented in the form of a lingam and is worshipped in the form of naganathar. This deity has been mentioned in the 7th century Tamil Shaiva work of Tevaram and is also calssified under paadal petra sthalam. This temple is home to numerous legends and myths pertaining to Hindu mythology one of them being that the lord of snakes – Adishesh did his penance here.
Naganathaswamy temple (ketu) (keezhaperumpallam)
Located at a distance of 7 km from Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, this temple is visited by people from different regions of the Indian subcontinent that come to pay homage to Lord Ketu. This temple is now a protected monument by Tamil Nadu government. The main idol sitting inside the temple shrine is that of Lord Shiva and his wife Goddess parvathi. It is the only temple where Lord Ketu is worshipped in the form of a human face while in other temples the same lord is worshipped in the form of a serpent face.