One temple that is very famous for Sivarathri is that of Vilva vaneswarar at Tiruvaikavur. This is where the hunter, though inadvertantly, did archanai to Siva with vilva leaves on Maha Sivarathri night.. Devotees from all over Tamilnadu throng this temple on this holy night.
Brahma and Vishnu are the Dwarapalakas in this temple.
You will see Nandhi facing away from the Lord. It is one of the few temples where Nandi faces the opposite direction. Some of the other temples are Vada Thirumullaivayil near Chennai and Thiruvallam in Vellore district.
Presiding Deity: Vilvavaneswarar
Sthala vriksham : Vilva tree
Holy water: Ema theertham
Hymns: Thevaram (Gnanasambandar).. Padal petra thalam
Sri Vilvavaneswarar Temple, Thiruvaikavur
Sri Vilvavaneswarar Temple History
While sage Thavamuni was performing penance, a hunter was chasing a deer. The Muni gave asylum to the animal. The hunter began to attack the Muni. Seeing this, Lord Shiva came there in the form of a tiger and chased the hunter. The hunter climbed a tree for protection and stayed on the tree waiting for the departure of tiger waiting to kill him. It was Maha Sivarathri night. The hunter, to keep himself awake, picked the Vilva leaves and was dropping it. The leaves fell on the tiger, which was but Lord Shiva himself and thus unknowingly performed a Shiva Puja on the holy Sivarathri day. The Lord gave Darshan and salvation to the hunter.
Sri Vilvavaneswarar Sannathi, Thiruvaikavur
The Lord of Death Yama came there to take away the life of the hunter as it was his expiry day. Nandhi was indifferent to the visit of Yama and did not check him. Lord Shiva, in the form of Dakshinamurthy was angry with Nandi for negligence of duty. Nandi immediately bound Yama by his breath. Yama worshipped Shiva and made a tank opposite to the temple performed pujas and took leave.
Thiruvaiakavur is 17 Kms from Kumbakonam, 45 kms from Thanjavur and 7 kms from Swamimalai.. It is on the Kumbakonam-Thiruvaiyyaru bus route near Andakudi , has bus facilities from Kumbakonam. For those coming from other places, car journey would be convenient. Nearest Railway station is Kumbakonam, the airport Trichy. Thiruvijayamangai is two kilometres from Thiruvaikavur. This is also a paadal petra thalam (Gnanasambandar and Appar)