For believers in astrology and the influence of planets over individual destiny, Tamil Nadu is a great destination. Indian astrology is determined by the planetary position of nine planets in a geocentric orbit. Navagrahas simply mean nine planets and there are nine temple located in Tamil Nadu representing each. All nine of them are located within a sixty kilometre radius around Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district.
Surya ( Sun )
Chandra ( Moon )
Chevaai (Mars )
Budhan ( Mercury )
Guru ( Jupiter )
Shukran (Venus )
Shani ( Saturn)
This is a vast temple known for its shrine to Raahu, one of the nine celestial bodies of the Navagarahas. Legend has it that the mythological serpents Aadi Seshan, Dakshan and Kaarkotakan worshipped Shiva here. Legend also has it that King Nala worshipped Shiva here as in Tirunallur.
Within the Viatheeswaran Koil, there is a special shrine dedicated to Ankarakan or Chvaai ( Mars ). The belief is that offering prayers to Arnkarakan will bestow valour, victory and strength. Upon entering the temple, devotees first go the Siddhamrita tank. The water is said to have curative properties for various skin aliments. There is also a widespread belief that a visit here would remove obstacles which delay marriage.
Though there is ambiguity about when this temple was built, historians agree that it must have been in existence since before the beginning of the Bhakthi period ( well before the seventh century AD). Dedicated to the moon ( Chandra in Sanskrit and Thingal and Tamil), a visit to this temple is said to grant a comfortable and long life. In astrology, Chandra is the planet that removes stress and sorrow.
This is the only temple that is dedicated to Lotd Sani ( Planet Saturn ). When the planet Saturn between zodiac signs, literally millions throng this shrine. The Legendary King Nala is said to have been relieved of his afflictions which were due to the malefic influence of Saturn, after worshipping here. Of the numerous tanks (teertams), the Nala teertam is the most important one. By bathing here, it is believed that one is washed away of all kinds of misfortune and afflictions it is believed.
Situated 21 kilometres from Swamimalai is the Suryanar Koil built by King Kulottunga Chola 1 in the year 110 AD. This temple is dedicated to Sun God – Surya. Surya is known as the giver of helath, success and prosperity. Every year in mid January, the harvest festival is celebrated in thanksgiving and to honour Surya.
This Shivastalam is associated with Sukran ( Venus ) and is maintained by the Madurai Adhinam. It is located in a quiet hamlet of Tiruvaavaduturai, This shrine is also referred to as palaasvanam, Bhrammapuri and Agnistalam, Bharmma is said to haven blessed with a vision of Shiva’s marriage with Parvati here. Men visit to pray for the well –being of their wife.
This is an ancient Saivite temple where legend has it that Ketu, the other planetary node of the nine celestial bodies worshipped Shiva. Rahu and Ketu are associated with the legend of the churning of the milky ocean by Lord Shiva. There is a shrine dedicated to Ketu in this temple.
This is regarded as a “Gurustalam” (Abode of Jupiter) where Lord Dakshinamurthy is held in great reverence. The shrine attracts a large number of devotees when Jupiter transits between zodiac signs. This place abounds with innumerable legends that lend colour and meaning to Hindu mythology and divinity. For instance, Dakshinamurthy is said to have preached to the Devas who had swooned under the impact of the poison that came out of the churning of the milky ocean. Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva, is said to have been reborn on the banks of Amrita Pushkarini within the temple precincts before being reunited with Shiva.
There is a reference to this temple in the Valmiki Ramayana. Therefore it is said that the oldest part of the temple is more than 3000 years old. Dedicated to Budhan (Mercury) this temple in Tiruvenkadu makes up the last of the Navagraha Temples. Budhan is said to bestow wisdom and intellect.