Shiva is worshipped as “Kampahareswarar” in this temple as he had removed the quaking (Sanskrit Kampa) of a king who was being haunted by a Brahmarakshasa (Evil Spirit) on account of the king killing a Brahmin by mistake.
The temple has a shrine for Sharabha, a depiction of Shiva, a part-lion and part-bird beast in Hindu mythology, who, according to Sanskrit literature, is eight-legged and more powerful than a lion or an elephant, possessing the ability to clear a valley in one jump.
As per Hindu legend, Shiva is believed to have relieved Kampa (quaking) of a king haunted by evil spirits on account of the king killing a Brahmin by mistake.
This led to the name of Kampahareshvara. As per another legend, Shiva is believed to have assumed the form to quench the fury of Narasimha, an Avatar of Vishnu
The temple follows the Dravidian style of architecture. An unusual feature of the temple is that the Vimana is extremely high unlike other Dravidian-style South Indian temples.
The architecture of the temple is similar to the Big Temple at Thanjavur, Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram and Gangaikonda Cholapuram temples.
The distinct features of all the temples is the Vimana, which is an unusual feature in Dravidian temples.
There is a separate shrine for Sarabeswarar, a fusion of man, eagle and lion, with a metal statue of the deity within the Sanctum, having intricate artistic work.
As per inscriptions found in the southern wall of the temple, the shrine was constructed by the Chola king Kulothunga Chola III as a memorial for his successful North Indian campaign.
The main deity of the temple is Shiva Lingam in the form of Kampaheswarar.
As per inscriptions found in the south wall of the temple, the shrine was constructed by the Chola king Kulothunga Chola III as a memorial of his successful North Indian campaign.
The inscriptions indicate the contribution towards the construction of the Nataraja shrine and the Mukhamandapa.
Some of the other temples that figure in the inscriptions are the Nataraja temple in Chidambaram, the Ekambareswarar temple at Kanchipuram, the Meenakshi temple at Madurai, the Mahalingeswarar Temple at Thiruvidamaruthur and the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur.
The inscriptions in the shrine of the presiding deity are similar to the one in the outer gopuram (gateway tower), which indicates the building of the temple by Kulottunga-Choladeva.
While it is unclear which Kulottunga it is, scholars have placed it at 1176 CE, which is closer to the reign of Kulothunga Chola III, who is believed to have been the last powerful Chola king.
There are four inscriptions from Kulothunga Chola in Grantha script. The inscription 189 of 1907, the one on the southern wall of the central shrine, is damaged and mentions Arya Sri-Somanatha.
Inscription 190 on the same wall indicates the building operations of Kulothunga Chola.
191, at the entrance of outer Gopura, is a duplicate of the 190. On the same gopura, inscription 192 indicates record of king Kulothunga Chola.
There are two inscriptions in Tamil from the period of Jatavarman Tribuvanachakravarthin Parakrama Pandyadeva registered by Epigraphy Department in 1911.
One of them, 159, registers a contract between the residents of Tribhuvanavirapuram and Kulamangalanadu, who were Urkaval (watchmen) of the village.
On the same wall, the inscription numbered 160, records a similar contract in the presence of chief Udaiyar Kulasekharadeva.
The Temple Complex
The temple is approached through a five-tiered pyramidal rajagopuram, the original structure, according to Sarkar, is from Kuluthonga’s regime.
The vimana, the shrine over the sanctum is axial and of same height of that of the gopuram.
The presiding deity of the temple is Shiva lingam in the form of Kampaheswarar and is housed in the central shrine.
There is a separate shrine for the deity Sarabeswarar, a fusion of man, eagle and lion, who is believed to have relieved the devas (celestial deities) from the fury of Vishnu in the form of Narasimha after he slayed Hiranyakasipu.
Sharbeshwaramurti is depicted with three legs, the body and face of a lion, and a tail. It has four human arms, with an axe held in the right upper hand, a noose in the lower right hand, a deer in the upper left hand, and fire in the lower left hand.
Narasimha is shown with eight arms, flailing and struggling under Sharbeshwaramurti’s feet.
The shrine also has sculptures of Sridevi and Bhudevi, the consorts of Vishnu. The bronze image of Sarabheswara temple is believed to be from the period of Kulothunga Chola III.
Sri Kampahareswar Temple
No. 55, State Highway 64, Thirubuvanam, Tamil Nadu