Srivanchiyam, an ancient village, is home to an important Siva temple dedicated to Vanchinatha Svami. This place was traditionally known as Thapovanam and Bhu Kailasam (Kailasam on earth). It was also called Rajagambhira Chaturvedimangalam, after Rajagambhira, one of the titles of Rajaraja Chola II (1146-1173 AD).
Chaturvedimangalam indicates that it was peopled by experts in the four Vedas. Srivanchiyam was also called Gandharanyam as it was once a forest of sweet-smelling sandal trees. According to tradition, Goddess Ganga worshipped here to clense herself of the sins left by devotees who bathed in her waters.
The Siva Linga enshrined in the main sanctum is believed to be a Swayambhu (self-manifest). The famous Nayanmars (important Siva devotees) Appar, Thirugnanasambandar and Sambandar composed Tamil verses on this deity as also did Manikkavachakar, another ardent devotee of Siva.
The Vanchinatha Svami temple is said to be on par with four other Siva temples near River Kaveri, namely those in Thiruvidaimarudur, Thiruvenkadu, Mayiladuthurai, Thiruvarur and Vedaranyam. The temple has three prakarams (enclosures) and many gopurams with a five-tier gopuram at the entrance. Goddess Parvati is worshipped as Mangalambikai. A special feature of this temple is the separate sanctum for God Yama along with his assistant Chitragupta. In fact, one of the vahanas (vehicles) of God Siva here is Yama. The temple tank is called Gupta Ganga and Yama Kundam.
The important festivals are Thirvadipuram in the month of Adi and Magam nakshatram during the month of Masi. Every year, on the second day of the Masi Utsavam, Vanchinatha Swami is taken out in procession on the Yama Dharmaraja Vahanam to the Yama Kundam. The annual festival (Brahmotsavam) is in Karthikai. An interesting feature is that this temple is open during eclipses while most temples remain closed during this time.
There are many inscriptions, mainly of the Chola era. They record the name of the deity as Thiruvanjiyam Udaiya Nayanar and Thiru vanjiyam Udaiya Mahadeva.
The Sthala Vriksham is Chandana
The pushkarini is called Gupta Ganga and Yama Kundam
The writer is a historian who focuses on temple architecture