Pancha Bhoota Sthala are five temples of Lord Shiva. Pancha indicates five, Bhoota means elements and Sthala means place. They refer to the temples that are the manifestation of the five elements - Air, Water, Fire, Earth and Sky.
All these temples are located in South India with four of these are at Tamil Nadu and one at Andhra Pradesh. Shiva in the temple had five different names based on the element he represents.
Pancha Bhoota Sthala Temples:
Sri Kalahastheeswara Temple (Air) – Kalahasthi, Andhra Pradesh.
Jambukeswarar Temple (Water) – Thiruvanaikaval, Trichy, Tamil Nadu.
Arunachaleshwarar Temple (Fire) - Thiruvannaamalai , Tamil Nadu.
Ekambareswarar Temple (Earth) – Kanchipuram (Kanchi), Tamil Nadu.
Thillai Natarajar Temple (Sky) – Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu.
Sri Kalahastheeswara Temple:
The Kalahastheeswara Temple is situated 36 km away from Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh. In this temple, lord Shiva is worshipped as Kalahastheeswara with his concert Parvati as Gyana Prasunambika Devi. Here lord Shiva represents Vayu hence it is said to be Vayu Lingam (Air Lingam). There is a lamp burning inside the inner sanctum that constantly flickers even there is no air inside. The sanctum has no windows, and the lamp flames keep moving despite no air movement. The Linga is white in color and is considered Swayambhu (self-manifested).
Jambukeswarar Temple is situated in Thiruvanaikaval near Trichy, Tamil Nadu. Here lord Shiva represents the element of water hence it is known as Appu Lingam (Water Lingam). Jambukeswara is depicted sitting under a Jambu tree, which grows over a small stream that engulfs the deity during the rainy season. The massive outer wall, known as the Vibudhi Prakara, stretches over a mile long and is two feet thick and over 25 feet in height. The Sannadhi of the Goddess Akilandeshwari and the Sannadhi of Prasanna Vinayaka are in the shape of the pranava manthra called "Aum". It is believed that people who go round the sannadhi, which is in the shape of "Aum" 12 times and for one full mandala, 48 days will get the blessings of the Goddess Akilandeshwari and lead a good, healthy and wealthy life. It is believed that the Amman in the temple was very angry and hence during one of Adi Sankara's visit he installed the Prasanna Ganapathy Idol right opposite her Sannadhi and thereafter her anger subsided.
Arunachaleshwarar temple is located at the foothills of the Annamalai Hil in the town of Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. Here lord Shiva represents Agni hence it is known as Agni Lingam (Fire Lingam,). Lord Shiva is worshiped as Annamalaiyar or Arunachaleswarar with his consort, Unnamulaiyamman (Apitakuchambaal - Parvati). On the day of Karthika Deepam, a huge lamp is lit in a cauldron with three tons of ghee at the top of the Annamalai hill. Every full moon night, tens of thousands of pilgrims worship Shiva by circumambulate the Arunachala hill barefoot. Advaita Vedanta Guru Ramana Maharshi lived in Thiruvannamalai for 53 years until his death in 1950.
Ekambareswarar Temple is one of the oldest and famous temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, in Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu. Lord Shiva in this temple represents Earth hence it is known as Prithivi Lingam (Earth Lingam). This vast temple is one of the most ancient temples in India having been in existence since 600 AD. The temple covers an area of over 40 acres. Rajagopuram is one of the tallest in South. A notable feature of the temple is the hallway with a thousand pillars. The temple's inner walls are decorated with an array of 1,008 Siva lingams. Its sthala-viruksham (tree) is a 3,500 year old mango tree whose branches are said to yield four different types of mangoes. Eka means one and Amra means Mango and hence the name Ekambra - Lord of Mango Tree.
Thillai Natarajar Temple:
The ancient Nataraja Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of the Cosmic Dancer (Nataraj) and is the oldest temple situated in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu. Here lord Shiva represents Space hence it is known as Akasha Lingam (Sky Lingam). We can see Shiva as in pose of Nataraja performing the Ananda Tandava ("Dance of Delight") in the golden hall of the shrine. The consort deity here is Sivakami Amman (form of Amman - mother goddess and female energy).The sculptures of Chidambaram inspired the postures of Bharatha Natyam. The 1000 pillared goldem hall, the Nritya Sabha or court is carved out like a gigantic chariot. Bharatanatyam dancers from different parts of the world offer their prayers to Lord Nataraja during the famous annual Natyanjali festival.
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