In North India we have the Pancha Kedar, five temples of Shiva in the Garhwal Region.
In the south, there are seven Shiva Temples, which are to be seen in a day.
These are called the Saptha Vidanga Sthala.
Vidanga means, ‘not chiseled’ Saptha, Seven.
In these seven places one finds the Shiva Linga.
Muchukunda Chakravarthi was a Tamil king.
Indra, the King of the Devas sought Muchukunda’s help in defeating the Asuras and was successful in defeating the Asuras.
Indra was extremely grateful to the king.
He offered the king a gift of his choice.
Muchukunda, asked for the lingam worshipped by Indra.
Indra did not want to part with his precious lingam, but the king wouldn’t accept anything else.
Indra decided on a deception, and showed Muchukunda seven lingams and asked him to choose the one he wanted.
Muchukunda prayed to Shiva to identify the correct lingam.
Shiva was pleased and helped him identify the original lingam prayed to by Indra.
Indra was so impressed by this that he gifted all the seven lingams to the king.
Muchukunda returned to earth with the seven lingams and installed them at various places in his kingdom.
The original one he kept at the temple at Thiruvarur, and the others at Thirunallar, Vedaranyam, Thiruvaimur, Thrirukkaravasal, Thirukkuvalai and Nagapattinam.
Normally, it is the top portion of the lingam – the ellipse which is believed to be swayambhu. The base – avudayar- is made by hand. In all these seven lingams, the whole lingam – the base as well as the top portion – form a single piece, and are believed to have appeared just the same way, without being made, and hence the name. All the seven lingams are of different sizes, though they are made of the same material – maragatham – or emerald. However, it looks more like Jade than emerald, as it is translucent. The biggest one is at Thirunallar, while the one at Thiruvarur is of medium size. However, it must be mentioned that these two are the only two of the original lingams left. I am not too sure of the originality of the 5 other lingams, because at 2 temples, we were told that the originals had been stolen ages ago, and the lingams presently there had been installed by saints in their place.
In ll these temples the Navagrahas face the same direction unlike in the other temples where they face different directions.
In some temples all of them are in a Single file, while in some others they are in the usual pattern of 3’s.
These Navagrahas face the Lingam , in the former case.
In these temples Somaskanda is the Utsava Murthy,Shiva and Parvati with Muruga in the centre.
Main Deity is Thyagaraja.
Post on Individual Sthala follows.
Please read my post on Somaskanda