Presiding Deity: Nallarar
Importance to Sani Bhagwan: Saturn
Goddess : Bogamartha Poonmulayal
Significance: One of the Sapthavidanga Sthalams
Holy tree : Darba
Holy spring: Nalatheertham
Praised in Thevaram: hymns
Place : Thirunallar
State : Pondicherry – now Puducherry
A majority of devotees throng the temple for relief from the effects Saturn in their life. They take an oil bath in the Nalatheertham, offer prayers to Kalitheertha Vinayaka, break coconuts and worship Baghwan Sani the planet Saturn.
It is the staunch belief and experience too that those afflicted by the adverse effects of Saturn get a relief after praying to the Saturn in the Darbaranyeswarar temple. They also come here for repentance from sins, curing of diseases, getting oratory skills. They pray to Darbaranyeswarar for peaceful marriage alliances. Above all they get total mental peace.
Those facing evil effects of Saturn, light lamps with gingely oil and with black Dil (Ellu). They offer Dil rice as nivedhana. Perform Navagraha Shanti Homas ( a puja to satisfy and calm down the anger of the planets). They offer money in the hundi, cows to the temple. Many also shave their heads and offer the hair.
Devotees offer abishek to Lord Darbaranyeswara in milk, rosewater, tender coconuts, curd, Dil oil, sandal paste, sacred ashes (Vibuthi) and new clothes. Devotees offer Sari to the Goddess Bogamartha Poonmulayal, light lamps in her shrine and feed the Bakthas visiting the temple.
Though the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, as Saturn is considered to be also graceful to his devotees, the temple is also famous for Sani worship. The Saturn shrine is in the north side of east Gopura side.. Thirunallar is also known as an important pilgrimage spot of Lord Saturn. The Saturn Shrine is always crowded. As he is the Lord of Makara (Capricorn) and Kumba houses in the Zodiac, their idols also find a place in the shrine. There is also a Golden Crow, the vehicle of Saturn in the shrine.
Nallarar is also known as Darbaranyeswarar and Nallatru Easar. As the swayambu was in the Darba jungles here, scars caused by Darba could be seen even now. The Pachai Pathigam in Thevaram is dedicated to the Lord.
The Thyagarajamurthy in Thirunallar is the second Sapthavidangamurthy. Sapthavidanga Sthalam means the holy place where Lord Shiva performed his cosmic dance. The dance in Thirunallar is called Unmatha Natanam. He is the gift awarded to Emperor Mushukunda. Nilothpalambikai is the consort of Thyagaraja in the temple.
When funds crunch stood in the way of the progress of the construction of the temple, the devottees performed pujas and Ganapathy Homa to Swarna (Gold) Ganapathy, Funds began to flow and the temple construction went off smoothly. People pray to Swarna Ganapathy to overcome financial problems.
Presiding deity Darbaranyeswarar exists of Himself (Swayambu) from the Darba plants.
Saturn has a shrine separately. As saturn here is in a calm state and graceful mood, the Prasad can be taken home. Generally this is not taken home in other Saturn temples. The place gains significance as King Nala was relieved of the Sani dhosha. Thiagaraja appears on a silver throne called Velli Vimanam.
Maragadha Vidangar idol is kept in a boxd made of emerald stones. It is here that Sani was honoured by Lord Shiva with Easwara degree. The temple is adored in the Pachai Pathigam by Thirugnanasambandar. There are large number of visitors from North India to this temple. Foreign devotees are no less.
Accomodation facilities are available in the temple devasvom.. VIP Suite with A/c Rs. 300, without A/c Rs. 200 and Cottages Rs. 150. Dormitory is also available with locker facilities. . Those coming with family may also stay in the private lodges in Karaikal, the charges being Rs. 200 to Rs. 500.
Conveyance facilities are available from Pondicherry via Karaikal to Thirunallar. Those coming from Chennai may choose this route. Those from the south side may reach Thirunallar via Kumbakonam. Bus services are available in short frequencies from Pondicherry and Kumbakonam. Nearest Railway station is Mayiladuthurai and the nearest airport is Chennai.
The great event in the temple is the Saturn Transit day festival. Saturn transit means his travel from one Rasi to the next in the Zodiac circle. The transit will be favourable to some and unfavourable to others depending on the position of Saturn in their respective horoscopes and the effects would be in accordance with this fact. The crowd naturally would be unmanageable on such an occasion. People throng in thousands to worship Sani Baghwan on this day.
The 18 day Brammotsavam beginning on the Uthiratadhi star day in the Tamil month Vaikasi (May-June) is an important festival. On the last day, there will be a programme known as the Lord gracing a darshan to a shephered. The Poornima festival in the Purattasi (September-October), each friday, Pradosha days (13th day either from new moon or full moon day) are very devotionally observed. The Tamil and English new year days, Karthika Deepa, Deepavali, Pongal are the days when special pujas are performed in the temple.
King Nala was ruling Nidadha having Mavindha as his capital. One day while doing his daily puja, he did not was his legs perfectly. Saturn immediately caught hold of him after waiting for a chance to hold him for about 12 years. Due to this effect, King Nala lost his kingdom in a game. His sufferings grew large. He left his land along with his queen Damayanthi. In course of his wandering in the jungles, he parted with his queen also. He joined as a cook in the palace of the Kind of Ayodhya. After a series of suffering Nala and Damayanthi joined again. Through Sage Naradha, Nala understood that he was under theadverse influence of Saturn and began a pilgrimage to holy places. At Vriddhachalam, he met sage Srimadvaja who directed him to Darbaranyeswarar temple in Thirunallar and worship the Sani Baghwan which King Nala meticulously followed and got relieved from the adverse effects of Sani Baghwan and also was blessed by him. He stayed there for some time, dug tanks and built the temple. He also got back his kingdom.