The District of Tiruvarur was carved out as a separate district by detaching Valangaiman Taluk from Thanjavur District and Thiruvarur, Nannilam, Kudavasal, Needamangalam, Mannargudi , Thirutturaippundi Taluks from Nagappatinam District on 01.01.1997. There are 2 Revenue Divisions, 7 Taluks, 10 Community Development Blocks, 3 Municipalties and 7 Town Panchayats in Thiruvarur District. Thiru M. R. Mohan IAS was the first District Collector of Thiruvarur District. Thanjavur attained prominence under the Chola rulers who were paramount in South India during the 9th to 12th centuries. They were excellent rulers and mighty builders. Many examples are found in the district which bears testimony to this. Many of these temples reflect the geniusness and architectural proficiency in sculpture, painting and wood-carving.

The administration of Thanjavur (Tiruvarur) was given over to English fully under the Treaty of 1799. The ruler of Thanjavur was allowed to retain the fort of Thanjavur with very limited powers. When the ruler died in 1841, without heir, the Thanjavur fort was also annexed by the British. Thanjavur remained under the British rule until 1947 when India attained freedom. The Tiruvarur district, along with the Nagapattinam district was part of the Thanjavur district before 1981. After that, the present Taluks of Tiruvarur district and Nagapattinam district were separated from the Thanjavur district, and formed the Nagapattinam district. The present Tiruvarur district was formed in 1997 by bifurcating the then Nagapattinam district. Major towns are Thiruvarur, Thiruthuraipoondi, Muthupettai, Mannargudi. The temple of Thiyagaraja became all the more famous by the visit of a galaxy of Gods and Angels from heaven, like Brahma, Dasharatha, Rama, Arjuna, Dharmaputra, Kings Nala and Haris- chandra, and Maharshis like Vasishtha and Vishwamitra. Each installed a Siva linga. In the temple for worship. The legend goes that once Lord Siva took his abode with Devi Parvati in a garden at the foot of Mount Kailas. Then a monkey dropped some Bilva leaves on the Lord. Siva was very much pleased by this act of the monkey and blessed it.

The monkey in the next birth was born as a king in the Manu dynasty, named Muchukunda. Muchukunda was a good and kind ruler. He built many temples and encouraged pandits and scholars. Everybody lived a life of happiness in his time. He was also a great warrior and ruled the country with his capital at Karuvur. After many years, an Asuranamed Vala again attacked the Devas. The Devas was defeated in the battle. Thereupon Indra. Sent for his friend Muchukunda, for help and King Muchukunda readily agreed to save the Devas from, the attack of the Asura. A fierce battle took place between the King and the Asura in which the latter was defeated and finally killed by Indra. After the battle, King Muchukunda. Offered prayer and pujas to Lord Siva. The Lord appeared before him and asked him to build a temple for Him at Thiruvarur. When the King was about to return to his capital, he requested Indra to give him the Somaskandamurti that he was keeping with him and worshipping daily. Indra, not willing to part with this idol, decided to present to the King six other idols similar to the Somaskandamurti and placed them before the King with the real Murti amongst them, for selection. Then Lord Siva, without the knowledge of anybody, helped the King to select the real Murti. Indra gave the other six idols also. Muchukunda then returned to his capital with the idols. A big temple was, constructed at Thiruvarur by Viswakarma. Then the King installed a Siva Lingam (now known as Achaleeswar) in a portion of the temple and worshipped it for many years. The peculiar feature about this Lingam is that its shadow can be seen only in the eastern direction and it is also said that this shadow will not be visible to a man who is going to die within a period of six months. Once there was a king named Amsa. He was childless. He conducted many yagas to be blessed with a child. At last he came to Thiruvarur, installed a Siva Lingam in the temple and conducted penance for many years. Then Siva gave darsan to the King and blessed him. So the Lingam came to be known as Siddheesar (Siddhi means success and Eesar means God). By worshipping this Lingam one can- get what all one desires in this world. One day King Kulisa while feeding Durvasa Maharshi mixed meat in the meal by mistake. The Maharshi, enraged by this act of the King, cursed him to turn into a tiger. But soon the Rishi cooled down and told the King: "After some years you will see the divine cow Kamadhenu when you will get moksham." The tiger roamed in the forests and at last came to a place near Thiruvarur where it happened to meet Kamadhenu with her calf. The cow used to go to the temple of Lord Thiyagaraja daily and worship, Vanesa Lingam bathing it with its own milk. On seeing the cow Kamadhenu, the tiger rushed towards her. Thereupon the cow replied: "I don't worry about being killed by you, but the thing is I have not the Siva Lingam today. So kindly permit me to finish my duties first. I shall certainly come back here when you can kill me." The tiger was not willing to miss the, chance; yet, believing the words of the cow, he permitted her to do so. Kamadhenu returned promptly after finishing her ' duties.

The tiger was touched by the exemplary behavior of the cow and had no mind to kill her. Then the tiger came to know about its past life. It went to Thiyagaraja's temple, worshipped the Lingam and attained Moksham.In this temple there is the Marakata Lingam obtained by King Muchukunda. From Indra along with the idol of Thiyagaraja. 'The palanquin of Thiyagaraja is made of gold. The Prabha is decorated with diamonds. The Goddess is known as Padampiriyal (who would not leave the feet of God). Another name of the Goddess is Neelotpalavalli. In the shrine of Neelotpalavalli, there are painted pictures narrating some incidents, which happened in the past. One of them is that a king known as Somaji Nayanar was performing a sacrifice to propitiate Lord Thiyagaraja. Somaji Nayanar expressed his desire to Sundaramurti Nayanar that Lord Thiyagaraja should appear himself and receive the havis (oblation of raw rice cooked in orthodox manner). Sundaramurti Nayanar conveyed the request to Lord Thiyagaraja. Lord Thiyagaraja consented to the same saying, "If I could be recognized I don't mind receiving it." This test the depth of devotion, Siva came as an outcaste (Paraya), with Parvati carrying a pitcher of fermented palm juice and holding two sons, and himself having a drum and four dogs representing the four Vedas. Only Somaji was able to recognise him.

Others shouted, "Don't come near, don't come near." As Somaji was able to recognise God even in the form of an outcaste, Siva received the havis and gave darsan. Another legend current in this part and represented in the fresco painted in the temple wall of Neelotpalavalli Sannidhi is as follows: Once upon a time a harlot by name Manicka Nachiyar, according to her established tradition, used to receive only a person who was wearing Rudraksham. One day Siva, disguised as an old man with Rudraksham, entered her house. She received him also with equal respect as he was having a Rudraksham. During the course of the night he gave her a lot of worries and at last died at her house. According to tradition, she played the part of the wife in true Hindu custom. When the old man passed away in her house, she had to perform Sati by following him in the funeral pyre. The old man was taken in a bier followed by the harlot and a funeral pyre was set up. When it was about to be lit, the old man transformed himself into his original form of Lord Siva and gave liberation to the harlot who had dutifully followed him even to the funeral pyre. She was true to her tradition and devotion. As such she deserved liberation. Thiruvarur became very famous in the last century for the birth of three great Carnatic musicians, viz., Muthuswami Dikshitar, Syama Sastri and Thiyagaraja. Thiyagaraja composed his songs in Telugu, and they are considered to be gems of Carnatic music,highly honoured even now.

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