Arcot means aaru kadu , aaru means six and kadu means forest in Tamil .
Athri, Baradwajar, Gowthamar, Kasyapa Muni , Valmiki , Vashishter and Agasthiyar are the Saptharishis who worshipped Lord Shiva by installing Lingam in Arcot , near Vellore in Tamilnadu , these 7 temples together are called as Shadaranya sthethrangal.
Veppur – Sri Vasishteshwarar – Balakujambal – Sri Vasishta Maharishi
Melvisharam – Sri Valmikeeswarar – Vadivudaiammai – Sri Valmiki Maharishi
Karai – Sri Gowthameswar – Kirupambikai – Sri Gowthama Maharishi.
Avara karai – Sri Kashyapa maharishi.
Vannivedu – Sri Agastheeswarar – Akilandeswari – Sri Agasthiya Maharishi
Kudimallur – Sri Athriswarar – Thiripurasundari – Sri Aththiri Maharishi ; Vaasthu spl. temple – Boominaadheswarar.
Puduppadi – Sri Barathwajeswarar – Dharmasamwardhni – Sri Baradwaja Maharishi
These temples of are very ancient Temples.
Lord Shiva is known by the name of Rishi’s who worshiped here in all these seven temples.
Sthala Purana says visiting all these temples on Maha Sivarathri is equal to visiting and worshipping at Kailasha .
We were lucky enough to visit all 7 temples on a Shivarathiri day .
As per legends Goddess Parvathy did penance at Kanchipuram (Prithivi sthalam) which is one of the Pancha Boodha Sthalam. Lord Shiva was pleased by her penance and married her . Rishi’s and Devas from heaven came down to Kanchipuram , to attend the heavenly marriage of Lord Siva and Kamakshi Amman . The place was so crowded , Rishi’s who came to participate in the wedding stayed in the forest near to Kanchipuram. They had to perform there daily rituals . Each one of them chose a place in the forest to worship Lord Shiva.
All seven places where they worshiped is known as Shadaranyam . Since 7 Rishi’s worshiped Swayambu Lingam in these seven places it is considered holy to visit and worship Lord Siva here.
The place is about 3kms from Arcot to South Bank of Paalar River . One has to take bypass road of Vellore to Arcot.
The forest in this place was filled with Neem Tree hence the place was known as Veppur.
A stone inscription says the temple is more than 1000 years old.
Later in the year 1169BC by Veera Sampanna Sambuvarayar constructed Maha mandapam, Artha Mandapam and Main sanctum of this temple.
Vasishta Maharishi installed Lord Shiva in Lingam form and worshiped Him in standing posture . There is a small statue of Vasishta Maharishi in the temple in standing posture .
Main deity is Swayambu Shiva Lingam known as Vasishteswarar and with his consort known as Balakujambal in separate sanctum . Here Lord is seen in Kalyana kolam . Dakshina Moorthy is seen facing south in the pragharam .
Other deities seen in the temple are Selva Vinayakar, Subramanyar with Valli and Devayanai, Sarabeswarar , Sapthamadhar , Kasi Viswanathar, Akora Veerabadrar , Saneeswarar , and Kala Bhairavar .
Arunagirinadhar sang Thirupugazh on Lord Subramanyar of this temple. The temple is considered as Guru Sthalam since Vasishta is the Guru of Lord Sri Ramachandra Murthy worshiped Lord Shiva here .
The place is located about 3kms distance from Veppur. It is on the bypass road of Vellore to Arcot. The temple is to south bank of River Paalaru.
This place in the forest was full of Etti Maram, so the place came to be known as Visha Vruksha Vanam, and in later days the place is known as Visharam.
Valmiki Muni installed a Lord Shiva in lingam and worshiped Him in standing posture. We see a statue of Valmiki Maharishi in standing posture in the temple.
Main Deity is Swayambu Siva Lingam known as Valmeekeswarar with his consort known as Vadivudyambikai in different sanctum.
Sthala purana says there is a stone inscription in Veppur temple which says the this temple is more than 1000 years old.
This place is about 6 kms from Arcot. The temple is on the South Bank of Palaru, between Arcot and Pudhupadi.
The place was full of Mango Tree in the forest, so the place was known as Amra Vanam . The temple is as old as 1600 years old.
Baradwaja Maharishi installed a Lord Shiva in lingam form and worshiped Lord Shiva in standing posture. There is a statue for Baradwaja Maharishi in the temple in standing posture.
Main Deity here is Swayambu Lingam known as Baradwajeeswarar.
The main sanctum is Gajaprushta form.
Other Deities seen in the temple are Nardhana Ganapathy, Dakshina Moorthy, and Vishnu.
The place is in-between Pudhupadi dam and Valaja town about 3kms interior on the North bank of River Palaru.
Athri Maharishi installed and worshiped Lord Shiva here for long period in sitting posture. Lord was pleased and blessed him. There is a statue of Athri Maharishi in sitting posture.
Main Deity in the temple is Swayambu Shiva Lingam known as Athetheswarar with his consort known as Thirupura Sundri in different sanctum.
Main Deity in this temple is Sri Boomi Nadheswarar with his consort in separate sanctum.
As we go around the temple we see Ganesha, Subramanyar, Dakshina Murthy, Lingothbavar with Brahma and Lord Vishnu to either side.
Vasthu Pooja is performed on Vasthu day.
The place Vannivedu is about 2kms distance from Valajapettai on the North Bank of River Paalaru.
Agasthya Muni installed Siva Lingam and worshiped in this place in sitting posture. There is a statue for Agasthya Muni in sitting posture in the temple.
The place was full of Vanni Vruksham in the forest, hence it is known as Vannimedu.
Main Deity is Swayumbu Lingam of sand known as Agstheeswarar with his consort known as Akilandeswari. Siva Lingam is small in size and finger prints are there on it. Ambal is seen standing on Avudai in penance form.
Other deities seen in the temple are Vinayakar, Subramanyar, Kasi Viswanadhar, Visalakshi, Swarna Akarshna Bairavar, Bairavar and Sani Bagawan.
Inside the mandapam we see Sarabeswarar and Nalwar.
The place Karai is about 2kms distance from Ranipetai on the north bank of Paalaru River.
The place was filled with karai plant in the forest, hence the place was known as Karai.
Gowthama Maharishi installed and worshiped Lord Shiva in this place. Here in the temple there is a statue for Gowthamar seen in sitting posture in front of Lord Shiva sanctum.
Main Deity is Swayambu Lingam known as Gowthameswarar with his consort known as Krupambika seen in Artha mandapam.
As we go around the temple prakaram we see Sarabeswarar, and Gowthama Rishi.
There is another temple in Karai were Nandeeswara muni worshiped Lord Shiva.
The place is about 3 kms from Karai in Avarakarai Village near Nalla thoppu on the north bank of Paalaru River.
Main deity in the temple Shiva Lingam known as Nandeeswarar with his consort known as Ulgalandha Nayaki.
As we go around the prakaram we see Dakshina moorthy, and Navagraham.
Finally Avarakarai temple here sage Kashyapa Maharishi worshipped Lord Shiva with His consort Goddess Parvathavardhini . As it was on a Shivarathiri day we saw the abhishegam of Nandi then to Lord Shiva in this temple .