The Pancha Bhoota temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and these five temples are said to be the important Shaivite pilgrim spots of South India. The word Pancha refers to number five and Bhoota refers to elements. And the five elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Sky. These five elements are believed to be manifested in the form of five Lingams, the divinity of Lord Shiva. Four of these temples are situated in Tamilnadu and one in Andhra Pradesh. The Pancha Bhoota Lingams and its representations are as follows:
- Prithvi Lingam – Ekambareswarar Temple – Earth
- Appu Lingam – Jambukeswarar Temple – Water
- Agni Lingam – Arunachaleswarar Temple – Fire
- Vayu Lingam – Kalahastheeswarar Temple – Air
- Akasa Lingam – Thillai Natarajar Temple – Sky
The Ekambareswarar Temple is the first among the five temples, located in Kanchipuram of Tamilnadu, representing the element Earth. The main deity of this temple is Lord Shiva worshipped as Lord Ekambareswarar. The Shiva lingam placed here is known as the Prithvi Lingam. This temple’s monumental tree is a 3,500 year old mango tree, and its branches produces four different kinds of mangoes.
The Jambukeswarar Temple is the second of Pancha Bhoota temples and be situated in Thiruvanaikaval of Tamilnadu, represents the element Water. The main deities of this temple are Lord Shiva worshipped as Lord Jambukeswarar and Goddess Parvati worshipped as Goddess Akhilandeswari. The Appu Lingam located under the Jambu tree has an underground water stream and it is always filled with water. There are two lingams in this holy shrine, and prayers are offered to both the Lingams.
The Arunachaleswarar Temple also known as ‘Annamalaiyar Temple’ is the third of Pancha Bhoota temples located in the town of Tiruvannamalai in Tamilnadu, representing the element Fire. The main deities of this temple are Lord Shiva worshipped as ‘Lord Arunachalaeswarar’ with His consort ‘Goddess Unnamulaiyamman’. The Shiva Lingam in this temple is known as Agni Lingam. This temple is one of the largest temples in India with a span of 10 hectares.
The Sri Kalahastheeswarar Temple also known as ‘SriKalahasti Temple’ is the fourth among Pancha Bhoota temples located in Chitoor district of Andhra Pradesh, represents the element Air. The main deities of this temple are Lord Shiva worshipped as Lord Sri Kalahastheeswara and Goddess Parvati as Gnanaprasunambika. This temple is famous for its Vayu Linga, and the Lingam is white in colour and is believed to be Swayambhu (Self manifested). This temple is the place where the famous Kalamkari (art of textile painting) is first originated.
The Thillai Natarajar Temple is the fifth of Pancha Bhoota temples located in Chidambaram, Tamilnadu, represents the element Sky. Here Lord Shiva is seen in the pose of Lord Nataraja performing Anandha Thandavam, the dance of delight. The main deity of this temple is Lord Shiva, in the form of Lord Natarajar, the Lord of dance and the consort deity is Goddess Sivakami Amman. The sculptures of this temple inspires the famous Bharatha Natyam and the dancers offer their prayers to Lord Nataraja during the Natyanjali festival held in this temple for every year.