Jambukeswarar temple is next in the series of temples of Pancha Mahabhutas, after the temple of Ekagreshwarar, which depicts the Prithvi- Earth element. Jambukeswarar temple is representative of Jal- water element. This is a famous Shiv temple in Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu. Parvati is said to have made the lingam out of water of Cauvery river for worship and for her penance. The elephant collected water from river Cauvery and conducted ablution to the lingam under the Jambu tree (Eugenia jambolana, the java plum tree) daily. As an elephant worshipped Shiv here, this place came to be known as Thiru Aanai Kaa (thiru means holy, aanai is elephant, kaa (kaadu) means forest). Later the name ‘Thiruaanaikaa’ became ‘Thiruvanaikaval’ and ‘Thiruvanaikoil’.
Water is one of the most important elements for life. We exist on earth because of water. Water in the form of rivers and various sized water bodies on earth sustains life. Life originated from water.
As per Fergusson, the temple surpasses the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple in architectural terms, which was constructed at the same time. There are five enclosures to the temple. The outer wall covering the fifth enclosure is large. Legend maintains that the wall was built by Shiva working with the laborers. The fourth precinct contains a hall with 796 pillars.
The innermost enclosure has a sanctum. The sanctum is square and is open on three sides, with a shallow moat separating it from the circumambulatory path of the innermost enclosure. The temples of this size were later converted into temple cities.
Water, also known as teerth, has led to locating the temple structures at particular sites where humidity (water content in the air) was high.
Significance of water in architecture is well known. Any piece of architecture cannot be constructed without water. Flowing water as well as water bodies in the temple complexes were inevitable for the functioning of the temple and for making temple complexes alive. Apart from water moat around the lingam, the importance of water in temple architecture needs to be further explored through research. n