Ashta Lingams – Isanya Lingam – North-East
The word Isanyam in tamil means North-East. The Lord of Isanyam is one of the 7 seven Rudras of Shiva. He is described in the puranas as being covered with ashes and surrounded by ghosts, he has matted locks and fierce eyes and is seated on a tiger skin. He holds the crescent moon and the river Ganga in his locks. His body is adorned by coiled serpents. In his hands he holds the mortal drum and the trident of Shiva.
The shrine of Isanya lingam is situated on the old girivalam road to town, beside the main cremation grounds. It is one of the most popular Ashtalingams and apart from the general pilgrims, it has its own group of regular, local devotees who come daily morning and evening to participate in the pujas and make offerings of flowers and fruits to the deity.
In spite of its sinister location, that of being right beside the crematorium, people are not put off in anyway, and so young and old alike come eagerly at all times to take darshan of Lord Isanya Shiva. The inner sanctum is an underground chamber and after entering the temple one needs to descend a flight of steps which lead to the inner sanctum. This seems to be a special feature of this shrine and it is quite thrilling to stand on the threshold and bend your head really low in order to take a glimpse of the deity shining brilliantly deep down inside.
The Lingam itself is huge and very ancient and the alamkaram or the decoration of the Lingam is surpassingly beautiful and takes hours and hours of work by the priests who do it daily twice, morning and evening with great devotion and taste. One can stand for hours just gazing at the Lingam and not want to move away, such is the power and beauty of the Lord here! The Isanya lingam by virtue of its location and external aspects stands as a reminder to all of us of who we are in reality and how this body which we falsely deem to be ourselves is nothing but dust and ashes.