In Hinduism, Lord Shiva is regarded as the representation of the Supreme Being. He is known as the third element in the Hindu Trinity (Trimurti), the other two members being Lord Brahma – the creator and Lord Vishnu – the protector.
He controls the 5 elements of nature named as the Pancha Bhoota – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. Pancha Bhoota Stalams In South India, five temples were built for each representing the manifestation of the five prime elements of nature. Known as Pancha Bhoota Stalam, these temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Five elements of nature, in these temples, are believed to be manifested in the form of five Lingams, the divinity of Lord Shiva. Each lingam of Shiva is known by the name of element represented by them. ‘Pancha’ indicates Five, ‘Bhoota’ means elements and ‘Stala’ means place. All these temples are located in South India with four of these temples in Tamil Nadu and one in present-day Andhra Pradesh.
These set of five temples are considered to be of great importance in south India. The temple for water is in Thiruvanaikaval, fire is in Thiruvannamalai , air is in Kalahasti , earth is in Kanchipuram and The temple for space/sky is in Chidambaram. Geographic specialty The five temples were built according to the yogic sciences, and are placed in a certain geographic alignment with each other, so that the entire region reverberated with the possibility they offered.
Three of the five Pancha Bhoota Stalam temples stand on a straight line exactly at 79 degree 41 minutes East longitude. Chidambaram Natrajana Temple, Kanchipuram Ekambareswarar Temple, Srikalahasti Temples are aligned Exactly in a straight line Positions.
All 3 temples are constructed at least 1000 years ago. No satellite technology was available at that time but very accurate placements. Truly an engineering, astrological and geographical wonder. Of the other two temples, Thiruvanaikkaval is located at around 3 degrees to the south and exactly 1 degree to the west of the northern tip of this divine axis, while Thiruvannamalai is around midway (1.5 degree to the south and 0.5 degree to the west).
The five grand temples associated with the five basic elements are:
Earth – (Prithivi) – Kanchipuram – Ekambareswarar Temple (12.847604, 79.699798)
Water – (Neer) – Thiruvanaikaval – Jambukeswara Temple (10.853383, 78.705455)
Fire – (Agni) – Tiruvannamalai – Annamalaiyar Temple (12.231942, 79.067694)
Wind – (Vayu) – Chitoor – Srikalahasti Temple (13.749802, 79.698410)
Sky – (Akasha) – Chidambaram – Chidambaram Nataraja Temple (11.399596, 79.693559)
A flickering lamp in the SriKalahasti temple shows the play of wind, the water spring in the innermost sanctum of the Tiruvanaikka temple shows the temple’s relationship to the element water, the annual Kartikai Deepam festival at Tiruvannamalai where a giant lamp is lighted atop the Annamalai hill shows the Annamalaiyaar’s manifestation as fire.
The swayambhu lingam of sand at Kanchipuram signifies the deitie’s association with the earth while the formless space at Chidambaram shows the association of the Supreme being with formlessness or nothingness.