Legend is that the Aadi Sesha (the mythological serpent in Hinduism, who carries the weight of universe on him) prayed to Lord Shiva here to get the ever increasing weight of the universe reduced, as it becomes unbearable. Lord Shiva blessed him with infinite strength.
King Nala of Mahabharata also prayed to this Lord to alleviate his sani dosham; so are Daksha Prajapadi and Karkotaka (of Mahabharata)
This temple is an early Chola construction, more than the legend; its architecture is note worthy. Sanctum Sanctorum is styled as a chariot as is in Sun temples. So this temple is also known as ‘Suryakoktta’ in Tamil. An interesting point is that Sanctum sanctorum gets direct sunlight in three days during a year. This usually falls on 11th to 13th days of Tamil month of Chithirai (April/May).
The temple is within the city limit of Kumabakonam.