When Bhrama ji created the Universe, he gave every celestial a duty to perform for the sustenance of life. Each of the celestial had a power significant to them and it was the foremost responsibility for them to abide to their duty for Dharma to prosper. To such important genre belonged the Navagrahas, or the nine planets. The Navagrahas are the ruling planets which define the personality of the human and influence the mind-set in a way which helps the human face both joys and sorrows in equal harmony. While the Navagrahas rule the mindset of the human, it is Bhagwan Shiv who rules them for his total control and balance of mind. As the ruler of the Navgrahas, he is also called the Navagrahdhipati.
The Navagrahas are the Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Mangala ( Mars), Budha ( Mercury), Brhaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn) Rahu and Ketu (twin planets). How Bhagwan Shiv came to be their ruler is an interesting story. Brahma Ji had given them Navagrahas the position of demi gods and assigned them the task of influencing the human life with their movement in the universe. Once a named Rishi Kalava suffered from a great illness and no cure gave him relief. Then he prayed to the Navagrahas to cure him from his illness. The Navgarahas took pity on him and cured him of his illness with their powers, But Brahma Ji was upset over this, as the nine planets were never assigned to give boons or grant any wishes as per the rule of creation. Hence, he cursed all of them to suffer from leprosy and were sent away frokm the heavens. All the Navagrahas were devastated by this, but had to oblige Brahma Ji’s command and left for Earth.
After reaching Earth, they performed severe penance on Bhagwan Shiv to cure them of their disease and restore them their divinity. After a long and severe penance, Bhagwan Shiv was pleased with their austerities and cured them of their disease.
Pleased with their devotion, he granted them a boon that the place where they observed penance would be a divine spot and they would be the rulers of the divine palce and worshipped as the presiding dieties. He also requested Brahma Ji to forgive them and grant them back their status as before. Brahma Ji duly agreed to Bhagwan Shiv’s request and hence the Navagrahas again attained back a place in the heaven. As a mark of respect and gratitude towards Bhagwan Shiv, the Navagrahas requested him to be their presiding chief who would have control over their moment, influences and position in human’s life. Bhagwan Shiv accepted it with due honour and hence Bhagwan Shiv remains the main deity in all of these nine temples.
Nine temples came to be built in the places bestowed upon the Navagrahas by Bhagwan Shiv, each one of them dedicated to one Navagraha. In present times, these places are around Kumbhakonam district in Tamil Nadu, and every year thousands of devotees visit the nine temples for health and happiness with the blessings of Bhagwan Shiv and the Navagrahas. For the most important duty assigned of controlling the planteray effects in the Universe, it has become a ritual that the Navagrahas are worshipped before the beginning of any auspicious work for their blessings of positivity and removal of ill effects.