Markandeya, son of sage Mrikandu Magarishi was predicted to live for only 16 years. As advised by his father, Markandeya worshipped Thirukadaiyur Lord Amirthakadeshwarar bringing the water from Ganges through an underground passage to the temple. This passage is still in existence but closed. On that particular day, Yama (Yaksha) appeared with his noose, Kaala Paasa. Markandeya sought refuge in the Lord and embraced the Shiva Lingam. The Lord warned Yama not to touch Markandeya as he was under his protection. Yama did not listen and threw the noose that bound Markandeya and the Lingam together. Angered by this act of rashness, the Lord kicked him with the left leg and held him under his left foot, making him inactive.
Images in the temple depict the Lord with a raised forefinger, warning Yama. The mark of the Kaala Paasa is visible on the Lingam. With Yama being rendered inactive, there were no deaths on earth. As nature should have its way, Kalasamharamoorthi (Kala + Samharam + Moorthi), the other name by which Lord Amirthakadeshwarar is known - Lord Shiva brought Death to life. It is here that the significance of 'kicking with the left leg' is spoken about. Had He desired to quell Yama forever, he would have held him under his right leg - as in the case of Muyalaka. The very fact that he used his left leg points to the fact that he intended it as a punishment for an act of rashness and not otherwise. Since death was conquered at Thirukadaiyur, it is not unusual to see couples who have celebrated their Shasthiapthapoorthi (completion of 60 years), Bhimaradha Shanthi (completion of 69 years) and Sadabishekam (completion of 79 years) and other Ayush Homam Thirukadaiyur make it a point to have a darshan of the Kala-samhara-moorthi.