Chennai, the capital of Tamil nadu, is the gate way of south India. It is home to dozen temples, some of them over 1200 years old.
SRI KAPALEESWEARAR TEMPLE: This ancient temple at Mylapore is dedicated to Sri Kapaleeswarar an aspect of Lord Shiva. The legend is goddess Parvathi transformed herself into a peacock and workshiped Lord Shiva to obtain in deliverance. This legend is portrayed in a sculpture inside the temple. The temple has a Vast tower studded with stucco images.
The temple is famed for being the site of a miracle when saint Gnanasambandar sang a hymn to Lord Kapaleeswarar to resurrect a dead girl from her ashes. This is sculpturally represented in the shrine of the saint in front of the temple flagstaff.
SRI PARTHASARATHI TEMPLE: This Vaishnavite temple at Triplicane is dedicated to Lord Partsarathi, is one of the 108 Divya Desams. It was built in the 8th Century by an early Pallava King. The temple has five shrines and is the only Divya Desams, when Lord Krishna is seen enshrined with images of his family.
According to a legend, the Saptha Rishis have worshipped the five deities in this temple, know as Pancha Veeras. They are venkata Krishnaswamy with Rukmini, Satyaki, Balarama, Pradyimna, and Aniruddha. The alli flow in the temple tank lend the name Allikkeni. Tiruvallikkeni is one of the well visited Divya Desams, and is a well known landmark in the Chennai metropolis.
Thirumanjanam is performed on Fridays to Venkatakrishnan. The annual Bhrammotsavam is celebrated in the month of Chittirai (April – May) for 10 days. The glass palanquin here is of great beauty. Vaikuntha Ekadasi celebrated in Maragazhi (Dec – Jan) draws a large number of pilgrims. Vaikuntha ekadasi is celebrated for 20 days.
SIR MARUNDEESWARAR TEMPLE: This ancient temple is situated in Tiruvanmyur. The vast temple complex as you leave the city, when you drive south of Chennai along the coast. This is the 25th Tevara Stalams in the Tondai region. Here Lord Shiva is dedicated as Marundeeswarar, and Ambal is dedicated as Chokka Nayaki, and Tripura Sundari.
The legends says that Valmiki Maharishi is said to have worshiped Shiva here. Kamadhenu is said to have poured her milk over the Shivalingam and offered worship. The Vedas and the Devas are said to have worshipped Shiva here, in the temple.
SRI KARUMAARIAMMAN TEMPLE: The Karrumaariamman temple at Tiruverkadu near Chennai is one of the most revered and visited temples in the vicinity of Chennai. It enshrines an image of Karumaariamma, discovered in an anthill.
This shrine was enlarged and rebuilt in the middle of the 20th century. An image of Renuka Parameswari, is enshrined in the santhum, in front of Devi Karumaari Amman. A tank is located in front of the temple entrance.
The temple has been designed so Thai and Aadi. The Aadi Utsavam, Thai Poosam and chitira Pournami are the festival celebrated here.
OTHER TEMPLES IN THE CITY: Asta Lakshmi temple at Adyar, Murugan Temple at Vadapalani, Rajarajeswari temple at Nanganallur, Ekambareswarar temple at North Chennai Kalikambal Temple at George Town.
MAHABALIPURAM (64 km from Chennai)
It is situated on the shore of the Bay of Bengal. It is a must-visit destination if you are in the south India. The history of Mahabalipuram dates back to two thousand years, it contains nearly forty monuments of different types including an “open air bas relief” which is the largest in the world, for centuries it has been a center of pilgrimage.
The proper name of the site is “Mamallapuram”, after Mamalla, an honorific of the Pallava king, Narasimha Varman I (630 – 668), who created the earliest of its monuments. But it is popularly called Mahabalipuram.
Internationally renowned shore temple and other Marvelous stone. Close to these is the two – spire Shore Temple, which was built in the 8th century. It has shrines to Shiva and Vishnu. Originally much closer to the water, the temples now stand 100m inland as the waters have receded.
SRI STHALASAYANA PERUMAL TEMPLE: This temple is very near to the bus stand. Here lord Vishnu without his weapons, the Sandku and the Chakra, and without his customary “bed”, Adi Sesha, is some how a humbling experience. Lying on the ground with one hand supporting his head and the other raised up in the traditional gesture of invitation, the Lord somehow seems defenceless, though the rational mind says this not true. Of cuurse, it the only a posture he has assumed to make it clear how accessible he is to the true devotee. In this case, Sage Pundarika, a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. The temple being referred to is the “Sthalasayana Perumal”, which has been described by the Azhwars as “Kadalmallai”. The goddess here is “Nilamangai”, the goddess of the earth.
Thirukadalmallai is one of the 108 Vaishnavite Divya Desams sung of by the Azhwars. It is also the birthplace of Bhoothalwar, one of the easliest of the Alwars.
PANCHA PANDAVA RATHAS: The Pallavas had perfected the art of sculpting rocks to build temples without using brick, mortar or timber and the five monolithic rathas (chariots) reflect this art at it’s best. These five rock temples which have been carved in the form of processional temple chariots have been named after the Pandava brothers, the heroes of the Great Indian Epic Mahabharatha.
The Rath Temples are among the most famous temples in India partly for their age and partly for their quirky architecture. These Pallava temples were carved out of huge rocks and though the coarse sea air is taking its toll and some of the structures were left incomplete, features of a south Indian temple like gopurams, a pillared hall, and sculptures on the walls.
ARJUNA’S PENANCE: The Krishna Mandapam is the world’s largest bas-relief with detailed carvings of gods, animals, inserts, and birds. Arjuna’s Penance is a panel that shows the hero of the Mahabharata obtaining a prized divine weapon from Shiva. Stories out of the Indian version of Aesop’s Fables, the Panchatantra, are also carved depictions of scenes from various legends.
THIRUKKALUKUNDRAM: (10 km from Mahabalipuram)
Sri Vedagiriswarar Temple is situated on the top of a hill. It is famous for its temple when two kites are fed daily around noon by a temple priest. Legend has it that these two birds are actually saints who to rest at the temple in their flight between Varnasi and Rameshwaram.
There is also a larger Shiva temple in the town below. At the southeast end of the town is a spacious tank whose waters are said to have curative powers. Once every 12 years, a conch is discovered at this tank and thousands of devotees flock to bathe I the tank at this auspicious time. A collection of the conches is displayed in the larger temple.
THIRUPORUR: (25 km from Chengalpet)
This ancient Murugan temple datting back to the Pallava period and is one of 33 major temples in Tamilnadu dedicated to the worship of Lord Muruga.
MELMARUVATHUR SRI ADI PARASAKTHI TEMPLE: This temple is 36 km from Chengalpet. Devotees are permitted to enter into the Garbha Griha (inner Chamber) and pray to the Goddess.
KANCHIPURAM (76km from Chennai)
Kanchipuram is considered one of the seven cities of India. The ancient City of Thousand temples is the major Hindu Pilgrim center. Kanchipuram was the capital of Pallavas during 6th to 8th Centuries AD. It has magnificent temples of unique architectural beauty bearing eloquent to its glorious Tamil heritage.
SRI KAMAKSHI AMMAN TEMPLE: This famous temple is one of the three Shakthi Pedams in indai. It was built by the Cholas in the 14th century AD. The sanctum faces the Gayatri Mandapam. The beautiful Kamakshi Devi is the Padmasana posture, holding a bow of sugarcane and arrows of flowers. The Kamakotipeedam or Sri Chakram established by saint Adi Shankara is in front of the goddess and all pujas are offered to this. Kamakshi being the principal goddess in Kanchipuram, the Shiva temples here have no separate sanctum of Shakti.
SRI EKAMBARESWARAR TEMPLE: This is another ancient temple in Kanchipuram. This temple has the distination of being renovated by successive empires, the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Vijayanagar Kings. The 57 meters high Rajagopuram is one of the tallest gopuram in South India. Sri Ekambareswara is worshiped in the form of Prithivi Lingam (Earth). The two thousand five hundred years old mango tree inside the temple is the biggest attraction.
SRI KAILASANATHAR TEMPLE: This temple is located at the western of the city. It was built by the Pallava king Rajasimha and his son Mahendra in the 8th Century AD. This temple is dedicated tot lord Shiva. It is the oldest structure in Kanchipuram and finest example of Pallava architecture in South India.
Of all the temples in India, no other edifice has been so elaborately filled with all the 64 aspects of Lord shiva. The temple is unique in its architecture and is viewed more as an architectural wonder than as a holy place. Hence, it is never crowded with locals. But, once in a year during Shivarathi festival large crowds visit the temple and there could be hours of waiting in long queues.
SRI VARADARAJA PERUMAL TEMPLE: At Chinna (Little) Kanchipuram this Vishnu temple, which dates back from the 12th Century, draws thousands of devotees to this annual festival. It is center of attraction in Vishnu Kanchi. The temple is a big one with two gopurams one at the west and the other in the east.
Sri Varadaraja Perumal situated on top of Hastigiri hill. Sri Varadarjar faces west and is on an artificial hill. People go through the western entrance. The hundred pillared hall in this temple, erected during the Vijayanagar Period is Anantha Pushkarani, Lord Athigiri Varadaraja is lying below water. It is taken out once in Forty years, exhibited for one mandalams and then replaced within the tank.
SRI KAMAKOTI PEETHAM: Sri Adi Sankara, after his various tours though most parts of India, settled down at Kanchi tot spend his last years. He caused to remodel the city and reconstruct the three principal temples Devi Kamakshi, Sri Ekambareswarar and Sri Varadaraja Perumal. Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham was established by Sri Adi Sankara in the year 482 B.C. It has the distination of an unbroken lines of 70 Acharyas (spiritual leaders. Sri Kanchi Kamakotipeetam has been undertaking several spiritual and social activites.
OTHER TEMPLES IN THE TOWN:
The city is fully packed with a lot of temples. There are a few temples which get historical and architectural importance. They are Sri Kacchapeswarar (Shiva) temple, Sri Pandava Dutha Perumal (Krishna) temple, Sri Kumarakottam Subramanya Swami temple, Sri Ulagalantha Perumal (Vishnu) temple, Sri Vaikunda Perumal (Vishnu) temple, Sri Astabujaperumal temple, Sri Yathothakari Perumal temple, Sri Vilakolikathaperumal temple, and Jain Temple at Thiruparuthikundram.
AROUND KANCHIPURAM: Sri Perumpudur (32 km), Uthiramerur (30 km), and Thiruthani (46 km).
THIRUTHANI: (46 KM)
It is one of the six abodes of Lord Muruga. The temple stands on the top of the Thanigai Hill. It is a single rock 700 feet above from sea level. His righteous indignation towards the Asuras was quelled here and so it is know as Shantipuri or Abode of peace. It is said that if Murugan is worshiped here with and soul for five consecutive days, the worshipper is blessed with the best in this life and after.
VELLORE (90 km from Kanchipuram)
SRI JALAGANDEESWARAR TEMPLE: This temple is very near to the bus stand. The temple stands inside the fort and is dedicated to Sri Jalagandeeswar. The temple is noted for its sculptures, and speaks volumes of the exquisite craftsmanship of the highly skilled artisans of that period. The sculpture in the porch on the left of the entrance is a masterpiece appreciated by the connoisseurs of art and architecture. It has a big wedding hall adorned with elegant relief’s and monolithic sculptures. This temple was used for long as an arsenal and remained without deity. A few years back it has been sanctified with an idol of Lord Shiva.
VIRINJIPURAM: (10 km) This magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is located on the southern bank of the River Palar. Around the basements and the pillars of the temple are a number of well-executed figures that can be seen singly and in lively groups in dramatic settings representing scenes in the social life of the people. There are several inscriptions here both in Grantham and in Tamil. The lion faced Simmakulam tank is considered to be very sacred.
PADAVEDU: (35 KM) This is now a desolate village with two important ancient temples, both of which are interesting places of pilgrimage. One is dedicated to Sri Ramachandraswamy and the other to Goddess Renukambal Amman. The temple of Sri Renukambal Amman is situated in an area of 6.29 acres. There are beautiful carvnigs depicting the invitation of Parasurama by Sri Renukadevi.
THIRUVALAM: (12 Km from Kadpadi) : Located an the western bank of the Nuga river, a tributary of Palar river, it is famous for the ancient Shiva temple dedicated to Sri Vallanadeheeswarar. Thiruvalam is praised by saint Thirugnanasambander. A unique feature of this shrine is that the Nandhi is not facing the Lord, but facing the opposite direction. There is an underground path, beneath the Bali Peetam. Several stone inscriptions in both Tamil and Sanskrit could be found in the temple.
VALLIMALAI: (10 km from Thiruvalam) : The temple is situated in the top of a small hill that can be ascended by a flight of 300 steps. The main deity is Lord Subramanya. The temple was built about 1500 years ago. It is said that this is the place where Valli was born and married the Murugan. Most part of the temple looks like a cave on the hill.
It has been one of the important Jain Centers during the early medieval period. According to Kannada inscription the natural cavern was converted into Jain abode by Prince Rajamalla of Western Ganga dynasty in about 10th century AD.
SHOLINGUR: (40 KM) : Sholingur is famous fir Sri Yoga Narashimhar temple. It is situated on 750 ft. high hillock & 1305 stairs. There is also a Yoga Anjaneyar temple on a 350 ft. high & 406 stairs. Devotees who visit this temple on full moon day every month tot perform girivalam.
THEERTHAMALAI: Theerthamalai is an important sacred place in Harur taluk of Dhamapuri District. Here the temples is located at a top of a hillock. Lord Shiva is dedicated as Sri Theerthagiriswarar. A lot of devotees throng the temple duing the Mahasivarathiri. Chola and Vijayanagara Kings donated liberally to this temple.
HANUMANTHATHEERTHAM: This place is situated on the bank of River Pennaiyar in Harur taluk of Dhamapuri District. Traditionally it is associated with Theerthamalai. It is believed that Sri Hanuman who was instructed by Sri Rama to get the water from the holy river Ganga for his penance at Theerthamalai which he could not do it in time.
So Sri Rama was said to have done Asthraprayogam and got it. Disappointed at this, Hanuman was said to have thrown done vessel in which he brought the holy water and this spilled water is believed to be the Hanumanthathreetham.
THIRUVANNAMALAI (187 km from Chennai)
The Arunachaleshwara temple of the place is one of the largest temple in South India. Situated at the foot of a hill. It covers an area of 25 acres. The Arunachaleshwara temple is dedicated to Tejo Lingam or Jyothi Lingam (the fire incarnation of God). Hence much significance is attached to Thiruvannamalai as one of the Pancha Bhutha Sthalas. The main gopuram is 200 feet and 13 storeys high. The nine imposing gopurams of the temple are a magnificent sight.
LEGEND: Once Brahma and Vishnu misguidedly argued about which of them was greater, and went to Lord Shiva to settled their debate. The latter appeared before them as a pillar of fire, and declared that whichever of them was able to find either his beginning are end was greater. Vishnu went downwards into the earth and Brahma flew upwards into space, but no matter how far they traveled they could not find the base or the crest of the Lingam of fire. Both lost their arrogance and bowed before Lord Shiva. The pillar of fire became the hill of Arunachala a natural Lingam.
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI ASHRAM: The hill is considered as the symbol of spiritual knowledge and enlightenment. The hermitage where the silent saint Sri Ramana Maharshi lived is half way up the hill. He exerted great spiritual power on those who came in search of him. Thousands of followers visit the world-famous Sri Ramana Ashram round the year to pursue profound themes of meditation.
THIRUKKOVIUR: (39km) : This Vishnu temple is situated 39 km from Thiruvannmalai. The main shrine is dedicated to Ulagalantha Perumal (Thiruvikrama Swami). Lord Vishnu in a mammoth form of Thiruvikrama dominating the three worlds, subduing Mahabali, the demon king. The stone image is 35 feet high x 24 feet wide.
This temple has two prakarams and a three-tiered Rajagopuram. The Nagatheertham tank is located opposite to the temple. There are shrines to Aandaal and Manavaalamaamuni.
VIRUDHACHALAM (213 km from Chennai) Virudhachalam is 60km from Cuddalore, 23 from Ulundurpettai, 83 from Pondicherry and 45 from Chidambaram.
SRI VIRUDHAGIREESWARAR TEMPLE: Virudha means old age and Achalam means Mountain. Viridhachalam means an Old Mountain. In chaste Tamil, the place is mentioned as Thirumudhukundram in the hymns Thevaram.
Here Lord Shiva dedicated as Pazhamalainthar, Virudhagireeswarar, and Ambal as Virudhambikai. Everything in this temple is five. Five prakaras, five holy springs, five rivers, five cars, five flag posts(kodimaram), five faces to the Lord. Generally temples are built at the ground level. But Virudhachalam temple is formed in steps as if on a mount. There are only four prakaras and four Nandis now (bull vehicle of Lord Shiva) it is be presumed that one Prakara and one Nandhi might have been lost due to some reasons during the past. One Nandhi is found beyond the river in the eastern side.
The 12,000 gold coins by the Lord to Saint Sundarar was dispatched through Manimutharu river (near by the temple) so that it could not be robbed by anybody on the way and delivered at Tiruvarur (near Thanjavur) tank safely. Virudhachalam – Thirumudhukundram is praised by the three Thevaram saints, Thiugnanasambansar, Thirunavukkarasar and Sundarar.
SRIMUSHNAM: (20 km) The temple is considered one of the eight Swayam Vyaktakshetras (self – created) of Lord Vishnu. Here Lord Vishnu is to have been taken away by Krishna Deva Wodeyar of Mysore and installed it at Srirengapattinam. The front Mandapam called Purushasukara Mandapam built in the 17th century looks like a chariot with elegantly carved figures of warriors riding the horses and elephants.
CHIDAMBARAM Chidambaram is known for the Famous Natraja Temple dedicated to Lord Natraj (Shiva as a cosmic dancer) and is noted for its golden roof over the sanctum sanctorum. It is an important pilgrim center and a holy place for Saivaites. It is also one of the five Shaivaite Mukti Sthalams. The other four being Kalahasthi (near Thirupathi), Kachipuram, Thiruvannamalai and Thiruvanaikaval (Tiruchi). The temple located in the center of the town covers an area of 40 acres.
This ancient temple of the Cholas is unique not only due to the fact that it is devoted solely to the art of Bharathanatiyam, but also it is one of the rare temples where Shiva is represented by an idol rather than the customary Lingam. The idol of Sri Natraja is installed in the Kanaka Sabha. Though non-Hindus are not allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum. Behind Sri Nataraj, is a black screen, which is considered to believe that there is an invisible Lingam, with golden vilva garlands, i.e. stressing the belief that there is everything in nothing. There are five silver plated steps to reach the Kanaka Sabha, representing the Panchakshara mantram-Na ma si va ya.
The temple is surrounded by massive walls with four big tall gopurams in four directions and a big tank called Sivagangai tank measuring 175x100 feet towards the North. The North & South gopurams are 160feet high. The 108 dance postures as seen in the Natya Sastra are sculpted in these towards. It has five principal sabhas known as Kanakasabha, Chit sabha, Nritya sabha, Deva sabha and Raja sabha. The Raja sabha measuring 103 meters by 58 meters is housed in a 1000 pillared hall outermost prakaram. Tradition holds that Sivakama Sundari lies to the left of Natarajar Sannidhi.
This is one of the few temples, where Shiva & Vishnu are enshrined under one roof. Near the Sanctum there is a Shrine for Vishnu called as Govindaraja, or Chitracootathullan. Legend says that Shiva and Parvathi were dancing with abandon when the question of who was a better dancer came up. First they went to Brahma at Thiruvalankadu, but failed to give a verdict. Second they went to Vishnu at Thiruchitrakoodam (Chidambaram). While dancing Shiva as Nataraja lifted his right leg above his head. Parvathi could not do so due madesty. Since the verdict went in favor of Shiva. Thus Chidambaram was also importance to Vishnu also.
Two annual Bhrammotsavams are celebrated. One in the month of Margazhi, during Arudra Darisanam festival and the second in the month of Aani concluding with Aani Tirumanjanam, when the deities are taken out in procession.
SIRKAZHI: (17km) Sirkazhi is considered to be the Tevara Stalangal located to the North of the river Kaveri. This is a vast temple complex with 3 different Shiva Shrines. Three different forms of Shiva are worshiped here, the Shivalingam (Bhrammapureeswarar), a colossal image of Uma Maheswarar (Toniappar) at the upper level, and Bhairavar (Sattanathar) against at the upper level.
Goddess Parvathi gave Gnana milk to Thirgnana Sambandar here, when he was a child. After this, he sang the famous Devaram. Lord Shiva as thoniappar resides in a thoni (boat). The boat symbolizes that Thoniappar help people cross their sea of birth. Every year during Thiruvadirai Nakshatra of Chithirai month, the famous Thirumulaippal Utsav is held. This well maintained temple is under the able administration of the Dharumapura Adhinam. Six worship services are offered each day. Special worship services to Bhairavar (Sattanathar) are carried out on Friday nights.
VAITHEESWARARN KOVIL: (33 km) This ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva-as Vaitheeswaran literally meaning the divine provider of cures. Adorned with imposing towers, Mandapams and Pillars, this well visited shrine has been sung by the Saivite Saint Poets. It is believed that a bath in the holy waters of the Siddamirtham tank within the temple complex will cure all diseases. It is said that Angarakan – Mars, Kartileya, Jatayu and the Rig Veda worshiped Shiva here. This is also referred to as an Angarakasthalam.
MAYILADUTHURAI (36 km from Chidambaram)
SIR MAYURANATHASWAMI TEMPLE: This ancient Shiva temple is in the heart of the town. Several Shivastalams are located in the vicinity of Mayiladuthurai. It is considered Tevara Stalams in the Chola kingdom located south of the river Cauvery. This temple has 5 prakarams, a 9 tiered (165 feet high) Raja gopuram, pillared halls with interesting sculptural work as well as 14 vimanams with period are found here. The temple is managed by the Tiruvanaduturai Adhinam.
Legend says that Dakshayani (Parvathi) took the from of a peacock after her father’s Daksha Yagnam, worshipped the Gowri Tandavam and united with her here. Mayuranathar is believed to have quelled the Kaveri floods to make way for Sambandar and 4 of the Vallalar shrines in the vicinity are said to be manifestations of Mayuranathar. Interestingly, the Tiruppariyalur Veerattam where the Dakshayagnam is believed to have been performed, is located at a distance from 8km from this temple.
SIR PARIMALA RANGANATHAR TEMPLE: This is another temple in Mayiladuthurai. This temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams. This is considered to be one of the Pancharangams, the other four being Srirangapatnam near Mysure(Karnataka), Srirangam, Koyiladi (Anbil, Tiruchy) and Kumbhakonam. This temple with tree prakarams has a 5 tiered Rajagopuram and it faces east. The Dwajastampa mandapam and the Garuda Mandapam have beautifully sculptured pillars. The Garuda mandapam bears images of the 10 Avatarams.
The Moolavar Sri Parimala Ranganathar also known as an imposing 12 feet long image made of green stone, and sugandhavana Nathan, in a reclining posture facing east. Taayaar here is Parimala Ranganayaki. Images of Kaveri and Ganga are seen seated in the sanctum, as is an image of Santana Gapalakrishnan. Bhrahma is seen depicted on the wall.
THIRUKKADAIYUR: ( 22 km from Mayiladuthurai) : This ancient Shiva temple is on the east coast of Tamilnadu. This is one of the holy places of Saivism today.
The prime deity worshiped in this holy place is Lord Shiva. The Amritaghateswarar and Abirami Temple in this hamlet of Thirukkadaiyur are associated with the mythical stories of Markandeya and Abirami Battar. This holy place is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva rescued and saved the Markendeya, the son of an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, from the Yama (the God of death). Local devotees believe that Markandeya worshipped Amritaghateswarar, a from of Lord Shiva, in Thirukkadaiyur.
This temple town witness steady huge flow of witnesses coming to offer prayers to Lord Shiva and Goddess Abhirami. It is a grand temple with 5 Prakarams, imposing towers and ornate Mandapams covering an area of 11 acres. There are three temple tanks which are known to be very holy water tanks. ‘Amrita Pushkariini’, ‘Kaala Theertham’ and ‘Maarkandeya Theertham’.
AROUND MAYILADUTHURAI: Vazhur Shiva Temple (8km), Koothanur Saraswathi Temple (2 km), Thiruvavaduthurai Shiva Temple (16 km), Chayavanam Shiva Temple 2 km from Poompuhar, Thirmullaivasal (13km from Sirkazhi) Kuthalam Shiva Temple (10 km), Thirumanacheri (5 km from Kuthalam) Chempanaar Kovil Shiva Temple (12 km).
KUMBAKONAM (32 km from Mayiladuthurai) : Kumbakonam is considered one of the seven important holy cities of India. It is believed that a both Mahamaham Tank on Mahamaham day will cleanse one of the sins. The Mahamaham festival is celebrated here once in 12 years in the month of Masi (Feb-March), when Jupiter passes through the sign of leo the devotees believe that the nine sacred rivers of India appear in this tank on the Mahamaham day. The four large temples Sri Adi Kumbeshwara Temple, Sri Sarangapathi Temple, Sri Ramaswami Temple and Sri Nageshwara Temple, located here are noted for sculptures and carvings. In the 7th Century it was the Capital of Chola Kings. It is picturesquely located amidst the two rivers, Cauvery & Arasalar.
SRI ADI KUMBESWARAR TEMPLE: Sri Adi Kumbeswarar Temple is the major one among the Saivite Temples. It is located in the center of Kumbakonam town. This temple has three Praharas and three gopurams. The East Gopuram consists of 9 stories with a height of 128 feet.
The legend has it that during Mahapralaya after Dwapara Yuga, a Kumbam full of Amruth and seeds of creation was as set afloat by Lord Shiva. The lord proclaimed that the place where the pot touched the ground would be considered the holiest of all places. When the Kumbam finally rested in this place, the Lord appeared in the guise of a hunter and broke the Kumbam with his arrow. The Amruth got split and pooled in a place, which became the famous Mahamagham Tank.
SRI SARAGAPANI TEMPLE: This temple is considered one among the three major shrines of Lord Vishnu and this temple is given the third place to Srirangam and Tirupathi. It was renovated during the period of Naicks of 15th Century. The Karuvarai and Vimanam are made with twelve sculptured columns shaped like a chariot. This temple consists of the biggest Gopuram height 150 feet and 5 Prakharams and one holy tank called Golden Lotus Tank and also known as Lakshmi Theertham. Goddess Lakshmi performed penance here and Vishnu came down as Aravamudhan and married here.
SRI NAGESWARA TEMPLE: This temple is located near the old stand area and Adithya Cholan of Chola dynasty constructed the temple during 12th Century. This temple stands as a great marvel of Chola’s architecture, building technology and astrology.
Adi Sesha and Surya had worshiped Sri Nageswara here. When Adi esha was groaning under the weight of the world, he came to who win Kuvinvanam, the present of Nageswara Temple and did penance. Shiva and Parvathi appeared before Adi Sesha and blessed him with enough strength. The Sun’s rays fall on the lingam in the central shrine through an opening in the eastern tower for three days in a year – on the 11th , 12th and 13th days in the month of Chithirai (April-May)
SIR RAMASWAMI TEMPLE: This temple is near to Sri Adi Kumbeswarar temple. It consists of one Gopuram, one Maha mandapam and Karuvarai. The columns of Maha mandapam are enriched with intricate stone carving works Rama-Katha, Vaman avathar, Meenakshi wedding, Sukriva Pattabishekam are some of the famous carving works of this temple. Here Lord Rama gives dharsan in his coronation robes. Both Sri Rama and Sita are seated on the same Peeta and Hanuman is depicted as singing in price of the Lord with the help of a Veena.
SRI MAHAMAHAM TEMPLES: The famous Mahamaham Tank of Kumbakonam is located near the Head Post Office. This tank covers an area of 6.2 acers and is in a shape of a pot. The tank is Surrounded by 16 small Mandapams and a “Nava Kannika Temple” in the Eastern Side. Govinda Theekshitan, the Chieftain, of Achutha Nayaka of Thanjavur, construced sixteen Mandapams and stone steps around this tank. Brhmatheerthesar, Mukunthar, Thalesar, Rishakesar, Umaipakesar, Nairuthesar, Brahmeesar, Gangatheerthesar and Seshtra Paleesar, are the names of deities located in these Mandapams.
Brahmatheerthesar temple is located at the Northwestern portion of this tank. This temple is also known as “Thula Mandapam” where a big physical balance is provided for making contribution to the temple. It is also believed that this tank consists of 19 Holy Theerthams around the tank periphery and another theertham at the center. Vayu, Ganga, Saraswathi, Akni, Cauvery, Nagam, Niruthi, Palaru, Thevan, Varunan, Saratu and Kannia are names of the Theertham believed to be located inside this tank. Apart from the above said Mandapams, around the tank area, a temple known as Abimukeshar Kovil occupies the eastern portion of the tank Kasi Vishwanathar Kovil situated on the northern bank of Mahamaham Tank and the temple and the big Gopuram in the front ere constructed during the period of Naick rule.
During this festival it is believed that in Mahamaham tank the famous rivers like the Ganga, the Yamuna, etc… meet together and taking bath in mahamaham, would wash off all the sins.
OTHER TEMPLES IN THE TOWN: Sri Chakrapani temple, Sri Viswanatha temple, Sri Someswara temple, Samanatha temple, Sri Gautameswara temple, Sri vedaranya Perumal Temple and Sri Brahma Temple.
AROUND KUMBAKONAM THIRUPUVANAM:(6 km)
This Shiva temple was built by Chola King Thirupuvana Chakravarthi as a memorial to his conquest in the North, the front mandapam here is again built in the form of a huge chariot. The Vimanam here is larger than that of Darasuram, and is about 120 feet in height. Sculptured panels depicting scenes from the Ramayana adorn this temple.
The shrine, dedicated to Sri Kampahareswarar, resembles the Big temple of Thanjavur. The image of Sarabheswarar is a rare sculpture with a strange combination of bird and man. Lord Shiva assumed this from to subdue the fury of Narasimha.
THIRUVIDAI MARUTHUR: (8 km) This place is about 2 km from Thirupuvanam temple. The River Cauvery passes through this village. The village is also called Madhyarjunam and the Presiding deity is Mahalingeswarar and goddess is known as Perunamulaiyammai. Legend says that Shiva was worshiped bu Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Kaali, the Vedas, Vasishtar, Skand, Vishnu and Agastya.
GANGAIKONDA CHOLAPURAM: (42 KM) This historical temple is 42km from Kumbakonam towards Chennai. The Brihadeeswarar temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram was conceived and constructed by the Chola King Rajendra-I after his victory over the kingdoms bordering the river Ganga Shiva. This temple looks similar to the Thanjavur Big temple. The sculptured of Chandeswarar and Gnanasaraswathi are very fine workmanship.
A big NAndi in front of the temple made of brick and mortar, a lion head well with a flight of steps leading to the water level and the gigantic dwarapalakas are the other special features of this temple.
UPPILIAPPAN KOVIL: (6 km) This sacred Vaishnavite temple exists known as Uppiliappan or Oppiliappan temple. The deity is known by various names as Uppiliappan, Oppiliappan, Srinivasan, Venkatchala – pathy, Tiruvinnagarappan, etc. the Goddess is known as Bhoomi Devi. This is one of the sacred 108 Divyadesam.
The Lord is in the standing pose facing east, Goddess Bhoomi Devi siting north, and Markandeya is installed as if performing the rites of marriage of his daughter. Poigai Alwar, Pey Alwar, Tirumangai Alwar and Nammalwar have sung in praise of this deity. As Nammalwar the deity accordingly as Ponnappan, Maniappan, Muthappan, Ennappan and Tiruvinnagarappan.
NACHIYAR KOVIL: (10km from kumbakonam) This beautiful Vishnu shrine is dedicated to Srinivasa Perumal. Here the Ganga Vahanam is made of stone, which is rare. The divine consorts is Nachiyar or Vanulavalli Thayar. It is the birth place of Nambi Andar Nambi. Among the impotent festivals are thirukalyanam (Holy Marrigage) in Aug – Sep, Mukkodi Utsavam in Dec-Jan, and Brahmotsavam in Mar-Apr.
The main feature of Mukkodi Utsavam is the Garuda Seva on the 4th day when the stone idol of Garuda is taken out in a procession carrying Srinivasa Perumal.
DARASURAM: (4 km) This temple is 4 km from Kumbakonam towards Thanjavur. The Airateswara temple built by Rejendra Chola in 12th Century AD. It is an great example of Chola architecture. Legend says that Airavata, the white elephant of India, and Yama, the God of Death, had worshiped Lord Shiva here. The frontal columns of the temple have unique miniature sculptures. There is a tank called Yama Theertham. Darasuram is described as a sculptor’s dream re-lived in stone. The front mandapam itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses.
SWAMIMALAI: (8 km) Swamimalai is one of the Aru Padai Veedu (Six abodes) of Lord Muruga. The temple is 8 km west of Kumbakonam towards Thirvaiyaru on the banks of river Cauvery. A flight of 60 steps, each representing a Tamil year, leads one tot top. It is here that Lord Muruga, the son, expounded the meaning of Om, the Pranava Mantra, to Lord Shiva, the father.
PATTESWARAM: (8 km) Here Lord Shiva was worshipped by Patti, one of the daughters of Kamadhenu. The Lord is known as Dhenupureeswarar and Goddess is gnanambikai. Here Lord Siva gave a canopy of pearls to Saivite sait Gnana Sambandhar on a hot summer day and made the Nandhi to move aside to see is devotee enter the shrine.
Goddess Durgai amman is enshrined on the northern side of the temple and every Friday is special to worship the goddess. Buses are available from Kumbakonam.
PAPANASAM: (14 km) There are two temples; the Pallaivanatha Swami temple constructed by the Chola King and the other is the Ranganathaswami temple or 108 Sivalayam temples is situated on the southern bank of river Kumamurutti. The Goddess is Parvathavardhini. Legend has it that Sri Rama had installed the 108 Lingams to expiate the sin of killing the demons Khara and Dhushana. Hence the name of this place.
There are also a Granary (storehouse of paddy) which measure 86 feet in width and has a height of 36 feet with a capacity of 3,000 kalam which is a measure. The Nayaks between 1600-1634 constructed it. The state Archaeological department declared it as a monument. One can see the 108 Sivalingams only in the temple in Papanasam.
THIRUKARUGAVOOR: (20 km, 5 km from papanasam) This temple is situated in the riverbed of River Vettaru a branch of the Cauvery, at a distance of 5 km from Papanasam.
The Shiva Shrine id dedicated to Sri Mullaivananathar. Goddess Garbarakshambigai is said to offer protection to human embryo. Women pray here for safe pregnancy and delivery. This sthalam Thirukarugavoor is ancient and has been extensively quoted by the Great Shaivite saints Thirugnana Sambandar and Thirunavukkarasar on the deities Eswara Mullaivanathar and the Goddesses Gharbharakshambigai.
OTHER SHRINES: Aaduthurai Shiva Temple (15 km), Thirumangalakkudi Shiva Temple (3 km from Aaduthurai), Thirvaikkavur (7km from Swamimalai), Aavoor Shiva temple (7 km from Pateeswaram), Thiruvalanchuli Ganesh Temple (7 km), Thirunaraiyur Shiva temple (Near NAchiyar Kovil), Sivapuram (5 km), Marudanallur Shiva Temple (6 km).
NAVAGRAHA STHALAS : It Tamilnadu Navagraha temples are located within a 60 km. radius around Kumbakonam. Six of them are situated on the northern bank of Cauvery and three on the southern bank.
SURYANAR KOVIL: (15 km from Kumbakonam) This is only temple in south India dedicated exclusively to Surya (Sun God). Surya is know as the giver of health, success and prosperity. It is built by King Kulothunga Chola I in 1100 AD . every year in mid January, the harvest festival is celebrated in thanks giving and to honor Surya.
THINGLOOR KOVIL: ( Chandran Sthalam, 5 km from Thirvaiyaru) Dedicated to the Moon or Chandran in Sanskrit and Thingal in Tamil, a visit to this temple is said to grant a comfortable and long life. In the months of Purattasi (Sep-Oct) and Panguni (Mar-Apr), Moos.s rays fall on the Lingam. In astrology, Chandran is the planet that removes stress and sorrow.
VAITHEESWARAN KOVIL: (Ankarakan Sthalam, 6 km from Sirkazhi) The presiding deity is Sri Vaidyanathaswamy, is hailed as the healer of all ills. The belief is that if prayers are offered to Ankarakan, he will bestow valour, victory and strength to the person. Jatayu, Muruga, and Surya worshiped the Lord here. There is also a widespread belief that a visit here would remove obstacles that delay marriage.
THIRUVENKADU: (Budhan Sthalam, 10 km from Vaitheeswarankovil) The Shiva shrine here is dedicated to Sri Swetaranyeswara. The Goddess is Brahma Vidyambika. There is a reference to this temple in Valmiki’s Ramayana. Therefore it is said that the oldest part of the tenmle is more than 3000 years old. Dedicated to Budhan or Mercury this temple in Thiruvenkadu makes up the last of the Navagraha Temples. Budhan is said to bestow wisdom and intellect.
ALANGUDI: (Guru sthalam, 7 km from Needamagalam) The presiding deity here is Sri Aabathsagayeswara or Aranyeswara, a Swayambu Lingam, and the Goddess is Umai Ammai. This is regarded as a Guru sthalam or Jupiter where Lord Dakshinamurthy is held been reverence. Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva, is said to have been reborn on the banks of the Amrita Pushkarini within the temple precincts before being reunited with Shiva.
KANCHANOOR: (Sukran Sthalam, 3 km from Suryanar temple) This Shiva sthalam is associated with Sukran or Venus. This shrine is also reffered to as Palaasavam, Brahmapurai and Agnisthalam. Brahma is said to have had a vision here of Shiva’s wedding with Parvati. Men visit to pray for the well being of their wines.
THIRUNALLAR: (Sani Sthalam, 5km from Karaikal) This is the only temple that is dedicated to Lord Sani or Saturn. When the Planet Saturn transits between zodiac signs, literally millions throng this shrine. The legendery King Nala is said to have been relieved of his afflictions, which were due to the malefic influence of Saturn, after worship in this temple. Of the numerous tanks theertams, the Nala theertam is the most important one. By bathing here, it is believed that one is washed off all kinds of misfortune and afflictions.
THIRUNAGESWARAM: (Rahu Sthalam, 5 km from Kumbakonam) The Shiva shrine is dedicated to Sri Naganathaswamy, his consort is Giri Gujambika. This vast temple known is for its shrine to Rahu, one of the nine celestial bodies in the Navagraha. A legend has it that the mythological serpents Adiseshan, Dakshan and Kaarkotakan worshipped Shiva here.]
KEEZHA PERUMPALLAM: (Kethu Sthalam, near Poompuhar) This is an ancient Shaivite temple and legend has it that Kethu, the other planetary node of the nine celestial bodies worshipped Shiva here. Rahu and Kethu are associated with the legend of the serpent that helped Lord Shiva churn the milky ocean. There is a shrine dedicated to Kethu in this temple.
THANJAVUR (38 km from Kumbakonam, 60 km from Tiruchi)
Thanjavur derives its name from Tanjan-an asura (giant), who according to local legend devastated the neighborhood and was killed by Sri Anandavalli Amman and Vishnu, Sri Neelamegapperumal. Tanjan’s last request that city might be named after him was granted.
The district of Thanjavur boast of hundreds of ancient temples. The town of Thanjavur was seat of the glorious Chola Empire of Tamilnadu, and was later of the Naicks and the Marathas.
SRI BRIHADEESWARAR TEMPLE: This 1000 years old temple is near to the old bus stand. It is one of the best and biggest temple in South India. It was built by The Chola emperor Raja Raja in 985 to 1013 AD. The architecture of the temple is the final evolution of Dravidian sensibility in its blend of engineering and design. The construction is unique: the Vimanam, know as Dhakshina Meru, soars high while the Gopurams remains stunted.
The temple stands within a fort, whose walls are later additions built 16th century. The octagonal Shikharam rests on a single block of granite weighing 81.3 tones. Sri Brihadeeswarar is a gigantic Lingam (about 8.7 meters high)
There is a massive Nandi at the portals of the temple. It is the second largest monolithic Nandi in the country. Measuring 6mtr in length, 2.6mtr in breath and 3.7mtr in height. The divine consort, Brahannayaki, or Periyanaki is in a separate shrine. The shrine of Lord Subramanya is an exquisite piece of decorative art.
THIRUVAIYARU: (13 km) Situated on the banks of the river Cauvery Thiruvaiyaru has an old Shiva temple dedicated to Panchanatheswarar. Though pilgrims flock to this temple throughout the year. Thiruvaiyaru is mare renowned for its anociation with saint Thyagaraja, who along with Muthuswami Diskshitar and Shyama Sastri, Comprises the trinity of Carnatic Music. Near Shiva Temple is the one – roomed have where Thyagaraja composed some of this greatest works.
On the banks of the river is the Samadhi of the saint and it is here that the greatest music festival in the country takes place annually. The Thyagaraja Aaradhana festival is held in January when most of the leading exponents of carnatic music come to perform and are watched by thousands of ardent fame of classical music.
THIRUVARUR: (5 km) The Thyagarajaswami temple here the biggest temple chariot in Tamil Nadu. This vast temple houses Thyagaraja, Kamalamba and Vanmikanathar and has been sung by the Saiva Saints. The pillers and the halls here are of great beauty. Rajaraja Cholan was an ardent devotee of Thyagarajaswami. This temple is also referred to as a Prithvi (Earth) Sthalam.
It is considered to be one of the holiest of the 275 Saivite shrine. It has the most number of hymns in the Tirumurthi collection after Srikazi and is the foremost to the 7 Saptavitanka shrines associated with the legend of Muchukunda Cholan and Indra. The evening worship service here is of great significance. Tiruvarur is regarded as the 87th in the series of Tevara Stalams in Chola Nadu south of the river Cauvery.
Sri Thyagarajswami Car festival is celebrated in March April, every year. This is the birthplace of Saint Thyagaraja, the poet-saint and composer of Carnatic music.
SIKKAL SINGARAVELAVAR TEMPLE: (80 KM) Around 80 km from Thanjavur situated in Nagapattinam Tiruvarur Main Road. The ancient history says here only Lord Mugugan got the ‘Sakthi Vel’ from Parvathi (refered as Velnedunkanni amman in this temple) and killed Suran. This temple is one of the few temples in Tamilnadu, which has both Shiva and Vishnu in the same campus. The ‘Vel vankuthal’ festival in the Tamil month of Iyappasi is very famous here.
NAGAPATTINAM: (25 KM from Thiruvarur) This Shiva temple is dedicated to Karayogaswami and Neelayadakshi. It is considered to be the Tevara Stalams in the Chola kingdom located south of the river Kaveri. This temple also regarded as one of the 51 Shakti Peethams of India. Lord Thyagaraja is known here as Sundara Vidanagar and He performs Paaraavaaru Tharanga Natanam. The intricate workmanship of Panchamukha Vinayaka seated on a lion is note worthy.
VEDARANYAM: (52 KM from Nagapattinam) The four Vedas – Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharvana – worshipped Lord Vedaranyeswara (Shiva). Hence the place is known as Thriumaraikkadu. The shrine of Thyagaraja is adjacent to that of Vedaranyeswara. The Maragatha Lingam enshrined near the Hamsa Paada Natanam. Appar and Sundarar competed to sing and show their talents at this place. 11 Tamil songs to open the gates of the temple happened here. Because of the curse which happened during that time, still now most of the people use the back to enter the temple.
THIRUCHIRAPALLI (320 km from Chennai) Thiruchirapalli situated on the banks of the river Cauvery. It was originally know as Tirusirappalli, named after the three-headed Asura Tirusiras, who obtained a boon after worshipping Shiva here. It lies 320km to the south of Chennai. It is the fourth largest city in the state of Tamil Nadu.
ROCK FORT TEMPLES: The Rock Fort temple complex is a collection three temples. The Manikka Vinayaka temple at the foot of the hill, the Uchi Pillayar at the top of the hill and the Thayumanavar or Mathurubutheswarar (Shiva Temple) on the hill. Atop the rock is the Uchipillayar is dedicated to Lord Ganesh from one can enjoy a panoramic view of Thiruchi.
SRI RANGAM SRI RANGANATHASWAMI TEMPLE: (8 KM) Srirangam, surrounded by waters of the river Cauvery on one side and its tributary kollidam on other side, is a 600 acre island town enclosed within the seven rampart walls of the gigantic Sri Ranganathaswami temple. It is considered the first and foremost and most important of the 108 Divyadesams. There are 21 magnificent towers in all prakaras providing a unique sight to any visitor.
Srirangam is called as “Boologa Vaikuntam”. Even after many invasion by Moghal Kings, this temple still stands without losing its beauty and fame. Sri Ranganathar is the main God of this temple and Sri Ranganayaki is the Goddess.
Around 1300 years ago, during the Bhakthi movement, the Always saint poets of Tamilnadu sang verses in praise of Lord Vishnu. 108 of these shrines and mythological abodes are collectively known as the Divyadesams shrines in the Vaishnava tradition. Except Mathurakavi Alwar, all the other eleven Alwars have done Mangalasasanam in Srirangam.
LEGEND: Sri Ranganathaswami was worshipped by Brahma. He presented to India king of Devas and he presented to Surya. And Surya Vansa Ikshavaku Kings (ancestors of Rama) worshipped Sri Ranganathasswami.
At the temple of Rama’s Pattabhisheka, Vibhishana obtained the Ranga Vimana (a special chariot-like conveyance carried by Veda Murtis with Vishnu inside) from Rama as a gift. While carrying by Veda Murtis Vibhishana halted at Srirangam. Contrary to the injection he had received. Vibhishana placed it on the ground and it got rooted here.
THIRUVANAIKKAVAL SRI JAMBUKESWARAR TEMPLE: It is situated 5 km from Tiruchi and 2 km east of Srirangam. This beautiful Shiva temple steals the show from the larger Ranganathaswami temple because of its excellent architectural design. Installed under an ancient Jambu tree, the lingam is partially submerged by water and meant to represent the God as water.
Apas, the water element has great fluidity and is related to the story of Goddess Parvati creating a lingam out of water (Appulingam) after she had been banished to earth by Lord Shiva for mocking his Yoga Sadhana.
Legend has it that two devotees of Shiva were born under the influence of a curse as a elephant and a spider. The elephant worshipped Shiva with flowers and water brought in its trunk (hence the name Tiru Aanaikka). The spider worshipped the Lingam by spinning the Lingam by from falling leaves. The elephants worship would destroy the spiders web, and the spiders web amounted to desecration in the animosity to desecration in the trunk of the elephant leading to animosity between the two, of such proportion that a fight between them resulted in the death of both.
TEMPLE STRUCTURE: The temple has five enclosures and the walls reach a height of 35 feet. Numerous sculptures of rare beauty could not be found everywhere in the temple. It has many mantapams, Unjal mantapam, Hundred Pillared Mantapam, Thousand Pillared Mantapam, Vasantha Mantapam, Navaratri Mantapam and Somaskandar mantapam. The sanctum was built by Ko-Chenget-Cholan, while the walls of second Prakara was by Vijayalangam and the third Prakara was built by Sundara Cholan. The east tower in the fourth Prakara was erected by Sundara Pandian.
SAMAYAPURAM SRI MARIAMMAN TEMPLE: (20 KM) Samayapuram Sri Mariamman temple is 20 km from tiruchi. Mariamman is a form of Shakti worshipped in Tamilnadu, and is associated with prosperity and health. When devotees are infected with chicken pox, they pray to this goddess for relief, who relief, who immediately comes to rescue of the aching devotees.
URAIYUR: (2 KM from Rock Fort) Uraiyur was the ancient capital of the early Cholas and the ancient city is believed to have been destroyed by a sand storm. Ko-Chenget-Cholan the builder of 78 Maadakkovils is said to have born here. Just 2km from Rock fort. In Uraiyur there are three main temples, they are Sri Nachiyar temple (Diviya Desam), Sri Panchavarneswarar temple, Sri Vekkali Amman temple.
OTHER SHRINES: Vayalur Sri Subramanyar temple (8 km), Sri Uthamar Temple (8 km), Gunaseelam Sri Prasanna Venkateswarar Temple (24 km), Thirupannilee Sri Neelivananathar Shiva Temple (20 km), Theruvellarai Vishnu Temple (27 km) Thiruppattur Sri Brahmapureeswarar Shiva Temple(30 km).
COIMBATORE (532 km from Chennai) The third largest city of Tamilnadu, it is one of the most industrialized city in Tamilnadu. Coimbatore existed even prior to the second century A D as the capital of a small tribal village Kongunad, until it was brought under Chola control in the 2nd – 3rd century by Karikala Cholan, the first of the early Cholas.
This Shiva temple is situated 7 km west of Coimbatore near river Noyyal. The presiding deity of this temple is know as Patteeswarar and his consort Parvathi is know as Pachainayaki. The temple was built by King Karikala Cholan over 1500 year ago. It is one of the six Thandava Sthalam, here the Lord performed Ananda Thandavam.
This sanctum is the joint effort of the Chola, Hoysala and Vijayanagara rulers during their region. The greatest attraction of the temple is the ‘Kanaka Saba’ or the golden hall which is adorned by a gold plated statue of Nataraja bestowing blessings upon the two sages _ Gowmuni and Pattimuni. The gopurams and pillars of the hall are exquisitely carved out sculptures highlighting Dravidian architecture. The significance of Perur temple in earlier days are unfolded in the poetic creations of Arunagiri Nather and Kachiappa Munivar. The temple stands on the banks of the holy river Noyyal called ‘Kanchi Manadi’ by the locals. Pilgrims from all over visit this spot to pay homage to their ancestors.
MARUDHAMALAI MURUGAN TEMPLE: (20 KM) This is a small natural hill lying to the west of Coimbatore. More than 800 year old, the presiding deity is Lord Subramaniaswami. The temple dedicated to Lord Murugan is at a height of 600 feet from the foot of the hill. The flight of steps are inter spread with attractive mandapams. Though shorn of all sculptural and architectural glories, the hilly background of this temple compensates for their absence and makes it an attractive picnic spot even from point of view of an holiday-maker.
VELLIANGIRI HILLS: (30 KM) These mountains are known as the Kailash of the south. Located in the outskirts of Coimbatore, it is one of the sacred hills. Lakhs of people undertake the arduous 8 km trek during Maha Shivarathri and Chitra Pournami every year. Rare medical herbs can be found on these mountains. The exotic flora and fauna add to the mystical colors of the pilgrimage.
DHYANALINGA: (30 KM) This is the largest lingam in the world and it is located in the foothills of the Velliangiri mountain about 30 km from Coimbatore. The lingam is a single black granite stone 13 ft. 9 inches in height and it has with seven copper rings embedded in it, corresponding to the seven charkes that is believed to govern the human body. The Avudaiyar or its base is made from a single white granite stone of 9ft in diameter and is in the from of a seven headed additional coiled snake.
The Dhyanalinga does not ascribe to any particular religion or faith, but is the distilled essence of yogic science. The dome has been built with traditional material like burnt bricks, mud and mortar additional herbal additives.
Avinashilingeswarar temple (40 km), Bannari Amman temple (83 km), Masaniyamman temple at Pollachi (40 km), ammanalingeswarar temple at Thirumoorthy hill (21 km from Udumalapet).
BHAVANI: (14 KM from Erode) The sangameshwar temple at Bhavani is situated at the confluence of the river Bhavani and the Cauvery. This place is called Thiruveni of South India. It is an important pilgrim center. Lord Sangamashwarar with his consort vedanayaki is presiding deity.
NAMAKKAL: Namakkal is also called as “Namagiri”, meaning the rock formation at the center of the town. Namakkal is well known for its temples and other sacred sites. The 7th century rock-cut temples on a hill know as Namagiri are popular among Vaishnavites. On other side of the hill are Shirnes dedicated to Sri ranganatha and Sri Narshimaha. Before proceeding to the Narashimha shrine, devotees worship a majestic image of Lord Hanuman.
THIRUCHENGODE: (42 km from Salem) This Shiva temple is regarded as Tevara Stalams in the Kongu Region of Tamilnadu. This beautiful temple is situated 24 km from Salem. Lord Shiva is dedicated as Ardhanareeswarar – one of the 64 manifestations of Shiva, representing the unity of shiva and Parvati, is enshrined in this revered hill temple. This is an ancient temple mentioned in the Tamil work Silappadikaram. The red color of the hill caused the name Chengode. The image above, shows the view of the surrounding area from the top of the Tiruchengode hill. Although the sanctum faces the West, entrance to it is from the South. A majestic image of Ardanareeswarar adorns the sanctum.
PALANI This hill temple is one of the Arupadai veedu (six abodes) of Lord Muruga. This ancient temple was built in the 7th century A D. by King Cheman Perumal and was later added to by the Naicks. It is located at an elevationo of 1500 feet above sea level can be reached by climbing 659 steps or by using electrical winch.
In the sanctum, the Lord stands as an young ascetic holding Dhanda (staff). Hence he is know as Bala Dhandayudhapani. Siddha Bhogar skillfully crafted the deity out of an amalgam of nine minerals popularly called Navabashna. It is one of the major pilgrim center in South India.
According to a legend, Muruga lost in a contest with his brother Vinayaga over a rare mango. He left Kailash in a huff and came down to this hill. Here, Lord Shiva pacified him by saying that he himself is the embodiment of Gyana (Knowledge). The Lord from then on came to be known as Palani Murugan or Palani Andavar.
THENI (75 KM from Madurai) Theni district is the main route for tourist bound from Madurai to Kochi via Bodinayakanur and Munnar.
MAVOOTHU VELLAPPAR TEMPLE: The Vellappar temple is situated in the Varushanad hill ranges, 20kms from Andippatti. Nestling amoung the hills, the temple is atop a peak, surrounded by natural vegetation. Transport is available up to the foothills only. The main shrine of this temple was discovered by local tribes.
PERIYAULAM BALASUBRAMANYA TEMPLE: Sri Balasubramanya temple was constructed by King Rajendra Chola nearly 2000 years ago. This temple is constructed equal to Varnasi (Kasi). Since Brahma theertha runs in this river it is believed that any incurable disease is cured when we have bath in this water. It is situated 16km from Theni.
AROUND THENI: Kuchanur Saneeswarar temple (25 km), Chinnamanur Sivagamaiamman temple (28 km), Devadanapatti Kamakshi Amman temple (19 km), Veerapandi Gowmariamman temple (8 km).
MADURAI Madurai is known all over the world because of the magnificent temple of Goddess Meenakshi. It is the second largest city in the state. The city is Madurai is well planned and laid out in the pattern of lotus flower, with the famous Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple in the center. It is situated on the banks of River Vaigai. Lord Shiva appeared and drops of nectar (Mathuram) from his locks fell on the town and so it came to be known as Madurai.
SRI MEENAKSHI SUNDARESWARAR TEMPLE: This is a twin temple. The temple in the southern side is dedicated to Meenakshi and the other to Lord Sundareswarar. This is one of the biggest temple complexes in India. The temple is about 258 meters in length and about 241.4 meters is breadth. It is also an ancient center worship as well as an art gallery of vast proportions.
The original temple was built by King Kulasekara Pandiyan. There are 12 temple gopurams (towers). The gopurams covered from top to bottom with multi-colored images of celestial beings and mythological figures. The towers are noted for stucco work.
The Meenakshi shrine is one of the 51 Shakthi peetams. It is one of the five (pancha) sabhas of Lord Nataraj. The Shrine is glorified as the Velli ambalam.
GOLDEN LOTUS TANK: Inside the temple is a tank Golden Lotus Tank. It is believed that the king of Devas Indra worshipped Lord Shiva with Golden Lotus Flowers from this tank. The tank is surrounded by spacious corridors. Scenes from Thirvuilaiyadal Puranams are painted on wall of the northern corridors and on the wall of the southern corridors verses from the ancient famed Tamil devotional poems and Thirukkural have been inscribed on marbles slabs. On the pillars of northern corridors are figured of 24 poets of the Third Tamil Sangam (Period), the merchant Dhanajeyan who saw the temple at first and then King Kulasekhara Pandiyan who first built the temple.
THOUSAND PILLARED HALL: This famous Thousand Pillared hall is north east of the temple it was built by Dalavai Ariyanatha Mudaliyar in 1568 AD. Who built this temple treasure house of art.
Now this hall actually contains 985 pillars only. This space for the remaining 15 pillars were taken up for two small temples. The images of Narthana (dancing) Ganesh, Shiva, Radi, Manmatha, Arujuna, Bhima, Chandramathi, Saraswathi, Mohini, Bitchadanar are magnificent carvings.
KOODAL ALAGAR PERUMAL TEMPLE: In the west of the city there is a ancient Vaishnavite temple with beautiful sculptures. This temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is older than the Meenakshi Temple.
This temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams. The Moolavar (presiding deity) is know by name “Koodal Alagar” and his consort is know as “Maduravalli”. Periyalvar sang the holy “Thirupallandu” in the Koodal Alagar temple in Madurai which is appraise of Lord Vishnu. Periyalvar’s loving daughters is Andal.
OTHER TEMPLES IN THE CITY: Sri Madanagopala temple, Sri Inmail Nanmaitharuvai temple, Thiruvappudayar temple, Sri Muktheeswarar temple, Sri Mariamman temple, Thalakulam Sri Prasanna Venkatachalapathy temple.
AROUND MATHURAI THIRUPPARANKUNDRAM: (8 KM)
It is located 8 km south of Madurai Railway Junction. One of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya the second son of Lord Shiva is locayed here. It is a 6th century rock-cut temple. Subramanya married to deivanai here and many centuries before this has been regarded the most auspicious plays to conduct marriages. The rock-cot temple of Subramanya here is thronged with pilgrims on all days of special worship.
ALAGARKOVIL: (21 KM) This temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams. It is called Alagar Hills or Alagar Kovil. The God Alagar comes to Madurai Vaigai River and goes to merit Manduga Rishi who was living us a frog, he comes in correct from that he prays God Vishnu being as Alagar. The temple is situated on a hill amidst panoramic surroundings. The shrine is know as Sundararaja Perumal and the hill is Solamalai. The temple also contain some beautiful carvings making a visit regarding. About 2 km away from alagarkovil one small hillock is Palamudir Cholai, one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya.
OTHER SHRINES: Thirumohur Sri Kalamegaperumal Temple (12 km), Thiruvathavur Sri Thirmarinathar Temple (24 km), Othakkadi Sri arashimhar Temple (10 km), Thirvedakam Sri Etakanatheswarar Temple (18 km). Kuruvithurai Sri Siddharathavallaba Perumal Temple (30 km).
SRIVILLIPUTHUR: (70 Km from Madurai) It is the birth place of two Vaishnavite Alwars Sri Andal and her father Periyalvar. Andal is the greatest devotional poet in Tamil. The Vatapatrasayi temple has one of the most impressive gopurams in the South. The wooden car of the temple with nine massive wheels is said to be the biggest and heaviest in the country.
The main attraction at Srivilliputhur is the shrine of Lord Ranganatyha and Andal where their images are installed in bridal attire. Garuda Alwar is enshrined by the side of Sri Ranganatha.
Andal’s devotions Tanil songs, known as Thiruppavai, are as popular as Meera’s bhajans. The shrines of Sri Vatapatrasayee (Vishnu reclining on Adi Sesha), Sri Navaneeta Krishna and Sri Srinivasa Perumal in Srivilliputhur are noteworthy too.
KARAIKUDI (120 km from Madurai) This small town is known for its magnificent mansions constructed by the Chettiars. Around Karaikudi there are many temples are worth to see.
KUNRAKKUDI: (10 km from Karaikudi) Kunrakkudi is noted for its beautiful hill temple dedicated to Shanmuganathar. The name Kunrakkudi is derived from the sacred Kunru (Hill) housing the temple. Kunrakkudi is also known as Mayuragir. The presiding deity is the six faced Shanmugar mounted on his peacock flanked by Valli and Deivayannai. The sanctum faces the east. There is a cave temple dedicated to Shiva with a 5 tiered Gopuram at the foot of the hill. This cave temple is of great archeological significance. There are three caves here, dating back to the 8th century.
PILLAYARPATTI: (13 KM from Karaikudi) This Pillayarpatti small village derives its name from the image of Lord Ganesh known us Karpaga Vinayagar. The Lord Vinayaka carved on the wall of an ancient rock at Temple. It is one of the oldest Cave Temple (Rack Cut) temples of Tamilnadu.
Karpaka Vinayakar is the Presiding deity here, and he is portrayed with two arms and a trunk curled towards his right in the varampuri mode. This 6 feet tall mammoth image of Ganesha is a bas relief in an excavated cave, off of a hill in the precincts of the temple.
TIRUPPATHU: (20 km from Karaikudi) The Tiruthalinathar temple is a grand Shivastalam in this town This shrine is regarded as the 6th of the Tevara stalams in the Pandya region of Tamilnadu. This 15 acre temple has 4 prakarams and a beautiful vimanam with several stucco images. Stone images of Nataraja and Sivakami are seen in this temple. The yoga Bhairavar shrine (facing West) is of significance here.
THIRUKOSHTIYUR: (8 km from Thirppathur) This beautiful Vishnu temple is one of the 108 Diviya Desam. This is also the birthplace of Nambi Andar, Guru of Sri Ramanuja. In this Vishnu temple the Lord is worshipped in four different postures in a four-tier structure.
Legend says that Siva, Brahma, Devas, and Saints were unable to tolerate the misrule of Hiranyakaspu, s othey approach Lord Vishnu at Parkkadal. They decide to meet at Kadambamuni Ashram. They came in groups, thus this place is called Thirukoshitiyur.
THIRUMAYAM: (21 km from Thirppathur) Thirumayam is an ancient place is situated 21 km from Thiruppathur. Here Shiva and Vishnu temple covered by a single compound wall. The temples are built with a single rock. Girvalam (going aroung the hill) can be done only covering both the temples. The Vishnu temple is one of the 108 diviya desam. The main shrine is also Kudavarkoil – carving the hill. Sathya Maharshi performed penance here. The temple was built 1300 years ago by Mahendra Pallavan.
PIRANMALAI: (32 km from Thirpathur) This Shivastalam, located 32 km from Tiruppattur, is a vast hill temple. This shrine is regarded is one of the Tevara Stalams in the Pandya region. Legends says that Shiva is believed to have revealed a vision of his marriage with Parvati to Agasthya Muni here. Piranmalai is said to have been ruled by Paari Vallal. Piraanmalai is sad to be a block of Mount Menu, which got blown off during a fierce tussle between the serpent king Aadisashan and Vaayu the wind God (as in Tiruchengode). This hill in the form of a Shiva lingam is also called Prachandragiri and Katoragiri.
This vast temple covering an area of about 30 acres, with three prakarams has 5 beautiful vimanams and an attractive Rajagopuram. The Marudu brothers associated have made several contributions to this temple. There are 57 Theerthams in this temple.
AVUDAYARKOVIL: (48 km from puthukottai and 15 km from Arantangi) This ancient and beautiful Shiva temple is located on the seashore of the Pandiyan country at Tiruppunnavasall at a distance of 26 km from Avudayarkovil. This shrine is regarded as the Tevara Stalams in the Pandyan region of Tamilnadu.
There are two entrances to the temple corresponding to the Shiva the Ambal shrines. The temple covers an area of about 3 acres and much of the structure dates back to the Pandyan period. Massive walls surrounding the temple and the picturesque Rajagopuram beautify this shrine. The Nandi and the Shivalinagm are huge here, and so is the vimanam crowning the sanctum. This is a well endowed temple.
KAALAIYAR KOVIL: Kaalaiyar Kovil is a highly revered Shivasalam in Pandya Naadu. There are three shrines in this temple associating with the three functions of creation, preservation and completion. This shrine is regarded as one of the Tevara Stalams in the Pandya region of Tamilnadu. Legands says that Parvathi is said to have been cursed to attain the form of the dark Kali, she is said to have killed the demon Chandasuran (at Marudavanam) and gotten relieved from the curse. Shiva is then said to have married her here and taken on the name Kaaleesar.
The Temple has a lofty Rajagopuram (150 feet) and an imposing Teppakkulam tank (with a mandapam) named Aanai madu adorn this shrine. Airavatam the elephant of India is said to have created this tank.
RAMESWARAM (162 km from Madurai)
Rameswaram is an island situated in the gulf of manner at the tip of Indian peninsula and is a very important pilgrim center of the Hindus and also of the most sacred place of India. It is also the seat of one of the 12 Jothirlingas.
It is said that Lord Rama worshiped Lord Shiva, on his return from Lanka after Killing King Ravana. So this island is sacred to both the Saivites and Vaishnavites.
SRI RAMANATHASWAMI TEMPLE: According to legend, the Lingam at this temple was installed by Sri Rama. On his return after the battle of Lanka, Rama wanted to install the Lingam to absolve himself of the sin of vanquishing Ravana.
Rama sent Hanuman to Mount Kailas to fetch the Lingam. Since Hanuman was late, Sita made a Lingam out of sand. This was installed as Rama Lingam, and worship was over. Mean while, Hanuman rushed in with the Lingam from Kailas. He was disappointed to find another Lingam already in place. To pacify Hanuman, Rama had the Hanumath Lingam (Viswa Lingam) also installed alondside and ordered that pujas be first performed for the Viswa Lingam.
The temple has 22 theerthas (Holy springs), which are believed to have medical properties.
AGNITHEERTHAM: The Ramanathaswami temple faces east. The sea here, about 100 maters from the main entrance of the temple is very calm and therefore ideal for bathing. The water of this place is considered sacred and known as Agnitheertham.
GHANTHAMATHANA PARVATHAM: The Ganthamathana Parvatham is a hillock to the north of the temple. From here one can get a fine view of the island. There is a pretty two – storied mandapam here and Ramas Padam (feet) place on a chakra for worship attracks pilgrims.
KOTHANDARAMARSWAMI TEMPLE: This beautiful temple is situated 7 km from Ramanathaswami temple. Legend has it that Vibhishana surrendered to Rama at this place and Lakshmana performed the preliminary Patabhishekam for him. Here we can see idols of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman, and Vibhishana.
DHANUSHKODI: The southern most tip of the island Dhanushkodi was completely washed away by the 1964 cyclone, to reach Sethu Theertham at Dhanuskodi, one has to walk 3 km along the shores.
Sethu is a Sanskrit word to denote a bridge or cause way. It has now acquired special significance to mean the bridge across the ocean constructed and used by Rama to reach Srilanka. It is said that, at the request to Vibhishana and Ally of Rama, Rama broke the sethu with one end of his bow and hence the name Dhanuskodi (Dhanus – Bow, Kodi – End) has came. Sethu theertha is a 3 km from Dhanuskodi bus stand. There is also available local van. A dip in Sethu is considered very holy.
AROUND RAMESWARAM: DEVIPATNAM OR NAVAPASHANA (16 km from Ramanathapuram)
This beautiful coastal villege is 16 km from Ramnathapuram. Here Sri Rama had installed nine stones in the sea worship Navagraha (Nine Planets). Devotees ofer worship the nine planets here.
UTHIRAKOSAMANGAI: (18 km from Ramanathapuram) 16 km southwest of Ramanathapuarm stands the renowned Shiva temple of Uttarakosamangai. Manikkavachagar has sung of it. The lord is Mangaleshvara and the Goddess Mangalesvari. The temple has inspired many Tamil works of devotion. So, of course, has the Ramanatha temple in Rameshwaram. Here Lord Nataraj made of Emerald stones.
THIRUPULLANI: (14 km from Ramanathapuram) This place is 14 km from Ramanathapuram. There is a Vishnu temple, here dedicated to Lord Adi Jagannathaperumal. Sri Rama is said to have worshiped the deity and secured to bow for 7 days in order to invoke the sea god for safe passage to Sri Lanka.
THIRUNELVELI (151 km from Madurai) Thirunalveli the headquarters of the district is another ancient city of Tamilnadu with a hoary tradition. It is mid way between Madurai and Kanyakumari and is located on the banks of the Thamaraparani. Thirunelveli was once the capital of the Pandyas, and it has a history that goes back 2000 years.
SRI GANFHIMATHI NELLAIAPPAR TEMPLE: The main attraction of Thirunelveli is the twin temples of Ganthimathi Nellaiappar dedicated to Pavathi and Shiva respectively. The temple, built by a Pandya king in the 7th century AD. Rare jewels, musical pillars, thousand pillared hall, and sculptures are attractions of this temple. It is one of the five (pancha) sabhas of Lord Nataraj. The Shrine is glorified as the Thamara Sabha.
KRISHNAPURAM: (13 KM) About 13 km from Thirunelveli, is Krishnapuram. The temple here is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There are a number of life size sculptures in this temple.
SANKARAN KOVIL: (56 km from Tirunelveli) Sankaran Kovil has three shrines dedicated to Lord Sankaralinga, to Goddess Gomathi Amman and, between these two, to Lord Sankaranayarana, a combination of Shiva and Vishnu. According to a legend, Sri Parvathidevi once wished to see Shiva and Vishnu in one form. Shiva bade her to go earth and perform penance. On the Full Moon day in Adi (July – Aug), Lord Shiva gave darshan as Sankaranarayana. The sun rays fall on the pedestal twice in a year.
KAZHUGUMALAI:(24 km from Sankaran Kovil) the rock-cut cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is worth visiting. The Jain temples here are among the oldest in the country and have some excellent bas-relief sculptures is also worth to see.
TENKASI: (55 km) Those who worship Sri Kasi Viswanathar in Tenkasi get the same benefit of worship underten in Utharakasi (Varanasi). This temple is a palace of sculptural skill of the stone craftsmen of Tamilnadu. 172 feet Rajagopuram (main tower) was built in 1456 King Parakrama Pandian, then it was damaged in 1924 due to thunder and it was built with height of 163 feet.
COURTALLAM: (59 km, 5 km from Tenkasi): This wonderful temple is just near to the famous Courtallam waterfalls. The temple is conch shaped prakara. Shiva showed himself as Brahma and Vishnu. The Tirikootamandapam here is the site of festivies here. Parvati’s shrine is also important and is regarded as one of the 51 Shakti Peethams. It is also important and is regarded as one of the 51 Shakti is glorified as the Chithira Shaba.
Legends says Saint Agastyar proceeded south to stabilize the earth, and relieve the instability caused by the guests that arrived in the Himalayas for the wedding of Shiva and Parvathi.
PAPANASAM(60 km); The famous Shiva tempe is located at the bottom of Western Gates and also very near to the origin of the River Tamaraparani. The temple is dedicated to Papavinasar, is known for absolution of sin. Every year The Chitirai Vishu festival is celebrated in the month of April and another festival Adi Ammavasai is celebrated in the month of July and lakhs of people congregate there.
NAVATHIRUPATHI: There are nine Vaishnavite canters on the banks of river Tamaraparani. These nine templea are called Navathirupathi. In these Vishnu temples, the Prime deities themselves are worshipped as the Navagrahas and so there are no separate shrines for the Navagrahaas, as found in other temples. They are 1. Srivaikuntam, 2. Thiruvaragunamagai (Natham), 3. Thirupuliyankudi, 4,5, Thirutholaivillimangalam (Erattai Thirupathi), 6. Thirukulanthai (Perunkunlam), 7. Thiruperai (Thenthiruperai), 8. Thirukolur, 9. Thirugurukoor (Azhwarthirungari). It is difficult to cover all the temple at a single stretch traveling by bus.
Srivaikuntam is situated 30 km from Tirunelveli, from where frequent bus services are available. The Prime Deity Lord Vaikuntanathan faces east in standing posture, with Adisesha serving as an umbrella – an unusual presentation as he is always the bed to the Lord Who comfortably lies down on him. The Lord’s Consorts, Vaikuntanayaki and Choranathanayaki dwell in different shrines in the outer praakaram od the sanctum sanctorum. This is quite a big temple and we have to cross several mandapams it reach the sanctum. Milk abihishrka is considered very sacred. It is considered as a place of importance for Shukra.
Alwar Thirunagari is 5 km from Srivaikundam. In Alwar Thirunagari, the Lord appeared on his own. According to tradition, the feet of the below the earth. It is the birth place of Saint Nammalvar, said to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was meditating under a holy tamarind tree in the temple for 16 years. Nammalwar was the author of more than a thousand verses of Divya Prabhandam.
THIRUCHENDUR: (62 km, 29 km from Alwar Thirnagari) The temple here is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramaniya, situated on the bank of Bengal. It attracts thousand of tourist and pilgrims. After defeating demon Sooradma, he came to this place laid on the Kandamadana Parvata or red sandstone of this temple was laid on the Kandamadana Parvata or red sandstone rock of this coast. The temple also has a huge tower of about 140 feet. The Skandasashti festival is celebrated at this temple November each year.
NANGUNERI: (29 km) This ancient Vishnu temple is surrounded by 4 lakes. Hence the name Nangu Eri-Nanamamalai. Lord Vishnu is dedicated to Deivanathan, Vanamamalai (Thotharinathan). Almost in all temples, there would be only one Swambumurthy but in Nanguneri there are 11, Sridevei, Bhoodevi, sun, Moon, Bruhu rishi, Markandeya, Urvasi, Thilothama and Garuda and Vishnaksenar. This is a unique feature of this temple.
The Lord in the temple is bathed in gingely oil each day and the oil is saved in a well here. Those suffering from skin diseases use to apply the oil in their body and consume a few drops for cure.
THRIUKURNGUDI: (42 km) This beautiful Vishnu temple is 42 km west of Tirunelveli. It is on the Tirunelveli-Nanguneri route. This is one of the 108 Vaishnava Divya desam. The temple is on the banks of Nambi river where Lord Varahamurthy shrunk his huge from with His Consort, hence the place is called Thirukurungudi.
This Lord appears here in Nindra (standing), Amarnndha (sitting), Nadandha (walking) and Kidandha (lying) positions. Thirukurungudi is also known as Kuranga Kshethram. Kuranga is the name of Boomadevi who performed penance on the Lord in this holy place.
KANYAKUMARI (91 k from Thirunelveli, 87 km from Thiruvananthapuram)
The southern most tip of Indian Peninsula also a famous Pilgrim center at the confluence of Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, and the Arabian Sea. Kanyakumari has been named after the Goddess Parvathi in one of her incarnations as Devi Kanniya did penance on one of the rocks of this land’s end to obtain the hand of Lord Shiva.
SRI KUMARIAMMAN TEMPLE: The 3000 years old temple at this place is dedicated to the Goddess Parvathi who as Devi Kanniya, the virgin Goddess, did penance to obtain the hand of Lord Shiva. The temple stands near where three oceans meet: the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, and the Arabian Sea. The image of the Goddess in the sanctum is her right hand. The eastern gate, facing the Bay of Bengal is opened only five times a year.
Legends says that the demon Baanaasuran wreaked havoc on the inhabitants of this world, and that Lord Vishnu requested the Gods and the humans to request primeval energy Paraasakthi to vanquish the demon. Answering the prayers of the oppressed, Shakti appeared as a young virgin girl at Kanyakumari and commenced penance with the desire of marrying Shiva at Suchindram.
Legends has it that the celestial Sage Narada, fixed the midnight hour as the auspicious time for the wedding. When shiva’s procession reached a site by name Vazhukkumpaarai, a rooter crowed, heralding daybreak, and that Shiva assuming that the auspicious hours was past, returned to Suchindram. The disappointed Goddess decided to spend her life in Kanyakumari as a virgin, and that all the food prepared for the wedding was laid waste and that it turned into the colored sand seen on the southern shored of the Indian peninsula.
The demon Banaasuran upon hearing of Shakti’s story proceeded to Kanyakumari to win her hand in marriage by force, and this led to a fierce battle in which he was slain by her.
There are a total of 11 theerthams associated with the temple in the ocean surrounded the area. The confluence of the seas, at the southern tip of the Indian peninsula has been held sacred for centuries.
SUCHINDRAM: (14 km) Suchindram means the place where Indra the King of Devas attained purification. Sucindram temple may will be considered as one of the storehouses of the richest specimens of art and sculpture in stone.
There is fine, large, with a beautiful tank. It is of the few temples in the country where the t\Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are worshipped. The Linga, named “Sthanumalayan”, is in three parts; the top represents Lord Shiva, the middle Lord Vishnu, and the base Lord Brahma. The temple has a beautiful gopuram, musical pillars and an excellent of Hanuman.
NAGARAJA TEMPLE: (19 km) This ancient temple is 19 km from Kannyakumari is Nagercoil, which consists the celebrated Nagaraja Temple. The sanctum is a simple thatched shed, with mud walls. It enshrines the King of Serpents. Tradition states that a King of Kalakkad was cured of leprosy when he performed penance in the temple. He then rebuilt it in the Kerala style. He might have been Bhuthalavira as his capital, from Marthandavarma, who ruled Venad, with Kalakkad as his capital, from 1516 to 1535. it is believed that snakebite is not fatal within a kilometer of the temple. The fane has some sculptures.
KUMARAKOVIL: (34 km, 15 km from Nagerkovil) Kumarakovil is at the foot of the Velimalai hills, about 34 km from Kannyakumari. The lord Muruga Temple is built on the hillock about 200 feet height in a lush green field of Paddy, Plantian and Coconut trees. The temple is noted for architectural beauty. The side of the Lord also enshrines goddess Valli, the spouse of Lord Subramanya in the temple.
THIRUVATTAR: (59 km , 40 km from Nagerkovil) This beautiful temple is located in Kanyakumari district towards Thirvananthapuram and near Marthandam. This is one of the 108 Vaishnava Divya desam.
The presiding deity here is Sri Aadi Kesava Perumal in a reclining posture faces west. As in Thiruvanathapuram, the deity is viewed through three openings in the sanctum. The sanctum has been designed so that the rays of the setting sun illuminate the face of the deity.
The architecture here, as with several other temples in Kanyakumari district resembles that of the temples of Kerala. Worship protocols followed here are also the same as those of Kerala. This temple is an important center of worship and is referred to as Aadi Anantham and Dakshina Vaikuntham. Tiruvattar is reffered to in the Sangam period Tamil work Puranaanooru.
OTHERS SHRINES: Gukanatheeswarar Shiva temple (2km), Murugan Kundrum (3 km), Thirupathisaram 5 km from Nagerkovil (Vaisnavite Diviya Desam), Mandaikkadu Bhagawathi Amman temple (42 km), Chitaral Jain temple (52 km).