Temples in and around Madurai
Madurai has been a center of learning and pilgrimage, for centuries. Legend has it, that when the city was suffering due to the poison that was spit by the snake which came out from the yagna of enemies, Lord Shiva wiped out the city with the divine nector (Madhuram) to clear off the effects of poison and hence the name Madhurapuri, now known as Madurai.
Some of the significances of Madurai are:
- Madurai city finds its place in the Tamil epic Silappathiharam, the legend around Kannagi, Kovalan and Madhavi
- Madurai Thamizh Sangam, a congregation of Tamil poets that contained famed poets like Nakkeerar, Kabilar and Baranar
- The famous incident of Gandhiji stopping to wear full dress on seeing a woman without proper dress due to her poverty
- There are three hills around Madurai in animal shapes – Yaanai Malai (Elephant shaped), Pasumalai (Cow shaped) and Naagamalai (Snake shaped).
Conventions used in this document:
DDxxx – One of the 108 Vishnu Divya desams
PNTxx – One of the 275 Thevara Padal Petra Shiva Sthalams; Pandya Naattu Thevara Sthalams
Last Updated: 13th July 2012
PNT01 – Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple (Aalavaai)
Madurai means Meenakshi just like Kanchi means Kamakshi. Whatever one writes about this temple, it is going to fall short of words to describe the significance, beauty and power of the temple. There is enough material in the net about the Meenakshi temple.
It is better to take a guide and allot atleast 2 hours for this temple to have a fulfilled dharshan.
Don’t miss to see:
- Siddhar shrine in the inner praharam
- The while elephants around the sanctum and the legend behind
- Painting of a rotating lingam on the celiing near the Mukkruni Vinayagar shrine
- The small sculpture of Meenakshi amman with 3 breasts
- Natarajar with the legs interchanged
- 1000 pillar hall
Temples around the four (South, East North and West) Masi streets
Sri Ramana Mandhiram
This is located at Chokkappa Naicken street exactly opposite to the South Chithirai street entrance, after about 10 houses from the entrance.
Sri Ramana maharishi was born in Thiruchuzhi, about 80 kms from Madurai but he moved to his uncle’s house here after his father’s death. This is the place where he got the famous “death (self realization) experience” for 20 minutes. A sacred place to visit and meditate for everyone.
Sri Dhandayuthapani Swami Temple
The temple is located at the crossing of Nethaji road and West Masi street at about 500m South-West of Meenakshi amman temple.
This is a temple noted for the royal attire dressing of Lord Muruga. Saivite Saint Sundarar stayed in this temple during his journey and it was then called Sundarar Mutt.
Immayilum Nanmai tharuvar temple
Location: This temple is located at West Masi street at a walking distance from Koodal Azhagar temple. The name suggests that the Lord grants all goods across all births.
Significances: One of the pancha boodha sthalams of Madurai district.
Main Deity: Shiva linga known as Immayil Nanmai Tharuvar and Goddess Naduvoor Nayaki.
- According to Lors Shiva’s “Thiruviladayal puranam” this is the place where Shiva played the role as a bangle merchant.
- Lord Siva and Shakthi made a Linga and worshipped in this place, so we see Lord Shiva and Shakthi sculpture at the back of the Lingam in the form of worshipping, which is rare to see.
- Brahma, Thirumal, Sakthi and Devas worshipped Lord Siva of this place.
Sthala vruksham: Vilvam
Theertham: Shiva theertham
Madhana Gopala Swamy Temple
Location: The temple is at West Masi street near the Eastern gate of “Immayil Nanmai Tharuvar Koil”.
Main deity: Madhana Gopala swamy with Goddess Maduravalli, Madana Mayuravalli, Madurarathi Thayar.
Lord Shiva worshipped and penanced in front of a Shivalinga which He installed. The intensity was too much for the living beings in the world, so Vishnu played his flute to divert Lord Shiva’s attention and He was able to get the thing done. It is said that one who wants to excel in music should worship Madhana Gopala Swamy.
- This is considered as a renowned worshipping place of Vaishnavites. Said to have been installed by the rishis thousands of years ago, the Madana Gopalan temple was later renovated in the 7th Century AD.
- The Lord is seen with four hands- providing dharshan as Perumal holding a Conch and Chakra and as Krishna playing the flute with his other two hands. The Lord is also known as Deivika Vasudevan.
- Beautiful sculptures depicting Ramayana scenes are seen on both northern and southern sides of the Maha Mandapam in front of the main shrine.
- Adelian Peppergibson who visited this temple in 1912 took away the dilapidated stone pillars to U.S and built a pillar Mandapam in the museum of Philadelfia in 1938.
Sthala Vruksham: Plaintain
Temple Time: 7am-12noon and 4:30pm-9pm
Contact: Soundara Raja Bhattar @ 94431 81793 or 0452 234 9363
DD101 – Koodal Azhagar Temple (Divya desam)
Note: There are two Divya desams – Koodal Azhagar and Kallazhagar – in Madurai and easy to get confused with the names and miss one (like me).
Location: This temple is located near the junction of West Masi Street and South Masi street at around 900 meters form Meenakshi temple.
Significances: One of the 108 Divya desams
Main deities: Koodal Azhagar / Vyuga Sundarajar / Vaikundanadhan in a sitting posture with His consorts and Goddess Madura valli Nachiyar in different sanctums.
- Once there was a heavy rainfall and living beings suffered a lot. They prayed almighty and He sent four clouds which joined in four directions in this place and protected them. Hence the place is known as “Thiru koodal”.
- It is said that Deva architect Viswakarma designed and constructed this temple in Krutha yugam.
- The main sanctum vimanam here known as Ashtanga Vimanam which means eight sides and it represents Ashtakshara manthram “Ohm Namo Narayana” with eight letters. The sanctum is of three floors and we see koodal Azagar in three different forms in three tiers.
- As we enter, we see the main deity Koodal Azagar in sitting posture; in the second floor He is in standing posture as Soorya Narayanar and in the third floor in a reclined posture as Ranganadhar / Seerabdhi Narayanar.
- There is also a Navagraha shrine (usually Navagraham is found only in Shiva temple).
- The temple tower is a beautiful structure and unlike a typical pyramid structure, has a slightly more circular dome-like structure that adds to the beauty.
Sthala Vruksham: Kathali (Plaintain).
Theertham: Hema Pushkarani.
Sri Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal Temple
The temple, under the patronage of Sourashtra Sabha, is located at the South Krishnan koil street branching out from the South Masi Street and to the east of Sri Koodal Alagar Perumal temple.
- Thirumalai Naickar who ruled Madurai in 18th century, was a great devotee of Sri Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal. It is said that by God’s holy direction, he had a glimpse of the Krishna Jyoti (divine light) from this temple during one of his evening walks and henceafter he had generously contributed for building various structures of this holy temple.
- Rani Mangammal (the successor of Naickar) had also visited this temple and had offered a lotus made out of pearl along with other precious ornaments to the Lord. She had also offered two villages for the festival celebrations.
South Krishnan Koil
No details available – should be available in the in the South Krishnan koil street where Sri Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal temple is located.
Sri Veeraraghava Perumal temple
The temple is located near South Masi Street on the Ezhuthanikara street junction
Main Deities: Veeraraghava Perumal with Kanakavalli Thayar in separate shrines
Urchavar: Veeraraghavaperumal with Sridevi and Bhoodevi
Veeraraghava Perumal has the honour to receive the first welcome (Mudhal Mariyadhai) from Kallazhagar when He descends on the Vaigai river on the Chitra Poornima day. Lord Vishnu graces in this temple in a standing form as Veeraraghava Perumal, sitting form as Yoga Narasimhar and lying form as Sri Ranganathar.
Then Thiru Aalavai Shiva Temple
The temple is located on the eastern corner of the South Masi street.
Gnanasambhandhar mutt (Madurai Aadheenam)
Located on the eastern side of the Meenakshi amman temple, this is one of the theerthams of the Meenakshi temple located outside the temple. It is considered that the well was brought by Lord Shiva for His mother in law with the waters of the holy seven seas.
Sri Aadhi Chokkanathar (Vada Thiru Aalavai) temple at Simmakkal
The temple is located North of the Meenakshi Amman temple at Simmakkal. The main deity is Chokkanathar as Swayambu lingam with Goddess Menakshi ammai. Legend says Chokkanathar stayed here to solve a problem of Idaikkadar.
North Krishnan Temple
The temple is located in the North Masi street.
Mottai Vinayagar Temple
The temple is located in the West Masi Street
Kanchana mala Temple
Kanchana mala-Malaijudva Pandaian temple is in Amman Sannathi street, back to nandhi and just opposite the East gate. It’s the only temple for Meenakshi amman Parents.
Nehru Aalala Sundara Vinayagar Temple
The temple in the corner of West Masi street and North Masi street. Jawaharlal Nehru once visited this temple and worshipped lord vinayagar.
PNT02 – Thiru Aappudaiyar Temple at Sellur
Location: The temple is located at 2 kms north of Meenakshi amman temple at Appanur, on The Northern bank of the river Vaigai.
Significances: One of the 275 Thevara Padal petra sthalams
Main deity: Aappudaiyar, Rishabeswarar and the Ambal Kuravan kamazhum Kuzhalammai, Sugandha Kudalambal.
Legend: ‘Aappu’ – a wedge that was mistakenly worshipped as a Shivalingam by a Pandya ruler is said to have transformed miraculously into a Shivalingam and thus it gained the name ‘Aappudaiyaar’. Shiva is also believed to have turned the grains of sand in the river into rice during the time of a debilitating famine and hence the deity is also called Anna Lingeswarar.
Theertham: Rishaba Theertham
The very famous incident of Gandhiji renouncing his formal dress on seeing a poor woman taking bath without proper dress to hide her parts had taken place at Madurai on September 21, 1921 during his 2nd visit to Madurai. There is also a stucco sculpture at the entry / exit of the Madurai Railway junction to commemorate this incident.
The museum displays, apart from many collections of Mahatma Gandhi, the original blood-stained garment of Gandhi when he was assassinated. The other piece of the garment is kept at the Gandhi Museum in Delhi.
Sri Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal Temple at Thallakulam
Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal
Thirumalai Naicker Mahal at Madurai is a palace complex that was constructed in the Indo-Saracen style by Thirumalai Nayakar in 1636. It is a national monument and is now under the care of the Tamil Nadu Archaeological Department.
The original palace complex was four times bigger than the present structure. It was divided into two parts, Swarga-vilasa and Ranga-vilasa. In each of these there are royal residences, theater, shrines, apartments, armory, palanquin place, royal bandstand, quarters, pond and garden. The ceilings are decorated with large paintings showing Shaivite and Vaishnavite themes.
The portico known as “Swarga Vilasam” is an arcaded octagon wholly constructed of bricks and mortar without the support of a single rafter or girder. The stucco work on its domes and arches is remarkable. The gigantic pillars and structures represent architectural mastery. The courtyard and the dancing hall are central attractions for visitors. There are 248 pillars, each 58 feet tall and 5 feet in diameter.
Navaneetha Krishnan Temple
The temple is located near Thavittu Chanthai
Chokkanathar temple at Thirumangalam
Links: Location Weblink
Sri KalyanaSundareswarar Temple at Avaniyapuram
A Swayambu lingam with Goddess Bala Meenambihai ammai;. Santhana Vinayagar is also present.
Madurai – Manamadurai (Rameswaram)
Vandiyur is about 4 kms east of Sri Meenakshi Amman temple and is famous for its Mariamman temple, the huge temple tank and the float festival in it.
1) Muktheeswarar / Iravadheshvarar Temple
The temple is located south of Vaigai river at Vandiyur. The temple is one of the Pancha bootha sthalams of Madurai.
2) Mariamman temple
The temple is located south of Vaigai river at Vandiyur. The huge man-made temple tank measuring about 1000 ft x 1000 ft is one of the landmarks of Madurai. To build the Thirumalai Nayakar Palace, earth was dug here to make bricks and later converted as Temple Tank. The float festival of Lord Sundrareswarar & Sri Meenakshi Amman in the temple tank takes place on the full moon day of the Tamil month Thai (Thai poosam) in January/February to commemorate the birthday of King Thirumalai Nayak. It is a colorful and picturesque festival that attracts about one lakh tourists every year.
3) Veera Raghava Perumal Temple
The temple is located North of the Vaigai river at Vandiyur.
Presiding Deities: Sri Veeraraghava Perumal with Sridevi and Boodevi thayars and also Andal
In the sanctum sanctorum, the Lord appears very uniquely with Andal Nachiar (usually She will be in a separate sanctum).
Sthala vruksham: Bodhi Satva tree (Arasamaram) and Bilwa tree
Ritual procedure: Pancharathra Agama
4) Veera Anjaneyar Temple
The temple is located North of the Vaigai river
Located 8 kms from Madurai and 4 kms from Vandiyur on the way to Manamadurai (Rameswaram), is the Viraganur Dam, a pleasant picnic spot with a picturesque garden.
Pandi kovil is a popular Village-God temple located at 6 kms North-East of Madurai and to the North of Vandiyur. The main deity of this temple is “Pandi Muniswarar”, the savior of Madurai. The Lord Pandi was actually an ancient ruler of Madurai who is related with the tamil epic “Silapathikaram”.
Around two centuries ago, a group of people migrated to Madurai from the nearby Karur town and tented here. An old couple by name Valliammal and Periasamy was also in the group. In the night, Valliammal had a dream in which a long bearded saint appeared and said that he was the ancient ruler Pandiya Nedunchezhiyan who gave the mis-justice to Kovalan and born again a human for that sin. He said he penanced and prayed to Lord Shiva who accepted his prayers. He also revealed that this place was nothing but his palace and there are idols hidden underneath. Valliammal informed about her dream to his group and they found the idol of Pandi Muniswar. They built a temple here and their successors are still taking care of the temple.
Thiruppoovanam is 19 kms East of Madurai in the Madurai – Manamadurai route on the Southern bank of the Vaigai river.
1) PNT11 – Thiruppoovanam Shiva Temple
Significances: One of the 275 Thevara Padal Petra Sthalams
Main deities: The presiding deity is Poovana Nathar / Bhaskarapureeswarar as Swayambu lingam and the Ambal Poovana Nayaki / Sundara Nayaki, both facing East.
- Goddess Parvati, to expiate from her sin of argueing with Shiva to attend her father’s Yagna, sat under the Parijatha tree here for Penance. A Shiva linga emerged from beneath the tree and dispelled the sin of Mother Parvathi and it is the main deity being worshipped. The place is called Pushpavanam in the epics.
- Paranjothi Muniver in his Thiruvillaiyadal Puranam said that the Siva Lingam in Thriuppuvanam is in the compressed form of the whole Universe.
- Surya, Goddess Lakshmi, Perumal, Sage Narathar, King Nalan, Chera, Chola and Pandiya kings worshipped Somaskandar here.
- Sambandhar, upon viewing each grain of Vaigai river sand as a Shivalingam hesitated to set foot on the river and stayed on the other bank of the river itself. Shiva then directed Nandi to move aside to give dharshan to Sambandhar.
- Ponnanaiyal, a female dancer, wanted to sculpt Shiva in gold but even after utilizing all the gold she had, it was only half in size. Shiva appeared in the form of a Siddhar and converted iron and other metals in her house to gold by “Rasavatham” to complete the sculpture which is the 36th Thiruvilaiyadal (holy play) of Lord Shiva. On seeing the beauty of the idol, she pinched and kissed the chubby cheeks of the idol. The nail marks on the cheeks are visible even now in the Urchava vigraham.
- A brahmin by name Dharma Yagnan was here on his way from Kasi to Rameswaram to dissolve the ashes of his father. Here, the ash in the urn transformed into flowers and so this place is considered more powerful than Kasi. The place is called as “Thiruppovana Kasi” in the epics and this is considered to be an appropriate place to do the ancestor rites in the Vaigai River. It is the holy place, where all our sins can be absolved by sincere prayers.
The temple has 3 praharams and 75 feet high 5 tier Rajagopuram. Apart from the usual Shiva temple shrines, the shrines of Sayana Perumal, Sage Vygrapathar, Sage Pathanjali are also present.
Sambandar, Appar and Sundarar composed the Pathigam.
Shala Vriksham: Jackfruit tree
Theertham: Vaigai river, Mani karnikai, Vasishta, Indhra.
2) Sri Azhagiya Manavazhala Renganatha Perumal temple
3) Sri Korakka Siddhar Temple
This is the jeeva Samadhi of the Korakka Siddhar.
Adaikalam Katha Ayyanar / Badhra Kaliamman Temple at Madapuram
Madapuram is just the opposite bank of Thiruppovanam on the Vaigai river. A highly popular temple and has a legend of more than 2000 years. Here Kaliamman is present under the shadow of a horse without any roof on top.
Madurai – Thirupparangundram
Devi Karumariamman Temple at Ellis Nagar
Palanganatham has prehistoric reference in Silappathikaram, Kovalan who was wrongly penalised to death for theft visited this village before his death. There is a place called “Kovalan pottal” near TVS Nagar which is supposed to be the place where he was put to death.
1) Agni Veerabadraswami Temple
2) Kasi Viswanathar Temple
This is located near the Pazhanganatham bus stand. This is one of the Pancha bootha sthalams of Madurai representing Air and is considered to be the Kalahasthi temple of Madurai
3) Sri Moovar temple
The Shiva temple with Parvathi, Saraswathi and Lakshmi is located at Alagappa nagar near Pazhanganatham.
This is one of the earliest Shirdi Sai Baba temple founded in 1943 and located enroute Thirupparankundram. The current idol however is a newer one. The mangala aarthi takes place at 08:00PM.
PNT03 – Thiruparankundram Murugan Temple
Location: The temple is about 8 km from the Madurai city center and very much part of the town.
- One of the six padai veedus (battle camps) of Lord Muruga
- One of the 275 Thevara Padal Petra Sthalams
Deities: The presiding deity is Satyagirishvarar / Parangirinathar and the Ambal Aavudai Nayaki.
- Lord Murugan married Deivanai here and is said to have worshipped Shiva – Parangirinatheswarar. This is one of the six primary abodes of Lord Muruga and the most important one where He dwelled before vanquishing the demon Soorapadman at Thiruchendur.
- Sage Parasurar cursed six of his own sons to become fishes since they harmed the fishes in the pond. As advised by Murugar, they then got relieved off their sins by praying to Lord Shiva
- Siddhar Bohar diverted his attention towards girls and was cursed by Shiva; later he got relieved off his sins by Siddhar Machamuneeswarar after taking bath at the water stream uphill
- The hill is considered equivalent to Himalayas since Shiva, Vishnu, Brahmma, rishis, devas, demons and everyone from the upper world came here to witness Murugar’s marriage.
- Nakkeerar rescued 999 persons after authoring Thirumuruhatrupadai.
- This is a rock-cut temple where the sanctum sanctorum has five rock cut cells in the walls of the main rock, housing the sanctums of Shiva Parangundreeswarar facing East, Vishnu Pavalakkanivai Perumal facing West and Vinayakar, Subramanyar with Deivanai in marriage posture and Durga facing West, next to each other, each of magnificent size. We can have a single stretch dharshan of all the five deities. Words can not be found to describe the sheer beauty of the deities and anyone will hesitate to move out of the sanctum. A very fulfilling dharshan for the devotees is assured.
- The main shrine is an early rock cut temple while the other structures date back to the Nayak period. An Aasthaana Mandapam with several artistically carved pillars lead one to the towering 150 feet high 7 tier Rajagopuram at the entrance. The Kambathadi Mandapam, Ardha Mandapam and Mahamandapam are situated at different levels.
- The Nandhi mandapam inside the temple is also very unique and a beauty with a huge Nandhi in the middle with huge peacock (Subramanya’s vahana) and huge mouse (Vinayagar’s vahana) on either side.
- Saravana Poihai where Nakkeerar worshipped Lord Shiva is by the side of the temple.
- The list of sacred books and hymns describing this sthalam is endless; Sundarar and Sambandar composed the Pathigam.
- The annual Brahmotsavam falls in the Tamil month of Panguni.
Theertham: Saravana Poikai
- In olden days, it was called as Thenparankundram (Then in Tamil meaning South), since the temple was facing south. During Muslim invasion, it got damaged and the current temple was built. Since it was turned to the other side, it is called as “Thiruparankundram” (Thirumpu in Tamil meaning ‘turn back’). When we do Giri Valam (circumambulating the hill), exactly on the back side of today’s temple, we can see Umaiyandar cave temple which is under the control of Archaeological department. This is one of the most important places to visit since Siddhas like Nakkeerar lived in caves and did penance here.
- On the top of Thiruparankundram hill, there is a Shiva Temple of Kasi Viswanathar with Visalakshi, which has serene atmosphere. From the Murugan temple entrance, if you go about 200 feet in west direction, you can see the steps to this hill Shiva Temple.
- From the Murugan temple entrance, 1 km of east direction, there is a temple for “Pampan Swamigal”, a staunch devotee of Lord Muruga. The place where he merged with Lord Murugan (samadhi) is in Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai.
Thirukoodal malai alias Pusundar malai and Siddhar Temples
Pattabiramar Temple at Vilacheri
Azhagar hill, the base of which is about 21 kms in North-East direction to Madurai city, is a place containing three popular sacred places of both Shaivism and Vaishnavism. At the base of the hill is the Divya desam of Sri Kallazhagar; half way up the hill is the Pazhamuthircholai, one of the six padai veedus of Lord Muruga; on further up the hill is the Noopura Gangai, a natural water spring. Surrounded by hills all around and with cool breeze, this is a beautiful and serene environment.
DD102 – Kallazhagar Temple at Thirumaliruncholai
Location: The temple is located at the base of the Azhagar hill.
Significances: One of the 108 Divya desams
Deities: The primary deity is Kallazhagar / Maalangkaarar / Maalirunsolai Nambi in a standing posture facing East. The Perumal is also named as “Paramaswamy” which makes us to remember Lord Shiva. The Thaayar is Sundaravalli in her own shrine.
- The temple is called “Dhakshina Tirupathi”
- “Kallar” in tamil means thief. The Perumal is called with this name because He steals the heart of all His bhaktas.
- It is said that Yamadharman, the God of death, comes here daily at night to worship the Perumal.
- The Perumal gave his prathyaksham for Malaiyathvaja Pandiyan and Dharmadevan.
- The temple tower is an astounding structure with wonderful sculptures. There are 3 praharams and 3 mandapams – Sundara Pandiyan Mandapam, Sooriyan Mandapam and Munaiyathareyar Mandapam.
- The front mandapam, adorned with big and beautiful sculptures is one of the most beautiful ones in Tamilnadu and not to be missed. The corridor pillars are also very intricately carved with fine sculptures.
- At the entrance of the temple, we can find the Badhri Narayanar temple, built similar to Badrinath near Mount Kailash in North India. The principal deity is Badhri Narayanar in a meditative posture, flanked by Nara-Narayanan.
- Andal is in an unusual sitting posture.
- The temple is protected by the Karuppar who is said to be Kaaval Deivam (protecting God) of this region.
- The Utsavar is namd as “Sri Sundara Rajar”. Both the Moolavar and Utsavar are found along with the Panja Aayutham (5 weapons) namely the Sangu, Chakkaram, Vaal (Sword), Kothandam (bow) and Gadha, in their hands. Utsavar is made up of Aparanjitha gold, which is said to be the purest gold. The thirumanjanam (spiritual bath) is done only with Noopura Gangai water, the natural water spring of the hill. If it is done with any other water, the Utsavar becomes black.
- Vairavar, the “Kshetra Balagar” of this sthalam is said to be very powerful.
- Separate shrines for Sri Sudharsana Chakrathalwar, Sri Yoga Narasimhar and Sri Andal are also present.
The Azhagar Utsavam:
The Azhagar Utsavam on Chitra Pournami is a highly popular festival among the Hindus worldwide and is a perfect example of Shaiva-Vaishnava unison. It is celebrated for almost 9 days; the first 4 days are being celebrated in the hill and He leaves for Madurai city on the 4th day and return back to the hill on the 9th day.
His entrance to the Madurai city is celebrated as “Edhir Sevai” and garland of Tulsi from Srivilliputhur Sri Andal is adorned over Him.
The wedding of Madurai Meenakshi and Sundareswarar popularly known as “Meenakshi Kalyana utsavam” takes place as another grand utsavam in Koodal Azhagar temple, the other divya desam in the Madurai city. Perumal is the brother of Goddess Meenakshi and He is the one who offers his sister’s hands to Lord Sundareswarar during their marriage. It’s a very famous portrait involving the three. Kallazhagar seated on a horse vahana, witnesses the Meenakshi Sundareswarar wedding as the brother of Meenkashi and proceeds towards the Vaigai river. Azhagar getting into the Vaigai river is popularly referred as “Azhagar Aattril Iranguthal” festival. Lakhs of devotees come to Madurai to witness this festival.
As a rarity, the devotees are given the Vibhoodi (holy ash) which is the procedure only in Saivates temples.
Sthala Vruksham: Sandal tree
Pushkarani: Noopura Gangai and Silambaaru. The origin of the Noopura Gangai in unknown but it flows towards the Gomukhi Vaayil and then follows towards the Madhavi Mandapam and finally drops into a big thotti (tank).
Vimanam: Somasundara Vimaanam (Somasundar is the form which is taken by Lord Shiva to marry Meenakshi).
At about 4 kms from the Kallazhagar temple, up the hill, is a shrine of Lord Muruga, popularly known as Pazhamudircholai. This is the last of Murugan’s arupadai veedu and He is seen along with his consorts Deivanai and Valli.
This is the abode where Lord Muruga seems to have shown himself in front of the famous Tamil lady poet Avvaiyar with the famous query “Sutta pazham venduma? Sudhatha pazham venduma?”. This is a relatively small temple but with a great legend.
Noobura Gangai (Theetha thotti)
This is located further up the hill from Pazhamudhircholai at about 1 km. One needs to climb up about 60 steps to reach Rakkai Amman temple. From the foot of the Goddess (the rock beneath the statue), there is a natural water spring. The quantum of flow is so huge that it appears coming out from a motor pump set. Considering that it is located on top of the hill, this is clearly a nature’s wonder and beauty. The water has medical values and cures many diseases.
The water finally reaches the base of Azhagar hill and is referred to as the Thenaru (river of honey), since the water is so sweet in nature.
Ariththappatti Shiva Cave Temple
Arittapatti, also known as Kalinjamalai and Thiruppinaiyanmalai is a hill village located at 7 kms West of Melur and 12 kms East of Azhagar hill Azhagar koil – Melur route. It is famous for an ancient Shiva cave temple. On the eastern face of the hill is a cavern with a drip-ledge cut into the outer face of the rock. On the brow of the cave is found a Bramhi inscription which has been dated to between the second and first century B.C.
Madurai – Trichy
Sri Vedhanarayana Perumal Temple at Kodikulam Vilakku
Kodikulam Vilakku is 10 km from Mattuthavani stop in Madurai on the Chennai route. The temple is 2 km from Kodikulam Vilakku.
Yoga Narasimhar Temple at Yanaimalai (Narasingam)
The temple is located at the base of a mountain range called Yanamalai (meaning Elephant hill, as it represents a sitting elephant). There is a huge lotus pond just outside the temple. This is a rock cut temple and the main deity Narasimhar is carved out of the rock. Thayar Narasingavalli is present in a separate shrine. Legend says that Romasa Maharishi penanced here.
DD103 – Thirumogur Divya desam
Location: The temple is located between Narasingam and Madurai.
- One of the 108 Divya desams
- The temple is also strongly revered as the shrine for Chakkarathazhwar
Main Deities: The Moolavar of this temple is Sri Kaalamega Perumal in a standing posture facing East. The Thaayar is Moghur Valli or Mohana valli in a separate shrine.
- During the churning of Paarkadal to get the nector (Amirtham), Lord Vishnu took the form of Mohini, an enchanting woman. (S)He diverted the attention of the demons towards Her and distributed all the nector to the Devas to avoid demons getting the share of their nector and extraordinary powers. Lord Shiva too got attracted towards the beauty of Mohini and as a result of this only, Lord Ayyappan was born from the third eye of Lord Shiva. The name “Moghur” for this place came from this legend of Mohini avathaar taken by Sriman Narayanan.
- The perumal is prathyaksham for Brahmma, Indiran and Ajaruthar.
- On entering we can find the “Kambatthadi Mandapam” with beautiful sculptures on the pillars. There are sculptures of Chinna Marudhu and Periya Marudhu also who contributed significantly in building this temple.
- A separate shrine for Sri Ranganathar in “Prathana Sayana” posture along with Sridevi and Bhoodevi thayars is also present. Prathana sayanam is one of the sayana postures of Perumal and it is a rare position. The Thaayars are found along the feet of the Perumal in sitting position and praying to Him to give his dharshan for their devotees.
- The main deity Kaalamega Perumal is giving his seva with his erect body well stretched and on the right hand is positioned in such a way, it gives boon for the devotees and on the left hand is found the Gadha and found along with Periya Pirattiyaar and Bhoomi Pirattiyaar in standing posture facing the east direction. Kaala megham means dark rain bearing clouds and since the Perumal gives boon to the devotees like the rain bearing clouds, He is called so.
Sudhrshana Azhwar is very special in this sthalam. He is found in “Prathyaaleetha” position meaning a posture of running to help his devotees. Both the Moolavar and the Utsavar of Sudharsana Azhwar are very identical and it is very rare to see both in the same way.
Pushkarani: Ksheeraapthi Pushkarani.
Vimanam: Kethaki Vimaanam. Kethan is the other name of Lord Balaramar, who was actually born to Vasudevar and Devaki, but was replaced in Rohini’s stomach.
Thirumarainathar Temple at Thiruvathavur
This is an ancient Shiva temple located at 9 kms South of Melur and 24 kms East of Madurai.
Birth place of Manikavasagar, the great Saivite poet.
Thevara Vaipu Sthalam
Main deities: Thirumarainathar and Ambal Aranavalliammai both facing East.
When Vishnu worshipped Lord Shiva here, a musical shruthi called Vethaham emanated from the foot anklet of Lord Shiva and so He is called Vedhanathar.
The temple has a South facing 5 tier Rajagopuram with 2 praharams.
Chinthamani Ganapathy, Kaleeswarar, Viswanathar, Vygrapathar, Pathanjali, Manicka vasagar and Sundarar shrines are present along with the other usual shrines of a Shiva temple.
Theertham: Kabila, Brahmma, Purushamirugam and Bairava theerthams
Sthala Vruksham: Mahizha tree
Festival: Brahmmosthavam takes place in the month of Vaigasi.
Birth place of Manicka vasagar
The birth place of Manicka vasagar, at about 400 meters from the temple is now a temple.
The Guru pooja takes place on the Maha star day of the tamil month Aani.
Anjaneyar temple at Melur
Kamakshi amman sametha Kalyana Sundareswarar temple at Melur
Melur – Trichy
Agastheeswarar temple at Thiruchunai
The temple is located at 16 kms North of Melur on a hillock.
Thiruppathur is about 60 kms North-East of Madurai
PNT06 – Thiruthalinathar temple at Thiruppathur
Significances: One of the 275 Thevara Padal Petra Sthalams
Main deities: The presiding deity is Thiruthalinathar as Swayambu lingam and the Ambal Sivakami / Soundarya Nayaki
- Shiva is said to have revealed a vision of the Cosmic Dance to Lakshmi (Gowri Thandavam) here.
- The concept of Pranavam – that Shiva and Pranavam are one and the same – is said to have been realized here and manifested itself as the Konrai Maram.
- Lord Vishnu worshipped Lord Shiva here to clear off his sin of killing the wife of Sage Brihu
- Brahmma, Gowri, Lakshmi, Agasthyar, Valmiki, Jayanthan (the son of Devendran), Sage Brihu, Thigbalars, Kujakesan, Boomi devi, Bairavar, Mani prahasan in Eagle form, Kulamaraiyor team are said to have worshipped Shiva here.
- The temple has a 5 stage Rajagopuram with 4 praharams
- Apart from the usual shrines of a Lord Shiva temple, Vishnu, Nageswarar and Agasthia Lingam under the Kondrai tree shrines are also present.
- West facing Vairavar in yoga posture is very special here.
- Sambandar and Appar composed the Pathigam.
- Arungairinathar sang the Thiruppugazh hymn
Sthala vriksham: Konrai
Theertham: Garuda, Thiruthali Theertham
Note: There is also Ninra Narayana Perumal Temple at Thiruppathur
Dakshinamoorthy temple at Pattamangam
Location: The temple is located at 9 kms South of Thiruppathur.
- One of the main Guru Temples of Tamilnadu
- Lord Dakshinamoorthy is present very uniquely facing East (normally he faces South)
Main deities: The presiding deity is Lord Sundareswarar and Ambal Meenakshi amman but the temple is more popular as Guru temple.
- When Lord Shiva was preaching the Ashtamaa Siddhis to Janakar and bootha ganas, the six Karthigai girls who brought up Lord Muruga as a kid, came and requested to include them also. Shiva hesitated but on recommendation of Parvathi devi, they were also included but they didn’t show interest in learning. Shiva got angry and cursed them to become stones. The girls then penanced here for thousand years and Shiva came in the form of Dakshinamoorthy, gave back their original form of girls and preached Ashtamaa Siddhi under the banyan tree.
- Since Paravathi recommended to the undeserved people, Paravthi devi was made to penance as Kali under the Naval tree here. When the Karthigai girls were cleared off their sins, Kali Devi was also cleared off her sin and got back to the Parvathi devi form.
- There is a separate temple of Parvathi devi at a few hundred meters from the main temple.
- This is the 33rd Thiruvilaiyadal (holy play) of Lord Shiva that took place here.
- Lord Dakshinamoorthy is present in a separate shrine and is very uniquely facing East (normally he faces South) and this is the only temple where Lord Dakshinamoorthy is facing East. At the back of the Dakshinamoorthy shrine is the huge sacred banyan tree, well spread out with many hanging roots. People do 108 circumambulation of the tree to get boons. The temple was praised by Manickvasagar.
- Since the girls were preached here, the temple is considered special to give boons to girls for all their problems
- Since this is a preaching place, students get boon by praying here.
- Outside the main temple, there is a temple for Ashtamaa Siddhi Subramanyar alias Thayumanavar.
- Pattamangalam is the place where Kadamba rishi had his ashram at Kadambavanam (Madurai and Pattamangalam were once filled with Kadamba trees; the sthala vruksham of Madurai Meenakshi amman temple is Kadamba tree). He is closely associated with the legend of Thorukkosthtiyur divya desam nearby. Once the demon Hiranyakasibu disturbed Kadhamba rishi and so the rishi cursed the demon that once the demon comes to his place, it will be the end for him. He is present here in a separate shrine in the form of “Adaikalam Katha Ayyanar” with all his parivara deities under the Erazhinjil tree. He is called so since he gave the refuge to devas when they were suffering due to Hiranyakasibu.
- To the east of the temple is the Thiruvilaiyadal Garden and Pathinettampadi (18 steps) Karuppar shrine.
DD104 – Thirukkoshtiyur Divya desam
This Divya desam located 8 kms South-West of Thiruppathur en route Sivaganga.
Note: Thirukkoshtiyur Divya desam has so many shrines with so many details and therefore just a small gist is given.
Main deities: The moolavar is Uragamellanayan also called Sowmya Narayana perumal in a reclining posture and the Thayar is Tirumaamagal Nachiyar.
- Demon Hiranya Kashipu was tormenting the Devas and Rishis because he had taken a very powerful boon. Once he disturbed Kadambha Maharishi in his Ashram (today’s Pattamangalam nearby) and the Maharishi cursed Hiranyan that his place will be the cause of his death. Then all Devas, Rishis, Brahma and Rudhra assembled in Goshti (Group) here to make a plan to eliminate Hiranyan. Since they came in Goshti, this place is called Thirukkoshtiyur.
- As per the plan, Nithya Asuri named Shankarnan was born as “Prahalada” in the womb of Kayathu the wife of Hiranya Kashipu. Naradhar then brought them to this Kadambha Maharishi’s ashram and did the Upadesham of Ashtakshra Narayana Moola mantra in the womb itself. Prahalada’s chanting of only Narayana namam then became the cause of Hiranyan’s actual death. The second part of the plan of Narayana as Narasimhar coming out from a pillar and doing the Samhara of Hiranya Kashipu took place at Ahobilam at Andhra Pradesh.
- Then, on request of Kadambha Maharishi, Perumal stayed in Thirukoshtiyur as Madhavan / Sowmiya Narayan.
- The ashram of Kadhamba rishi is present as Adikkalam Katha Ayyanar temple at Pattamangalam nearby just outside the main Guru temple.
- This temple is considered as the Badrinath of south. A 85 feet high 5 tier Rajagopuram welcomes us. The Vimanam is called Ashtanga Vimanam which is present in 4 tiers. Perumal is seen in these 4 tiers in “Kootradiya (Dancing), Kidandha (sleeping), Nindra (Standing), Irundha (Sitting)” postures.
- In the ground floor, Narthana Krishnar is seen with Bama and Rukmani in dancing posture.
- In the first floor, the main deity Uragamellanayan is found in reclining posture in response to the prayers of Kadamba Maharishi.
- In the second floor, Perumal is seen as Upendhra Narayanar along with Boomidevi and Neeladevi in standing posture. Nayakkar period murals are present in the background walls of the sanctum.
- In the third floor, He is seen as Paramapatha Nathar in a sitting posture along with Boomidevi and Neeladevi under the umbrella of Aadhiseshan.
Thirukoshtiyur Nambi and Sri Ramanujar:
Thirukoshtiyur Nambi was one of the Acharyas of Sri Ramanujar. Sri Ramanujar travelled 18 times from Srirangam to Thirukkoshtiyur to learn the Ashtakshara manthram. Travelling from Srirangam to Thirukkoshtiyur during that time is not all that easy as is now. Every time Ramanujar informed Thirukkoshtiyur Nambi, “I, Ramanujan, have come” and Nambi replied “Come back after I am dead”. He meant that the ego of “I” has to be dropped to get the learning. Only on the 18th time, Ramanujar realized his mistake and told “Adiyen Ramanujan has come” and he was preached the Ashtakshara manthram “Ohm Namo Narayanaya” and the Charama sloka with the condition that it should not be preached to any undeserving person without testing as he has done with Sri Ramanujar. Sri Ramanujar agreed but he got all the villagers assembled in the street, climbed up the Ashtanga Vimanam of this temple just opposite the house of Thirukkoshtiyur Nambi and from the top of the temple tower preached to the mankind what he learnt in a hard way,. When Thikkoshtiyur Nambi warned Ramnujar that he would reach hell by his act, Ramanujar replied he is ready to go to hell for the sake of the mankind who would reach Vaikuntam and be freed of rebirth. On knowing the kindness and care of Sri Ramanujar towards mankind even at his own cost, Thirukkoshtiyur Nambi was very pleased and felt guilty that he himself didn’t do it. He then gave the title of “Emperuman” to Sri Ramanujar and accepted Sri Ramanujar himself as his master.
Sri Andal regarded Sri Ramanuja as Her elder brother. In the month of Aadi, Sri Andal festival is celebrated in which She comes in procession along with Sri Ramanujar.
The annual Floating festival during the Tamil month Maasi is highly popular during which the holy temple tank is filled with the floating lamps. A special Prathana called “Vilaku Prathana” is done by the devotees during that time. They take home a lamp blessed during the Float festival with a particular prathana. When their prarthana is fulfilled then they bring that lamp along with a new one made of mud or bronze or silver or gold according to their capacity. It is the belief that Perumal Himself comes with us in the form of lamp and gets our Prathana done.
Theertham: Deva Pushkarini
Madurai – Cholavanthan – Anaipatti
Sri Ayyanar Temple at Kochadai
This highly popular Ayyanar temple is located 5 Km from the city. He is considered the guardian of the Madurai border in this direction and there are such Guardian temples for Madurai city in each direction.
There are 21 deities in this temple along with the main deity Ayyanar who is seen with a bow.
There are statues of the three Tamil kings, Chera, Chola and Pandya also.
Sthala Vruksham: Tamarind
Sri Matsaya moorthy in Thuvarimaan Agraharam
The temple is located at 10 kms from Madurai on the banks of Vaigai river.
There are only a few temples dedicated to Matsya Avatar of Lord Vishnu and this holy place, considered as South Dwaraka, is believed to be the avatar sthalam of Matsya Moorthy.
We find Jeeyar madam next to the temple.
PNT04 – Sri Edaganathar Temple at Thiruvedagam
This Lord Shiva temple is located on the banks of the river Vaigai at 17 kms North-West of Madurai.
The presiding deity is Edakanatheswarar as Swayambu lingam and the Ambal Elavaarkuzhali, Sugandha Kundalambika.
- Garuda, Adiseshan and Vishnu are believed to have worshipped Shiva at this kshetram.
- The temple has a strong history of having emerged as a symbol of Saivism winning over Jainism when there was a duel between them. Sambandar’s pathigam on a palm leaf (Edu) is said to have gone against the water current of Vaigai river and settled here. Responding to the prayers of Sambandar, ‘Vaaduvenra Vinaayakar” at this kshetram is said to have stopped the movement of the palm leaf in the guise of a fish.
- Sambandar’s miracle is celebrated as ‘Edu Ethireriya Utsavam’ in the Tamil month of Vaikasi.
The temple is quite big in size with Rajagopuram and praharams.
Arunagirinathar sang Thiruppugazh hymns on this Murugar.
Sthala vriksham: Vilvam
Theertham: Vaigai and Brahmma Theertham
The place is 26 kms North-West of Madurai.
1) Pralayanathar Temple
Main deity: Shiva linga known as Pralaya Nadhar and Soundara Nayaki.
Name: Lord Shiva helped to control the flood in the river Vaigi, so the main deity is known as Pralaya Nadhar. The Lingam is Bana lingam, and Goddess Pushpakesi Amman.
Legend: Janaka, father of Seetha devi penanced here and wanted Narayanar to become his son-in-law, and his wish was fulfilled.
Theertham: Vaigai river
2) Mariamman Temple
This popular temple is situated at 2 km from Cholavandhan. The Goddess of this temple is considered to have formed as Swayambu (Self emanated). Shrine is not closed during afternoon on Tuesdays and Fridays.
3) Janaka Narayana Perumal Temple
This is the next campus to the Mariamman temple
Moolanathaswamy Temple at Thenkarai
The temple is located at 2 kms west of Cholavanthan on the southern bank of Vaigai river.
The main deity is Moolanatha Swamy with Ambal Akilandeswari.
The temple has a Rajagopuram and 2 praharams.
As per inscriptions, King Veerapandian developed this temple in a big way since his skin disease was cured by the Lord here.
Theertham: Swarna pushkarani
Kasi Viswanathar temple Irumbadi
Main Deities: Kasi viswanathar with Ambal Visalakshi
The idol of Lord Viswanatha is small. The Nandhi appears very lively. The water in the well (even today) is very sweet. Maratha King Shivaji worshipped Lord Shiva here seeking His blessings to win the war against the Moguls.
Sthala Vruksham: Vilwam
Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal Temple at Karuppatti
Sri Narasinga Perumal temple at Mannadimangalam
Mannadimangalam is 30 kms from Madurai and 3 km from Cholavandan.
There is also Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple in this village
Chitra ratha Vallapa Perumal Kovil at Kuruvithurai (Guru Temple)
The temple is located at about 25 kms North-west of Madurai and about 8 kms from Cholavandhan.
Main Deity: Lord Vishnu as Sri Chitra ratha Vallabar in a tall, standing posture with Goddess Sanbaga Devi.
Though the primary deity of the temple is actually Lord Vishnu, the temple is famous as Lord Guru’s shrine. In fact, Lord Guru in meditating posture and Chakkarathazhwar are seen together in a single shrine and they are said to have emerged Swayambu (on their own) at this place. The beautiful stream that runs besides the temple adds to the beauty of the temple.
Deva Guru’s son Kanchan went to Asura Guru Suckracharya to learn the Mridhasanjeevini mantra. Kanchan was arrested by asuras when they came to know he was Deva Guru’s son. So Deva Guru mediated and prayed Lord Sriman narayanar to help him in getting his son released from Asuras. Lord Narayanayar asked Chakkrathazhwar to help Guru in his mission. This is the reason we see them both in same sanctum.
Theertham: Vaigai River.
Jaya Veera Anjaneyar Temple at Anaipatti
Per Legend, Beeshmacharayar of Dwapara Yugam worshipped Hanuman of this place. All the Navagrahas are seen in queue in Anjaneya’s tail and this is a popular Parikara sthalam for Navakraga dhoshams. The temple is located on the banks of the Vaigai river in a beautiful atmosphere and during floods, we can the water seeping His feet.
Madurai – Theni
This is a famous mountain range on the western side of Madurai valley called Nagamalai (Snake Hill) with many jain caves. Nagalamalai pulloothu is a tourist attraction where there is small water falls which is always cool and beautiful.
Vaigai Dam, an ultimate picnic spot built across the Vaigai river, is around 70 kms west of Madurai and 7 kms North-West of Andipatty en route Theni.