Visit to Thirunelveli Temples – Part 1

This is a part of the 4 part travelogue on Thirunelveli Temple tour:

While making the directory of temples in and around Thirunelveli, I could sense the beauty of the place and temples in the backdrop of Western ghats and the Tamirabarani river. Since then I was longing to visit the place and we (I, my wife and my uncle) set out on a 4 days visit to Thirunelveli from Aug 31st to Sep 3rd. Initially I booked for 3 days but later on seeing the volume of the temples, I extended it to 4 days. I booked the ticket to Valliyur, the next stop after Thirunelveli since my original plan was to stay at Valliyur and cover Valliyur, Thirukkurungudi, Kalakkad and Nanguneri. Then just on the last day, I decided to get down at Thirunelveli itself and book a cab for the entire 4 days which turned out to be better.

Note: This is only a travelogue of my trip covering around 45 temples in 4 days. Considering the length of the trip, I give below only a gist of the travel information. The temple legends, timings, archagar phone nos etc., are already detailed in my temple directories Directory of Thirunelveli temples 1 and Part 2” and so I’m not repeating them here.

Day 1:

We arrived at Thirunelveli junction by around 5 AM and the cab driver was waiting at the station. After a nice coffee at the exit of the junction, the driver took us to the cabs office. We were offered a room to take bath and get ready which we did in an hour and set out for the day’s journey by around 6:30 AM on the Kanyakumari highway to Nanguneri / Valliyur.

First we had the Vinayagar worship at a beautiful highway road side temple of Navagraha, Navasakthi Vinayagar. The driver was in the age of late 20s and after knowing that our trip was planned only for temples for 4 full days, he got excited and showed us many temples in the trip which even I was not aware of. In all the temples he was sprinting even before us for the dharshan! On the way to Nanguneri, first he took us to a Shiva temple at Ponnakkudi, around 2 kms diversion from the highway, which is an “Agni” sthalam for Lord Shiva. This ancient temple is undergoing renovation and was yet to be opened at that time. So we could see only the exterior. I understand that there are 5 temples of Lord Shiva around Thirunelveli which represent the pancha boothas of nature. There is Then Kalahasthi temple for “Vayu” (Air) at KariSoozhntha mangalam near Pathamadi but I don’t know the other three temples (the readers who know them may please comment).

Then we reached Nanguneri Divya desam by around 8:15 AM.

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The speciality of the temple being the Perumal is taking oil abhisheham everyday with Gingili oil and Sandalwood oil which is being collected in an open well.

Oil Well 2 Oil Well 1

The oil has medicinal properties and supposed to cure many incurable diseases. In spite of the well being open to rain and sun, the oil is clean, sweet smelling and sweet tasting. The driver indicated a person carrying the abhishega water in a pot as the retired judge of the Supreme court or High court settled there doing the Swamy kainkaryams. Otherwise, there were many no of bhattars posted for temple service but sadly majority of them were found very insincere. We watched the oil abhishegam for Perumal and other deities which were done sadly without any devotion and care. No electricity, no generator, no sufficient light from the oil lamps to have a good glimpse of the deities but plenty of bhattars on duty roaming around!

Then we set out for Valliyur Murugan temple and reached there by around 9:15 AM. It’s a cave temple at the base of a tiny hill with two beautiful temple tanks in front and a neatly laid girivala path around the hill.



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The Saravanapoikai tank was created when Murugan struck His spear to the ground as requested by His consort. It is a big and beautiful one with clear water where many local people and devotees take bath.

Saravana Poihai

There is one more temple tank very next to the Saravana Poihai and just in front of the temple entrance, equally beautiful and well maintained, was found to be in use by the villagers for a wash after toilet very openly without any shame. Can you imagine this is that temple tank I am talking about?

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When you visit, plan a bath in the Saravana Poigai (careful, not the other one) and do a Girivala round around the beautiful hill. The entire surrounding is fantastic and will be enjoyed by the nature lovers. The sanctum is carved out in a rock and the temple as such is not so big.

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We had a wonderful dharshan of beautiful Murugan with consorts.

Our next stop was another Divya desam at Thirukkurungudi, the native town of TVS people. We reached there by around 10:45 AM. It’s a vast temple, being very beautifully maintained by TVS group. The location of the temple with clean streets all around is just beautiful.

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We could see lots of people sweeping and cleaning the temple. I could imagine how massive a task it is to maintain such a vast temple and TVS has to be complemented from the bottom of the heart for it. When will a time come when HR&CE does the same to the other temples? The temple is popular for many wonderfully carved out sculptures in many mandapams.

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There was rain and we understood that it was the first time raining there for that season! A dumb bhattar guided us to the madappalli and arranged for a Prasad of curd rice with Karuveppilai podi in good amount that was very delicious. It became our breakfast as well.

This Divya desam is a group of 5 temples one of which, the Malaimel Nambi temple, is on a hill in the midst of a forest which can be reached only by jeeps waiting outside the main temple.


The jeep charges Rs 800 for the whole trip and it was a 45 minutes back-breaking journey through a road-less not-so-dense forest terrain.


Private vehicles can go upto the Forest checkpoint shown below. Jeeps are waiting here also. We have seen many people walking also which could be a very nice experience and more comfortable than jeep as well! Walking may take about 45 minutes.

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The hill temple is in a beautiful natural forest environment and the small Nambiyar water stream with a crystal clear water adds beauty to the location.


I took bath in the ice cold water and the refreshing feeling of it just could not be described in words. I would like to visit this place many more times, for sure. Very sincere bhattars were doing the poojas there and the Perumal is beautiful standing alone. Lots of monkeys were playing and fighting around with the people.



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Before going to the Malaimel Nambi temple, first I wanted to visit the other 3 temples at the base but my cab driver, the jeep driver and the flower vendor lady all insisted in chorus that I first complete the dharshan of Malaimel Nambi and so I yielded to them. But it was a grave mistake at the end since by the time we returned back at around 1:30 PM, all the bhattars were taking an afternoon nap and we were asked to wait for an hour or so. So we left without visiting the other sub-temples there.

When TVS has done so much to the village and the temple, it is surprising that they had not built a single good toilet! There is no hotel at Thirukkurungudi and so we had to postpone our lunch.

Note: Later after visiting the temple, I got the information that a couple are doing a yeomen service to the devotees with home stay and home food. Any no of people up to 40 can be accommodated with home food and they are doing this at a reasonable cost as a kaingaryam.
Shri D Ramanujam, No. 31, Sannathi Street, Thirukurungudi 627115
Phone: 04635-265692 / Mobile: 93605-48252

We reached Kalakkad and took lunch at Ganesh Bhavan. It’s a typical small town hotel but the lunch was wonderful and we complemented the owner also. Then we went to the huge Shiva temple at Kalakkad. The Rajagopuram with numerous stucco sculptures and paintings in the interior of the Rajagopuram is the speciality of this temple.

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Since it was a New moon day, there was an Annadhanam on that day and so the main shrines of Shiva and Ambal were closed but temple interior was open. We could have dharshans of all the deities excepting main Lord and Goddess. This temple also has numerous beautiful sculptures. We were alone going around the temple and saw a single old man sweeping the temple sincerely at that time all alone. Later I learnt that he is doing this on his own without any single paise remuneration from anybody and without any expectation for the past so many years! Quite heartening to realise that still there are some people like this left in this world.

We then proceeded to Mela Karuvelankulam Sri Soundara Pandeeswarar temple. It is one of the Pancha Natarajar temples including Chidambaram whose Nataraja idols are sculpted by the same sculptor. It was around 4 PM and we were told that the temple will open only by 5:30 PM. Here also, we were shown the interior of the temple by a nearby caretaker but the main shrines could not be seen since the keys were with the main Gurukkal only.

Our next stop was Cheranmadevi Nava Kailasam. We reached by around 4:45 PM but the temple was yet to be opened and another family was waiting for the archagar. When I called up the archagar, he said very casually he will come only by 5:30. We refreshed ourselves in the nearby Tamirabarani river and waited for the archagar.

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Only later I realised that an ASI maintained Bhakthavatchala Perumal temple is nearby and we could have visited that during the wait time. Anyway, after the arrival of Gurukkal, we had a nice dharshan of the deities.

Note: In the Navagraha temples of Kumbakonam region, the respective Navagrahas themselves are worshipped whereas in Thirunelveli Nava Thirupathis and Nava Kailasams, the bosses of the Navagrahas – Lord Shiva and Vishnu – are present as Navagrahas and so considered superior in many ways.

We then reached Bhaskar Lodge at Kallidaikurichi where we had booked a room.

Kallidai Kurichi Baskar Lodge Kallidai Kurichi Baskar Lodge (2)

Actually Hotel Gowri Shankar at Amba Samudhram is a better option since they have a wonderful Veg restaurant attached but it was full for the weekend even 2 weeks before.

Ambasamudhram Gowri Shankar Lodge & Hotel Ambasamudhram Gowri Shankar Hotel

We had no regret over Bhaskar Lodge either. Since we had the car, every time we went to Ambasamudhram Gowri Shankar (2 kms from there) for our food. Gowri Shankar has less no of rooms than Bhaskar Lodge and so the former is booked faster and difficult to get.

Continued in part 2



  1. Mr Raju
    I am very much pleased with ur painstaking description if your visits and am really impressed. I have visited navathirupathi and nellaiappar temple but not other temples. Can u spare ur tel no. I will talk to u in detail.
    If u can spare some days our family and yr family can visit all these places upto kanyakumari. I will try to bear major expenses
    Ch Ganesh

  2. Great post. Haven’t come across such a detailed blog about Thirunelveli before. Have one question though, where did you arrange the accommodation? And are there any government/temple provided accommodation available? Thank you. Such a great blog.

  3. Would like to know the kilometers approximately covered during the 4 days visit to Tirunelveli by Mr Raju.

  4. Pls let me know there is a temple near thirunellvelli for tax problem to visit God name starting with Thirupureshwar I think so

  5. Hai sir, i would like to ask you about my kuladeivam MADADEVI AMMAN, i am searching for my kuladevi. My fathers native is Thirunelveli. So did you saw any Madadevi amman. i am expecting your replay sir. It will be a great help for me. Thank you.

  6. Hai its very beautiful one. i am wondered. i am searching for my kuladeivam maadathi amman. my grand father’s native is singikulam [old ‘singivalam’] can i know whether any of you know information about my kuladeivam. i am eagarly waiting for a reply. Thank you.

  7. Thank you very much for your excellent blog on Tirunelveli temples.
    Just returned from Tirunelveli and your blog gave me the inspiration to visit some temples in the limited time we had there.
    Visited my hometown Brahmadesam. Would like to say that the temple is now slightly better maintained and new significance boards have been kept. Still feel that these sign boards could be kept on the side of highways to increase visitors to the temple.
    I should make a special mention of one Mr.Sivaperumal in Krishnapuram temple who explained the sculptures with great dedication and passion.
    Excellent information and pictures. Please keep up the good work.

    • pl read today”s dinamalr anmeega malar…….( 24.1.2014 ) you will get the details. I just saw this morning for a fraction of second . bhagawan has something in his mind . he wanted to help thru me. so he made me to sit and read in the morning which is not usual one. Rajaram

  8. Pls check if it is Vallioor. In Vallioor one Venkateshwara temple is there. This is located southeast of Kalakad . From kalakad to Nanguneri 11 km. from Nanguneri to vallioor is another 15-20km. May be this info would help u. Wish u to get blessing of yr kuladeivam

    • Thanks Madam for your info.We had visited the Murugan temple several times.We will now try this temple and see whether it fits with the prescribed.

  9. Hello sir, we are from standard cabs tirunelveli. and we are happy to share some interesting messages with you. as your guideness lots of peoples and pilgrims took cab from us to visit temples around tirunelveli. thanks to you sir. we are also offered rooms to take bath and ready for the trip now. its also very useful to them. once again thanks to you sir.

  10. Dear Sir,

    We have heard the naems of these places and temples from my parents who are natives of T.vely . Your write up brought back old memories
    Your write up motivates to go back to these places and visit all these places.
    Your dedication in this good work is highly commendable and appreciated.


  12. Very happy to see my native place nellai. When i was living there i didnt know the value of these temples….Now, iam longing to visit these temples….Thanks much….Aslo, want to know about siddhar temples in and around nellai. If anyone have info, pls share.

  13. What I like most about your write up is that not only is it informative, you do not mince words whenever a reprimand is required. I hope the concerned people will see them and make amends

  14. what to remember and tell….I lost such a pleasure and peaceful life of Kallidaikurichi, Alwarkurichi, Kalakad, Cheranmahadevi, Ravanasamudram, ellanchi, Tenkasi, ambai, VK Puram, Papanasam, Pathamadai, gopalasamudram, surandai ( in whole the entire Tirunelveli Dist) long back about 40 years

  15. Thank for the pics, narrative in on thrunelveli tamples . L will be able to visit these tamples an relish then beauty.


  16. I am also from Tirunelveli District and now staying in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. The temple of our family deity, PERUVEMBUDAIYA SAASTHA temple is in PERUMAZINJI village, situated between Valliyoor and Nanguneri. To the best of my knowledge, when I visited the temple during the mid forties, after my upanayanam, I found the entire surroundings of this area was wild thorny stretch of land. The National Highway was not constructed then and we had to secure a bullock cart at Erwadi, a village that is situated between Valliyoor and Kalakkad and set out through this thorny stretch. Because of the poor connectivity of the roads and rare transport system during the erstwhile British Raj, I could not even visit Kanniyakumari during my stay with my grandparents at Cheranmahadevi, a village situated between Tirunelveli and Tenkasi. The famous Tamirabarani river flows through this village.

    At Kalakkad the moorthy is known by the name Sri Sathyawageeswarar. Families who adore this deity as their family deity name one of their children with the name of Sathyawageeswaran or Gomathi. I used to wonder how at this remote point of village Kalakkad, such a massive and beautiful temple could have been constructed. It must have been constructed under INSPIRATION. It is very difficult to discuss all the temples in and around Nellai. Most of the villages had a significant and noteworthy temple. Probably the people of the bygone era adhered to the principle, “KOVIL ILLA OORIL KUDI IRUKKA VENDAAM”. Even during my college studies, I used to accompany my grand-father with his friends for an evening round of temples in the village Cheranmahadevi. We used to visit atleast some FIVE temples.

    A retired director of Fisheries by name Sri Somayajulu, during the temple rounds, used to narrate about the sthala puraanam, moolavar, the significance of temple architechture and the like and it was a feast to my ears. I even remember most of them till date – the procedure for praying Lord Shiva. We have to take permission from even Nandi with great respect by uttering the following sloka – ” NANDEEKESA MAHABHAAGA SHIVADYAANA PARAAYANAA, GAURISHANKARA SEVAARTHAM DAATUMARHASI” Similarly for other parivaara of Godly structures in and around the temple; prostration near the Kodimaram etc etc.

    • I would like to meet you at Hyderabad. Please phone me
      09341620703. I also belong to Vallioor and I studied at Board High School and passed out SSLC in the year 1959-60 and I went Calcutta. My nick name is Vellambi though my real name is R S Ramasubramanian, and father’s name is Sri R Subbiah Iyer son of Sri Ramiah Iyer who opened first Cloth Shop and Vessels shop at Vallioor besides his money lending business.

  17. From a facebook friend:
    தினமலர் திருநெல்வேலி பதிப்பில் அக்டோபர் ஒன்றாம் தேதி வந்த செய்தி.இந்த செய்தி கட்டுரையை ஒ.எஸ்.உலகநாதன் எழுதி உள்ளார்.
    ஆழ்வார்குறிச்சியில் இருந்து பாப்பான்குளம் செல்லும் சாலையில் பாப்பான்குளம் ஊருக்குள் இடது புறம் திரும்புகையில் மெயின் ரோட்டிலேயே வள்ளி டிபன் சென்டர் என்ற சிறிய கடை உள்ளது.உள்ளே நான்கு பேர் மட்டுமே உட்காரக்கூடிய அந்த சிறிய கடையில் இட்லி,பூரி,உளுந்து வடை,கார வடை என தினமும் காலையில் ஒரு ரூபாய்க்கு மட்டுமே விற்கப்படுகிறது.மாலையில் சுக்கு காபியும் வடை,தட்டை,முறுக்கும் ஒரு ரூபாய்க்கும் விற்கப்படுகிறது.
    அதிகாலையில் சிறு குழந்தைகளுக்கு சுவையுடன் கூடிய இட்லியை வாங்க பலர் காத்துநிற்கின்றனர்.மேலும் இப்பகுதியை சேர்ந்த வியாபாரிகள் மற்றும் அவ்வழியாக செல்லும் பொது மக்கள் இந்த கடையில் காத்திருந்து சாப்பிட்டு செல்கின்றனர்.இந்த கடையை முத்தையா மகன் சேகர் [ வயது 42 ] நடத்தி வருகிறார்.இவரது மனைவி பேச்சி அம்மாள் உணவு பொருட்களை கணவருடன் இருந்து தயாரித்து கொடுக்கிறார்.
    இன்றுள்ள அதிக விலைவாசியிலும் ஒரு ரூபாய்க்கு உங்களால் எப்படி இட்லி கொடுக்க முடிகிறது என கேட்டபோது சுமார் ஏழு ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன் இந்த கடையை துவக்கினேன்.அப்போது நிர்ணயித்த விலைதான் இன்றளவும் தொடர்கிறது.எவ்வளவுதான் கஷ்டம் வந்தாலும் சரி குறைந்த விலையில் உணவு பொருட்களை சுவையாகவும் தரமாகவும் வழங்க வேண்டும் என எண்ணி தற்போது தொடர்ந்து வழங்கி வருகிறேன் என்றார்.

  18. Dear Raju,
    Excellent write up. Of course, we made 2 day trip of Nellai temples, and covered the Navathirupathi and Nava Kailash temples, we missed out these. Can you give me the phone no. & name of your Cab driver – just in case we would like to use his service. regards Krishnamurthy. [ mail id. ]

  19. Many people visit and have darsan at various temples, the seat of power in our belief. But I whole heartedly appreciate your good sense in writing about the places and also share very valuable photos to our community.
    Thanks a lot..

    Our responses should motivate you to share more of such info and also inspire people like me and others to contribute as much to our culture and religion.


  20. Thank you very much. We can only regret what our HRCE is doing to preserve such great heritage sites. Another regret is the temple staff have all become greedy and have made Bhakti a business.Hope things will be better.
    With regards,

    • Dear Sirs,
      I am from Malaysia and have just come back from a 10 day tour of Tamilnadu temples. This is our 10th trip to India. To us, all the ancient temples are amazing architectural and spiritual places. However, our visits to most temples esp the Vaishnavite temples, were spoilt by the priests who keep asking for donations for this and that. Nowadays we try to ignore the priests and pray from far away ! The beggars are another headache as they seem to target foreigners just like the priests. We want to give but there are just too many. Nevertheless, we will be coming back to your wonderful temples.

  21. Dear Sir

    Very nice descriptions. As I also belong to Tirunelveli District and enjoyed the temples, I thank you very much for kindling my memories. Of course, certain temples i also didn’t heard. Thanks for the informative essay. Will u pl. give me the address of the Standard cab.


  22. Dear Shri Raju,

    Excellent article with apt and practical comments and info! Since you have started Kallidaikurichi, hope you will cover the Sri Lakshmi Varahar Temple there. Pl also cover Brahmadesam temple as it is one of the most beautiful temples in tirunelveli dt. regards


  23. Dear Sri,Raju
    God Bless you for all the efforts in sharing your experiences of Temple visits. The photos are excellant and those who have not seen such places are tempted to visit such temples in their next trip. Many are wondering and surprised to know about cultural treasures, which are not addressed in their school books or in any acadamic curriculam. It is known to the outside world through people like you and your team efforts, after undergoing several hardships putting more efforts, tireless journeys etc. Hats off. I have earlier commented on your other temples visits. But I couldnt resist expressing my feelings again. I personally wish your mission all the success and I request the Govt authorities, especially HR&CE help you (providing all the help such as travel arrangements, boarding ,lodging and misc expenses). Thanks once again. Ganesh from abudhabi,

  24. Dear Raju Sir,

    Excellent narration and awesome pictures. I hope sometime in future, I will be able to visit these temples and relish their beauty.


    P.S. I will separately mail you about our next project for October 2012.

  25. Dear Raju,

    I truly commend your devotion and also the photographs which will make everyone appreciate the sthalams as nothing can beat a visual experience. As a serious photographer I feel many images could be vastly improved. offer 50 gb cloud storage and one can register for it. If you were to upload the photos in original size through this site and send the links, I can download, do the needful and send it back to you. If you judge my work has improved the photos they can be reposted for posterity. It is only humble suggestion and am the only way I can help, sitting here far away in Canada. I will save your travellogue for future use by me.

    Rangan D P

  26. Dear Raju,
    Nice to read your visit to Tirunelveli.
    I would be happy if you could visit Pathai Village and write about the two temples there. Pl call me before going there at my cell 0-9820324945
    I had send you some detail on Sri Kulasekara nathar Mahalingam temple already
    Dr V thanumoorthy ,Bombay

  27. Very nicely started and going. Hope to read more about kallidaikurichi.
    Iam not sure if you have covered Tharuvai and Balamadai. From August 12th to 16 i laso made a trip to Nellai and written in Brahmintoday magazine.{ I happen to be its editor} If you would like to read pl main your postal address to enable me to send a issue.

    • Dear sir
      I had been to Taruvai on 4th sep to visit the temples.The shivan temple has been well renovated.I would be happy to receive your magazine .My address is
      Flat 4 Block B-27 kendriya vihar sector 11
      kharghar navi mumbai 410210

      • I am from Kalakkad 7km from Tirukkurungudi one of the 108 divya desams. I have been trying to locate our Kuladeivam with least info in my possession. On a prasnam with a pundit in Mumbai we were told this: The temple is located about 30/32km from Kalakkad
        There are 3 sannadhis ,one Lord Venkateswara,Padmavathi Thayar and another consort. It is situated between south east of Kalakkad It is of normal height with a gopuram and is quite old.. It is on the left side of the road inside turning. Have you come across any temples of this description? We would be pleased to here from you. Would be grateful if you could throw some light on the subject.

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