Nellaiappar, Tirunelveli, Tirunelveli

Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:NellaiapparAmbal / Thayar:Kanthimathi Ammai, Vadivudai Ammai
Deity:SivaHistorical name:Tirunelveli
Vriksham:MoongilTeertham:Ponthamarai Kulam, Karumari Teertham, Bhairava Teertham, Sarva Teertham

Age (years):

Timing:5.30 to 12.30 & 4 to 8.30Parikaram:

Temple group:Paadal Petra Sthalam (Pandya Nadu)
Sung by:


Temple set:

Pancha Sabhai



City / town:TirunelveliDistrict:Tirunelveli
Maps from (click): Current location Tirunelveli (3 km)Thoothukudi (65 km)

Nagercoil (83 km)Kanyakumari (90 km)


Tirunelveli, locally known as Nellai, is located about 160km from Madurai.

Sthala puranam and temple information

Ramakkon used to carry milk to the King’s palace every day. One day, his leg hit against a rock and the milk spilt over. This happened continuously for the next few days. Angered, Ramakkon tried to remove the rock by breaking it, but blood started oozing out from the rock. He reported this to the king. When the king came to see the rock, Lord Siva appeared to him in the form of a Lingam.

Veda Sarma, a brahmin and a staunch Siva devotee, had kept paddy specially reserved for preparing food for the Lord. Suddenly, it started raining heavily, and so Veda Sarma prayed to the Lord to save the paddy. Lord Siva created a fence around the paddy and saved the paddy from getting wet. Since he created a fence (veli in Tamil) to protect the paddy (nel), the town was named Tiru-Nel-Veli.

The wife of one the nawabs was suffering from a strange disease which could not be cured. The nawab consulted the local brahmins, who advised the nawab and his wife to pray to Lord Siva. They readily agreed and carried out special pujas to Lord Siva through the temple priests. An opening was been made in the outer prakaram to enable the Nawab and his family to pray to the Lord without entering the temple. Miraculously, the wife was relieved of the disease. She also gave birth to a boy, and named him Anavarta Khan. A shrine with a Lingam named Anavarta Khan is found inside the temple.

When Lord Siva came and took his abode here, the four Vedas stood around him as bamboo trees to provide shade. For this reason, He is also called Venuvananathar (Venu is Sanskrit for bamboo). It may also be that at one time, this place was a bamboo forest.

The moolavar murti has Ambal’s image imprinted on it. There is a separate Lingam which was prayed by Lord Vishnu who appears with the image of lingam on his chest. There is a third Lingam known as Paataala Lingam, which is the main Lingam, to whom the first puja and worship is performed.

Kantimati Amman fasted for 10 days during the Tamil month of Aippasi (October-November), to be able to marry Lord Siva. On the eleventh day, Lord Vishnu requested Lord Siva to marry Parvati (Lord Vishnu’s sister), which Siva agreed to. After the wedding, ie on the 12th day, the couple go to Amman’s home. Lord Vishnu here is known as Nellai Govindan, who can be seen resting in a separate shrine in sayana kolam. The legend is that he was tired after the wedding of Lord Siva and Parvati, and came here to rest. The Nellai Govindan shrine is tended to by Vaishnavite bhattars.

Dakshinamurti shrine

Mukkuruni Vinayakar here has the modakam in his right hand and the broken tusk in his left hand. The Abhisheka Teertham is on the western side, which pleases Varuna, the God of rain, who keeps the Tambraparani river always flowing, through copious rain at its source.

The temple’s daily rituals include Amman feeding Lord Siva. On special days, Amman is taken to the river for a bath and hence bathing in the Tamiraparani river is supposed to rid one of all his sins.

This is one of the Pancha Sabhai temples where Lord Siva is said to have performed the cosmic dance. It is the Tamira Sabhai (copper) where Lord Siva performed the Muni Tandavam. The river Tamiraparani takes its name from this.

Devotees perform a special puja to Vinayakar, for their newborns. Through a 12-hole window in the Pollapillaiyar sannidhi, they give the child to be placed next to Vinayakar, and then take the child back. This is supposed to secure Vinayakar’s security for the child.

Other information for your visit

Budget and mid-range accommodation options are available in Tirunelveli.


Pics credit: Vidya Nagarajan


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