Temple

Thanumalayan, Suchindram, Kanyakumari

Dravidian architecture temple that is home to the trinity – Siva, Vishnu and Brahma

Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:ThanumalayanAmbal / Thayar:
Deity:SivaHistorical name:
Vriksham:Teertham:
Agamam:

Age (years):

Timing:6 to 12.30 & 4.30 to 10Parikaram:

Temple group:
Sung by:

Temple set:

Navagraham:

Nakshatram:

City / town:SuchindramDistrict:Kanyakumari
Maps from (click): Current location Nagercoil (4 km)Kanyakumari (14 km)

Tirunelveli (86 km)Thoothukudi (130 km)

Location

Suchindram is located a few kms north of Kanyakumari, and close to Nagercoil.

Sthala puranam and temple information

This temple in the Travancore region is unusual in that it is built under the principles of Dravidian architecture, despite its location (temples in Kerala in general, and Travancore in particular, follow a very different architecture). While it is considered a Siva temple, all three deities of the Trimurti are worshipped here – Thanu (or Sthanu) refers to Siva, Mal refers to Vishnu, and Ayan refers to Brahma. This gives rise to the name Sthanumalayan. As a result, this is an unusual temple, in that there are very few temples in India that have a temple for Brahma, and fewer still that have all three of the Trimurtis as the principal deity.

Though this is a very old temple – possibly over 2000 years old – the present architecture and masonry is the result of the Chola dynasty’s construction work in the 8th and 9th century CE. Later expansions and additions are also attributed to the Pandyas, Madurai Nayaks and Travancore rajas. There are also inscriptions and records relating to Kopparakesarivarman from the time of Parantaka Chola.

Sage Atri and his wife Anasuya were undertaking penance in Ganaranyam, the puranic name of Suchindram. Once the Sage had to go Kailasam, when Siva, Vishnu and Brahma wanted to test the Anasuya’s virtue. The three came dressed as rishis, and requested for food. When the food was being served they said that they cannot have the food if the lady serving is fully dressed, and so asked Anasuya to come totally undressed. Being the wife of the sage and a chaste woman, she sprinkled the water used for cleaning her husband’s feet on the three Rishis and turned them into small babies and fed them. Only when the consorts of the three Gods came looking for their husbands, and requested Anasuya to change the babies back to their original forms, did the Gods return to their original forms. Sage Atri, who returned then, was very pleased, and he and Anasuya prayed to the three Gods. This temple represents this legend and all three gods have independent sannidhis. The term “Suchi” in the name of the place indicates purity, as represented by Anasuya.

Indra got relieved of a curse here, which resulted in the place being named Suchindram.

The temple has some architectural marvels, including a 20-foot tall Hanuman carved out of a single granite block, and a 12-foot tall Nandi. It has been recorded, that the Hanuman idol was buried in the temple in the 1700s, fearing an attack by the Tipu Sultan, and was rediscovered in the 1930s. Vinayakar is seen in his feminine form called Ganeshini. In the prakaram, there are some excellent sculptures, including one that looks like a dinosaur. There is also a set of four musical pillars, which emit different musical notes when they are struck.

The Uttamar Koil temple in Tiruchirappalli also has separate shrines for Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, but it is principally a Perumal temple (Divya Desam).

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