Temple

Srinivasa Perumal, Nachiyar Koil, Thanjavur

Where Neelan became Tirumangaiazhvar, and the site of Vishnu's marriage to Lakshmi as Vanjulavalli and the promise He made to Sage Medhavi

Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:Srinivasa PerumalAmbal / Thayar:Vanjulavalli
Deity:PerumalHistorical name:Tirunaraiyur; Sugandagiri Kshetram
Vriksham:MagizhamaramTeertham:Manimuktha, Sankarshana, Pradyumna, Samba, Aniruddha Teerthams
Agamam:

Vaikhanasa

Age (years):

1000-2000

Timing:7.30 to 12.30 & 4.30 to 9Parikaram:

Temple group:Divya Desam
Sung by:

Temple set:

Vaishnava Navagraha Sthalam

Navagraham:

Sevvaai

Nakshatram:

City / town:Nachiyar KoilDistrict:Thanjavur
Maps from (click): Current location Kumbakonam (9 km)Thiruvarur (31 km)

Mayiladuthurai (35 km)Thanjavur (46 km)

Location

Nachiyar Koil is located 10 km southeast of Kumbakonam, on the road to Tirucherai and Tiruvarur.

Sthala puranam and temple information

The temple is a Divya Desam sthalam, and is estimated to have been built in the 3rd century CE, by Kochchenga Cholan, who also built 70 (73 / 78 by some accounts) Siva temples in the region (see Maadakovil). This is the only temple dedicated to Vishnu that he built.

Nachiyar Koil is the popular name for the Tirunaraiyur Srinivasa Perumal or Tirunaraiyur Nambi Koil (not to be confused with Tirunaaraiyur near Kattumannarkoil, which is a Paadal Petra Sthalam and birthplace of Nambiyandar Nambi), one of the 106 earthly Divya Desam temples.

Why Nachiyar Koil and not Perumal Koil? Lord Vishnu knew that in Kali Yuga, all men should listen to their wives, and decided he should serve as the example. Therefore, unlike most other temples, it is Thayar who has pride of place at this temple, similar to the Azhagiya Manavalar Divya Desam at Uraiyur, Tiruchirappalli.

Once Sage Medhavi underwent penance, when he found an image of Chakarathazhvar and Narasimhar. A divine voice told him to install it in his hermitage and worship it. For this, he was blessed that Lakshmi would be born as his daughter. He later found a baby under a Vanjula tree, and brought her up as Vanjulavalli. Lord Vishnu came in his five forms (self, and four vyuha forms – Vasudeva, Aniruddha, Sankarshana, Pradyumna) in search of Lakshmi, and Garudar was assigned the task of locating her. Once Vanjulavalli was found, Vishnu requested the sage to give Vanjulavalli in marriage to Him. The sage agreed on the condition priority should always be given to his daughter. This explains why at this temple, the order of worship is first Thayar and only after that, Perumal. Also as a result, in the main sanctum, Lord Vishnu is located a bit to the side and Thayar has a more prominent place in the sanctum. Also, neivedyam is served first to Nachiyar before Perumal.

This is the only temple where Lord Vishnu blesses devotees in his 5 forms (Parabrahman and his 4 vyuhas), in kalyana kolam along with Thayar. It is also the only temple where Brahma blesses in a standing posture, that too in the Lord’s moolasthanam.

Neelan, king of a small kingdom, was a devotee of the Lord and used to spend all his wealth in the service of the Lord. He was not recognized as a vaishnava by the acharyas. Neelan prayed to the Lord to save him and the Lord himself appeared as an acharya and did Samasrayana (Pancha Samskara) for Neelan and declared him a Vaishnava. Neelan came to be known as Thirumangaiazhvar.

This temple is in the style of a maadakoil, and was built by Kochchenga Chola, who is also referred to in the azhvar’s paasuram on this temple. It is the only Perumal temple built by Kochchenga Chola (all others are Siva temples).

At this temple, Thayar, along with Srinivasa Perumal, bless devotees in their Kalyana Kolam (standing posture, as a wedded couple). This is also the only Divya Desam where Perumal holds the conch and discus in front of face level, while normally these are held at the sides. Also in the sanctum, Brahma is in a standing posture (in most temples, it is a sitting posture).

The temple is more known for the Kal Garudar, which is possibly the most prominent feature of this temple. According to legend, the sculptor sculpting the idol of Garuda was frustrated as the bird flew away each time, and a new idol had to be prepared. In frustration, he threw a stone at Garuda, who got injured and decided to stay at the temple as Kal Garudar. The idol of Kal Garudar here is made of saligrama and is housed in the shrine outside the main sanctum.

The most inexplicable part of this temple is the exponentially growing Kal Garudar. During the Garuda Sevai festival in the Tamil month of Margazhi (December-January), Garudar is taken out in procession through the streets. However, as he is taken out of the moolasthanam, the weight of Garudar increase exponentially, and therefore requiring 4, then 8, 16, 32 and finally 64 people to lift Kal Garudar. This happens in the reverse (decreasing) order when Kal Garudar is brought back to his place after the procession. Why is this the case? When Perumal and Thayar are taken out in procession, He is seated on Garudar and is supposed to lead the way, but that would mean that the promise Lord Vishnu made to Sage Medhavi would be broken. And so, as the procession heads out, Garurdar is said to become heavier in order to slow down Perumal’s movement. This way, Perumal fulfils his promise. In fact, it is said that during the six-hour long procession, beads of sweat are often observed on Kal Garudar!

Near the Kal Garudar sannidhi, there is a glass display at the temple with small idols of the other Divya Desam temples.

In the sanctum, the other vyuha forms of Vishnu, ie, Vasudeva, Aniruddha Sankarshana and Pradyumna are installed.

Worshipping Kal Garudar here is believed to free the devotee from Naga Sarpa dosham. During the festive occasion, Garudar receives honours from Perumal in the form of dress and ornaments. Jewels and dress are also presented to Garudar by the Srirangam Ranganathar Temple.

Other information for your visit

The Siddha Natheswarar Sivan temple at Tirunaraiyur – a Paadal Petra Sthalam – is located very close to this temple.

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