Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Azhagia Nambirayar||Ambal / Thayar:||Kurugudivalli Nachiyar|
|Vriksham:||Teertham:||Tiruparkadal, Pancha Thurai|
|Timing:||6.30 to 12 & 4.30 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Divya Desam||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Tirukurungudi||District:||Tirunelveli|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Nagercoil (40 km)||Tirunelveli (45 km)|
|Kanyakumari (48 km)||Thoothukudi (95 km)|
Tirukurungudi is located about 45 km from Tirunelveli, and 10km from Kalakkad.
Sthala puranam and temple information
After the Vamana Avataram, Vishnu reduced his huge frame to the level normal humans as requested by Lakshmi. As he reduced his size this place came to be known as kurun-kudi (Kurungu in Tamil means reducing or shrinking). The Lord also created a river called Silambaru here, with his anklet, when he took the Vamana avataram.
In the nearby Mahendragiri there once lived a Nambi from the panar (musicians) tribe who was a staunch devotee. One day, he wanted to visit and pray to the Lord. On his way a brahmarakshsan caught hold of him to eat him alive as he was hungry. Nambi requested to be released so that he can visit the lord on that Ekadasi day and on return from the temple he would offer himself to the brahmarakshas for his dinner. When Nambi came to the temple he could not see the moolavar since the flag staff was hiding his view. Vishnu ordered the flag-staff to move aside for Nambi to have a good darshan (even today the flag-staff is not in line with the main sanctum).
After his worship, as Nambi was returning, Vishnu appeared as an old man and advised him of the rakshasa and to avoid visiting the forest. But due to the promise already made, Nambi insisted on going to the forest as food for the rakshasa. When he offered himself to the rakshasa, the latter refused, saying his hunger has been sated and that his stomach was full (due to the kindness of Vishnu). Nambi offered him half of the fruit he got in the temple and as he ate the rakshasa came out of the curse he had been under, and became a brahmin.
It is believed that when one of the kings visited here a heavenly voice told him to find the murtis of Vishnu, Lakshmi and others, which were installed by him in the Nanguneri Vanamamalai Perumal temple.
According to a local legend, Ramanujar received the benefit of teaching the pancha samaskaram to Vishnu (in the form of a student). It was him that named the Lord here as Vaishnava Nambi. When Ramanujar was singing the praises of Vaishnavism in Kerala, he was disturbed by the Namboodiris. Vishnu sent Garuda bring Ramanujar to Tirukurungudi. Four Azhvars have done manglasasanam at this temple.
Tirukurungudi is referenced in the Varaha Puranam and Brahmanda Puranam. The original temple at Tirukurungudi is the Tiruparkadal Nambi temple, where Vishnu is worshipped as Vamana. Tirukurungudi is also the avatara sthalam of Nammazhvar.
Known as the Azhagiya Nambirarayar or Vaishnava Nambi temple, this Divya Desam is considered to be over 2200 years old, and is spread over a massive 18 acres of land. Inscriptions in the temple refer to the Chola empire from the 10th century, though the core temple is much older. Later additions have been made by others, including the Vijayanagara Dynasty. This temple has a separate shrine for Siva (Mahendragirinathar / Pakkam Nindra Peruman).
Other information for your visit
While this temple is by itself a Divya Desam temple, a visit here is not considered complete without also worshipping at the nearby Tiruparkadal Nambi temple, and the Malaimel Nindra Nambi temple in the nearby hills. Earlier, it used to be difficult to reach the hill temple of Malaimel Nindra Nambi, but lately, autorickshaws and other smaller modes of transport can be hired to reach almost the very top, with limited walking required.
In addition, Tirukurungudi has two other sites of importance for Vaishnavites. One is Tiruvattaparai, located about 3km from here, where the temple is dedicated to, and depicts, Ramanujar as the Guru teaching Vishnu (see puranam above). The other is the Tirumangaiazhvar Tiruvarasu, considered to be where Aazhvar attained mukti.
Very close to the Tirumangaiazhvar Tiruvarasu is a separate small but beautiful Siva temple for Anileswarar.