Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Soundara Pandeeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Gomathi Amman|
|Timing:||6.30 to 10 & 5 to 7||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Mela Karivelankulam||District:||Tirunelveli|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Tirunelveli (34 km)||Nagercoil (52 km)|
|Kanyakumari (61 km)||Thoothukudi (90 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
Jatavarman Sundara Chola Pandyan is regarded as the son of Rajendra Chola I, and was at one time, the viceroy in Madurai, on behalf of the Cholas. His daughter suffered from a mental illness which, despite all of the king’s efforts, could not be cured. One day, a Nambudiri priest advised the ruler to take his daughter to the Pandya country, find a place where elephants circumambulated a tank, and get his daughter to bathe in that tank. The ruler went by the priest’s advise, and after the girl emerged from the tank, she had been fully cured. As a mark of his gratitude, he built this temple.
The name of the place was originally Kari Valam Vandha Kulam (the tank where elephants – kari in Tamil – circumambulated), which has over time, corrupted to Karivelankulam. Siva is named for His eternal beauty, and in the name of the ruler who built the temple – Sundara Pandyan.
This is one of the Pancha Natarajar sthalams, housing one of the 5 Natarajar murtis that were made by the same sculptor who sculpted the Natarajar at Chidambaram (which is one of the 5 temples). The other four are at Chepparai (near Tirunelveli), Kattarimangalam, Karisuzhnthamangalam and Karivelankulam (this temple).
The temple is from the early Pandya period, dates back to the 11th or 12th century (the time of Jatavarman Sundara Chola Pandyan), and features architecture that are from the end of the Medieval Chola period and the start of the later Pandyas. Worshipping Gomathi Amman here is believed to help pregnant women with safe childbirth.
The temple also has some fascinating architecture, including a yaali with a ball in its mouth, which can be rolled!
Needless to say, Natarajar is the specialty of this temple, and He resides in a separate Nataraja Sabhai, called the Koothambalam (dance hall). The hall itself is painted with various murals, including one wall devoted to Siva’s cosmic dance, the Tandavam, surrounded by Parvati, Patanjali, Vyaghrapadar, other celestials, as well as Manikkavasagar.
Other information for your visit
Despite the temple’s limited opening times, there is a caretaker nearby who will be able to open the temple and show devotees around. However, the keys to the garbhagriham are available only with the gurukkal, who comes here at the scheduled timings only.
Phone: 99447 35288
We visited this temple quite late in the evening, and due to the low light conditions, were were unable to visit the entire temple premises, and take higher quality pictures. For more pictures (daytime) – see here.