Neelneri Nathar, Thandalacherry, Tiruvarur

Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:Neelneri NatharAmbal / Thayar:Gnanambikai
Deity:SivaHistorical name:TirutthaNdalai NeeLneri
Vriksham:KurunthaiTeertham:Omaha Teertham

Age (years):

Timing:6.30 to 12 & 4.30 to 8.30Parikaram:

Temple group:Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Then Karai)
Sung by:


Temple set:



City / town:ThandalacherryDistrict:Tiruvarur
Maps from (click): Current location Tiruvarur (29 km)Nagapattinam (38 km)

Kumbakonam (64 km)Mayiladuthurai (73 km)


Thandalacherry is located 3km from Tiruthuraipoondi and 25 km from Trivuarur.

Sthala puranam and temple information

A Chola king (according to some legends, this is Kochchenga Cholan) suffered from leprosy, and prayed at many Siva temples for a cure. Once, a heavenly voice asked him to worship at a temple where Nandi would eat grass brought by a king. The king forgot all about it, until one day, he entered this temple with a bunch of grass and the stone murti of Nandi pulled it from him and started eating it. The king was cured in due course, and built this temple here.

Nearby Kannathangudi was the avatara sthalam of Arivattaya Nayanar, who was born as Thayanar. Once a rich man who, with his wife, lived a righteous life devoted to the worship of Lord Siva, He would make daily offerings of rice, cooked greens and mango pickle, to the Lord, without fail. Thayanar fell upon hard times and ended up working as a farm labourer. His earnings reduced, and Thayanar and his wife were not able to even eat regularly, and became very weak. Nonetheless, he continued his offerings. On one such occasion Thayanar fell down due to physical weakness, spilling his offering to the Lord on the ground. Overcome with disappointment that he would not be able to feed Lord Siva that day, Thayanar took out his farm sickle (aruval in Tamil) and attempted to cut his own neck. Seeing this, his wife was shocked, and begged the Lord to save her husband. Pleased with their devotion, Siva and Parvati appeared together on Nandi (Rishabham) and granted salvation to Thayanar and his wife (this is depicted in a bas relief image in the temple). After this incident, he has come to be known as Arivattaya Nayanar. This place is considered the Nayanar’s mukti sthalam.

As the Nayanar was a farmer, this temple is special to the local farmers, who undertake all farm activities only after worshipping here first.

River Ganga, who typically is seen on Siva’s forehead, is seen sitting at His feet, at this temple.

Some puranams regard that each of Vishnu’s dasavatarams comes to a close through an act of Siva. In keeping with that, this place is believed to be where Siva quelled the Kurma Avataram, by removing the tortoise’s shell and wearing it as an ornament.

The moolavar is called Neelneri Nathar, since the name of the temple is Neelneri. Due to the story of Arivattaya Nayanar, the daily neivedyam to Lord Siva here is Samba rice, cooked greens and mango pickle!

Patanjali and Vyaghrapada have worshipped here, and the Siva Lingam they worshipped is in this temple. Inside the ardha mandapam are murtis of Kochchenga Cholan and Arivattaya Nayanar.

This is one of the 78 maadakoil temples built by Kochchenga Cholan. At its core, this is a very ancient temple. The first original temple structure is likely to be Chola (since this temple is located in the heart of Chola Nadu), the current temple has been constructed and is maintained by the Nagarathar community from Devakottai.

Other information for your visit

Because of its location, accommodation options nearby are budget and mid-range ones at Mannargudi and Tiruvarur. There is a good (but crowded) place in Tiruthuraipoondi called Iyer Mess, located on Sannathi street, as a nearby food option.


Contact: 98658 44677


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