Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Vedarajan||Ambal / Thayar:||Amruta Valli|
|Timing:||7.30 to 11 & 4 to 9||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Divya Desam||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Tirunagari||District:||Nagapattinam|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Mayiladuthurai (29 km)||Nagapattinam (64 km)|
|Thiruvarur (67 km)||Thiruvarur (67 km)|
Tiruvali and Tirunagari are two separate places, about 6km apart, but are considered together as one Divya Desam temple. Tiruvali is located just outside Nangur, about 10km southeast of Sirkazhi. Tirunagari is also 10km, but east of Sirkazhi.
Sthala puranam and temple information
This temple is an integral part of the story of Tirumangaiazhvar (see below).
Kardama Prajapati was the son of Swayambhu Manu. In Satya Yugam, he performed penance with his mind on Lord Vishnu, but the Lord was not pleased. However, Lakshmi felt that the Lord was being unfair, and so left Him, came here and hid in one of the lotuses in the lotus pond of the temple. Vishnu also came to locate her, but could not. Then, he opened only his left eye, while keeping his right eye closed (Vishnu’s left eye is considered to be Chandran, while the right eye is Suryan). This made it a moonlit night, and all the lotuses bloomed, except one (in which Lakshmi was hiding). This way, Perumal found Thayar!
Then in the Treta Yugam, Uparicharavasu was flying in his chariot, but was unable to fly over this place. He got down, and worshipped at this temple, and asked for mukti. The Lord here told him that he would get his mukti only in Kali Yugam. In Dwapara Yugam, he was a king called Shankapala who worshipped here, and desired Sayujya moksham. Again, the Lord told him to wait till Kali Yugam, but stayed here for his devotee. Finally, in Kali Yugam, he was born as Neelan.
Since Perumal Himself has been married here, this temple is considered a prarthana sthalam for getting married. Vishnu is in Ahvaana hastam – bidding devotees to come and worship Him.
This is one of the Pancha Narasimha Kshetrams. This is a Chola temple, possibly dating to the 7th or 8th Century, with later additions by the Vijayanagar dynasty and the Thanjavur Nayaks – particularly the pillared halls and sub-shrines.
Story of Tirumangaiazhvar
The Tiruvali and Tirunagari temples are connected with the enactment by Vishnu, of various events leading up to Him directly giving upadesam to Tirumangaiazhvar. Tiruvali is the birthplace of Amritavalli Thayar, the daughter of Poorna Maharishi. Tirunagari is the birthplace of Perumal as Kalyana Ranganathar.
Neelan was born in nearby Tirukuraiyalur, and over time, became a chieftain / king of his village. One day, when he was at Annankoil, he spotted a celestial named Sumangali who, with her friends, came there to collect flowers. Due to him being smitten by her, she became earthly, and could not go back to her celestial world, and so stayed on earth as Kumudavalli. Neelan proposed marriage, but she laid down two conditions – one was to become a true Vaishnavite and have the Pancha Samskaram performed, and the second was to feed 1000 people every day for a year – both of which Neelan agreed to. Neelan was so involved in these, that over time his personal wealth depleted, and he had to resort to robbery, with his four associates.
On one occasion, they noticed a wedding party returning from Tirunagari, and waylaid it. Everyone ran away, leaving the bride and the groom alone in their palanquin. Neelan ordered the couple to hand over all their jewelry, which they did. However, the groom’s toe-ring alone would not come off, and Neelan resorted to trying to bite it off. The great strength shown by him caused the groom to call him Kaliyan (kali = strength). Unable to get it off, Neelan (now, Kaliyan) accused the groom of having put a spell on him, and to utter the right spell or mantram to be able to collect the jewels and leave. At this point, the groom (who was Vishnu, playing this elaborate play), revealed his true form. Neelan sought pardon, but the Lord did more, and gave him the mantram He wished to give – the ashtakshara mantram – as upadesam. He also told Neelan that it was time to change his name to Tirumangaiazhvar, and perform upadesam to the world.
So did Neelan become Tirumangaiazhvar, who later travelled the length and breadth of Bharatavarsham, all the way up north to Muktinath, and down south, singing the praise of Lord Vishnu. He was also able to marry Kumudavalli, and indeed, is the only azhvar to be regarded as being with a consort for all important occasions.
Every year, during the temples’ annual festival / brahmotsavam, the above incident is re-enacted faithfully, on the night prior to Panguni Uthiram, as the vedu pari utsavam. Azhvar’s murti is as handsome as he was when attempting to rob the newly-wed couple!