Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Immayilum Nanmai Tharuvar||Ambal / Thayar:||Madhyapuri Nayaki|
|Vriksham:||Dasatala Vilvam||Teertham:||Sri Pushkarini|
|Timing:||6 to 11.30 & 4.30 to 9.30||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Madurai||District:||Madurai|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Madurai (1 km)||Sivaganga (9 km)|
|Virudhunagar (50 km)||Dindigul (63 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
The general belief is that one’s sins are relieved only in a subsequent birth. Worshipping Immaiyilum Nanmai Tharuvaar (literally, the One who blesses in this birth) is said to get rid of sins committed during one’s lifetime itself.
Called Bhuloka Kailasam, this temple has a fascinating sthala puranam, which involves Siva worshipping Himself as a Siva Lingam that He installed! How is this possible?
King Malayadhwajan of Madurai married his daughter Meenakshi to Siva, after which Siva – as Sundareswarar – became the ruler of Madurai. According to custom, a Siva puja needed to be performed by the new king and queen, and so Sundareswarar and Meenakshi came here, installed a Siva Lingam, and worshipped it. Since Siva puja is done with the deity facing east and the worshipper facing west, that is how the garbhagriham here is structured. What makes this temple even more special, is that in the garbhagriham, one can see and worship the east-facing Lingam, as well as the seated, west-facing murtis of Siva and Parvati as Sundareswarar and Meenakshi! Yet, the entrance to the temple is west-facing, and all of the other aspects of the temple are aligned to the norms of a west-facing temple. So, devotees actually worship Sundareswarar and Meenakshi who face them, and they worship the rear (and not the front) of the Lingam at the same time.
Even today, when the annual pattabhishekam (coronation) festival takes place at the Meenakshi Amman temple, the deities come to this temple to worship the Lingam here, as a re-enactment of the sthala puranam. During pujas, the priest officiates while standing between the Lingam, and Meenakshi and Sundareswarar.
The toranam above the entrance to the garbhagriham also depicts Siva and Parvati’s wedding, with Vishnu giving his sister’s hand away in marriage. Abhishekam to the moolavar here takes place only on 54 specific days of the year – 12 amavasai (new moon), 12 pournami (full moon), and the 30 days of the Tamil month of Margazhi (December-January).
Because Siva as Sundareswarar worshipped here before taking on the kingship of Madurai, this is a prarthana sthalam for those seeking improved employment opportunities, for which a separate Raja-Upachara archana is performed.
Amman here is named Madhyapuri Nayaki (which is possibly a corruption of Madurapuri Nayaki), as She is the absolute ruler of the city of Madurai (Madurapuri). She is also Mangalya Varaprasadini, blessing those who wish to get married and those seeking children. Uniquely, and contrary to the custom of a copper Sri Chakram in most temples, the Sri Chakram here is made of stone.
In one of the 64 Tiruvilaiyadals of Siva, the Lord appears as Vallabha Siddhar, and makes a stone elephant eat grass. That story is set at this place, which is located less than 1 km southwest of the Meenakshi Amman temple.
Typically, in Siva temples, Chandikeswarar does not receive special worship. However, at this temple, Chandikeswarar is said to recommend to Siva, the desires of devotees (and so is named Parinthuraikkum Nathar – the one who speaks favourably for devotees). So, he is worshipped specifically, by adorning him with the same garland that is placed around the Siva Lingam.
This is one of the pancha bootha sthalams in Madurai (see other information section below), this one representing the Earth element. Therefore, this is a place where devotees worship prior to undertaking any construction activity. A handful of sand is used as part of the Siva puja they perform, and the sand is then taken back to the construction site and added to the rest of the construction materials.
There is a separate shrine for Siva as Kasi Viswanathar, with Visalakshi Amman, inside which is a Lingam made of sand, representing the sand Lingam Rama had crafted at Rameswaram, after returning from Lanka (some accounts say that this temple’s sand Lingam was also crafted by Rama). Behind the Lingam is a murti of Rama depicted with bow and arrow. The Bhairavar here is said to be extremely powerful, and all devotees at this shrine are given a handful of vibhuti (sacred ash) and a lemon, both of which are associated with Bhairavar.
There is another shrine for Siva as Jura Deva (or Jurahareswarar), with His consort Jura Sakti, who is supposed to rid one of fevers and illness. Offerings to Jura Deva include pepper rasam, and extremely spicy tamarind rice (Puliyodharai).
After being blessed by Siva at Tiruvathavur, the saint Manikkavasagar (who was the minister of the king) was blessed with a vision of Siva’s anklet (silambu in Tamil) here.
The temple’s sthala vriksham is also unique – the dasatala Vilvam, ie vilvam leaf with 10 fronds.
The temple has been renovated several times, and so it has been difficult to place its timelines. Some experts suggest that this temple has been around since almost the 2nd century CE, before the Pandyas were (temporarily) wiped out by the Kalabhras. Subsequently, significant refurbishments were carried out under the Pandya rule between the 6th and 9th century.
Other information for your visit
A little-known fact is that there are five temples in and around Madurai, which represent the pancha-boothams, or five elements. Just like the main pancha bootha sthalams, these temples also represent the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ether. The five temples are:
Aapudaiyar temple, Sellur (Water)
Immayil Nanmai Tharuavar temple, central Madurai (Earth)
Mukteeswarar temple, Theppakulam (Air)
Then Tiru Aaalavaai, central Madurai (Fire)
Aadi Sokkanathar, Vada Aalavaai (Ether / sky)
The Meenakshi Amman temple is said to be surrounded by two sets of temples, called the Ull-Avaranam (inner-garland) and Veli-Avaranam (outer-garland). The Ull-Avaranam is comprised of the Adi Chokkanathar to the north, Immayilum Nanmai Tharuvaar to the west, Mukteeswarar to the east (also called Airavatanallur since Airavata, the celestial elephant worshipped there) and the Then Tiruvaalavaai temple to the south. The Veli-Avaranam is comprised of is comprised of Tiruparankundram to the south, Tiruvedagam to the west, Tiruappanur / Sellur to the north and Tiruppuvanam to the east.
Phone: 0452-6522950, 94434 55311