Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal||Ambal / Thayar:||Alarmel Manga|
|Timing:||6 to 12 & 5 to 9||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Madurai||District:||Madurai|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Madurai (1 km)||Sivaganga (8 km)|
|Virudhunagar (50 km)||Dindigul (63 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
This temple is known as both the Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal temple as well as Navaneeta Krishnan temple. This is a result of the sthala puranam here. Many centuries ago, a devotee of Krishna kept a small vigraham of the Lord for his worship. However, the devotee only wished that he could have a vigraham as large as the Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal at this temple. One night, Krishna appeared in his dream and directed him to look for a murti on the banks of the Vaigai river. The next morning, the devotee immediately rushed to the riverside, and found a large vigraham of Krishna in a dancing pose. He immediately brought it to this temple and installed it. Over time, this murti has become the moolavar at this temple, and is offered first worship, before Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal, who is in the form of Venkatachalapati at Tirupati. Alarmel Mangai Thayar is also a replica of the Tiruchanur Alarmel Mangai Thayar, consort of Tirupati Venkatachalapati.
One interesting and unusual observance here is the Matru Tirukkola Seval, during the temple’s festival in the Tamil month of Aadi (June-July) on the day of Pooram nakshatram. As the name suggests, there is a swapping of roles – Andal and Perumal dress up as each other, and go around the temple!
On the full moon day (pournami) in the Tamil month of Masi (February-March), Venkatesa Perumal visits the banks of the Vaigai river – this ritual is a re-enactment of the story of Gajendra Moksham.
This temple has an absolutely unique connection with Sri Thyagaraja Swami of the Carnatic music trinity. Wallajabad Venkataramana Bhagavatar was given the Tambura used by Thyagarajar, as well as the singer-saint’s padukas (footwear). After the Bhagavatar’s earthly stay, his family handed over both the tambura and the padukas to this temple, and the tambura, along with a portrait of Thyagarajar, is kept in a separate display here.
During the Nayaks’ rule of Madurai, king Tirumalai Nayakar was doing the rounds of the city one evening, when he saw a Jyoti emanating from this temple. A great devotee of the Perumal here, the king understood this to be a sign to be more benevolent to his people. He changed accordingly, and became even more prosperous. As a gesture of thanks, he carried out various renovations and additions to the temple, which are largely what we see here today in terms of both the structural temple and the architecture.
There is a separate shrine for Krishna as Navaneeta Krishnan – Krishna depicted as a child – who is worshipped for begetting children (as it the case with many such Navaneeta Krishnan temples). On the day of Rohini nakshatram (Krishna’s janma nakshatram), the vigraham of Navaneeta Krishnan in a cradle is brought around the temple in procession.
Almost unique to many temples in the Madurai region, and not common elsewhere, is the presence of a Navagraham shrine in this temple.
Among the many interesting elements of architecture here are Vinayakar as Vaishnava Vigneswarar (Thundikkai Azhvar), depicted with a sangu (conch) and chakram. He is seen standing, and not seated, out of respect for his uncle, Venkatesa Perumal! Vinayakar is also depicted with both tusks intact, which is quite unusual, and therefore also reflects a period prior to the writing of the Mahabharatam. There is also a large murti of Anjaneyar inside the main hall / mandapam.
The temple is maintained and run by the Saurashtran community (Madurai Saurashtra Sabha) who made Madurai their second home several centuries ago. In addition to the priests being Saurashtran, all of the sannidhis and other information notices are written out in Saurashtran script as well as in Tamil.
Unusually, the temple has shrines for some other notable people associated with the temple, such as Venkata Asuri (or Venkata Churi, a Vaishnavite saint from the 18th or 19th century, who wrote a Saurashtran version of the Ramayanam, among his many works) and Natana Gopala Nayaka Swamigal (who wrote several songs in Saurashtran, on Vishnu). Both, being poets and singers as well, are depicted in the temple with a veena.
Other information for your visit
Some fantastic pictures from the 2016 Brahmotsavam can be found here.