Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Yoga Narasimhar||Ambal / Thayar:||Narasingavalli|
|Timing:||6 to 12 & 5 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Narasingam||District:||Madurai|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Madurai (13 km)||Sivaganga (20 km)|
|Dindigul (60 km)||Virudhunagar (61 km)|
Yanaimalai is located in Othakadai, a suburb of Madurai, and very close to the NH 45 highway.
Sthala puranam and temple information
Sage Romaharshana performed penance at the temple tank to beget a child, and wanted to have a vision of Narasimhar. However, when Narasimhar came down, he was still in his Ugra (ferocious) form, resulting in an unbearable heat all around. Prahlada – Narasimhar’s devotee – was asked to calm the Lord but could not. Finally, it took Lakshmi to quell the ferocity, after which He became Yoga Narasimhar, and She stayed with Him here as Narasingavalli.
This is believed to be one of the places where Lord Siva worshipped Vishnu to rid himself of the brahmahathi dosham caused by decapitation of Brahma’s fifth head.
Locally the area in which this temple is, is called Yanaimalai (elephant-hill), and there is a story behind this. At one time, the Chola king sought help from the Jains to defeat the Pandya king. Using their mystic powers, the Jains created an elephant which attacked the Pandyas. The Pandya king prayed to Lord Siva, who sent the Narasinga Astram (Ashtakshara mantram), which turned the elephant into a rock, retaining its shape. Hence, Yanai-malai, which is Sanskrit is called Gajagiri or Hastigiri. This temple is called Gajagiri Kshetram.
According to the Tiruvilaiyadal puranam, Indra is said to have sent an elephant to Madurai, which was converted into a hill, which is the Yanaimalai.
According to the puranam of the Koodal Azhagar temple in Madurai, the moolavar idol of Yoga Narasimhar at Yanaimalai is said to have been installed by Sage Romaharshana. Based on the inscriptions in the walls of the garbhagriham, the temple may be as old as 5000 years. According to records, construction of the structural temple was started in 770 CE by Maran Kari, a Pandya minister, and completed by his brother Maran Eyinan.
The iconography of the moolavar and utsavar murtis is unusual / special in many aspects. This is the largest murti of Narasimhar in a seated posture, at any Vishnu temple. The moolavar – Yoga Narasimhar – is seated and has four hands. But two of these are on His lap and the other two hold the conch and Chakram.
What makes this even more unusual is that the utsavar is also Narasimhar – Veda Narasimhar, in this case – who has one hand in Abhaya hastam, and holds a mace in the other. Both the moolavar and utsavar being the same deity is seen only in a handful of temples.
Being a rock temple, the rear wall of the garbhagriham is the hill itself, and so it is not possible to do pradakshinam (circumambulation) of the temple or the Lord. The temple does not have a dwajasthambam (kodiramaram / flagstaff). Typically the height of the dwajasthambam is based on the height and width of the vimanam of the garbhagriham. In this temple, since the vimanam is effectively the Yanaimalai itself, it is considered not possible to install a dwajasthambam.
Thayar has a south-facing shrine as soon as one enters the temple. Outside the main temple complex (near the Teertham) are separate shrines for Garuda, Anjaneyar and Vinayakar.
Epigraphical inscriptions refer to donations made by various kings, including the Pandya kings Srivallabha Pandiyan (early 12th century) and Sundar Pandian (early 13th century).
Other information for your visit
Adjacent to this temple, behind some private residences, is the Ladan temple for Murugan, a simple and ancient temple with bas-relief images of Murugan with Valli and Deivanai. This is an ASI site.
Very close by is a Jain site also maintained by the ASI, which is clearly signposted near the temple.
On the other end and other side of Yanaimalai, closer to the NH45 highway, is the village of Kodikulam, which has two important sites – the Veda Narayana temple (where the utsava murti of Srirangam was stored during the Islamic invasion), and Pillai Lokacharyar’s Tiruvarasu right next to it. Both are must visit places. There is also a Vinayakar temple which is considered the guardian of these two shrines.
The Kalamegha Perumal Divya Desam temple at Tirumohur is also less than 10km away.
V.K. Ramesh Bhattar @ 98464 68780, P. Rajagopal Bhattar @ 98654 88821
Phone: 0452 2422750 or 0452 2422158