Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Jayamkonda Chozheeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Soundaranayaki|
|Timing:||6 to 12 & 5 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Vaippu sthalam||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Nemam||District:||Sivaganga|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Karaikudi (14 km)||Pudukkottai (36 km)|
|Madurai (85 km)||Sivaganga (90 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
The temple is one of the 9 Nagarathar temples, ie, ancestral temples of the Nagarathars, established by tradition in the year 714 CE. Some of these Nagarathar temples have what’s called “Pirivu”, referring to separate branches or sub-clans. However, this temple has no such pirivu.
This temple is possibly a Vaippu Sthalam. In one of his pathigams in the Tevaram, the Saivite Nayanmar Appar has referred to a place called Nemanallur. Based on contemporaneous indications of the time, experts have conjectured that Nemanallur, in all likelihood, refers to this place, since it was one of the names of Nemam in the time of Appar. Today’s name is therefore perhaps just a shortening of Nemanallur.
Other names of this place include Jeyamkonda Cholapuram, Jeyamkondapuram, Kulasekarapuram and Madhunadipuram. The first two names suggest a Chola connection to this place, while the third is clearly a Pandya reference. The last – Madhunadipuram – suggests a connection to Kunnakudi. This is because Madhunadi is Sanskrit for Then-aaru, which is said to have run in the region, and the cave temple in Kunnakudi is for Siva as Thenatrunathar.
Once, the devas were being harassed by the asuras, and so they approached Siva for protection. At the time, Siva was in the state of yoga, and in order to get his attention, the devas asked Kama to wake the Lord up. Kama strung an arrow of flowers, and shot it at Siva, hoping that it would be considered as worship rather than wakening. But despite this noble thought, Siva was disturbed from His Yoga, and burnt Kama to ashes! The sthala puranam that is quoted about this temple seems derivative from Korukkai, but given the Chola influence on this temple, it is possibly a connected story. In fact, another variant of the above sthala puranam is identical to that of the Korukkai Veeratteswarar temple. Siva is named Jayamkondar here because he won over the wiles of Kama.
Agastyar is said to have worshipped here on his way to the Podhigai hills.
The original temple here is from the Chola period, perhaps the 11th or 12th century; however, there are no records to specifically indicate which year or even the name of the king under whose auspices this temple was built. It was subsequently extensively renovated in the time of Varaguna Pandyan of the Pandya dynasty. However, a majority of the structural temple we see today is the Nagarathar temple, replete with classic Nagarathar / Chettinad architecture.
Interestingly, the sthala Vinayakar of this temple is seated on an avudai (base / platform) as one normally sees Siva Lingams on. In the prakaram are shrines for the parivara deities including Jayamkonda Vinayakar, Murugan, Kasi Viswanathar and Visalakshi Amman, Gajalakshmi, Durga (also part of the koshtam) and Bhairavar, who faces west (which is more common in Chola temples, than Pandya / Chettinad temples where he faces south). Murugan is interestingly depicted, with a bow and arrow in his hands.
Being one of the main temples of the Nagarathar community, the temple is very well maintained. To the west of the temple lies the temple’s tank, called the Chozha Teertham – another indication of this likely being a Chola temple.
Outside the Soundaranayaki Amman shrine is a damaged murti of Amman which was in worship earlier. Normally, such murtis are buried in the temple premises, but in this case, it is said that Amman Herself indicated that despite the damage, She should be worshipped. So, even today, this murti is worshipped as part of the daily pujas.
Despite the relatively recent renovations (perhaps in the last 100 years or so) to the temple, the craftsmanship here is spectacular. In particular, there is one sculpture of a woman dancing barefoot, and one can see the veins on the feet depicted very clearly. Virtually all of the pillars inside the main mandapam are filled with such intricate sculptures, or other bas relief images. Also, as is the case with several Nagarathar temples, this too features long, wide corridors lined with artistically crafted pillars.
On the outer side of the western wall of the temple is a simple shrine with just a peetham. This is regarded as the sakti peetham of this temple.
Because of the sthala puranam involving Siva overcoming annoyances in his pursuit of yoga, this place is a prarthana sthalam for those seeking to overcome problems in their business (perhaps there is a Nagarathar overlay to this). It is also believed that obstacles in getting married are removed, by worshipping at this temple.
Other information for your visit
Please do read this Overview on Nagarathar heritage and temples, in connection with temples in the Chettinadu region.
Contact: 04577-264190; 94428 14475