Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Shanmuganathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Valli, Deivanai|
|Deity:||Murugan||Historical name:||Arasavanam, Mayuragiri|
|Vriksham:||Arasamaram||Teertham:||Thenaru, Marutha Oorani|
|Timing:||6 to 11 & 4 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Kundrakudi||District:||Sivaganga|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Karaikudi (12 km)||Pudukkottai (38 km)|
|Madurai (85 km)||Sivaganga (89 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
The Kunnakudi temple for Shanmughanathar is comprised of two temples – the main one, located on a small hillock at a height of about 55 meters, and a second, more recently temple constructed by the Nagarathars, located at the base of the hillock.
Once, Soorapadman and some of his asuras approached Murugan’s peacock and lied to it that Brahma’s swan and Vishnu’s Garuda were claiming they were more powerful than Murugan’s peacock. Angered by this, the peacock took on a gigantic form and sought to devour the swan and Garuda. Brahma and Vishnu complained to Murugan about this, who then rescued the swan and Garuda, and then cursed his peacock to become a hillock. The bird chose to come here and undergo its fate, and continued to worship Murugan faultlessly. Impressed by this, Murugan appeared here and brought his peacock back to life.
Previously, the place was called Kundrakudi (kundram in Tamil meaning a small hillock). In olden times, this place had several other names including Mayilmalai, Mayuragiri, Arasavaram and Krishnagaram. The first two names derive from a view that suggests that the hill itself resembles the shape of a peacock, when viewed from a certain angle (this is related to the sthala puranam of the temple, below). The entrance pathway is said to resemble the plumes of the peacock’s feathers, and so Vinayakar here is called Thogai-adi Pillaiyar (thogai in Tamil refers to the peacock’s feathers).
Sage Agastyar is said to have worshipped at this temple, as have the Pandavas in the Mahabharatam. In addition, Brahma, Indra, sage Vasishta, sage Viswamitra, Narada, Surya and Kama are said to have worshipped here.
There are several stories of people being cured of skin diseases, including the elder of the Maruthu brothers, who was cured after applying the vibhuti prasadam on his skin. As a mark of gratitude, he repaired the temple tank and planted several trees around it. The tank later came to be called the Marutha-Oorani. Worshipping at this temple is said to cure even the most incurable of diseases, and this is a famous place for devotees seeking to be rid of skin ailments. Devotees also pray to get married, and to have children.
The temple is revered in the Tiruppugazh composed by the saint and Murugan devotee, Arunagirinathar. The temple also finds mention in a Tamil work called the Mayuragiri Puranam, which is about the history of this temple.
The structural temple is from the early Pandya period in the 8th and 9th century. Later, a few minor additions were made by the Cholas. The temple could have also been renovated in the time of the Maruthu brothers.
In the garbhagriham, Murugan is depicted with six faces and 12 arms. He is seen seated on His peacock, flanked by His consorts Valli and Devasena (Deivanai). However, unlike other Murugan temples, here Valli is on His right and Deivanai is on His left. In all other respects, the hilltop temple follows the typical (but not complete) layout of a Siva temple, with koshtams or separate shrines for Lingodhbhavar, Somaskandar, Dakshinamurti, Vinayakar, etc.
A total of 45 inscriptions can be seen on the walls, pillars and front hall of the caves. Most of this are from the Pandya period, of which 12 are inscriptions of Maravarman Sundarapandyan. Other Pandya kings mentioned are Sadayavarman Sirivallhapadevan, Vikrama Pandyan and Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan. Among the Chola kings, there are inscriptions referring to Raja Raja Chola I, Rajendra Chola I and Kulothunga Chola I. On some inscriptions, the names of kings are not mentioned.
There are several sculptures and bas relief images on the pillars in the temple, including of the Maruthu brothers, who had significant influence and respect in this area.
The temple is currently maintained and administered by the Kunnakudi Tiruvannamalai Adheenam, a Saiva Siddhanta mutt based in Kunnakudi but traces its roots to Tiruvannamalai.
The temple at he base is also dedicated to Shanmughanathar, and features extensive – but relatively recent – Nagarathar architecture and art.
Other information for your visit
Despite its height and the step-access, the temple is not difficult to climb for most people.
At the base of the temple, is the ancient and disused cave temple for Siva as Thenatrunathar, which is an ASI site now.
Please do read this Overview on Nagarathar heritage and temples, in connection with temples in the Chettinadu region.
Contact: 04577 264227; 97905 83820