Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Chidambareswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Sivakami|
|Agamam:||Age (years):||Timing:||7 to 12 & 4 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Thondi||District:||Ramanathapuram|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Karaikudi (56 km)||Ramanathapuram (59 km)|
|Pudukkottai (91 km)||Madurai (126 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
Thondi is a small fishing village on the east coast, in the Ramanathapuram district. The Hindu population here is in the minority, despite which there are three temples of prominence in this village – this Chidambareswarar temple for Siva, Undhi Pootha Perumal temple, and a separate Amman temple. We visited only the Chidambareswarar temple, and it happened to be at the time of the street procession (swami purappadu) on the day of Tiruvadhirai in December 2021.
Thondi is referred to in various places in Sangam literature, as an important port of the region, at the time. In particular, it is described in vivid detail in one of the poems of the poet Ammuvanar, which features in the Agananuru anthology. A few years ago, excavations conducted near the Thondi Amman temple yielded potshards, bricks and other pottery articles which are said to be more than 2500 years. (There is also a port called Thondi on the Arabian sea, near Muziris, which was an important port during the Chera rule there.)
There is no sthala puranam available for this temple.
Thondi is located on the way along the coast, from Vedaranyam to Rameswaram. The sthala puranam of the Perumal temple in the village states that in the Ramayanam, Rama worshipped Vishnu at that temple before proceeding to Lanka. It is therefore possible that there is a sthala puranam for this Siva temple here as well, connected to the Ramayanam. What gives this more credence is that the Perumal temple is called Tirumerkovil or Tirumerkukovil, indicating it is on the west, which would mean that this temple, which lies east of the Perumal temple, existed at the time of the Perumal temple which was built in the early 14th century.
Much of the structural temple here we see today is dated to the 16th century, though going by the above references to the Perumal temple, it is likely that this temple existed from much earlier. The temple is currently administered by the Sivaganga Samasthanam Devasthanam. Going by the architecture, most elements of the structure here could be said to be from the Nayak period, with some clear Pandya influences.
The temple does not have a gopuram, but only a high gate, flanked by Nandis on the top of the adjoining walls. A long passageway flanked by nandavanams (gardens) on either side, and in which the sthala vriksham is also present on a platform, brings us to a small tin-roof covered portion housing the dhwajasthambam, bali peetham and Nandi mandapam.
Immediately after this is the maha mandapam, where the garbhagriham of the moolavar lies straight ahead, while the shrine of Sivakami Amman is on the right, facing south. A further corridor brings us through the ardha mandapam which leads to the antarala and the garbhagriham.
In the koshtams are Vinayakar, Dakshinamurti, Lingodhbhavar, Brahma and Durga. Interestingly, Dakshinamurti is depicted with only two sages beside Him. In the prakaram are shrines for Vinayakar, Murugan with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, Chandikeswarar, Bhairavar, Suryan, Chandran, and two Vinayakars under a tree, who are called the Vendun Varam Tharum Rettai Vinayakar (the twin Vinayakars who give whatever is asked for). There is also a separate Navagraham shrine.