Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Tirumeninathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Tirukamavalli|
|Timing:||to & to||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Possible Vaippu Sthalam||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Anandur||District:||Ramanathapuram|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Karaikudi (47 km)||Ramanathapuram (52 km)|
|Pudukkottai (88 km)||Sivaganga (94 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
No sthala puranam is available for this temple, whose historical name centuries ago was either Valavai or Valanai. However, this temple is referred to in one of Appar’s pathigams in passing, and so is regarded as a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam. In some records, the name of the moolavar is also recorded as Tirumeignaneswarar, and Manikandeswarar.
Siva is called Tirumeninathar here, since the Lingam is said to embody the powers and greatness of various implements and aspects associated with Siva, including: the lotus, thunderbolt, Sakti, bow, knife/axe, noose, flag, mace, and trident.
The original temple is said to be extremely ancient. According to local records, in its time, the temple was regarded as the epitome amongst temple architecture in this region. The structural temple we see today has a chequered history. The architecture leads one to assume the original temple to be from the early Chola by the looks of it, with renovations over the centuries. However, temple records say that this temple was built in the time of the Pandya king Kochchadaiyan (Ranadhiran), the son of Arikesari Maravarman, and who reigned over this region between 700 and 730 CE.
There are also inscriptions in the temple from that time, which refer to the king. One such inscription states that the worship of Siva here gives one happiness – Anandam in Tamil – and so the place is named Anandur.
Interestingly, Kochchadaiyan is also given the titles “Vanavan”, “Chola” and “Sembian”. Why would this be the case? Accordingly to the great and noted Tamil historian, KA Nilakanta Sastri, Kochchadaiyan defeated the early Cholas and made them feudatories (this was a little over 100 years before the rise of Vijayalaya Chola, the first of the Medieval Cholas, in 848 CE).
It is possible that the Chola craftsmen of the time were brought here for the temple’s construction, since this land lies somewhat between the earlier Chola and the core Pandya regions.
The gomukham / pranali which directs water out of the garbhagriham, is in the style of gajapadham (foot of an elephant), which is extremely rare – typically the yali-mukham is used as the base design for this feature. Parts of the temple have the awning (kodukkai / kodungai) feature, along with corresponding woodwork, reminiscent of the Avudaiyar Kovil Atmanathar temple architecture.
The temple was sought to be renovated sometime around 2004/5, and work began in earnest, but was then stopped for some reason. It is understood that after nearly 17 years, this renovation work resumed in 2021.
At the time of our visit, the maha mandapam was under construction, and so the outer prakaram was littered with materials for the work. Nonetheless, the temple priest (the same as the one who officiates at the two temples in Radhanur) was able to show us around and also show us deeparadhanai.
Currently, the entrance to the temple is from a break in the wall on the southern side. After completion of the renovation work, the temple will have a proper east-facing entrance, leading to the maha mandapam (which is currently under construction). That would lead us to the ardha mandapam and garbhagriham, where we were taken directly by the gurukkal.
Just outside the garbhagriham, on the left is a Vinayakar murti guarding the garbhagriham. Because of the construction work going on, all of the vigrahams of the temple were kept in the garbhagriham. The massive Siva Lingam could not be moved, and so was kept covered with a cloth. The other deities whose vigrahams were inside, included Tirukarnavalli Amman, Dakshinamurti, Chandikeswarar, Nandi, Suryan, and Chandran. There seemed to be no separate Navagraham shrine or vigrahams.
We were unable to walk around the temple, but the craftsmanship visible on the outer walls of the garbhagriham spoke of great skill and elegance. The renovation work is, contrary to local Nagarathar custom, in keeping with the theme of the original temple.
Other information for your visit
Sankar Sivan Gurukkal: 89735 76584