Aadi Ratneswarar, Tiruvadanai, Ramanathapuram

Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:Veyil Ugantha VinayakarAmbal / Thayar:
Deity:VinayakarHistorical name:Suryapuri, Tavasiddhipuri, Pavavimochana Puram, Vannimandhara Vanam, Lavanapuram

Age (years):

Timing:6 to 11 & 4 to 8Parikaram:

Temple group:
Sung by:

Temple set:



City / town:UppurDistrict:Ramanathapuram
Maps from (click): Current location Ramanathapuram (37 km)Karaikudi (66 km)

Pudukkottai (106 km)Sivaganga (118 km)


Sthala puranam and temple information

This temple is said to have existed across all four yugams. In each of the yugams, this place was a forest, which was the form taken by Siva Himself in each of those periods. This place was called Parijata Vanam (as it was a forest of parijatam trees) during the satya yugam, Vanni Vanam in the treta yugam, Kurukkaththi Vanam (vasanta malli) in the Dwapara yugam, and Vilva Vanam in the kali yugam.

Today, the place is called Tiruvadanai – pronounced Tiru-vaa-daa-nai. This is a combination of Tiru and Aadu-Aanai, meaning goat and elephant. This is connected to the sthala puranam, detailed below. But because of the various forests that this place was, as well as other reasons, Tiruvadanai is / has been known by other names as well. These are: Parijata Vanam, Vanni Vanam, Kurukkaththi Vanam, Vilva Vanam, Muktipuram (because a drop of the celestial nectar from the churning of the ocean, fell here; and the amrtam gives mukti to those who consume it), Aadi Ratneswaram (named for Siva here), Aadaanai (goat and elephant, as explained above), Markandeyarpuram and Agasteeswaram (as the sages Markandeyar and Agastyar worshipped here), Padmapuram, Gomuktipuram and Vijayeswaram.

Siva also has several names here, including Aadi Ratneswarar, Aadaanai Nathar, Ajagajeswarar (aja = goat and gaja = elephant, in Sanskrit), and Rathanathar.

This temple is a Tevaram Paadal Petra Sthalam – the 8th out of 14 such Paadal Petra Sthalam temples in Pandya Nadu. Sambandar has sung a pathigam on this temple. Sambandar visited Rameswaram, where he received divine vision of the temples at Trincomalee and Tiruketheeswaram – both in modern day Sri Lanka. Based on this vision, he sung pathigams on those two temples, despite not visiting them. Then, he came to Tiruvadanai.

Once, Suryan became extremely proud and haughty of his effulgence and how he was able to shine his light on various celestials, including Siva. Unable to stand this affront to Siva, Nandi immediately took away Suryan’s effulgence. Realising his folly, Suryan requested Nandi for a way out. He was told to build a pedestal with blue coloured gemstones, install a Siva Lingam on it, and worship Siva there. Suryan did as he was told, and his brilliance was restored. Since Suryan is the first (Aadi) among the Navagraham, Siva here is called Aadi Ratneswarar, ratna referring to gemstones. (Some say the moolavar Lingam is itself made of blue gemstones or sapphires.) On 23 to 25 of the Tamil month of Masi (February-March) and 17 to 20 of Purattasi (September-October), the sun’s rays fall directly on the moolavar.

Even today, it is said that during the midday Uchchi-kala puja for Siva, when ablutions are performed with milk, the Lingam turns blue, reflecting the colour of the gemstones.

Once, Vaaruni – the son of the rain god Varuna – was playing with his friends in a garden, where Sage Durvasa happened to be in penance. His meditation was disturbed, and so he cursed her to take the form of an elephant with a goat’s head. Vaaruni roamed around seeking relief, when she reached this region. The sages here took pity on him and advised that he worship Aadi Ratneswarar at this place. He did so, and his original form was restored. In Tamil, goat is Aadu and elephant is Aanai, and so the place got the name Tiru-Aad-Aanai. Vaaruni also requested Siva to stay here in different forms, till the end of kali yugam.

Devotees worship Aadi Ratneswarar for relief from the ill-effects of past deeds, including those committed knowingly (like Suryan) and unknowingly (like Vaaruni). The temple is also a Sukra dosham / Sukra disai parikaram sthalam, and those under the malefic influence of Sukran are advised to worship Amman here.

In the Mahabharatam, the Pandavas were in exile, when Arjuna decided to worship Siva and obtain weapons in return. He is said to have visited various places, and indeed, several temples in Tamil Nadu refer to Arjuna’s pilgrimage. After he received the Pasupatastram from Siva, the Lord asked him to come to this place (Tiruvadanai) to learn the use of the weapon. After learning its use, Arjuna installed the Somaskandar murti at this temple.

Others who have worshipped here include Kamadhenu, Sage Vasishtha, Sage Brighu, Manu, Sage Markandeyar, and Sage Agastyar. Arunagirinathar has worshipped here and sung about Murugan at this temple, in his Tiruppugazh.

While the original structural temple here can be traced to the Pandyas, the core temple definitely existed in the 7th century, in the time of Sambandar.

The temple’s architecture and indeed its overall construction, has seen several stages of work and development. Originally built during the Pandya period, the structural temple of the time had a 3-tier raja gopuram and a wall that was about 5 feet tall. Later, during the Nayak period and the early period of the Sethupati kings (ending in the 17th century), the raja gopuram was rebuilt to 5 tiers, and the wall height was raised to 17 feet. Finally, in the mid- and late-1800s, in the time of Bhaskara Sethupati, and later by the Nagarathar community, the current 9-tier raja gopuram was built, and the height of the wall was raised to close to 40 feet.

During this last period of development is also when much of the interior work we see today was done, particularly the exterior of various shrines, and the pillars in the main corridor. The imposing 130-feet tall raja gopuram is said to be visible from a distance of up to 15km, on a clear day.

Inscriptions in the temple refer to the reign of Pandya kings Konerinmai Kondan and Maravarman Sundara Pandyan, and also king of the Vijayanagara dynasty. These inscriptions are primarily about the various grants to the temple.

The temple is spread over a fairly large area. After the raja gopuram is a long corridor, followed by the dhwajasthambam, bali peetham and Nandi mandapam. There are separate east-facing temples for Siva and Amman, making this representative of their kalyana kolam.

In the Siva temple, the usual koshtam deities are present. In the prakaram are several other vigrahams, including Agastya Vinayakar (installed by sage Agastyar), Tejasandar, Suryan with his consorts Usha and Chaya, Markandeyar Vinayakar, Varuna Vinayakar, Siva as Dhaneeswarar with His consort Dhaneeswari, and Nagars. There are also vigrahams of Vinayakar, the Tevaram four (Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar and Manikkavasagar), 63 Nayanmars, Veerabhadrar, the nine Thogai Adiyars, and sapta matrikas. There are separate shrines for Vinayakar, Murugan with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, Vishnu as Varadaraja Perumal with Sridevi and Bhudevi, Arjuna Lingam (installed by Arjuna), Natarajar, Bhairavar, Chandikeswarar, and Chandran with Karthigai and Rohini. In the Amman shrine, the koshtams feature Iccha, Kriya and Gnana Saktis. Interestingly, it is theamman temple that has the Navagraham shrine, and not the Siva temple.

The temple’s prakaram is a carefully cultivated garden of plants and herbs, including varieties like vilvam, naval (jambu or jamun), mango, vembu, tamarind, gooseberry, and several more – including some unknown ones as well. It is believed that just taking a leisurely walk in the prakaram and inhaling the combined fragrances of all of these, helps prevent and cure many illnesses.

Other information for your visit


Contact: 04561 254533

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