Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Sivan||Ambal / Thayar:||–|
|Timing:||to & to||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Marungur||District:||Ramanathapuram|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Karaikudi (54 km)||Ramanathapuram (72 km)|
|Pudukkottai (85 km)||Thanjavur (132 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
This temple is located on the eastern coast, north of Thondi, and just a couple of kilometers south of Teerthandathanam. The temple is located on the route said, in the Ramayanam, to have been taken by Rama and Lakshmana, together with the army of monkeys, as they travelled to Rameswaram (and Lanka thereafter) in their search for Sita.
We visited this temple because we were aware that there was likely a very old temple at this spot. We were not disappointed. As you can see in the pictures, this is a fascinating and stunning temple, but due to a combination of the ravages of time, erosion on account of proximity to the shore, and plain neglect, the temple is in the state it is now. The lone, aged lady maintaining the temple was unable to provide any information on its history.
Interestingly, the temple faces north, and as of today there is only one mandapam and the garbhagriham. In the front of the mandapam is what appears to be a later addition bali peetham. There is no dhwajasthambam but as luck would have it, a palm tree right next to the bali peetham serves as the notional dhwajasthambam!
The entrance to the mandapam is flanked by two vigrahams which have been positioned to take the place of dwarapalakas. The one on the left does indeed look more like a dwarapalaka than a deity, but the same cannot be said of the one on the right.
The entire temple is on a slightly raised platform about 2 feet higher than ground level. The temple’s poor state of maintenance is evident by the fact that the roots of the banyan tree under which this temple lies today, have permeated through the temple’s roof and walls, and have been embedded into the temple’s structure itself.
In the mandapam, there are four pillars. These are very well done in terms of architecture, featuring multiple layers and varieties of design – plain, 16-sided, carved with images of deities, lotus-petalled, etc. Going by some of the depictions on the pillars, the corbelling and the style of the pillars themselves, one of them appears to be more Chola, while the others are possibly Pandya, or even modern. The same is true of the niches in various places inside, including above the entrance to the garbhagriham.
At the entrance to the garbhagriham, there is a small Vinayakar to the left, in front of whom is a disproportionately large mooshikam. On the other side is a Nagar. The garbhagriham itself appears rather sparse, with a very small Lingam placed inside a square avudai.
On the outside, there are no koshtams and therefore no koshtam deities. The pranala (outlet for water from the garbhagriham) faces east, which seemed rather unusual. From the rear of the outside of the garbhagriham, one can see the brick structure that makes up the vimanam – again, one could perhaps place this in the Chola period.
Various stones and broken pieces of the temple’s original structure are strewn around. There is also another Lingam (or at least a cylindrical structure resembling a Lingam) that has been safely kept on the outside.
In March 2022, the Ramanathapuram Archaeological Research Foundation’s field research revealed that this place – Marungur – was one of two possible locations (along with nearby Oriyur) which may have belonged to the Sangam era. This announcement was based on various potsherds and other artefacts found in digs in this region, including around this temple. Sangam era literature including Ahananuru, Purananur and Nattrinai mention Marungurpattinnam, a port town and traders’ marketplace for all sorts of goods. The fort of Vazhuthunai Thalumban is said to have been situated nearby.