Sundareswarar, Athangudi, Sivaganga


Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:SundareswararAmbal / Thayar:Meenakshi
Deity:SivaHistorical name:
Vriksham:VazhaiTeertham:
Agamam:

Age (years):

1000-2000

Timing:6.30 to 11 & 4 to 7.45Parikaram:

Temple group:Vaippu sthalam
Sung by:

Temple set:

Navagraham:

Nakshatram:

City / town:AthangudiDistrict:Sivaganga
Maps from (click): Current location Karaikudi (13 km)Pudukkottai (31 km)

Tiruchirappalli (88 km)Madurai (90 km)

Location

Sthala puranam and temple information

This beautiful temple for Siva as Sundareswarar is a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam and finds mention in one of Appar’s Tiruthandagams.

The original name of the place was Atthangudi, which has become Athangudi over time. Appar’s pathigam refers to this place as Atthangudi, which name is also present in hundreds of other records about this place.

The original temple must have existed from at least the 6th century CE, as it is referred to by Appar. Some of the architecture here is clearly reflective of Pandya influence during that dynasty’s heyday.

In more recent times, the temple has been under the care, administration and maintenance of the Nagarathar community, and the renovations to the temple include architectural elements that are typical of Chettinadu temples. The first of the renovations followed by kumbhabhishekam under the Nagarathar oversight took place in 1913. The 1928 kumbhabhishekam included an almost complete renovation of the masonry work in the temple, as well as the construction of the massive 7-tier raja gopuram, over 500 amazing stucco and bas relief works, and kodungai (stone awning) constructions in the temple.

The vast temple tank – located outside the temple’s main entrance – is also well maintained, with architecture work at the four corners as well as alongside the steps leading to the tank in all the cardinal directions.

Past the main raja gopuram is a smaller 3-tiered gopuram which leads us to the maha mandapam. Inside is a tall dhwajasthambam, adjacent to a very elaborate yet intricately crafted rasi mandalam, bali peetham, and Nandi. On the right of the elevated mandapam is the Amman shrine, while the garbhagriham is straight ahead. In the ardha mandapam is a darpanam and a brass Nandi, in front of the garbhagriham.

In the prakaram are Vinayakar, Dakshinamurti, Annamalaiyar, Brahma and Durga. Dakshinamurti – who is exquisitely crafted and goes by the name of Alamar Aram Sol Murti – is in a separate mandapam, and beside Him are the four sages.

In the prakaram are Vinayakar, Somaskandar, Viswanathar and Visalakshi Amman, Murugan with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, the three saktis – Malaimagal (Parvati), Tirumagal (Lakshmi – in this particular case, Gajalakshmi) and Kalaimagal (Saraswati), and Chandikeswarar. There is a separate Navagraham shrine.

In the outer prakaram is a Bhairavar peetham, with a formless Bhairavar represented by just a peetham. Also in the outer prakaram are various older murtis, including Nagars. A beautiful garden runs around the entire perimeter. As at the Mathur Ainootreeswarar temple, there are separate trees / vrikshams for each of the 27 nakshatrams, in the garden. This line of trees ends with the sthala vriksham – the plantain tree / vazhai – which is in a separate enclosure. The most interesting aspect of this sthala vriksham is that it only grows to a height of 4 feet, and has never been recorded at a greater height.

The temple is famous for its stupendous variety of architectural elements, including the bas relief and stucco works described above, the intricately designed raja gopuram, the Natarajar Sabhai (here, Natarajar is called Koothapiran), bronze vigrahams of various deities, vigrahams of the 63 Nayanmars, and the extensive vegetable / herbal dye artwork in the interiors of the temple depicting various scenes from the 64 Tiruvilaiyadals.

Other information for your visit

Please do read this Overview on Nagarathar heritage and temples, in connection with temples in the Chettinadu region.

Athangudi is also famous for the “Athangudi tiles” – handmade tiles featuring traditional patterns and designs native to the region. A majority of the families in Athangudi are involved in the manufacture and baking of these tiles, which are extremely durable.

Contact

Contact: 94432 73917
Phone: 04565-281700

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