Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Sundareswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Meenakshi|
|Timing:||to & to||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||V. Surakudi||District:||Sivaganga|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Karaikudi (10 km)||Pudukkottai (32 km)|
|Tiruchirappalli (90 km)||Madurai (94 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
In the vicinity of Karaikudi are two places called Surakkudi or Soorakudi. One is Nagara Surakkudi (or N Surakkudi), the location of Desikanathar temple for Siva, which is one of the 9 Nagarathar temples. The other is V Surakkudi, which stands for Vanniya Surakkudi, which is the location of this temple. The two Surakkudis are named for the community of the primary population of the village, as a differentiator.
The temple is said to date to the early Pandya period. A king named Ponnan Vijayalayan (not to be confused with Vijayalaya Chola) was a king belonging to the Vanniyar community, who ruled over this place. Being a great devotee of Siva and Parvati at Madurai, he would visit that place once every week. But as he grew older, he found this difficult to do as frequently as before. One day, a celestial voice told him to build a temple for Sundareswarar and Meenakshi here, and that Siva and Parvati would be present in that temple forever.
This east-facing temple does not have a raja gopuram, but a mottai gopuram with a welcome arch of stucco images of Siva as Rishabharoodar with Parvati, as well as Vinayakar and Murugan and two other celestials flanking either side. However, due to the growth of shrubs and plants inside the temple (beyond this welcome gate), this entrance is kept closed; instead, there is a small entrance on the southern side, which leads us straight to the Amman shrine.
The temple has a beautiful maha mandapam, where there is a tall dhwajasthambam, followed by a bali peetham and Nandi. Going by the depiction of Nandi here, the temple would appear to be at least 1000 years old, but there is no telling if this pradosha Nandi is original to the temple.
The architecture in the maha mandapam is an amalgam of various styles, notably, late Pandya and Nagarathar. Almost every single pillar in the mandapam features beautiful carvings – these are either original bas reliefs, or later carvings which have been added to the pillar. These are clearly distinguishable, though in terms of skill, they are of the same level of high quality. Besides interesting representations of deities and celestials, these carvings also feature scenes from the puranams, the stories of Nayanmars, etc.
It is also very evident from the architecture and layout inside the ardha mandapam of the moolavar garbhagriham, that there has been a mixing of styles during renovations over the years. The interior features a Pandya style raised platform inside the ardha mandapam, though much of the rest of the garbhagriham and ardha mandapam are in the Chettinadu style. The same goes for the Amman shrine.
The exemplary architecture including work on pillars, continues in the outer prakaram. In the koshtam are Vinayakar, Dakshinamurti, Lingodhbhavar, Brahma and Durga. In the prakaram are Vinayakar, Vishnu with Sridevi and Bhudevi, Murugan, Chandikeswarar, Kala Bhairavar, Chandran and Suryan. There is also a separate Navagraham shrine.
In the western part of the main prakaram, between Vinayakar and Vishnu, there is also a Siva Lingam along with a vigraham of Amman and Nagar. This is the second of five Lingams in the temple (including the moolavar). There are 3 other Lingams in the sub-shrine to the north of the outer prakaram, making it a total of 5 Lingams. This place is unique for this reason, and is therefore also called a Pancha-Linga Kshetram.
This outer shrine also qualifies as a separate temple, with the appropriate vimanam, and Amman shrine of its own as well. It is also replete with proper Pandya-style architecture in its construction, and may have well been the original temple built by the king Ponnan Vijayalayan. The rest of the temple is typical Nagarathar. Much of the eastern and southern portion of the inner wall of the temple is lined with a covered corridor, which has gone to seed. Though the temple is in active worship by the locals, the grounds of the temple are dense with undergrowth, and require significant cleaning effort.
The temple comes under the aegis of the Sivaganga Samasthanam Devasthanam, who administer and maintain the temple.