Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Tirumeni Azhagar||Ambal / Thayar:||Vadivammai|
|Vriksham:||Thazhai, Kandamaram, Vilvam||Teertham:||Mayendira Teertham|
|Timing:||9 to 12 & 6 to 7.30||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Vada Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Mahendrapalli||District:||Nagapattinam|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Mayiladuthurai (43 km)||Cuddalore (53 km)|
|Kumbakonam (79 km)||Nagapattinam (83 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
Indra, the chief of the devas, conducted himself inappropriately with Ahalya, the wife of Sage Gautama. As a result, he was punished to have one thousand painful pus sores sprout all over his body. To seek relief from this curse, he wandered all over Bhulokam and worshipped Siva in various places. At this place, he installed a Siva Lingam and worshipped Siva, which gave him partial relief from his pain.
Since Indra worshipped Siva here, this place was named Mayendrapalli (a reference to Indra), and over time this was corrupted to Mahendrapalli.
The Lingam installed by Indra also depicted Siva’s extremely handsome form – somewhat of a contrast to Indra’s own appearance at the time. Therefore, Siva here came to be named Tirumeni Azhagar.
The appellation “Azhagar” is used almost exclusively for forms of Vishnu. Correspondingly, Lord Siva usually goes by the name “Sundarar” or “Sundareswarar” to depict his beauty, but this is one of the rare places where the Tamil word “Azhagar” is used to refer to Siva.
This is a Paadal Petra Sthalam, on which Sambandar has sung a pathigam. In his pathigam on Lord Siva of this temple, Sambandar praises Siva as “Azhagan”. Sambandar also states that this temple’s greatness is comparable not just with Tiruvarur and Tiruvanaikka, but with Kailasam itself.
This is one of those unique prarthana sthalams where people worship Siva and Parvati, in order to improve their looks. This prarthana also involves giving a white veshti (dhoti) and a yellow sari to the deities. The temple is also a prarthana sthalam for relief from various illnesses including skin diseases (due to the sthala puranam of Indra here) and Naga dosham, as well as for those seeking progress in education.
At this temple, Indra, Brahma, Suryan and Chandran witnessed Siva’s cosmic dance, the tandavam. In the Mahabharatam, Krishna is said to have performed tarpanam at the temple’s tank on a new moon day before the start of the Kurukshetra war. The temple tank – Mahendra Teertham – is said to have been created by Brahma.
The east facing temple has the temple tank opposite the main entrance gate. However, this entrance is often kept closed, and a smaller south-facing gate leads us to the front of the raja gopuram. There is no dhwajasthambam, but in the mandapam there is a bali peetham followed by Nandi. Unusually, Nandi’s face is not turned slightly right (facing Amman, as is usually the case), but is turned to the left, here.
The maha mandapam leads to the ardha mandapam where there is another bali peetham and Nandi (this one facing slightly right, in the usual way), and then the garbhagriham. the entrance to the garbhagriham has two more recent dwarapalakas (in plaster) and Vinayakar on the left. In the maha mandapam, on the right, is the Amman shrine.
The temple is from the Chola period, perhaps 10th or 11th century, but the original Chola period walls have either been removed or have eroded (given the temple’s proximity to the sea). Instead, the walls around the maha mandapam, as well as most of the rest of the temple, are brick and mortar constructions from contemporary times. Only the garbhagriham outer wall continues to be original Chola period stone.
Only Dakshinamurti is in the koshtam, and is depicted beautifully. The absence of other deities in the koshtams could be indicative of either this being a very old temple, or having been renovated in more recent times. In the prakaram are Vinayakar (flanked by Rahu and Ketu), Murugan with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, Kasi Viswanathar, Lakshmi, and Chandikeswarar (who, unusually, is seen with his consort Pavitra). On the eastern side are separate shrines for Bhairavar, Sani, Suryan and Chandran, and also a wide banam without the avudai (possibly an older Lingam of the temple). There is no Navagraham shrine here.
Surya puja is celebrated here in the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April), when the sun’s rays fall on the Lord every day in the morning, from the 7th to the 13th of that month.
Other information for your visit
The temple priest – Senthil Gurukkal – has been taking care of this temple single-handedly for over 30 years, having taken over from his father and grandfather who donned this role before him. However, the salaries paid to the family over the years have been ridiculously minuscule. Those visiting here may wish to contribute to help Senthil Gurukkal.
Given the remoteness of this temple, visitors are advised to contact Senthil Gurukkal first before visiting the temple.
Senthil Gurukkal: 97511 00938