Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Azhagiyanathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Aram Valartha Nayaki, Dharmasamvarthini|
|Agamam:||Age (years):||Timing:||to & to||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Possible Vaippu Sthalam||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Sholampettai||District:||Mayiladuthurai|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Mayiladuthurai (2 km)||Kumbakonam (37 km)|
|Tiruvarur (45 km)||Nagapattinam (57 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
The area of Sholampettai is actually a group of smaller villages including Sholampettai, Ramapuram and Mappadugai (Pandaravadai). There are several temples in this cluster of villages, including the Tirumeni Azhagar, Chandrasekharar temple and Lakshmi Narayana Perumal at Mappadugai; Azhagiyanathar temple, Thanthondreeswarar temple and Vanamutti Perumal at Sholampettai; and a Siva and Perumal temple in Ramapuram.
In Tamil retellings of the Mahabharatam, there is a story of Purushamrigam – a half-human, half-animal creature. The creature was created by Vishnu to protect the Pandavas at the time of the Rajasuya Yagna, and it is said that Tiruvathavur (near Madurai) is where the Pusushamrigam was created. Purushamrigam is believed to have worshipped at this temple here in Sholampettai.
According to another puranam, Suryan suffered rheumatism as part of the many curses meted out to Him by Veerabhadrar, for his having participated in Daksha’s yagam. Suryan came and worshipped Dharmasamvarthini Amman here and was cured of the disease.
This east-facing temple is built entirely of brick, and over time, has become severely damaged. Today, the temple lies in shambles and in an extremely dilapidated state, with so much overgrowth that one cannot even come around the temple properly.
The structural temple we see today is dated to about 1400 CE, making it about 600 years old. However, there are two vigrahams of Sambandar at this temple, leading to the conclusion that this temple may have possibly been a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam. It is also possible that the nearby Thanthondreeswarar temple may be a Vaippu Sthalam as well.
A short grassy path with a tin shed on the right, leads us to the welcome arch. On the opposite side of the street (ie on the east) is the temple’s tank, which has also dried up.
The temple does not have a raja gopuram. The welcome arch – also built entirely of brick – lacks the detailing on the horizontal on top. On the side is a painted sign suggesting that the last kumbhabhishekam took place in 1988.
There is no dhwajasthambam today, but it may have existed earlier, given the presence of a kodimaram Vinayakar in front. Beyond this is a bali peetham and Nandi mandapam. During our visit in April 2022, we noticed that the Nandi was properly decorated, indicating that pradosham puja had been performed the previous day.
The maha mandapam is a flat, run-down structure, leading through to an ardha mandapam and the garbhagriham beyond. Again, perhaps taken out for pradosham purposes, we noticed the temple’s utsava murtis in the maha mandapam. The main garbhagriham is located beyond a vavvaal-nethi mandapam which is lined by a pillared path (which what look like Chola-period pillars). The moolavar Lingam is installed in the garbhagriham.
In a koshtam outside is Dakshinamurti, although there is a separate Dakshinamurti mandapam with beautiful, if damaged, suthai (plaster) sculptures, but lacking a vigraham, on the southern side of the garbhagriham. This is the only deity in the koshtam. In the prakaram are shrines for Vinayakar, Murugan with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, and Chandikeswarar.
There is a separate east-facing shrine on the north-western portion of the temple, for Dharamasamvarthini Amman. This depiction of the Lord and Amman both facing east, is often regarded as a representation of their wedding (kalyana kolam).
In the north-east portion of the temple is a dilapidated mandapam which previously housed a south-facing Bhairavar, which is extremely rare / unusual. Worshipping this Bhairavar is said to help dispel all of one’s troubles and worries. The corridor in the eastern part of the temple also housed two Naagar vigrahams and Sani. Two bas reliefs – one of Purushamriga, and another depicting Purushamriga’s fight with Bhima (from the Mahabharatam) – were also housed in this corridor. There were also rather tall, and finely crafted, vigrahams of Suryan and Murugan.
Because of the poor condition of the temple, the tin shed outside houses all the other vigrahams that were previously inside the temple. Daily puja is carried out to these deities, here.
Other information for your visit
As is the case with several places, there are 7 temples (usually called Sapta Sthanam) in and around Mayiladuthurai which comprise the Mayiladuthurai Sapta Sthanam set of temples, and which celebrate their festival together. These seven temples here are:
Mayuranathar, Mayiladuthurai, Mayiladuthurai
Margasahayeswarar, Moovalur, Nagapattinam
Aiyarappar, Mayiladuthurai, Mayiladuthurai
Kasi Viswanathar, Senthangudi, Mayiladuthurai
Punugeswarar, Mayiladuthurai, Mayiladuthurai
Brahmapureeswarar, Sitharkadu, Mayiladuthurai
Azhagiyanathar, Sholampettai, Mayiladuthurai
As part of the festival, the utsava deities of all these temples gather together, and go in procession around Mayiladuthurai, on Chitra Pournami, and finally reach the Mayuranathar temple, before going back to their respective temples.
The temple is normally kept closed for visitors, due to its poor structural state. However, locals living on the same street as the temple can help get the temple opened for visitors, though this may sometimes take time.
The above pictures are from April/May 2022, and show the completely dilapidated and run down state of the temple.
Below are a few pictures from c.2016, taken by our friend and associate Kadambur Vijay. These are from a time when at least some parts of the temple premises were maintained a little better, allowing a freer walk-around. Many of the vigrahams are also seen in their original places inside the temple (and not in the tin-shed they are housed in, during my later visit in April 2022).