Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Tirumeni Azhagar||Ambal / Thayar:||Soundaranayaki|
|Agamam:||Age (years):||Timing:||to & to||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Mappadugai||District:||Nagapattinam|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Mayiladuthurai (1 km)||Kumbakonam (38 km)|
|Tiruvarur (46 km)||Nagapattinam (56 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
The area of Sholampettai is actually a group of smaller villages including Sholampettai, Ramapuram and Mappadugai. Mappadugai also goes by the name of 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.
The name of the village – Mappadugai – is rather unusual and there are two stories for this. The first is that this place would likely have been a large area of mango trees (maamaram; padukkai means a bed). The other story is much more interesting! It is said that both the Ramayanam and Mahabharatam have taken place at various times in different parts of the country. In the local retelling of the Ramayanam, Ravana engaged his uncle Maricha to take the form of a golden deer to distract Sita and lure Rama into chasing it. Eventually, Rama captured the deer, as it came to rest at this place. This gave the place the name Maan (deer) Padukkai (resting place). Over time, this has corrupted to Mappadugai.
The temple is said to be very ancient; however, there are no records to authenticate its age. However, this entire structural temple is of brickwork, which is suggestive that it was perhaps built originally before the stone temples of the Chola period, making this perhaps over 1300 years old.
There is no raja gopuram here. A flat entrance arch welcomes us, which leads into a long, covered corridor. There is no dhwajasthambam, but one can find a bali peetham and Nandi mandapam in the corridor. Beyond this is the maha mandapam. The entire structure is contained in the surroundings of a verdant garden.
In the maha mandapam are the garbhagriham for the moolavar and the south-facing shrine for Soundaranayaki Amman. The garbhagriham is flanked by two smaller dwarapalakas as also Vinayakar and Murugan.
In the koshtams are Dakshinamurti, Lingodhbhavar, Brahma and Durga. In the prakaram are shrines for Vinayakar, Murugan with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, Mahalakshmi, Chandikeswarar, . In the northern portion of the nandavanam is the sthala vriksham (vanni) under which is a pedestal with some Lingams and Naagar vigrahams, and also Ayyanar.
In the inner part of the eastern side is a mandapam with a separate west-facing Lingam (of Kasi Viswanathar) with Visalakshi Amman and Nandi, as well as vigrahams of Bhairavar, Suryan and Chandran. Facing them is a very old vigraham of Vinayakar. Beside this is the Navagraham shrine, with a unique alignment and positioning of the Navagraham deities – all of them face Suryan.
What’s more is that both Suryan and Chandran both face west, and are in the same line (usually they are positioned diagonally). This is said to be representative of lunar eclipses, where the earth comes between the sun and moon, making the earth’s shadow fall on the moon, thereby obscuring the latter. Worshipping at this temple on the days of lunar eclipse is said to be beneficial for those under the katakam, Rishabham and vrischika rasis. Those under other rasis also worship here on lunar eclipses, to as to avoid Chandra dosham.