Arupadai Veedu (aaru-padai veedu, or literally, the homes of six armies) refers to the Six Abodes of Murugan, which are temples situated in Tamil Nadu. These six most sacred abodes of Murugan were mentioned in Tamil sangam literature, Thirumurugatrupadai (written by Nakkeerar) and in Thiruppugazh (written by Arunagirinathar).
Interestingly, 5 of the 6 padai veedu temples are located on hillocks or hills, and one (at Tiruchendur) is located on the seashore.
The six abodes are:
- Tiruparankundram: Located on the outskirts of Madurai on a hillock, this is considered the first of the Arupadai Veedu. Murugan is worshipped as Subramanya Swamy. Per some stories, Murugan married Indra’s daughter Deivayanai here. Nakkeerar worshipped Murugan in this shrine and is said to have worshiped Lord Shiva here as Parangirinathar.
- Thiruthani: Located 75 kms from Chennai, this is said to be the place where Murugan met and married Valli. The earlier name of the place was Thiruthanigai. The temple can be reached by climbing 365 steps, or by vehicle.
- Swamimalai: Located very close to Kumbakonam, this is said to be the place where Murugan explained the essense of the Pranava Mantram (Om) to his father, Lord Siva. The name of the place derives from the fact that Murugan was a guru or swami (teacher).
- Palani: This temple on the hillock is said to be the place where Murugan resided after his feud with his family (Vinayakar in particular) over the divine fruit. Dandayuthapani is the presiding deity, carrying a staff as his weapon. The temple can be reached climbing 690 steps, or by winch facility. This temple is associated with Avvaiyar, who called Murugan the fruit of knowledge (gnana pazham, nee).
- Pazhamudircholai (Alagar Koil): The only temple where Murugan can be worshipped with both of his consorts (Valli and Deivanai), this place is located about 20 km from Madurai, in the vicinity of the Kallazhagar Perumal Koil (Divya Desam). This place is also associated with Avvaiyar, and the legend of Muruan asking her if she wanted cooked or uncooked fruit (sutta pazham, sudatha pazham).
- Tiruchendur: Located on the eastern coast of south India, amongst the remains of Gandhamadana Parvatam or Chandana malai, the main deity is Subramanya Swamy. The temple commemorates the place where Murugan won a decisive victory over the demon Soorapadman. Murugan is also supposed to have married Deivayanai (his divine consort, as opposed to Valli, the earth-bound consort) at Tiruchendur. This is also the only Arupadai Veedu temple located on a seashore.
Map of Arupadai Veedu temples
Cover pic credit – TTDC