An overview of Nagarathar heritage and temples


This special feature provides an overview of of Nagarathar heritage and explores the evolution of temples in the Chettinadu region… Read More An overview of Nagarathar heritage and temples

Nagareeswarar, Kadambar Malai, Pudukkottai


Part of the Narthamalai temples, this place – Kadambar Malai – is in fact home to three separate shrines – two for Siva (one of them a full-fledged temple) and one for Amman; in addition, there is a massive 20×6 foot rock cut inscription from the Chola period. The contributors to this temple come from the Pallavas, Cholas and Pandyas, as also the Mutharaiyars. But what is one of the sthala puranams here that is said to give the place its name?… Read More Nagareeswarar, Kadambar Malai, Pudukkottai

Desikanathar, Nagara Surakkudi, Sivaganga


One of the famous 9 Nagarathar temples of the Chettinadu region, this temple is also a Bhairavar sthalam. The sthala puranam here is connected with Daksha’s yagam, and so the name of the place was taken from the fact that Suryan gets first worship at this temple. The temple’s architecture is classic Nagarathar style, but the iconography of deities as well as some worship customs here are quite unique. In what way are these unusual?… Read More Desikanathar, Nagara Surakkudi, Sivaganga

Sundareswarar, V. Surakudi, Sivaganga


One of two villages named Surakkudi in the outskirts of Karaikudi, this place is Vanniya Surakkudi. A Pandya king who could not keep up with his weekly visit schedule to Madurai owing to old age, was advised by a celestial voice to build this temple for Sundareswarar and Meenakshi Amman, his favourite deities. This Pandya period temple has seen several renovations, and this is evident in the temple’s mixed but stunning architecture. But why is this place called a Pancha-Linga Kshetram?… Read More Sundareswarar, V. Surakudi, Sivaganga

Sandeeswarar, Velangudi, Sivaganga


This Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam is also the smallest of the 9 Nagarathar temples that the region is famous for. The place gets its name from being a forest of Vela trees in ancient times. The story behind the finding of Amman’s murti here is the core sthala puranam of the place. But what are the two other local legends about this temple, that are equally fascinating?… Read More Sandeeswarar, Velangudi, Sivaganga

Sundareswarar, Athangudi, Sivaganga


These days, Athangudi is more popular for the Athangudi tiles that several craftsmen in the village are involved in. This Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam for Siva as Sundareswarar has a pathigam by the Nayanmar Appar, referring to it. The architecture would have been Pandya, but the temple today is completely dominated by Nagarathar style architecture. But what is unusual about the temple’s sthala vriksham?… Read More Sundareswarar, Athangudi, Sivaganga

Thanthondreeswarar, Iluppaikudi, Sivaganga


One of the 9 famous Nagarathar temples in the Chettinadu region, this temple’s sthala puranam concerns Kongana Siddhar’s desire to become an alchemist, turning iron into gold, and is also connected with the sthala puranam of the Ainootreeswarar temple at nearby Mathur. The temple is famous for Bhairavar, but what are some of the architectural masterpieces depicted here, that this temple is famous for? … Read More Thanthondreeswarar, Iluppaikudi, Sivaganga

Naganathar, Tiruthangur, Sivaganga


This Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam and late-Pandya temple was rebuilt in the last 200 years or so, and completely transformed into a Chettinadu temple with proper Nagarathar style architecture. Tiruthangur – the name of the place – is likely to have come from a sthala puranam involving Lakshmi staying here, but sadly, no records of any puranam are available for this temple.… Read More Naganathar, Tiruthangur, Sivaganga

Meenakshi Sundareswarar, Devakottai, Sivaganga


This temple – built in the last 150 years or so – is a classic representation of Nagarathar architecture. Popular as the Nagara Sivan Koil of Devakottai, the temple presents Sundareswarar and Meenakshi Amman in their wedding posture (kalyana kolam). But the most interesting aspect of the temple, is that it is not Siva who is the utsava murti of this temple. Who is it then, and why?… Read More Meenakshi Sundareswarar, Devakottai, Sivaganga

Mummudinathar, Iraguseri, Sivaganga


A rare Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam in the heart of the Chettinadu region is a pleasant find. Iraguseri – the name of the place today – is a modern corruption of Iragu Sari, Iravu Seri or Iravaan Serim – is linked to the Ramayanam, as is the nearby temple at Kandadevi. The original Pandya temple was significantly restored in the early 20th century by the Nagarathar community. But what is the reason for Siva’s name at this temple?… Read More Mummudinathar, Iraguseri, Sivaganga

Swarnamurtheeswarar, Kandadevi, Sivaganga


Originally, Siva here was called Siragilinathar. A Pandya king in poor financial state sought to rebuild the temple, and quite literally stumbled at this place. Taking this to be a sign, he dug here to find gold and precious stones, as well as a Lingam which was enshrined by him at the temple built with the new-found wealth, leading to a change in Siva’s name here. But what is the deep Ramayanam connection hat this temple, the place, as well as nearby Iraguseri, share?… Read More Swarnamurtheeswarar, Kandadevi, Sivaganga

Kotravaleeswarar, Kovilur, Sivaganga


Said to have been originally constructed nearly 2000 years ago, this temple’s puranam is about a great sword – the Kotraval – of the king, which Siva made disappear, and then tested the king’s commitment to his subjects. This Nagarathar temple is filled with stunning architecture and carvings, all done in granite, making it even more spectacular. But why is the Amman here named Tiru Nellai Amman, and why is She a guardian deity of all women?… Read More Kotravaleeswarar, Kovilur, Sivaganga

Sundareswarar, Karaikudi, Sivaganga


The largest temple in Karaikudi, this Nagara Siva temple (which is how it is popularly known), is steeped in history. While the temple we see today was built in 1872 by the Nagarathar community, who continue to maintain it spotlessly, the original temple dates to as early as the late 13th / early 14th century. This temple is also special for its worship of Sarabeswarar, a mythical form of Siva. But what is quite different about the temple’s annual festival? … Read More Sundareswarar, Karaikudi, Sivaganga

Sundareswarar, Kambanur, Sivaganga


This Nagarathar temple near Karaikudi and Pillaiyarpatti celebrates Siva and Parvati as Sundareswarar and Meenakshi, as they are in Madurai. Also for this reason, this temple is a favoured venue for both fixing and conducting marriages. Dated to the 14th century, this temple is best known for Kottai Vinayakar, built by a feudatory of the Pandyas. But why is Vinayakar named so, and how is this relevant to other places in the region? … Read More Sundareswarar, Kambanur, Sivaganga

Marutheeswarar, Pillaiyarpatti, Sivaganga


One of the 9 Nagarathar temples, the Pillaiyarpatti temple is more famous for the Karpaga Vinayakar rock-cut temple. This temple for Siva is in the same complex, and is perhaps as old as the Vinayakar shrine. The temple – regarded as one of the marudhu sthalams – features brilliant examples of Nagarathar architecture and art. But why is there virtually no sthala puranam to speak of, available about this temple? … Read More Marutheeswarar, Pillaiyarpatti, Sivaganga