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

Ramaswami, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur


This Nayak period temple was built at the start of the decline of the Vijayanagara dynasty. The irony of this is that worship of Rama gained popularity only during the Vijayanagara dynasty’s rule! The entire temple and its extensive and detailed architecture celebrates only one thing – the Ramayanam. The temple is also one of the five Perumal temples associated with the Mahamaham festival. But what is so interesting and absorbing about the depiction of deities in the garbhagriham?… Read More Ramaswami, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur

Alanthurainathar, Tiruppullamangai, Thanjavur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam is one of the Chakrapalli Sapta Sthanam temples, this one being connected to Chamundi, who worshipped the snake around Siva’s neck. The etymology of the place and the deity are quite interesting. This temple is a hidden treasure trove of superlative Chola period architecture, and is therefore often quoted as the high-point of the skill of that period. But what is special about both the Dakshinamurti and the Durga depictions in the koshtam at this temple?… Read More Alanthurainathar, Tiruppullamangai, Thanjavur

Vijayalaya Chozheeswaram, Narthamalai, Pudukkottai


Possibly a corruption of Nagarathar Malai, Narthamalai is part of a series of hillocks to the north and north-west of Pudukkottai. The temple for Siva as Vijayalaya Chozheeswarar is an architectural masterpiece, and often regarded as the starting point for the now-famed Chola style of architecture, and the place itself is named for the Vijayalaya Chola, who kickstarted the line of imperial Cholas in the mid-9th century. But would it surprise you to know that the origins of this place are not Chola at all? … Read More Vijayalaya Chozheeswaram, Narthamalai, Pudukkottai

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

Tiruvengadamudaiyan, Ariyakudi, Sivaganga


Regarded as the southern Tirupati, this is a place where one can fulfil any prarthanas or prayers meant for Srinivasa Perumal at Tirupati. The prarthana sthalam here is about Sevukan Chettiar, a staunch Vishnu devotee despite being born in a Saivite Nagarathar family, who could not undertake his annual pilgrimage to Tirupati in one year. But what is special about the Garuda and the Aadi Swati nakshatram festival at this temple?… Read More Tiruvengadamudaiyan, Ariyakudi, Sivaganga

Atmanathar, Avudaiyar Kovil, Pudukkottai


Said to have been built by Manikkavasagar, this temple is very closely connected to the life of the saint. The sthala puranam here is from the life of the saint, who used the king’s treasury to build this temple instead of buying horses as ordered by the king. This temple shares several commonalities with the Chidambaram Natarajar temple, and is famous for its unique and arresting architecture! But why is there no Lingam or murti of Amman in the temple? … Read More Atmanathar, Avudaiyar Kovil, Pudukkottai

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

Aatkondanathar, Iraniyur, Sivaganga


One of the 9 main Nagarathar temples of the Chettinadu region, this temple’s sthala puranam could perhaps explain the reason for the popularity of Sarabeswarar worship in this region. The temple is popularly referred to as the temple of sculpture (sirpa koil), for obvious reasons as can be seen in the pictures of the temple interiors. But how is this temple, and indeed the name of the place, connected to one of Vishnu’s avatarams? … Read More Aatkondanathar, Iraniyur, Sivaganga

Valarolinathar, Vairavanpatti, Sivaganga


The third largest of the 9 Nagarathar temples, this temple filled with exemplary architecture is perhaps the origin of the primacy of Bhairavar worship in the region. Siva deputed Bhairavar to overcome an asura, after which Bhairavar merged back into Siva as a growing light of knowledge, giving Siva the name Tirumeignana Pureeswarar. But how is this temple connected to ridding Brahma of his ego, as well as the Ramayanam?… Read More Valarolinathar, Vairavanpatti, Sivaganga

Shanmuganathar, Kunnakudi, Sivaganga


This early-Pandya temple from around the 8th century is a classic example of a hill temple for Murugan. Stories of the curative power of this temple range from the time of epics, to as recent as the 18th century. Interestingly, the temple has seen contributions from the Cholas as well, despite its location. But what connection does Murugan’s vehicle, the peacock, have with this temple?… Read More Shanmuganathar, Kunnakudi, 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