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

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

Ainootreeswarar, Mathur, Sivaganga


One of the 9 famous Nagarathar temples in the Chettinadu region, this temple’s sthala puranam is about Kongana Siddhar’s desire to become an alchemist, turning iron into gold, and is also connected with the sthala puranam of the Thanthondreeswarar temple at nearby Iluppaikudi. But what is the reason behind the strange name of Lord Siva at this temple?… Read More Ainootreeswarar, Mathur, 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

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

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

Kailasanathar, Veliyathur, Sivaganga


Sage Vasishta and Kailaya Parvatha Maharishi wished to witness Siva’s tandavam, but instead of appearing from the Lingam, Siva performed His cosmic dance from the skies, possibly giving this place its name. This is regarded as one of the very few places to survive the great floods – pralayam. But what is the reason for Vinayakar here to be covered in vibhuti at all times, and how is that essential to the sthala puranam of this temple?… Read More Kailasanathar, Veliyathur, Sivaganga

Tirukandeeswarar, Chokkanathapuram, Sivaganga


It is disappointing to find a temple with great architecture and fantastic names of the deities, but very little information on the temple’s puranam and history. This is one such temple, though we do know that the sthala puranam here is connected with Kamadhenu, and sage Agastyar has worshipped here. Fortunately, this temple has not met the neglect that several others seem to face. But what makes this temple quite interesting is the internal layout and iconography.… Read More Tirukandeeswarar, Chokkanathapuram, Sivaganga

Sundareswarar, Pattamangalam, Sivaganga


Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Isitva and Vasitva are considered the eight great siddhis. The sthala puranam here is about how the Kruttikas sought to learn these siddhis, were cursed for their lack of focus, and finally redeemed. The temple is one of those referred to in the Tiruvilaiyadal puranam. But what makes the Dakshinamurti so special here, that the temple is known more for Dakshinamurti than Siva as Sundareswarar?… Read More Sundareswarar, Pattamangalam, 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

Kailasanathar, Ilayathangudi, Sivaganga


The temple is the first of the 9 prominent Nagarathar temples in the region, and the community was gifted the village and the temple by the ruling Pandya king. In addition to being a prarthana sthalam for marriage, this is also famous in the region for celebrating milestone birthdays. But what is the interesting story behind the name of the place, which is also home to a famous branch of the Sankara Matham?… Read More Kailasanathar, Ilayathangudi, Sivaganga

Jayamkonda Chozheeswarar, Nemam, Sivaganga


One of the 9 important Nagarathar temples in the Chettinad region, the sthala puranam here is similar to the one at Korukkai, and involves Siva burning Kama to ashes. This is conjectured to be a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam which Appar has referred to in one of his pathigams, and today, is replete with spectacular architecture. But despite being located in the Pandya heartland, what are the various indications that this is a Chola temple?… Read More Jayamkonda Chozheeswarar, Nemam, 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

Pariya Marundeeswarar, Periya Maruthupatti, Sivaganga


This Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam is where Vishnu got relief from Brahmahathi dosham, after having slain Hiranyakashipu in the Narasimha avataram. The temple’s sthala puranam has several stories associated with the curative powers of Siva here, including a Mahabharatam connection as well, which contribute to the name of the moolavar. The two Ammans at this temple represent the shuddha and para brahmmam aspects. But why is Nandi here perpetually covered in ghee?… Read More Pariya Marundeeswarar, Periya Maruthupatti, Sivaganga

Chokkanathar, Muraiyur, Sivaganga


This rare Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam in this part of Tamilakam, ie the Chettinad region, houses one of the 8 Lingams that Nagarajar, the king of serpents, installed and worshipped. The sthala puranam here is about a king who built this temple after he had a dream, and then spent the rest of his life here. But what connects this temple with the Madurai Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple?… Read More Chokkanathar, Muraiyur, Sivaganga

Rudrakoteeswarar, Chaturveda Mangalam, Sivaganga


When Brahma undertook a pilgrimage to rid himself of a curse by Sage Durvasa, he installed a temple for Siva here, and is said to worship Siva even today, from the nearby Aravan Malai. Siva is also worshipped as Sarabeswara here, and the temple has a Ramayanam connection as well. But why is Siva named Rudra Koteeswarar here, and what interesting aspect of Siva’s family is part of this temple’s sthala puranam?… Read More Rudrakoteeswarar, Chaturveda Mangalam, Sivaganga

Swayam Pratheeswarar, Sivapuripatti, Sivaganga


Filled with over 60 inscriptions spanning more than 7 centuries, this temple lies on what was once the land route connecting the eastern seaport of Thondi with its western counterpart at Muziris. Originally built in the time of Kulothunga Chola I, this temple features a combination of Chola and Pandya architecture, and some unusual aspects of temple building and iconography. But this place is also important in the history of Tamilakam. How so?… Read More Swayam Pratheeswarar, Sivapuripatti, Sivaganga