Vaiyam Katha Perumal, Tirukudalur, Thanjavur


This Divya Desam located between Kumbakonam and Tiruvaiyaru is known for many interesting stories that serve as its sthala puranam. The temple is virtually the starting point for Vishnu’s Varaha avataram, which ends in Srimushnam. There are also at least 3 stories as to how the place gets is name. But how did Vishnu protect his devotee – king Ambarisha – from the mercurial sage Durvasa, and how does that connect with this temple?… Read More Vaiyam Katha Perumal, Tirukudalur, Thanjavur

Parthasarathy Perumal, Triplicane, Chennai


With various puranams associated with it, this Divya Desam temple in Chennai is dedicated to Vishnu as Parthasarathy – Arjuna’s charioteer in the Mahabharatam, and also features Vishnu in four other forms. The iconography of the moolavar and utsavar murtis are highly nuanced, embedding instances from the life of Krishna as told in the epic. But what interesting reasons are is behind this temple’s chariot/car running twice during the temple’s annual festival, and differing neivedyams offered to Parthasarathy Perumal and Yoga Narasimhar?… Read More Parthasarathy Perumal, Triplicane, Chennai

Neelamegha Perumal, Thanjavur, Thanjavur


This is the one of a set of 3 temples, which is unique as they are together reckoned as one Divya Desam temple. The sthala puranam is common to all the three, and is connected with the demons Thanjakan, Thandakan and Tharakasuran. The first of these – Thanjakan – is whom Thanjavur is named for (at least that’s one version of the story!). But what is the connection between these temples, Vishnu’s varaha avataram, and the Bhuvaraha Perumal temple at Srimushnam?… Read More Neelamegha Perumal, Thanjavur, Thanjavur

Manikundra Perumal, Thanjavur, Thanjavur


This is the one of a set of 3 temples, which is unique as they are together reckoned as one Divya Desam temple. The sthala puranam is common to all the three, and is connected with the demons Thanjakan, Thandakan and Tharakasuran. The first of these – Thanjakan – is whom Thanjavur is named for (at least that’s one version of the story!). But what is the connection between these temples, Vishnu’s varaha avataram, and the Bhuvaraha Perumal temple at Srimushnam?… Read More Manikundra Perumal, Thanjavur, Thanjavur

Narasimhar, Thanjavur, Thanjavur


This is the one of a set of 3 temples, which is unique as they are together reckoned as one Divya Desam temple. The sthala puranam is common to all the three, and is connected with the demons Thanjakan, Thandakan and Tharakasuran. The first of these – Thanjakan – is whom Thanjavur is named for (at least that’s one version of the story!). But what is the connection between these temples, Vishnu’s varaha avataram, and the Bhuvaraha Perumal temple at Srimushnam?… Read More Narasimhar, Thanjavur, Thanjavur

Sarngapani, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur


This Divya Desam and Pancha Ranga Kshetram (similar to Koviladi), this is also a Vaishnava Navagraha Sthalam dedicated to Suryan. Lakshmi was born as Sage Brighu’s daughter here, and married Vishnu who came to the venue on a chariot, with his bow called Sarngam. The temple itself is shaped like a chariot, and boasts of some very intricate and magnificent architecture. But why is the vigraham of Lakshmi as Komalavalli Thayar, never taken out of the temple in procession?… Read More Sarngapani, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur

Oppiliappan, Tirunageswaram, Thanjavur


This Divya Desam and the Vaishnava Navagraham temple for Sani is where Tirumangaiazhvar was able to view Perumal in 5 forms, and so the Lord here is worshipped in each of those forms. The temple’s sthala puranam is the reason for the Tulasi leaves being used as the customary form of offering for Vishnu. It is also generally known that the temple prasadam is prepared without salt, but why is that so? … Read More Oppiliappan, Tirunageswaram, Thanjavur

Parthasarathy Perumal, Tirunangur (Parthanpalli), Nagapattinam


Parthanpalli is one of the 11 in the list of Nangur Divya Desam temples. Vishnu here is said to have come from Kurukshetra, and the temple has some really unusual idols – 4-armed Vishnu as Parthasarathy, with a dagger; Dasaratha witnessing Vishnu come out of the sacrificial fire, and even Kolavilli Ramar in the sanctum. But Partha means Arjuna. So what does this place have to do with him? … Read More Parthasarathy Perumal, Tirunangur (Parthanpalli), Nagapattinam

Varadaraja Perumal, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam


One of the 11 Nangur Ekadasa Divya Desam temples, Vishnu at this temple is said to have come here from Kanchipuram, and hence shares the same name as Perumal there. The temple’s sthala puranam is connected to the nearby Tirutetriambalam temple, and the churning of the ocean by the devas and asuras. But what does that have to do with the occurrence of eclipses?… Read More Varadaraja Perumal, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam

Vedarajan, Tirunagari, Nagapattinam


This is one of two temples that are reckoned as one Divya Desam together, and is associated with Uparicharavasu, who took births in each of the yugams to finally arrive here as Neelan (later, Tirumangaiazhvar) in Kali Yugam. But what is the beautiful story of Lakshmi leaving Vishnu, and He locating her at this temple, due to which this place is a prarthana sthalam for those seeking to get married?… Read More Vedarajan, Tirunagari, Nagapattinam

Gopalakrishnan, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam


Often referred to by its ancient name of Tirukavalmpadi, this is one of the Divya Desams located in Tirunangur, near Mayiladuthurai. Vishnu here is considered the equivalent of the Krishna at Dwarka, and is said to have come from there. The temple’s puranam is connected to an ungrateful Indra refusing the Parijatham flower to Satyabhama, despite Krishna vanquishing Narakasuran and bringing back the things he stole from Devalokam. How did this come about? … Read More Gopalakrishnan, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam

Vaikuntanathar, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam


This Divya Desam temple is one of 11 such temples in Nangur near Mayiladuthurai. The story here is of Swetaketu’s ascension to what he thought was Vaikuntam, but then had to come back to this place for a particular reason. This is one of only six places that has the appellation “Vinnagaram”, referring to Vishnu’s eternal abode. But why is this place called Vaikunta Vinnagaram, and Perumal named Vaikuntanathar?… Read More Vaikuntanathar, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam

Perarulalan, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam


This Divya Desam is also one of the 11 temples in Tirunagur, regarded as the Nangur Ekadasa Divya Desam, all of which are connected with the 11 Rudra Peethams representing the fierce aspect of Lord Siva. The sthala puranam here is connected with the Ramayanam, and the ritual purification of Rama from the sin of having killed Ravana, a brahmin. This also gives the place its name. But how is this temple very closely connected with the Azhagiya Manavalar Divya Desam temple at Uraiyur in Trichy? … Read More Perarulalan, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam

Kudamadu Koothan, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam


Also called Arimeya Vinnagaram, this Divya Desam is also one of the 11 Nangur Ekadasa Divya Desam temples, all of which are connected with the 11 Rudra Peethams representing the fierce aspect of Lord Siva. Vishnu here is said to have come from Dwaraka, to quell Rudra’s anger. But what favouritism did Sage Uthangar accuse Krishna of in the Mahabharatam war?… Read More Kudamadu Koothan, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam

Purushottama Perumal, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam


This Divya Desam is one of the 11 temples in Nangur near Mayiladuthurai – commonly referred to as the Nangur Ekadasa Divya Desam – which are connected with the quelling of Rudra’s anger by Vishnu. The sthala puranam here is connected with Vyaghrapada, the tiger-footed sage, who along with his son, worshipped Vishnu here. The hungry son was fed directly by Lakshmi Herself, reminiscent of the story of Sambandar, the Saivite saint, being fed by Parvati. But what is the connection this temple has with Ayodhya, which also reflects in the name of Vishnu at this temple?… Read More Purushottama Perumal, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam

Sowriraja Perumal, Tirukannapuram, Nagapattinam


Considered the Eastern residence of Vishnu, this Divya Desam temple’s puranam is about how the presiding grew hair on His head to uphold a devotee’s word, that the hair on the garland given to the king actually belonged to the Lord! Interestingly, every amavasya day, the deity is taken outside to meet His devotee Vibheeshana. How did this come to be?… Read More Sowriraja Perumal, Tirukannapuram, Nagapattinam

Naanmadhia Perumal, Thalachangadu, Nagapattinam


This Divya Desam temple’s sthala puranam is connected with the moon’s waning, caused by his fondness for Rohini amongst the 27 sisters he married. Chandran prayed to Vishnu at Srirangam, Indalur and here at Thalachangadu, to have his brightness restored. The place takes its name from the sthala puranam of the nearby Siva temple (also a Paadal Petra Sthalam). But what unusual depiction of Vishnu is found here, which is normally reserved for Lord Siva? … Read More Naanmadhia Perumal, Thalachangadu, Nagapattinam

Srinivasa Perumal (Annan Koil), Tirunangur, Nagapattinam


This Divya Desam temple is closely connected with the story of Tirumangaiazhvar, and Tiruvellakulam (the ancient name of this place) is where his consort Kumudavalli Thayar was born. Another puranam here is about a young prince who was destined to die young, but lived long after worshipping here. For this reason, the temple is also a favoured place of worship for longevity and health. But how is this temple directly related to Srinivasa Perumal at Tirupati?… Read More Srinivasa Perumal (Annan Koil), Tirunangur, Nagapattinam

Kolavilli Ramar, Tiruvelliyangudi, Thanjavur


Located near Kumbakonam, this Divya Desam is believed to have existed in all 4 yugams, and is said to have been built by Mayan, the architect of the asuras. We may remember the story from Vamana Avataram, of Sukracharya entering Mahabali’s kamandalam as an insect to block the flow of water, and how Vamana blinded him. What happened to Sukracharya after that? And why does Garuda hold Vishnu’s conch and discus?… Read More Kolavilli Ramar, Tiruvelliyangudi, Thanjavur

Parimala Ranganathar, Tiru Indalur, Mayiladuthurai


One of the 5 Pancha Ranga Kshetrams on the banks of the Kaveri river, this is where Chandran worshipped Vishnu to be somewhat rid of the curse of losing his lustre. Perumal’s name here references the fragrance that Vishnu imparted to the Vedas, after retrieving them from the demons Madhu and Kaitabha during the Matysa Avataram. The temple’s sthala puranam is also connected to the origin of Ekadasi Vratam. But how did Vishnu get Tirumangaiazhvar to sing a pasuram at this temple?… Read More Parimala Ranganathar, Tiru Indalur, Mayiladuthurai

Sundararaja Perumal, Anbil, Tiruchirappalli


Brahma’s ego about his powers of creation resulted in his being born on earth, and he prayed here to be relieved of this curse. Siva, as Bhikshatanar, is believed to have worshipped at this temple, on the way from Uttamar Koil to Kandiyur. The temple also has a Mahabharatam connection, and the Pandavas are said to have worshipped at this place. But what unique iconographic representation in the sanctum leads to this being a prarthana sthalam for women seeking to get married? … Read More Sundararaja Perumal, Anbil, Tiruchirappalli

Purushottama Perumal, Uttamar Koil, Tiruchirappalli


In addition to being a Divya Desam – commonly referred to as Uttamar Koil – this temple is also a “Mummurti Kshetram”, having shrines for Vishnu, Siva and Brahma as well as their consorts. Vishnu, wanting to test Brahma, hid inside a Kadamba tree, and revealed Himself only after a worried Brahma searched everywhere and then surrendered to the Lord! This Chola temple is also a Guru kshetram, as all 7 Gurus are enshrined here. Who are these seven, what are the Ramayanam connections here, the link to Bhikshatanar, and who is an Uttamar? … Read More Purushottama Perumal, Uttamar Koil, Tiruchirappalli

Valvil Raman, Tiruppulaboothangudi, Thanjavur


Referred to in the Brahmanda puranam and Padma puranam, this Divya Desam is connected with the Ramayanam. Thayar arose from the temple tank to be beside Rama, who performed the last rites for Jatayu, who breathed his last at the nearby town of Thyagasamudram. Tirumangai Azhvar realised he was in the presence of a very unique representation of Vishnu, which is how the moolavar here is depicted even today. What is so unique about this? … Read More Valvil Raman, Tiruppulaboothangudi, Thanjavur

Saranatha Perumal, Tirucherai, Thanjavur


This Divya Desam temple and Vaishnava Navagraha Sthalam (for Sani’s son Mandi) near Kumbakonam, is connected with the Story of how Kumbakonam came into existence. The temple is also known as the pancha sara kshetram, as it covers 5 essences (or Sarams) at one go. The Kaveri river was upset at not being regarded as the holiest of rivers, and so performed penance upon Vishnu, who granted her three wishes. What unique iconographic representation is there at this temple, as a result of this event?… Read More Saranatha Perumal, Tirucherai, Thanjavur

Vijayasanar, Natham, Thoothukudi


Also known as Varagunamangai (after Varagunamavalli Thayar here), this Nava Tirupati Divya Desam temple located near Tirunelveli is dedicated to Chandran. The temple is devoid of a Navagraham shrine since Vishnu here represents all the planets. But what lesson did sage Romaharshana give his disciple, after seeing a locally despised fisherman die and his soul ascend to heaven? … Read More Vijayasanar, Natham, Thoothukudi

Kaisinivendhan Perumal, Tirupuliangudi, Tirunelveli


This Nava Tirupati temple is associated with Budhan, is where Indra was relieved of a curse, and Vishnu gave appeared to Varuna and Yama. Vishnu Himself represents the Navagraham here, and so there is no separate Navagraham shrine. This is where Sage Vasishta’s curse on Yagnasarma was relieved. But what is different about devotees having Lord Vishnu’s pada darsanam at this temple? … Read More Kaisinivendhan Perumal, Tirupuliangudi, Tirunelveli

Srinivasa Perumal, Tholaivillimangalam, Thoothukudi


Eighth in the series of Nava Tirupati temples between Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi, this is one of two twin-temples – called the Irattai Tirupati – in the village of Tholaivillimangalam, near Tirunelveli. This is a Rahu sthalam, associated with Nammazhvar, and part of the annual Garuda Sevai utsavam that covers all the Nava Tirupati temples. But what makes this temple inseparable from the other Vishnu temple for Perumal as Aravindalochanar, located just a few meters away? … Read More Srinivasa Perumal, Tholaivillimangalam, Thoothukudi

Makara Netunkuzhai Kaadar, Thenthirupperai, Thoothukudi


At this Nava Tirupati temple in the Tirunelveli region, Perumal is adorned with earrings shaped like fish, which were given to Him by Bhudevi, and this explains His name at this place. This Navagraham temple is a Sukra sthalam, associated with Nammazhvar, and part of the annual Garuda Sevai utsavam that covers all the Nava Tirupati temples. But why is this place called Tiru-Perai? … Read More Makara Netunkuzhai Kaadar, Thenthirupperai, Thoothukudi

Vaithamanidhi Perumal, Tirukolur, Thoothukudi


This Divya Desam temple in the Thoothukudi district is one of the Nava Tirupati temples of Vishnu that are associated with the Navagraham; this temple is associated with Sevvaai (Mars). Since Vishnu Himself depicts the planetary deities, this temple (as with the other Nava Tirupati temples) does not have a separate Navagraham shrine. The temple’s sthala puranam is about Kubera losing his wealth after being cursed by Parvati, and worshipping Vishnu to retrieve it, which also gives the Lord His name at this temple. … Read More Vaithamanidhi Perumal, Tirukolur, Thoothukudi

Vaikuntanatha Perumal, Srivaikundam, Tirunelveli


Considered as the first in the series of the Nava Tirupati temples near Tirunelveli, this temple is dedicated to Suryan. The sthala puranam here is of Perumal who took the form of a thief to protect another thief (who shared his takings with the Lord, due to his devotion!). To protect the thief, Vishnu took the form of a thief Himself (giving Him the name Kallapiran), and reasoned with the king as to why there was social inequity! This temple is also connected with Vishnu retrieving the Vedas stolen from Brahma. But why is the name Paal-Pandi commonly given to men in this region? … Read More Vaikuntanatha Perumal, Srivaikundam, Tirunelveli

Tiru Vazh Marban, Tirupatisaram, Kanyakumari


Vishnu appeared here at the request of the sages who were staying and meditating at Suchindram. The pleasant countenance of Vishnu who appeared then, is perhaps linked to Prahlada’s request to see the Lord in a pleasing form, as a change from the ferocity displayed during the Narasimhavataram. This Divya Desam is also the birthplace of Nammazhvar. But how is this temple connected to both the Ramayanam and Mahabharatam? … Read More Tiru Vazh Marban, Tirupatisaram, Kanyakumari

Thothadri Nathan, Nanguneri, Tirunelveli


Bhoomadevi lost her purity after Madhu and Kaitabha’s slaying by Vishnu caused a world-pervading odour. She worshipped Vishnu here, who blessed her to be cleaned of the impurities. This is a swayam-vyakta kshetram, and eleven of the murtis here are considered to be swayambhu murtis. But how is this temple unique, as regards the Vaishnavite philosophy of Saranagati? … Read More Thothadri Nathan, Nanguneri, Tirunelveli