Kailasanathar, Vadakkur, Pudukkottai


Avudaiyar Koil / Tiruperunthurai is associated exclusively with the Saivite saint Manikkavasagar. This temple is said to have been in existence even before the time of Manikkavasagar, and being a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam, finds mention in one of Appar’s pathigams. Some elements of the original Pandya-period temple remain. But how did Paramaswami, an old man, help the 300 villagers of the time regain their lands from a corrupt minister?… Read More Kailasanathar, Vadakkur, Pudukkottai

Jagadeeswarar, Manamelkudi, Pudukkottai


This Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam is also the birthplace of Kulachirai Nayanar, one of the 63 Saiva Nayanmars, and minister of Koon Pandyan of Madurai. The place finds mention in the Ramayanam, and gets is name from how the Siva Lingam was originally found here. The temple is located close to the border of what used to traditionally be the Chola and Pandya country. But why is this of significance to the temple’s history?… Read More Jagadeeswarar, Manamelkudi, Pudukkottai

Vriddhapureeswarar, Tirupunavasal, Pudukkottai


One of 14 Paadal Petra Sthalams in the Pandya region, this temple has existed in all four yugams., and worshipping the 14 Lingams here is regarded as equal to having visited all 14 such temples. The multitude of stories about this temple speaks to its age and hoary past, chiefly about Brahma repenting for his lack of knowledge about the Pranava Mantram. But why is Kali here not viewed directly, but only through the reflection in a mirror?… Read More Vriddhapureeswarar, Tirupunavasal, Pudukkottai

Ekambareswarar, Sundara Pandiya Pattinam, Pudukkottai


This very interesting temple on the coastal route from Vedaranyam to Rameswaram, features Siva as Ekambareswarar, who self-emanated as a Lingam under a mango tree, much like He did at Kanchipuram. The temple is connected to the Pandya king Sundara Pandyan and the saint Sambandar. But what makes this temple special are an interesting sculpture on the outer wall, and the separate mandapam to the immediate south of the temple. Why are these special?… Read More Ekambareswarar, Sundara Pandiya Pattinam, Pudukkottai

Sarvateertheswarar, Theerthandathanam, Ramanathapuram


This west-facing temple is a pitru sthalam, and Siva and Amman here receive completely fresh clothes every day. In the Ramayanam, Rama was on his way to Rameswaram and Lanka, to defeat Ravana and bring Sita back, and quenched His thirst here. Agastyar advised Him to take the grace of Siva, since Ravana – a great Siva devotee himself – was otherwise under Siva’s protection. But what aspect of Saivism did Rama embrace, to show His devotion to Siva?… Read More Sarvateertheswarar, Theerthandathanam, Ramanathapuram

Aadi Ratneswarar, Tiruvadanai, Ramanathapuram


Having existed in all four yugams, the temple also has a Mahabharatam connection. The place is today a prarthana sthalam for those seeking relief from the ill effects of their misdeeds committed both knowingly and otherwise. In turn, these are connected to Suryan’s pride and Vaaruni’s playfulness. What are these fascinating stories, which also explain the cover image, about this place with 12 names, and where Siva has 4 names of His own, and is both a Paadal Petra Sthalam and a Tiruppugazh temple?… Read More Aadi Ratneswarar, Tiruvadanai, Ramanathapuram

Vanmeekanathar, Tiruvetriyur, Ramanathapuram


This Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam finds mention in the pathigams of all three Tevaram saints – Appar, Sundarar and Sambandar, and is a sthala puranam for those seeking to get married, and those seeking relief from illnesses – particularly cancer. The latter is because of the sthala puranam here, which starts with a rat at Vedaranyam, connects with the Vamana Avataram, and ends with the river Ganga pacifying the earth Goddess Dharma. But how is Vishnu’s relief from illness connected with this temple?… Read More Vanmeekanathar, Tiruvetriyur, Ramanathapuram

Veyil Ugantha Vinayakar, Uppur, Ramanathapuram


After being punished at Daksha’s yagam by Veerabhadrar, Suryan lost his effulgence, and worshipped Siva at various places, to no avail. Realising that Vinayakar would be better placed to plead his case to Siva, Suryan came here and worshipped Vinayakar, who helped the former regain his lost powers. The temple also has a strong Ramayanam connection as well. But why does this place have names including Lavanapuram, Suryapuri, Tavasiddhipuri, and Pavavimochana Puram?… Read More Veyil Ugantha Vinayakar, Uppur, Ramanathapuram

Ekambareswarar, Tiruvegampattu, Ramanathapuram


Also referred to as Dakshina Kanchipuram, this is one of the rare Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam temples in the Chettinadu region. Built in the Pandya period about 800 years ago, this temple features splendid architecture from that period, particularly of karanas (dance poses from the Bharatanatyam) and several bas-relief images of Vinayakar. But what is the Ramayanam connection to this temple, where the moolavar is an aasura-Lingam?… Read More Ekambareswarar, Tiruvegampattu, Ramanathapuram

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, 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

Sugandha Vaneswarar, Perichi Koil, Sivaganga


When a newly-wed bride had to face the wrath of her husband’s first wife, who did not believe that the couple was married, she called upon three witnesses – the vanni tree, the temple tank and the Siva Lingam, all belonging to this temple – in front of whom the saint Sambandar had conducted their wedding. Sani faces his Guru, Bhairavar, which is unlike the depiction in any other temple. But what is the strange reason that the abhishekam water and neivedyam vada-malai for Bhairavar are not distributed to devotees?… Read More Sugandha Vaneswarar, Perichi Koil, 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

Thenatrunathar, Kunnakudi, Sivaganga


Missed by most visitors to the Kunnakudi Murugan temple, is this cave temple for Siva as Thenatrunathar, located on the west of the Kunnakudi hillock. The temple, which is not in active use and is today an ASI maintained site, features three shrines for Siva, in addition to excellent specimens of early Pandya architecture. But what is so special about the dwarapalakas at this temple?… Read More Thenatrunathar, Kunnakudi, 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

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

Vyaghrapureeswarar, Veeraperumal Nallur, Cuddalore


This small, yet serene village temple from the 14th century Pandya period has been maintained well despite the challenges it faces. As part of his visits to various Siva temples, Sage Vyaghrapada came and worshipped Siva here. This temple is also replete with architectural and sculptural masterpieces, including Bhikshatanar, Chandikeswarar, and the Nandi mandapam. The village of Veeraperumal Nallur itself has an interesting history, connected with the Perumal temple nearby. … Read More Vyaghrapureeswarar, Veeraperumal Nallur, Cuddalore

Vriddhapureeswarar, Annavasal, Pudukkottai


Originally said to have been built by Siva’s ganas, this Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam finds mention in two pathigams by Appar. When the temple priest’s wedding was cancelled due to a demise in the family, he worshipped here, and the child was miraculously revived. This early Pandya temple features some very interesting architecture. But why are children given up in adoption to Vriddhapureeswarar and Dharmasamvarthini Amman?… Read More Vriddhapureeswarar, Annavasal, Pudukkottai

Sokkanathar, Tiruparankundram, Madurai


Tiruparankundram is famous first and foremost, for one of the 6 Arupadai Veedu temples of Murugan. Lesser known is the fact that that temple is actually a Paadal Petra Sthalam for Siva as Satya Gireeswarar. However, just 100 meters from that temple is another Pandya temple, for Meenakshi Amman and Siva as Sokkanathar, featuring some unique and rare depictions of various deities. But what is the very interesting story of how and why Murugan and His Parents came to this place? … Read More Sokkanathar, Tiruparankundram, Madurai

Tirumarainathar, Tiruvathavur, Madurai


This is where Vishnu worshipped after visiting Madurai for the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar wedding, and Siva explained the meaning of the Vedas to Him. The temple is also connected to another son of the soil, and one of the most influential of the Saivite bhakti saints – Manikkavasagar – who was born here and received Siva’s deeksha as well. This beautiful Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam has stunning Pandya architecture, but how is it connected with a Tamil retelling of the Mahabharatam?… Read More Tirumarainathar, Tiruvathavur, Madurai

Then Tiruaalavaai Sokkanthar, Madurai, Madurai


This temple finds mention in Paranjothi Munivar’s Tiruvilaiyadal puranam, and is one of the pancha bootha sthalams in Madurai, and also one of the 4 inner garland (ull-avaranam) temples of the famous Meenakshi Amman temple. The child-saint Sambandar is believed to have sung the famous _Mandiramaavadhu Neeru_ (மந்திரமாவது நீறு) pathigam here, which provided relief to the king Koon Pandiyan (who later himself became a Nayanmar). But how did Madurai get the name Aalavaai, and how is that connected to this temple?… Read More Then Tiruaalavaai Sokkanthar, Madurai, Madurai

Immayilum Nanmai Tharuvar, Madurai, Madurai


As against the norm of sins being pardoned only in subsequent births, this is a place where Siva forgives one’s sins in their current birth itself, and hence the name of the moolavar here. Surprisingly, Chandikeswarar is given equal prominence as Siva, as he is said to recommend devotees’ prayers to the Lord. One of the Pancha Bootha Sthalams in and around Madurai, this temple has a fascinating sthala puranam, which involves Siva worshipping Himself as a Siva Lingam that He installed! How is this possible?… Read More Immayilum Nanmai Tharuvar, Madurai, Madurai

Mandirapureeswarar, Kovilur, Tiruvarur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam temple has several Ramayanam connections, including Rama praying here, asking for guidance on building the bridge to Lanka. This puranam is also the source of the Tamil name of this place – Usathanam. Another sthala puranam here relates to Garuda, and why as a consequence, the Lingam here is said to be white in colour. But what is the very interesting reason for this place being called Kovilur, and even Aadi Chidambaram? … Read More Mandirapureeswarar, Kovilur, Tiruvarur

Edaganathar, Tiruvedagam, Madurai


Sambandar visited Madurai at the request of the queen of Madurai, when the king Koon Pandiyan started supporting Jainism, resulting in the decline of Saivism. This temple is best known for the interesting story of Sambandar overcoming the Jain monks in treating the king of his colic disease. But why did Sundarar prayed to Siva from a boat in the river, and not come to this temple itself? … Read More Edaganathar, Tiruvedagam, Madurai