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

Sundararaja Perumal, Sundaraperumal Koil, Thanjavur


The handsome Vishnu – Sundararajar – gives the temple and, in turn the place, their names. This temple is regarded as the Abhimana Perumal for three other temples. The sthala puranam here is about a test of will and penance that Indra, the chief of the devas, had to undergo, and how Vishnu helped him so that Indra could get rid of an illness. But who is the guardian deity of this temple and what is unusual about him?… Read More Sundararaja Perumal, Sundaraperumal Koil, Thanjavur

Dayanidheeswarar, Vadakurangaduthurai, Thanjavur


The history of this Paadal Petra Sthalam is embellished with three different sthala puranams – all equally engaging, and all demonstrating Lord Siva as Daya Nidhi – the font of all grace! This includes a little-known story associated with, but not found in, the Ramayanam. The place gets its name from the fact that Siva was worshipped by a monkey here, just as He was at Then Kurangaduthurai near Kumbakonam. But what are some of the unique iconographical aspects at this temple?… Read More Dayanidheeswarar, Vadakurangaduthurai, Thanjavur

Vajrakandeeswarar, Veeramangudi, Thanjavur


The sthala puranam here is about Vijarasura, a demon, who harassed the devas and sages, but eventually sought mercy from Siva, right before he was overcome. Heeding the asura’s request, Siva is present here as Vajrakandeswarar. Worshipping Amman here is said to help the unmarried get married soon. But why is the Navagraham shrine here unique ,and what spiritual story is it connected to?… Read More Vajrakandeeswarar, Veeramangudi, Thanjavur

Keerthivaageeswarar, Soolamangai, Thanjavur


One of the seven Chakrapalli Saptam Sthanam temples, this is where Kaumari – the sakti of Murugan (Kumaran) – worshipped Siva’s trident, the Trisulam, before joining Chamundi in battle. Astra Devar – the celestial deity who is also the devas’ weapons maker – is worshipped here to remove the fear of enemies and to help devotees resolve disputes. But how is this temple connected with Vishnu and also with two other important Siva temples?… Read More Keerthivaageeswarar, Soolamangai, Thanjavur

Aadi Vaidyanathar, Veerasingampettai, Thanjavur


This is one of the five temples associated with the Agastyar, which are to be worshipped on a single day, to be cured of all sorts of illnesses. The temple, which is originally from the Pallava period, is most well known locally for the 276 Lingams that were unearthed during the construction of the original temple. The temple’s sthala vriksham is the Vilvam, but what is special about this vilvam tree?… Read More Aadi Vaidyanathar, Veerasingampettai, Thanjavur

Gokarneswarar, Tirukokaranam, Pudukkottai


Located on the fringes of Pudukkottai town, Tirukokaranam is a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam that finds mention in one of Appar’s pathigams. The temple actually houses two sets of deities, but is most popular by the name Brahadambal koil. The sthala puranam here is connected to that of the nearby Tiruvengaivasal Vyaghrapureeswarar temple, and involves Kamadhenu’s penance on earth. But why is Brahadambal Amman considered a talking goddess?… Read More Gokarneswarar, Tirukokaranam, Pudukkottai

Magizhavaneswarar, Tirukokaranam, Pudukkottai


Located on the fringes of Pudukkottai town, Tirukokaranam is a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam that finds mention in one of Appar’s pathigams. The temple actually houses two sets of deities, but is most popular by the name Brahadambal koil. The sthala puranam here is connected to that of the nearby Tiruvengaivasal Vyaghrapureeswarar temple, and involves Kamadhenu’s penance on earth. But why is Brahadambal Amman considered a talking goddess?… Read More Magizhavaneswarar, Tirukokaranam, Pudukkottai

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

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

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

Kailasanathar, Vadakkur, Pudukkottai


Avudaiyar Koil / Tiruperunthurai is associated almost exclusively with the Saivite saint Manikkavasagar. But 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 its 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

Tirumeninathar, Anandur, Ramanathapuram


This temple for Siva in Anandur – also called Valanai or Valavai – near Tiruvadanai, does not have a sthala puranam that is known, but is referred to in one of Appar’s Tevaram pathigams in passing, making it a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam. The temple’s renovation began in 2004 and was stalled for over 15 years, before resuming in 2021. But why does the king who built this temple, have a rather unusual set of titles?… Read More Tirumeninathar, Anandur, Ramanathapuram

Thillaivaneswarar, Radhanur, Ramanathapuram


Despite no known sthala puranam, this beautiful Chola-period temple is said to have been built in honour of Siva as Natarajar at Chidambaram (or Thillai). This temple may be a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam, but it is not clear as of now, as the place shares its name with another in the Thanjavur district. But what is the unique reason why the locals are happy because of the daily fights that take place at this village?… Read More Thillaivaneswarar, Radhanur, 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

Tribhuvana Chakravartheeswarar, Unjanai, Sivaganga


Hidden away near Karaikudi is this beautiful temple for Siva as Tribhuvana Chakravarteeswarar, the ruler of the three worlds. The temple is a refreshing change from the usual Nagarathar temples of the region, and may even be one of the rare Chola temples in what is otherwise Pandya country. The architecture is simple yet mind-blowing, in this little-known Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam! Read more about this temple here.… Read More Tribhuvana Chakravartheeswarar, Unjanai, 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

Abatsahayeswarar, Sendamangalam, Viluppuram


This vast temple managed by the ASI, is currently undergoing renovation, which is heartening! The temple’s sthala puranam is from the Mahabharatam, but that may well be a later interpolation. However, Sendamangalam is of great importance in the history of Tamil Nadu, effectively being the location of the last battle that the Cholas fought, which they lost. But that location has defined the temple and its brilliant architecture as it stands today. How so? … Read More Abatsahayeswarar, Sendamangalam, Viluppuram

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

Naganathar, Peraiyur, Pudukkottai


With many interesting sthala puranams, this Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam is a prarthana sthalam for relief from naga dosham, for obtaining clarity of thought and purging one’s negative energies. In the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April), at the time of Meena Lagnam, sounds of celestial instruments are believed to emanate from the temple tank, as Siva is said to go down to Nagaloka at that time to perform his dance for a devotee-king. How did this come about?… Read More Naganathar, Peraiyur, Pudukkottai

Arangulanathar, Tiruvarangulam, Pudukkottai


This Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam located very near Pudukottai, is home to several interesting sthala puranams. One of these involves a cache of 3000 golden palm fruit that are believed to be hidden in a cache near the temple, and this also gives the nearby area of Porpanai Kottai its name. Arangulam itself is named for the image of a Siva Lingam (Hara) seen in the temple’s tank (kulam). But what is the fascinating reason behind devotees gifting their children to Brhadambal Amman at this temple?… Read More Arangulanathar, Tiruvarangulam, Pudukkottai

Vyaghrapureeswarar, Tiruvengaivasal, Pudukkottai


When Kamadhenu was delayed in reaching the celestial court, Indra cursed her to be born on Bhulokam. Once here, she started worshipping Siva by bringing water in her ears. On one occasion, a tiger accosted her but she wanted to finish her worship and begged the tiger for permission. She was allowed, and when she came back to offer herself to the tiger, it turned out to be Siva and Parvati, who were testing her! The temple has several sculptural masterpieces, but what is so unique and fascinating about Dakshinamurti at this temple?… Read More Vyaghrapureeswarar, Tiruvengaivasal, Pudukkottai

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

Aadi Chokkanathar, Simmakkal, Madurai


Regarded as older than the Meenakshi Amman temple, this Kubera-sthalam is said to have been established by Kubera. It is one of the 4 temples making up the Ull-Aavaranam (the inner jewels) to the Meenakshi Amman temple, and also one of the 5 Pancha Bootha Sthalams around Madurai. But how is the story of Kuchela Pandyan and the poet-saint Idaikkar Siddhar, connected to the overnight disappearance of the moolavar of the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple? Read here: … Read More Aadi Chokkanathar, Simmakkal, 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

Sundara Varadaraja Perumal, Uthiramerur, Kanchipuram


This Pancha Varada Kshetram, which finds mention in the Mahabharatam, is one of the temples the Pandavas visited during their period of exile, and they regained the wisdom they had lost when gambling with the Kauravas. The long list of dynasties who ruled the region, have each left their mark on the temple construction. But what is the connection between this temple and the celestial architect Takshaka, in the depiction of Vishnu on three levels at this temple? … Read More Sundara Varadaraja Perumal, Uthiramerur, Kanchipuram

Vaidyanathar, Tirumazhapadi, Ariyalur


At this Paadal Petra Sthalam, Sundaramurti Nayanar didn’t realise there was a temple here, and so he walked past without stopping to worship. At that point, Siva commented that perhaps the Nayanar had forgotten Him! Overcome by the events, Sundarar composed his famous “Ponnar Meniyane” pathigam. Mazhapadi – where four Vedas visited and are depicted in stone – is also the birthplace of Nandi, but did you know that he has a story similar to that of Markandeya’s? … Read More Vaidyanathar, Tirumazhapadi, Ariyalur

Veeratteswarar, Keelaparasalur, Nagapattinam


This is one of the 8 Ashta-Veerattanam temples – places where Siva is said to have danced a valorous dance celebrating victory over a different evil force at each of the places. At Daksha’s yagam, due to the insults meted out to Her husband Lord Siva, Dakshayini immolated Herself on the sacrificial fire. A furious Siva deputed Veerabhadrar, who sliced off Daksha’s head. This, as well as another related story, are also considered as the reason for the name of the place. But what is the very close connection this temple has with the Chamakam, the mantram that follows the Sri Rudram? … Read More Veeratteswarar, Keelaparasalur, Nagapattinam

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

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

Nardana Pureeswarar, Thalayalangadu, Tiruvarur


Of all the located in Alangadu (banyan forests), this place is regarded as the foremost. But in addition, this place was the location of a turning point in the political history of Tamil Nadu, where a Pandya king defeated the Chola and Chera kings. Sage Kapilar walked on his head to reach this place, in order to obtain the Chintamani gem. But how is this temple closely connected to the story of Siva as Bhikshatanar? … Read More Nardana Pureeswarar, Thalayalangadu, Tiruvarur

Brihan Madhavan, Kodaganallur, Tirunelveli


This Perumal temple on the banks of the Tambraparani is likely from the early Pandya period, though the inscriptions here are from the later Pandyas in the 12th and 13th century CE. The temple is most famous for the special pujas conducted for Garuda, who is depicted carrying the pot of nectar (amrtam) here. But what is the reason for the name of the place, and also why the temple is a sarpa dosha nivritti sthalam?… Read More Brihan Madhavan, Kodaganallur, Tirunelveli

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

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

Karpaga Vinayaka, Pillaiyarpatti, Sivaganga


This temple is actually a prominent shrine inside the Marutheeswarar temple, one of the 9 Nagarathar Siva temples. This ancient rock cut temple is estimated to be nearly 1600 years old, which means it was likely built in the time of the Kalabhras – of whom virtually nothing is known. But what makes the annual chariot festivals for Vinayakar at this temple, special?… Read More Karpaga Vinayaka, Pillaiyarpatti, Sivaganga