Nachiyar Koil (Thirunaraiyur Nambi Temple) – The Temple
The temple is believed to have been built by King Kochengat Cholan. He is believed to have built 70 temples dedicated to Shiva and Thirunaraiyur is the only Vishnu temple constructed by him. The temple has a 5-tiered Rajagopuram on the eastern side, rising up to a height of 75 ft (23 m). The entrance through the eastern gateway leads to a hall of 16 pillars, called Neenila Mutram. The centre of the hall is occupied by Dhwajasthambha (the flag pole) and Balipeedam (the place of sacrifice), one behind the other.
The front portion of the flag pole has a small shrine for Garuda. The flag pole, place of sacrifice and Garuda's shrine are in axial position from the entrance to the main sanctum. The shrine of Thirumangai Azhwar is located on the northern side. The central hall of the temple, the Goratha Mandapam, houses the images of Ramanuja, Koorathazhwar and idols of eleven azhwars, leaving that of Andal.
The southern side of the temple has a garden where the Bilva tree, the Sthala Vriksha (temple tree) is present. The Vasantha Mandapa or the spring hall is located next to it, which hosts the Vasantotsavam or spring festival during the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May–June). The temple also has a 100-pillared hall where the wedding festival is held during the Tamil month of Aavani (September–October).
There is a separate shrine in the north that houses images of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita and another shrine in the south that houses the image of Hanuman. There is a shrine for Chakrathaazhwar and Yoga Narasimha, believed to have been installed and worshipped by Sage Medhavi. The first precinct has separate shrines for Manavala Maamunigal and Vedanta Desika and idols of the Utsava (festive images) of the 108 divyadesams.
The temple has an elevated structure approached through a flight of 21 steps. The presiding deity of the temple is Vishnu in the form of Narayur Nambi and his consort Lakshmi as Vanchulavalli Thaayaar (also called Neela Devi Nachiyar), both of whom are housed in the main sanctum. Unlike other Vishnu temples where Vishnu is given importance, in this temple Nachiyar (Thayar) is prominent.
The sanctum also houses the images of Brahma, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Sankarshana and Purushothaman (Vishnu) and a set of gods, who are depicted attending the wedding. The festive idols of Srinivasa (Vishnu), Sridevi (Lakshmi), Vanjulavalli (Lakshmi) and Bhudevi are housed in the same shrine. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
As Madurai stands in the name of Lordess Meenakshi, the wife of Lord Shiva, Naachiyar Kovil stands in the name of Lord Vishnu's wife. Here Lord Vishnu stands in a begging posture seeking Varulambika's hand from saint Medhavi in the Moolavar Sannadhi. In accordance to the saint's wish, Thaayar stands a step ahead to perumal. Shankarshnan, Pradyumnan, Anirudhan and Purushothaman too bless us in the Moolavar Sannathi by standing a step back to the Narayur Nambi.
There is huge tank of 648 feet length and 225 feet breadth in front of the temple; It has a number of steps in the 3 sides. This tank is like a big pond and so it is called as "Mani Muthaaru".
The beautiful stone idol of the bird king Garuda, which gains weight when taken out for a procession and reduces back to its normal weight while coming towards the temple.
The excellent collection of copper idols of various gods. Alwars and other important kings.
The Moolavar of this sthalam is Thirunaraiyur Nambi. Also called as Srinivasan and Vasudevan. The Moolavar is giving his Seva in standing posture being ready to marry the Thaayar, facing east (Kalyana Thirukkolam). Prathyaksham for Medhavi Munivar and Brahma devan.
The Thayaar found in this sthalam is Vanjulavalli Naachiyar. She is found next to the Moolavar in Garbhagriham (Moolavar Sannadhi).
Thirumangai - 110 Paasurams.
· Mani Mukthi Nadhi Theertham.
· Aniruddha Theertham.
· Pradyumna Theertham.
· Samba Theertham.
· Sankarshana Theertham.
· Naraiyur Nambi
· Vanjulavalli Thayar (same Sannadhi as the lord)
· Kal Garuda
· Yoga Narasimha
· Sri Ram