Kotravaleeswarar Temple & Koviloor Mutt, Koviloor, Karaikudi, Sivaganga
Koviloor which is 2 kms from the busy town of Karaikudi is home to the beautiful Kotravaleeswarar Temple and Mutt. As you enter this divine temple, you are greeted by two fabulous chariots fashioned from concrete. The temple tank on its eastern flank, called Madhu Puskarani, is serene and beautiful and at sunset, the glittering waters, the pretty mandapam in the center of the tank, the temple and the silhouette of coconut palms makes for a picture postcard moment. Amazingly, even in the hot summer months when heat scorches Tamilnadu, this temple tank is always brimming with water. The Mutt is an elegant structure that is on the southern side of the temple.
Story behind the name Kotravaleeswarar:
The Koviloor temple of Sri Kotravaleeswarar is quite ancient, about 1,000 years old, and was built by a Pandya king -Veerasekara Pandiyan. In those olden days, Koviloor was referred to as Saliwadi (Land of Rice) and Kalani Vasal (Land of Agriculture). According to legend, King Veerasekaran went hunting in the vicinity of Saliwadi village and lost his sword which he found later. He initiated the construction of a temple at the spot and christened the deity Kotravaleeswarar or Raja Katka Parameshwar (the God who saved the King's sword, courage and in doing so, the citizens).
Story behind the name Thirunellai Amman:
Sri Kotravaleeswarar Temple has another heart-warming legend associated with it. In the days of yore, a devotee Sivagupthan lived in Saliwadi with his wife Sudanmai and daughter Aradhanavalli. One day Sudanmai instructed her daughter to go to their farm to guard the rice grains from birds. At noon, the mother went to the farm and fed the daughter some curd rice, which the child happily ate. However, later, Aradhanavalli came running to Sudanmai, asking for lunch.
A surprised Sudamani discovered that her daughter had played truant – she hadn’t gone to the farm, she had gone to play with her friends. Realization dawned on the couple that it was Mother Universe who had come down and protected their rice grains. They hurried to the temple where they saw Mother sitting there smiling with traces of curd rice on her lips. The Goddess became known as Thirunellai Amman (the Goddess who saved the rice grains).
The Koviloor temple of "Sri Kotravaleeswarar" was initially built by one Pandiya King "Veerasekara Pandiyan" approximately thousand years ago. At that time Koviloor was known as Saliwadi (Land of Rice) and Kalani Vasal (Land of Agriculture). It had been a laterite construction.
Later during the 18th century, His Holiness Shri la Sri Mukthiramalinga Gnana Desika Swamigal had started reconstruction work. Simultaneously he had established our Vedanta Mutt, when it came to be known as Koviloor.
The stately seven-tiered Rajagopuram is built according to the ‘Agama’ tradition and the entire gopuram is covered with intricate and stunning sculptures. The Koviloor temple is a dramatic illustration of Dravidian architecture. The seated stone cows on the high temple wall are so realistic that you will find yourself staring at them in amazement. The colonnaded naves, the superb sculptures and the monolithic columns will delight lovers of art and culture.
On the main road, two magnificent chariots constructed with concrete, on both sides of entrance, welcome us to Koviloor Mutt and Temple and from that point a well laid road, lead us to the southern tower of the temple. The temple is surrounded by four broad Mada Streets. In front of the temple, on the eastern side is the tank "Madhu Puskarani" with a mandapam in the centre of the tank. Surprisingly, by the grace of the lord, the tank is always full with water even during hot summer months.
On the southern side, mutt stands like a palace with granite structure. Northern and western side of the temple, residential quarters for the temple and mutt employees are built. The main temple tower, Rajagopuram, is built with seven tiers according to 'Agama' tradition. It is full of beautiful sculptures.
Lord Siva, here, is known as Kottralishwarar and the Goddess is known as Thirunellai Amman. The temple tank is right in front of the temple and is maintained well with its circular pillared mandapam in the center. There is yet another beautiful mandapam in Southern side of the temple which has fabulous paintings on the ceiling made with natural dyes. In the center of the ceiling the Rasi chakra is depicted.
The Koviloor Aadheenam, established at Koviloor, has an eventful and vibrant history of 200 years, right from its founder Sri La Sri Muthuramalinga Gnana Desikar, popularly known as Andavar of Koviloor. Koviloor is a divinely-charged sacred place near Karaikkudi. This sacred place is also called Samivana Kshetra, Shri Vallabha Vannivanam, Veerapandiyapuram, Saalivati, Kalanivaasal and so forth. The most symmetrical and orderly structure of the great Temple of Sri Rajakhadga Paramesvara and Salivatisvari or Thribhuvanesvari itself is a well expressed manifestation of its meticulous care for the preservation of Sanathana Dharma.
Each part of the temple and its surroundings reflects how far order and harmony have been meticulously maintained according to the Agamas and Vastu Shastras. The precincts of the both the temple and the mutt nearby emit the pulsations of harmony and order which constitute the ever relevant Sanathana Dharma. The Koviloor Aadheenam highly deserves the merit of being called the First School of systematic Vedantic Studies through the medium of Tamil. It was the Koviloor Aadheenam that brought out for the first time the authentic and undistorted Tamil versions of 14 important Vedantic Texts, which include Vedanta Sudamani, Viveka Sudamani, Pancadasi, Bhagavad-Gita and Jnanavasishta.
The teaching of Vedanta, which started with Sri Andavar Swamigal, has been maintained in unbroken continuum. And now the establishment of the World University of Traditional Science, Technology and Culture of India has been conceived for the first time by Sri La Sri Nachiappa Gnana Desika Swamigal, the Twelfth Head of the Koviloor Aadheenam. He hails from the lineage of the First Head, Sri La Sri Andavar Swamigal.
Sri La Sri Nachiappa Swamigal had his early education at Karaikkudi, but he got his principal life-moulding education and training at the world-renowned Kalakshetra, Chennai. He was endearingly and illuminatively brought up by Smt. Rukmini Arundale, the Founder and Designer of Kalakshetra. Under the inspiring patronage of Smt. Rukmini Arundale he went to Germany and gained a highly acclaimed mastership in printing technology and photography. Having gained rich experience in the technology of printing and photography in many foreign countries like Japan, England, the United States etc., he has created a niche for himself in the field of printing and publication.
On the same day when he was enthroned as the Peethadhipati (i.e., Head of the Koviloor Aadheenam), a nursery school was started by him. Gradually many schools have been started at various places in Tamilnadu. He is sponsoring as many as 15 Veda-Agama schools and Nadaswaram Schools. In the year 1995, he established the Indian Institute of Indology. Now Swamigal has got himself deeply involved in the immediate establishment of the World University of Traditional Science, Technology and Culture of India.
Koviloor – 630307
Phone: (04565) 436846
This temple is just about 7 Kms from the famous Pillayarpatti temple. Karaikudi can be reached from Madurai and Trichy which is at a distance of 70 Kms and 82 Kms respectively. Buses ply from all the towns in Tamilnadu to Karaikudi and all the above temples are on regular bus routes and are easily reachable.