Sowmiya Narayana Perumal Temple, Thirukoshtiyur – The Temple
Sowmya Narayana Perumal temple covers an area of about 2 acres (0.81 hectares) and has a five-tiered gopuram (gateway tower). The temple in enclosed in a rectangular enclosure with huge granite walls. The central shrine houses the image of the presiding deity, Uragamellayan Perumal in reclining posture on a snake bed similar to that of Srirangam Ranganatha Swamy Temple.
The images of Sridevi and Bhudevi are also housed in the sanctum. There two life size images of Narasimha, the avatar of Vishnu. One of them is shown holding the demon Hiranyakashipu and other slaying him. Though it is a Vishnu temple, the temple has image of Shiva in the form of Lingam, Vinayaka and Subramanya.
The festival deity is named Sowmya Narayana Perumal made of panchaloha. The vimana, the shrine over the sanctum is Ashtanga in architecture, which has eight parts, namely, Adhistanam (base), three Padas (structure), Prashthana (limb), Griva (leading structure), Shikara (cylindrical holder) and Stupi (top portion). The outer parts of the vimana have various stucco images of Narasimha, sages, Dasavatara and other mythical stories.
The Ashtanga Vimana is found in only three places, namely, the Uthiramerur, Koodal Azhagar Temple and Cheranmadevi temples. The Ashtanga vimana rising to a height of 25 m (82 ft.) is taller than the gopuram of the temple, which is not a common feature in Dravidian temples.
The shrine of the consort of Sowmya Narayana Perumal, Thirumamagal, is located to the south of the main shrine. There are smaller shrines of Lakshmi Narasimha, Rama, Lakshmi Narayana and Krishna located close to the sanctum. The shrines of Andal, Narasimha and Manavala Mamunigal are found in separate shrines around the first precinct.
The shrines of Garuda, Anjaneya, Ramanuja, Vedanta Desika and Azhwars are found in the second precinct. The Ranganatha temples in South India built during the 9th and 10th centuries have a systematic arrangement of subsidiary deities as seen in this temple along with the Appakkudathaan Perumal Temple at Koviladi, Veeraraghava Perumal temple at Thiruvallur, Rajagopalaswamy Temple at Mannargudi and Ranganatha temple at Srirangapatna.
The inner infrastructure, mainly sannidhis (separate shrines) are unlike other temples. Inside the temple complex, the shrine for Narayana is constructed in form of three stages, similar to that of three floors in a building. This interprets as Boologam (earth), Tiruparkadal and Vaikundam. Narayana appears in three stages in three forms. In Ground floor as Krishna in dancing posture. Next level he is Sayana Thiru Kolam (Sayana = reclining, Thirukkolam = posture), a posture resting on Adisesha.
And top most level in standing posture as Sri Sowmya Narayana Perumal. This form of appearances of Narayana has been poetically described as Nindran (means Standing posture), Kidandhaan (means sleeping posture), Aadinan (means dancing posture) by Alwars.
In the upper tier, we can find Moolavar, "Thiru Paarkadal Nathan" also named as "Uraga Mellanayaan" (or) Sthiti Narayanan is found in Veetrirundha Thirukkolam and on the either side of him is Periya and Bhoomi Piratti is found. It is said that Utsavar, Sowmya Narayana perumal and other 3 pirattiyaar's idols are given by Indiran to Kadamba Maharishi. On the south side of Ashtanga vimanam, a separate Sannadhi for Thirumaa Magal Naachiyaar and on the North side, there is a separate Sannadhi for Sri Aandal is found.
In the middle thalam (or) tier, we can see Nindra Narayanan along with Periya Piratti and Bhoomi Piratti in Nindra Kolam and he is also named as "Upendran". Here, we can find lots of various architectural works pertaining to the Indra Loka scenes and Saptha Rishis. Lots of Painting and artistic works like Dasavatharam, devas, Munis and Suriyan and Alwars are found.
On the outer praharam on the North side, there are two sculptures of Narasimhar is found, which explains the Hiranya Vadham (Killing of Hiranyan). But, initially one of the statues is kept in Narasimhar Sannadhi in the first tier and another one is Sri Ramar Sannadhi. But, it is said that on seeing the statues of Ugraha Narasimhar, people are frightened, so later these two statues are kept close to the Paramapadha vaasal (entrance). Udayavar, Emperumaanar Sri Ramanujar statue is found on the top of the Vimaanam facing the village and this sthalam is so called as "Dhvayam (two) Vilaintha Thirupathy".
On entering the temple is the mandapam named "Thiru Maamani Mandapam", where Lord Shiva gives his Seva as "Sarabeswarar". He originated on his own (Suyambu) and as a result of not caring properly; it was in the damaged condition. On the south direction of the Mandapam, a separate Sannadhi for Lord Narasimhar and on the North side, a separate Sannadhi for Sri Ramar are found. It is said that in front of this Narasimhar Sannadhi only, Sri Ramanujar was taught the "Ashtakshara Mantram" from Selva Nambi. It is a different feature here that planets Rahu and Ketu are nearby to him.
Moolavar & Thaayar:
The Moolavar of this sthalam is Sri Uraga Mellanayaan. He gave his prathyaksham for Kadamba Maharishi and Indiran. Moolavar in Kidantha (sleeping) Thirukkolam and in Bhujanga Sayanam facing his thirumugham along the east direction.
The Thaayar of the sthalam is Thirumagal Naachiyaar and has her own separate Sannadhi.
The Utsavar of this temple is Sri Sowmya Narayana Perumal and he is also named as "Madhavan". Utsavar is found in Nindra Thirukkolam and giving his Seva to the devotees.
· Deva Pushkarani
Ashtaanga vimanam. This kind of vimanam is a rare one that is found only in few Sthalams like Koodal Azhagar temple in Madurai, Vaikunda perumal koil in Kanchipuram and in Thiruporur. Ashta means Eight and 8 vimanams are found on 4 sides (2 each) of the temple.
· Perumal in three tiers
· Thirukoshtiyur Nambi
· Senai Mudaliyandan
· Nardhana Krishna with Rukmini and Sathyabama
· Thirumagal Thayar
· Sudharsana/ Chakarathalwar
· Yoga Narasimhar
· Lakshmi Narasimhar and Ugra Narasimhar in the praharam