Soundararajaperumal Temple, Nagapattinam – The Temple
The temple is located in Nagapattinam, a town in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu. The main entrance of the temple faces the East and, at the entrance of the temple, there is a four pillared open hall. The temple has a 90 ft. (27 m) tall Rajagopuram (temple tower) and is enclosed by rectangular walls around it. There is a smaller temple tower on the western side. The walls of the temple are surrounded by large streets, through which the temple chariot passes during festivals. The Southern street accommodates the station of the temple chariot and Sarapushkarani, the temple tank.
A rare image of Narasimha with eight hands, one blessing Prahalada, another showing Abhaya Mudra and the others involved in the killing of the demon, Hiranyakashipu, is present in the temple. There is a four-pillared hall in front of the shrine of Soundaravalli shrine that has beautiful architectural treatment. The hall has the images of the architects who designed it. The Nayaka hall is built like a chariot with wheels outside it. The hall which has entrance to the temple has two eight foot sculptures of the guardian deities Sumba and Nigumba.
Vishnu is worshiped as Soundararaja Perumal and his consort Lakshmi as Soundaravalli. The temple is believed to be of significant antiquity and is believed to be initiated by the Medieval Cholas of the late 8th century AD, with later contributions at different times from Thanjavur Nayaks. The temple has two inscriptions dating from the Chola period. The complex contains all the shrines and water bodies associated with it.
Since the presiding deity and Goddess shines with a bright face here, they are called as Soundararaja Perumal and Soundaravalli, ‘Soundaram’ refers to ‘most beautiful’ in Tamil Language. The Vimanam (temple tower) of this temple is called Soundarya Vimanam. Utsavar is Soundararaja Perumal and Moolavar is Neelamegha Perumal with his consort Goddess Soundaravalli Thayar in standing posture facing east. The lord Neelamegha perumal with Gada is in a majestic standing posture blessing devotees. The idol is more than 5 feet tall. Along with this there is a small Krishna idol in a cradle is given to devotees to rock as mukundashtakam is chanted for realization of our dreams and also to beget progeny.
Soundarya valli Thayar is found in a separate enclosure by the side of the main sanctum complex in the outer praharam. There is a separate shrine for Mahalakshmi and also a sanctum for Ranganathar with Adiseshan as his bed. Lord can be seen in all 3 Kolams here - standing, sleeping and sitting posture and is said to have given Darshan in each of these 3 postures to Naga Raja. In centuries gone by, the 7 tiered Gopuram of this Divya Desam had a light atop the tower that served as a ‘light house’ for ships coming into and crossing Nagapattinam.