Thiruvilanji Kumarar Temple, Ilanji – The Temple
The temple is located in the midst of green Paddy fields and coconut groves on the bank of Chithra River. This temple was renovated by Mara Varman Kulasekhara Pandiyan in 1409 A.D. This east facing temple has two entrances, two praharams, an Arthamandapam, Mani Mandapam and Mahamandapam. A three tiered gopuram adorns the entrance to the inner prakaram. Central Shrine is Iruvaalukanathar's shrine (believed to have been worshipped by Agasthiar) is located to the left of Skanda's shrine.
The name Iru valuga Eesar arises from the fact that Agasthiyar made a two Shivalingams out of the white sands (valugam) of the Chitra Nadhi flowing nearby and then combined the two into one Shivalingam, which now adorns the sanctum. Since the Shivalingam is fashioned out of white sand, no abishekam is performed. Offerings of Shenbaga flowers to Shiva are considered to be very special here. The entrance of the sanctum has two big and beautiful sculptures of Dwarapalakas.
There is also an idol of Lord Ganesha located near the sculptures of Dwarapalakas. The main sanctum is facing east. Apart from the main sanctum of Shiva, the main shrine houses a small shrine for Nataraja-Sivakami and Utsava (processional) idols. In addition, the Goddess Iruvaluga Isarkkiniyal is found in a separate south facing sanctum. The entrance of the main shrine has the idols of Ganesh and Murugan.
To the left of the main sanctum of Iruvaluga Ishwar, there is another main sanctum dedicated to Velavan. Lord Murugan is found with four hands and sitting on the peacock flanked by his consorts Valli and Devasena. The temple is nowadays named after this idol as Velavan temple. The Lord is also called as Tiruvilanji Kumaran. The prime deity is called Varada Raja Kumarar. The flag staff (dhwajastambha) and peacock idol are located facing the shrine of Velavan. Nandi idol is located facing the main shrine of Lord Shiva.
To the main Gopuram, we see Lord Murugan sculpture with 10 heads. Once, Murugan punished Brahma for not explaining the meaning of "OM” and he punished him by putting in a room and started doing the work of Brahma. They say the meaning of ten heads is four of Brahma and six of shanmugar put together. Ilanji Kumara blesses the devotees as an alluring youth. Appam a sweet preparation and the popular Vada of Tamilnadu are offered as Nivedhana in the temple.
The inner prakara has the following idols/shrines:
1) Surya idol
2) 63 Nayanmars
3) Sapta Mata
5) Kanni Moola Vinayaka shrine
6) Murugan-Valli-Devasena Utsava idols
7) Venugopala with his consorts
8) Viswanathar-Visalakshi along with Nandi and Ganesh
9) Kuttralanathar-Kulalvaimozhi along with Agastya
10) Ayyanar in a different shape
11) Sapta Kanni
13) Vasuki, Lakshmi, Saraswathi and two Ganesh idols
14) Shanmukha with his consorts in a separate shrine
15) Dhakshinamoorthi on the niche
19) Shanmukha with his consorts as metal (procession) idols
The outer prakara has just one shrine for Shenbaga Vinayaka. There is another important shrine in this temple. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the name of Varadaraja Perumal. Theertham is Chakra Theertham and Chitra River. Sthala Vriksham is Magizha Maram. Ilanji means Magizham and hence the place is known as Ilanji. Arunagirinathar sang Thirupugazh on Lord Murugan of this place.