Agni Theertham, Alwarkurichi, Thirunelveli
Agni Theertham is located very near to Vanniyappar Temple in Alwarkurichi. The Agni Theertham is definitely a must visit place if you happen to be passing by this area. Also visit the Theerthapaleeswara worshipped by the Siddhars and the Siddhanathan - Sri Balasubramanya Swamy located nearby this Theertham. This temple is one among the Dakshina Pancha Krosa Kshetrams. Since this Theertham flows from the North, it helps to remove one's sins and help him attain Mukthi. The Theerthapaleeswarar in Agni Theertham has been worshipped by Vidhyadharas, Gandharvas, Siddhars, especially Agasthya and Athiri Maharishi as well as Naga Kanyas. Residing one day in Agni Theertham is said to relieve one of the worst of sins as well as Pithru Sapam and fear of death.
During Dwapara Yuga, the Saptharishis were performing a Yagna to protect people from being killed by the Pralaya. Fearing his power would be lost, Agni did not help the burning of the sacrificial fire. Angered by this, the Rishis cursed Agni to lose his heat, light and energy. Agni was shocked and wanted to escape from the Sapa Hathi. So he took the form of a fish and hid in the Herambayar Theertham near the Patha River. Since Agni went missing, the Saptharishis asked his three elder brothers to take the Havi (offering) of the Yagna to Lord Shiva.
The three brothers, not having the strength to carry the Havi, perished. In the meantime, the Sapa Hathi came looking for Agni, found him hiding in the Herambayar Theertham, and caught him. Agni lost his heat, light and energy. When Sage Sudama came to the Theertham for a holy bath, Agni knelt at his feet and asked for a way out of his misery. The Sage asked him to install a Shiva Linga there and worship him to be rid of his curse. Agni did as advised and soon regained his strength and vigor through the grace of the Lord.
He also helped the Saptharishis complete the Yagna by carrying the Havi all by himself. Since Agni installed the Shiva Linga here, the place came to be known as Agni Theertham. According to the Tambiraparani Mahatmiyam, worshipping here on Solar and Lunar Eclipse days as well as Tamil New Year, New Moon and Full moon days and Ashtami will help one see the vision of the Lord in the form of Light. It will also help them gain all kinds of wealth.
Agni Theertham is the original place where Agneeswara (Vanniyappar) had existed. The idol of Sri Agneeswara was worshipped by several saints and Siddhars over time. The water of the Patha River flowed around Agneeswara bathing and worshipping him. Over time, Agneeswara was removed from there by Sri Vijayendra Bhupathy Mudaliar who placed it in a grove of Vanni Trees (Shami) and built a small temple around it. Once he was placed in a Vanni grove, he came to be known as Vanneeswara.
Agni Theertham is located on the banks of the Patha River. The Multi-pillared Mandapa around the pond was clean and well maintained. There was a panel on the wall depicting a Shiva Lingam and Sage Agasthya performing Abishekam beneath which the spring of water came in and filled the pond. On one side of the Mandapam was the Athistanam of a Siddhar who had attained Samadhi there. While his details are not known, the Lingam over the Athistanam is called Theerthapaleeswara. The Dhandam of the Siddhar is also worshipped here to date.
Sri Balasubramanya Temple is located next to Agni Theertham. The pillars in this temple have images of several Siddhars as well as Arjuna doing penance. The main deity Balasubramanya Swamy stands alone, looking majestic in his simple Alankaram. The Balasubramanya Temple next to the Theertham was a shelter for the Sages and Yogis who stayed in the Mandapa and worshipped at the Agni Theertham. But this too lost its glory and very soon it became dilapidated and deserted.
With the main deity being moved to the Vanniyappar Temple, the Agni Theertham lost its glory. The Kumbabishekam of the temple was completed in the year 2010. The Agni Theertham is definitely a must visit place if you happen to be passing by this area.
Temple Opening Time
The Agni Theertham is open throughout the day. The Balasubramanya Swamy Temple is open from 6.30 to 9.00 am in the morning and 4.00 to 7.30 pm in the evening.
Every year on the Makam Star in the Tamil month of Maasi (Maasi Makam) 10,008 lamps are lit around the Agni Theertham. On every full moon day lamps are lit and the Siddhars are worshipped.
Alwarkurichi, Thirunelveli District
Mobile: +91 97501 52566 / 93606 69929
The Agni Theertham is a stone's throw away from the Vanniyappar Temple. Alwarkurichi is located at about 14 Kms from Ambasamudram, 24 Kms from Tenkasi, 11 Kms from Papanasam, 24 Kms from Veeravanallur, 60 Kms from Thirunelveli, 130 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram and 200 Kms from Madurai. Buses plying from Thirunelveli to Tenkasi stop at Alwarkurichi. Nearest Railway stations are located at Tenkasi, Veeravanallur and Ambasamudram. Nearest Airport is located at Madurai and Thiruvananthapuram.