Gajendra Varadaraja Perumal Temple, Athalanallur, Thirunelveli
Gajendra Varadaraja Perumal Temple is dedicated to Hindu God Vishnu located at Athalanallur Village near Veeravanallur in Thirunelveli District of Tamilnadu. Presiding Deity is called as Aadhi Moolam and Utsava Moorthy is Gajendra Varadan. Mother is called as Therku Nachiyar and Vadakku Nachiyar. Holy Theertham is Thamirabarani River.
It is located 12 Kms North East of Ambasamudram and about 42 Kms from Thirunelveli amidst green fields on the Eastern Banks of over flowing Tamaraibarani. As per inscriptions inside the temple that date back to 1000 years, this place was referred to as Athaani Nallur (Athaani = Elephant), yet another indication for the elephant episode connection to this temple.
The Temple is associated with the Gajendra Moksham episode. Special Initiatives taken 1000 years ago to maintain a beautiful Nandavanam to ensure the presentation of Flower Garlands for the Lord every day. Even Gardeners were provided for at the temple and their interests taken care of. Historical name of this place is Yanai Katha Nallur.
For brief details, please refer below link;
The temple is located on the banks of the beautiful river Tamirabarani. The river is located on the backside of the temple. The temple is facing the east direction and has a stunningly colorful five tier tower (Raja Gopuram). There is another tower found after entering into the entrance. The area between both the towers is full of pillars with beautiful carvings. The sanctum sanctorum has the main deity Aadi Moolam; he is found with four arms and in the standing posture; his two consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi are found in the standing posture on his either sides.
The sages Markandeya and Bhrigu are also found inside the main shrine. As per the legend, they got darshan of Lord in this site. The metal (Utsava) processional idols of Gajendra Varadan along with his two consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi are also found in the same shrine. Also, a separate Utsava idol of Andal is found here. At the entrance of the Ardha Mandapa, the sculptures of Dwarapalas are found to be huge in size. As usual, the sub-shrine of Garuda, flag staff and Bali peetha are found facing the main shrine.
The main shrine is built as per 'maada kovil' architectural style. Hence, the main shrine is found on a raised platform and you can reach that by climbing up few steps. Also, as per this architectural style, there is a front side mandapa with carved pillars. The vimana called as 'Indira Vimana' and the back side wall of the main shrine are artistically beautiful. The temple has two prakaras. The outer prakara is an open space found with trees and plants.
The inner prakara has the shrines of Goddesses - Therku Nachiyar (Lakshmi) and Vadakku Nachiyar (Bhoo Devi). Also, the idols of ten Avatars of Vishnu - Dasavatharam, Krishna with Rukmini and Satyabhama, a sub shrine of Paramapatha Nathar - a stucco idol of Vishnu in the sitting posture are all found in the inner prakara. In Maha Mandapa, the sub-shrines of Andal and Vishwaksenar are found.
Near Garuda's idol, Chakkarathalwar with Narasimha holding four discuses on his back side and the sub-shrine of Hanuman are located. The temple is full of beautiful carvings. Many of them depict Dasavathara scenes or the scenes related to Gajendra Moksha legend. Pure rice is offered as Nivedhana to Lord. The temple was built by kings which represents the architecture of their period. There are many epigraphic evidences too.
A rock inside the temple tank referred to as the Elephant Rock, reference to the Gajendra Moksham episode having taken place in the foot of the Pothigai hills and the presence of Sage Agastya inside the moolavar sannidhi are believed to be indications of this temple’s association with the legendary event.
There are several inscriptions inside the temple that date back a 1000 years. During the rule of Kulottunga I (1100AD) a portion of fields of Athalanallur was separated and granted as a tax free Devadana land. During that period, Athalanallur was referred to as a hamlet of Cheran Maha Devi and the Gajendra Varadar temple was referred to as ‘Moymam Pooumbolil’ Azhvaar temple.
During the rule of Jatavaraman Srivallabha Pandya there was a gift of land for conduct of worship on Puratadhi day at Athalanallur. The queen of the place has been mentioned as Uagamuludu Mudaiyaal. There were five sacred offerings to the Lord each day as organized by the assembly of Cheran Maha Devi during the rule of Maravarman Pandya. One of the inscriptions refers to the land originally held by the temple for this purpose as lying waste due to petty quarrels.
There is also a record of gift of one achchu by Emberumanar Ammai for providing offering to the God and providing from that prasadam to the servants and worshippers of Emberumanar in the temple. The Vaishnavas in the temple received the achchu and agreed to maintain the charity. There was a grant of prasadam to a certain Ramanuja Jeer for a quarter Annai achchu which the Vaishnavas had received from him.
Nandavanam seems to have been given great importance during ancient times at this temple as seen from the different flower gardens referred in the inscriptions, the appointment of gardeners to maintain the garden and initiatives to take care of them. There was a gift of tax free land for flower garden called Tambikku Nallan Thiru Nandavanam during the rule of Vira Pandyadeva Pandya. On the north wall of the temple is an inscription dating to the rule of Jatavaraman Pandya that refers to gift of land to the temple by a big army with 10 commands for maintaining the garden. There is also a record of a sale of garden lands.
Gardeners at the Nandavanam:
There was a gift of prasadam to two gardeners for rearing the flower garden called Ramanuja Thiru Nandavanam during the rule of Kulasekara Pandya. They were exempted from tax and they were to grow flowers, pick them and string them together into garlands. There was a gift of Kadamai on certain lands by the temple for providing maintenance of gardeners of the Iladaraiyan flower gardens. There was also a gift of one kalam of food by the temple for feeding the men in charge of Ramanuja flower garden.
Temple Opening Time
· Daily: 7 AM to 10:30 AM and 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM
· Last Saturday of the month: 5:30 AM to 1:30 PM and 3:30 to 8 PM
· On Purattasi Saturdays: 4 AM to midnight without any break
3 day Thai Poosam festival in January-February, Chithirai first day falling almost on April 14, Vaikunda Ekadasi in December-January, Tirukarthikai in November-December, 30 day Margazhi puja in December-January, last Saturdays of Tamil months and all Saturdays in Purattasi (September-October) are the festivals celebrated in the temple.
Garuda Sevai on Vaikasi Uthiradam, Aani Swathi, Puratasi Thiruvonam, Thai Poosam, Muthangi Sevai on Vaikunda Ekadasi and Chandra Prabha / Sesha Vahana procession are the events celebrated with much fanfare. On the morning of Vaikunta Ekadasi, there will be a Special Sayana Sevai. Till 1970, festivals were celebrated round the year but since then many of the festivals have been stopped.
Devotees pray for removal of obstacles in marriage proposals, child boon, harmony in family life, progress in education, a job corresponding to qualifications, disappearance of family problems, prosperity, business development, illness-free healthy life and success in realizing the desires. To realize their boons, devotees perform special Tirumanjanam to Lord Gajendra Varada with silk clothing and those wealthy offer jewels. They also offer Poochattai (garlands densely knit).
Gajendra Varadaraja Perumal Temple,
Athalanallur, Thirunelveli District
Phone: +91 – 4634 – 287195 / 287295
Mobile: +91 – 99659 20369
The temple can be reached by auto from Veeravanallur on the Thirunelveli-Papanasam bus route. Buses are infrequent between Veeravanallur and Athalanallur. From Athalanallur, one can cross the Tamaraibarani by foot to reach Ranga Samudram Venkatachalapathy temple. Athalanallur is located at about 42 Kms from Thirunelveli, 5 Kms from Veeravanallur, 12 Kms from Ambasamudram, 200 Kms from Madurai, 43 Kms from Tenkasi and 150 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram. Nearest Railway Station is located at Veeravanallur. Nearest Airport is located at Madurai and Thiruvananthapuram.