Friday, March 3, 2017

Moondreeshwarar Temple, Athalanallur, Thirunelveli

Moondreeshwarar Temple, Athalanallur, Thirunelveli
Moondreeshwarar Temple is dedicated to Hindu God Shiva located at Athalanallur Village near Veeravanallur in Thirunelveli District of Tamilnadu. Presiding Deity is called as Moondreeshwarar and Mother is called as Maragadambika. It is believed that Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva graces in the form of a Shiva Linga at Sanctum.

Legends
After Lord Shiva sent sage Agasthya to south to balance the ground level during Shiva-Parvathi wedding, many sages and Siddhas chose this place for their penance.  Agasthya first landed at Pothigai Hills and came to this place for Shiva worship.  Many followed then.  Being so sacred with a congregation of enlightened souls, this place is praised as Siddhar Peetam.
The Temple
This ancient temple of Lord Shiva is located at the outskirts of Athalanallur village on the way to Tirupudaimarudur. Unfortunately, this extraordinary temple, which is supposed to be the highlight of the village, remains unknown. It is not easy to locate this temple. Even the local people are unaware of this temple. It is located at a distance of around 400 meters from the famous Aadi Moolam Gajendra Varadan temple.
The temple, which badly needs maintenance, is east facing. It does not have tower. Instead, there is a beautiful Naalukal (four pillared) mandapa in front of the temple. The Bali peetha, flag staff and Nandi mandapa are all located inside a long mandapa which is found with a ceiling. The main shrine is built based on 'maada kovil' architecture.

The sanctum sanctorum has a small Shiva Linga named as 'Moondreeshwarar'; it is believed that all three main deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva together appear as this Linga and hence it is named as 'Moondreeshwarar' (the word Moondru in Tamil language means 'three'). The Goddess Maragadambika is found in a separate south facing shrine outside the maha mandapa.
As the temple structure is not maintained well and as it is mostly damaged, few Ganesha and Subramanya idols are placed inside the Maha mandapa. The prakara has the idols of Dhakshinamoorthi, Chandikeswarar, Surya, Chandra, Bhairava, Bhadra, Sura Deva, Sapta Matas, Durga and Adhikara Nandi. There are two sub shrines dedicated to Ganesha and Subramanya-Valli-Devasena.

Lord Dakshinamurthy appears in a rare style hanging his right leg and placing the left on the right knee, the feet upward. There are three small shrines in the western prakara with a Shivalinga and a Nandhi in each. A sculpture showing a priest offering a Deepa Aaradhana to Lord Muruga with a peacock, Nandhi and Kodimaram speaks volumes of art skills of ancient sculptors. There are many beautiful carvings in the pillars and also few Mandapams which are not reachable due to poor maintenance.
There is one such sculpture with a Shivalinga is on the other mandapam. There are many such beautiful art works at every corner and part of the temple including the sanctum sanctorum. The temple also houses two samadhis of Siddhars; Shiva Linga idols are installed on those samadhis. Three sub shrines of Shiva Lingas are also found in this temple; it is also believed that due to these three sub-shrines of Shiva Lingas which are located together, the main deity is named as Moondreeshwarar.

Temple Opening Time
The temple is open from 6.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. and from 5.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Festivals
Shivaratri is grandly celebrated in the temple in February - March besides pradosha pujas each month.
Prayers
People pray here to realize their various wishes. Devotees perform abishek and archanas to Lord and Mother and offer vastras.
Connectivity
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.

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