Thirumoolanathar Temple, Ambasamudram, Thirunelveli
Thirumoolanathar Temple is a prominent Saivite shrine situated at Ambasamudram in Thirunelveli District of Tamilnadu. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is worshipped as Thirumulanathaswamy. It is one of the Muppeeda Shrines (Three Holy shrine). The other two are at Thirugoshtiyoor Temple (Oorakaadu) and Thirumoolanathar Temple (Vallanadu). Thirumoolanathar Temple in Ambasamudram is located at 8°41'56.2"N 77°27'06.5"E or 8.698932, 77.451815.
Main deity Thirumoolanathar is Swayambu lingam with Ulagammai. Agasthiar worshipped Lord Shiva here. The temple is called Thiruchalaithurai in the scripts. Theertham of this Temple are Brahma Theertham and Saraswathi Theertham. Brahma and Saraswathi got boon from this site which resulted in the origination of this Theertham. It is located very near to Purushothama Perumal Temple.
Brahma Theertham and Saraswathi Theertham:
As per the legend, Lord Brahma wanted himself to get rid of birth and death cycle. When he approached Lord Shiva for help, he was advised to perform Yagna on the banks of the river Tamirabarani. Accordingly, Brahma along with his consort Saraswathi came to Aamalaka Vanam (Forest full of gooseberry trees) and created two ponds, which were later called as Brahma Theertham and Saraswathi Theertham. Both of them took bath in those ponds and performed Yagna towards Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Shiva Linga made of Vibhuti (sacred ash) along with his consort Ulagammai. Shiva fulfilled the wishes of Brahma and Saraswathi.
Agastya vision of divine wedding:
After many years, in the same site, the sage Agastya got the sight of the divine wedding of Lord Shiva and Ulagammai.
The east facing temple is located in a scenic location amidst paddy fields. The temple ponds are located well in front of the main entrance of the temple. There is no temple tower. The temple which is arguably the oldest temple of Ambasamudram town is big in size. However, the other usual symbols such as flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi statue are all located facing the main entrance. The unique feature of the temples in this region is that the flag staff is located in the middle of main shrine and Nandi. It can be found in the same way in this temple too. The sanctum sanctorum has a very big idol of Lord Shiva Linga named as Thirumoolanathar.
In the maha mandapa, the Goddess Ulagammai is found in a separate south facing shrine. The beautiful and big mural painting of Nataraja-Sivakami is found in the wall of Maha Mandapa. At the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum, the idols of two Shiva Lingas and two Ganeshas are located. The Maha Mandapa also has a Nandi statue facing the Lord. The entrance of Maha mandapa has another idol of Ganesha. The corridor facing the maha mandapa has many pillars full of sculptures.
The prakara (corridor surrounding the sanctum) has the below-mentioned idols:
· Nalvar - the four important devotees of Lord Shiva
· Few saints and devotees
· Adhikara Nandi (Nandi in the standing posture)
There is a separate big shrine for Meenakshi and Chokkanathar located within this corridor. There is a sub shrine where the tall idol of Lord Vishnu along with his two consorts are found. (The temple authorities have named it wrongly as Navaneetha Krishna). Some of the other shrines found in this temple include Navagraha (nine planets), Ganesha, Subramanya with Valli and Devasena, Shasta with his two consorts and Annamalaiyar.
The Koshta idols are usually found in the form of bas-relief or relief images in the outer walls of sanctum sanctorum. However, in this temple the two Koshta deities Dhakshinamoorthi and Vishnu Durga are found in the form of complete sculpture inside small sub-shrine. Chandikeswara is also found as usual. There is a nearby temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu named as Purushothama Perumal temple. Importantly, Purushothama carries two conches and two discuses. It is believed that both the temples were built by Parantaka Chola.
Aani - 10 days festival Brahmotsavam, Nithya Pooja, Pradosham, Pournami special Vilakku Pooja, Sashti, Karthigai, Navarathri, Sivarathiri, and Bairavar Pooja are the prominent festivals celebrated here.
The temple is near the Ambasamudram bus stop. Ambasamudram is 37 Kms from Tenkasi, 12 Kms from Veeravanallur, 47 Kms from Thirunelveli, 206 Kms from Madurai and 143 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram. Nearest Railway Station is located at Ambasamudram. Nearest Airport is located Madurai and Thiruvananthapuram.