Tirukkoshtiyappar Temple, Ambasamudram, Thirunelveli
Tirukkoshtiyappar Temple is dedicated to Hindu God Shiva located at Ambasamudram in Thirunelveli District of Tamilnadu. Tirukkoshtiyappar temple is an ancient temple located in a remote location called Oorkkaadu. Presiding Deity is called as Tirukkoshtiyappar and Mother is called as Ulagammai. It is believed to be 7th century period temple. It is originally a Pandya temple; contributions done by Chera and Chola kings too; Pandya period inscriptions are found in this Temple. The main deity is made up of sand which is covered permanently by a copper shield.
As per the legend, a sage was once passing through this place. He used to pray six times a day but he did not have the habit of carrying any idol with him. In the place where the temple is currently located, the river Tamirabarani was flowing in those days. The sage made the idol of Lord Shiva Linga with sand. As the river was nearby, the idol was about to get washed away by the water. The sage playfully asked the Lord "Are you a Kotti (Kotti means mad in Tamil language). Hence, Lord Shiva in this site is called as Tirukkottiyappar.
There is another legend which records the event of all the Devas and sages visiting the site in group. In Tamil language, "Koshti" means group. Hence, Lord Shiva in this site is also called as Tirukkoshtiyappar.
As per the inscriptions found in this temple, the farmers of Rajaraja Chadurvedi Mangalam lived in this village and hence it was named as 'Oorkkaadu'. It is believed that this temple was originally built by a Pandya King named Jatavaraman Pandya in the 7th century CE. The temple has the inscriptions of Pandya kings such as Sadaiyavarman Kulasekharan (1190-1218 CE) and Maravarman Sundara Pandyan period inscriptions.
Although it was originally built by a Pandya king, there were many contributions from the Chera and Chola kings too. As per the inscriptions in this temple, during the reign of Maravarman Sundara Pandyan I (1216 - 1238 CE), the temple was reconstructed by a person named Arikara Devar of a place called Pallichchai of Chera country.
The east facing temple is huge in size. The entrance of the temple has a steep and pointed pyramidal style of roof (similar to Kerala temple architectural style) as it was built by a Chera king. The highlight is that it was not made up of wood but of stone (In Kerala, the temple roofs which follow similar style are usually made up of wood). The east facing sanctum sanctorum houses the huge Shiva Linga called as Tirukkoshtiyappar. It is made up of sand. However, the entire idol is covered with copper shield permanently.
It is believed that it was covered many centuries ago by a king. At the entrance of sanctum sanctorum, the idols of Ganesha and the sage Agastya are found. The maha mandapa houses a separate shrine for Nataraja and Sivakami. The Goddess Ulagammai is found in the north facing shrine in the mandapa outside the main shrine. As the temple cannot have only the God, this shrine was built later. The sand was brought from Chidambaram to make the sculpture of the Goddess.
The Kala Swarna Bhairava idol located in the prakara is unique. Bhairava is standing on the lotus petal with lion as his mount instead of dog. It is unique. Saneeswara is also unique in this temple. He is holding lotus flower on his left arm. He is usually found as holding crow in his right arm. The Subramanya sub-shrine is also unique. It is believed that the sculptor who made this idol was from the family of the sculptor who made the famous idol of Skanda in Tiruchendur. Outside the temple, there are some permanent pillars constructed around 50-60 years ago so that pandal can be put easily.
A huge shrine of Chokkanathar and Meenakshi is located near the temple tank. It looks like a separate temple. The idol of Chokkanathar is not found nowadays. Near the tank, there is a big statue; the front side of the statue is a man but the back side is of a woman. The sage Agastya created a soldier to fight with a demon woman in this area. This idol represents this soldier and that rakshasi, it seems.
A small idol of Ganesha is found nearby. Both these idols are placed below a holy tree. Jyeshta Devi idol is found outside the temple complex. The temple has flag staff, Nandi and bali peetha similar to other Shiva temples. Nandi mandapa is also called as Mani Mandapa as a big bell is hanging above. There are many pillars across the temple with fascinating images. The temple needs proper maintenance and it currently has no income.
The prakara (corridor surrounding the main shrine) has the following idols:
· 63 Nayanmars
· Thogai Adiyargal
· Sapta Matas
· Adhikara Nandi
The following sub-shrines are also located in the corridor.
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.