Valisvara Temple, Thiruvaleeswararm, Thirunelveli
Valisvara Temple is a Hindu temple located in the town of Thiruvalisvaram in the Thirunelveli district of Tamilnadu. The temple is dedicated to Shiva. The temple was constructed by the Cholas in the early part of the 10th century AD in the land of Pandyas. This architectural marvel is located on the banks of Tamirabarani River. The Village was originally called as Rajaraja Chadurvedi Mangalam. The site is a centrally protected monument under the control of Archaeological Survey of India since 1919. The temple is being maintained by ASI.
In the Ghatana Nadhi Mahatmiyam it is mentioned that the Swayambu Lingams of Sivasailam, Thiruvaleeswararm and Brahmmadesam emerged at the same time and those who take bath in the River Ghatana and worship the above lingams get freed from the sins.
The Valisvara Temple is considered to be one of the best examples of Chola architecture. The main deity is Shiva and he is depicted in sukhasana pose. There is also an idol of Shiva as Chandesanugrahamurthi. There are also idols of Parvathi and a Shiva devotee. The vimana has an idol of Shiva in the form of Ardhanarishvara. The artistic style resembles those of Pallava temples in Panamalai and Kanchipuram. K. A. Nilakanta Sastri remarks that the "workmanship of the entire composition is unsurpassed for beauty by any other example of its kind".
The east facing temple does not have tower. It has two sanctums; the main one is dedicated to Vaalinathar aka Valeeswarar - a big Shiva Linga; the other sanctum is dedicated to the Goddess Soundarya Nayaki. The sanctum of Shiva Linga has two tiered vimana. Both the sanctums face the east direction. Both of them have Nandi statues, flag staffs and Bali peetha in front of them.
The idols of Ganesha and Subramanya are found alongside the Dvarapalas at the entrance of Shiva shrine. The prakara of Shiva shrine has the idols of Surya, Adhikara Nandi, Sapta Matas, Sura Deva and two Subramanya. Bhairavar is found is a separate small shrine. The maha mandapa inside the shrine of Shiva has many circular shaped pillars and Yazhi pillars.
There are two small separate shrines of Ganesha, Shasta with his consorts and Shanmukha with his consorts. Dhakshinamoorthi is also found in the outer prakara. The vimana has a lot of beautiful sculptures such as Bhoota ganas, Rishaba Vahana, Gaja Samhara Murti, Dhakshinamoorthi, Ardha Nareeshwarar, Nataraja, etc.
The Temple exhibits various artistic forms Brahminical themes, noteworthy being the earliest Parvati in Panchagnitapas. The sanctum sanctorum is completely a stone structure. There are no niche images (koshta) around the sanctum - similar to that of Pandya style. Theertham of this Temple are Tamirabarani and Ghatana rivers. A beautiful garden with so many plants and trees is found at the backside of the temple.
There are number of Chola, Chola-Pandya, Pandya inscriptions on the walls of the temple. On the north wall of the central shrine is a record of Rajaraja I, dated in his eleventh year (996 A.D) relating to a gift of land. On the same wall a Vatteluthu inscription dated in the eighteen-year of a king whose name is not specified, mentions an agreement among the villagers of Rajaraja Chaturvedimangalam.
Another inscription refers to Rajarajakesarivarman of Kandalur Salai fame i.e. Rajaraja I. The village is referred to as Rajaraja-Chaturvedimangalam, a brahmadeyam in Mulli Nadu, a sub- division of Rajaraja valanadu. On a pillar near the bali-pitha, inscription recording the victories gained by a corps of the Chola army called Munru kai mahasenai. It further mentions that the temple of Thiruvalisvaram, its treasury and the temple servants were placed under the protection of this unit of the army.
The Valisvara temple at Thiruvalisvaram lies at about 51 Kms west of Thirunelveli, 3 Kms from Brahmmadesam, 20 Kms from Veeravanallur, 5 Kms from Ambasamudram, 35 Kms from Tenkasi, 194 Kms from Madurai and 141 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram. Nearest Railway Stations are located at Ambasamudram and Veeravanallur. Nearest Airport is located at Madurai and Thiruvananthapuram.