Vanamamalai Perumal Temple, Nanguneri – The Temple
The temple has a large five-tiered gopuram (gateway tower) and a large temple compound having two praharams (closed precincts of a temple). There are various pillared halls in the temple. The presiding deity, Vanamamalai Perumal is seen seated on the Adisesha, the serpent deity. Sridevi and Bhoodevi, the two consorts of Perumal are seen on either sides of the presiding deity. The shrine of the presiding deity is located axial to the gateway tower & approached through Arthamandapam and Mahamandapam, pillared halls.
There are two precincts in the temple, with the shrine of Thayar located in the second precinct. There is a festival hall in the second precinct in the temple facing south that has sculpted pillars indicating various legends of the Puranas. The most notable of them being a legend of Mahabharata where Bhima attacks a lion legged person with his club. The second precinct has pillared halls that has smaller sculpted representation indicating various avatars of Vishnu.
Presiding Deity is called as Deivanathan / Vanamamalai / Thothadri Nathar. Mother is called as Varamangai Thayar. Sthala Vriksham is Mango Tree. Theertham is Setru Thamarai. While traditionally temples have only one Swayambumurthy, this is one with 11 Swayambumurthis – Lord Thothadri Nathar in the sanctum sanctorum, Mother Sridevi and Bhoodevi, Sun, Moon, Maharshis Brugu and Markandeya, dancers of the celestial world Urvasi and Thilothama.
Of the 8 Vishnu Swayambumurthis, the one in Badrinath in north is covered by fog for six months. Here, the Lord is available for the devotees throughout the year. Gingelly oil abishek is performed to Lord Thotadrinathar throughout the year. The vimana-tower above the sanctum is of Nandavardana design. Lord Brahmma, Indira, king of Sindhu, Garuda Baghwan, Urvasi, and Thilothama were blessed with the darshan of Lord in the temple.
This is the only temple where Perumal graces with his royal attire in Durbar with Mothers Sridevi and Bhoodevi. One of Lord’s hands point to his feet and the other on his lap as an assurance that the devotee surrendering at his feet will have a place on his lap. Perumal also holds the Prayoga Chakra. Those worshipping the Chakra will have no enemies at all in life.
This grand temple has two prakarams (closed precincts of a temple) ornamented with the Pandal Mandapam, Jayanthi Mandapam, Srivilli Mandapam, Kulasekhara Mandapam and the Veerappa Mandapam. An imposing 7 tiered Rajagopuram adorns its entrance. There are also shrines to Varamangai Thaayar, Andal, Lakshmi Narayana, Lakshmi Varaha and Venugopala. The oil used in ablution ceremonies here is considered to be of medicinal value.
On the entrance of the Temple is the Pandal Mandapam and along the side, we can find very big Mandapams where Golden Chariot and Golden Chapparam (another kind of perumal's Vaaganam) are kept. These are taken out during the Utsavam done in Panguni Uthiram. On the north side, we can find the Vaanamamalai Jeeyar Madam.
When entering into the main temple, we can find Sevvanthi Mandapam which is built by Sevvanthi Nayakar. In this mandapam only, the Utsavar gives his Seva during Utsava times. On the left side of this mandapam, we can find Veerappa Nayakar mandapam, in which all the pillars are beautifully sculptured with numerous shapes. When passing through this mandapam, sannidhis for Lakshmi Narayanan, Lakshmi Varagar, Venugopalan and Dasavatharam are found.
After crossing the Kodi maram, we can find Kulasekharan mandapam. Here Vadakku Nachiyar, Therku Nachiyar, Manavala Mamunigal, Udayavar, Pillai ulaga Asiriyar and except Nammalwar, all the Alwars are found in separate sannidhis. Nammalwar is found as "Sadagopar" in "Sadari" (this is kept on our head in Vishnu temples) as "Sadagopar Sadari" in Utsavar sannidhi. Also, separate sannidhis for Sri Ramar, Sri Kannan and Chakkarathalwar are found.
After crossing all these, we can reach towards the main moolavar sannidhi and can find Thothadri Nathan in Veetrirunda Thirukolam and opposite to him is the Garudalvar. Moolavar is found along with two pirattiyaars in Veetrirunda Kolam and Rambhai, Thilothama who are called the "Deva loka women" serve the Perumal, Brighu Maharishi, Markandeya Maharishi, Chandra - Soorya, Vishwaksenar are found. The Adhiseshan, serve as the Umbrella for Thothadri Nathan, he is giving his Seva to the bhaktaas.
Utsavar Deiva Nayakan is found along with this pirattiyaars, Srivaramangai Thaayar and Andal by having Maga Kandigai (which is said to be the most precious and valuable ornament of the Perumal) in very big peetam is found. The temple along with Thirukkurungudi Divyadesam can be covered in half a day's trip from Thirunelveli. The main deity takes oil bath every day with Gingili oil and Sandal wood oil and the oil is collected in a 25 feet open well inside the temple. The oil has rich medicinal value which is said to cure all sorts of incurable diseases.
Since this Pushkarani is without water and found only with oil, mud and clay, the Pushkarani is called “Setru Thamarai Theertham”.
Since, Indiran took bath in this to get out of the diseases; this Pushkarani is called Indira Theertham.
600 year old Vanamamalai Mutt:
The 600 years old Vaanamamalai Mutt (Jeers) are the hereditary trustees of this Divya Desam. Many of the main festivals at this temple are celebrated in a unique way, not found in any other Divya Desam. Srivaramangai Thaayar is considered as the affectionate daughter of the first pontiff of the Mutt Sri Ponnadikal Jeer Swamy. Deivanayakan is considered as the Son-in-Law of the mutt. During the Brahmotsavam and other festivals, the two are given a warm welcome at the mutt and the entire pooja festivities are performed only at the mutt. All the worship patterns here are according to the Vaikhanasa Agamam.