Kuttralanathar Temple, Courtrallam – The Temple
The present Kutralanathaswami temple was constructed by the Chola monarch Rajaraja Chola I and built the wall around the inner corridor. Archaeologists claim that there was a Vishnu shrine on the left of the prime deity. The Pandya kings built the sanctum, ardha mandapa, separate sanctum for goddess Kuzhalvai Mozhi Amman and Pillayan Kattalai mandapa. Nayak rulers constructed the temple for Parasakthi, periphery wall, inner streets, Sangu Street, new sanctums for some associate deities.
The ancient sanctum meant for Vishnu is now being converted as Vahana room. Kings of Vadakarai Aadhikkam of Sokkampatti built the Tirikooda mandapam, Pasupirai, Thattodi, Vaitheeyappa Vilasam, the Mahamandapam of Kuzhalvai Mozhi Amman, Sangu Veethi and Kalpavuthal at Vasantha Veethi. Other Names of the Shrine are Trikootaachalam, Tirukkutralam, Mukthiveli, Nannagram, Pithur Kanda, Theerthapuram, Thirunagaram & Vasanthaperur.
After entering through a 3 tier Rajagopuram there is a big mandapam called Vasantha mandapam. The Rajagopuram has lot of cute Sudhai sirpams with 3 kalasams on the top. Then comes the mandapam with Dwajasthambam, Nandhi and palipeedam. In the mandapam pillars, Chinna Pattar and Periya Pattar Kings reliefs who had built this temple can be seen. The temple has a conch shaped temple (prakaram (closed precincts of a temple)) plan and is referred to as Sangakkovil.
The temple was in the shape of a conch when it was a Vaishnavite shrine. It is so now too. The devotee can observe this form on his/her way to Shenbagadevi temple. Conch represents the power of Mother Mahalakshmi. The sound gives energy. Hence, conch is blown during Shiva pujas. In the shrine, Shiva showed himself as Brahma and Vishnu. Lord Shiva is a Swayambumurthy in the temple. The presiding deity lord Shiva is called as Kuttralanathar and the Ambal his consort mother Parvathi is called as Kuzhalvai Mozhi Ammai.
The finger prints of Sage Agasthya on the Linga are still visible. The Tirikootamandapam here is the site of festivities here. Parvati's shrine is also of significance here and is regarded as one of the 64 Shakti Peetams. The Wedding festival is celebrated on the Aipasi Pooram star day in October-November. Lord and Mother visit the Agasthya shrine that day to grant their wedding darshan to the sage. The story further goes that while sage Agasthya converted this Perumal temple as a Shiva temple, he changed Sridevi as Kuzhalvai Mozhi Nayaki and Bhoodevi as Parasakthi. Mother Parasakthi is on a peeta of Sri Chakra design.
As Bhoomadevi was changed as Parasakthi, this peeta is also praised as Dharani Peeta – Dharani means Earth or Bhoomi. Nava Sakthi Puja is performed on full-moon night here as the peeta is said to represent the collective grace and power of nine Ambikas. The main Nivedhanas are milk and Vada the popular dish of Tamilnadu. As Sakthi is furious in nature, A Shivalinga called Kamakoteeswara is installed before the peeta to soften her.
Devotees worship Parasakthi in the Dharani Peeta on Fridays and Navarathri days with kumkum mixed with rosewater to realize their wishes. The peedams of Annavi Pillai and the other deities are seen in front of this shrine. Along the periphery of this shrine are seen idols of Kailasanathar on the southern side and Sri Durga on the northern side and rest room of the deity.
Lord Vallaba Ganapathy graces this holy place. Lord Muruga in the temple prakara appears with a bow in his hand with his consorts Valli and Deivanai facing each other. There are a number of Shivalingas on the water falls rocks as if performing abishek to Lord. The water from the falls - performing abishek to Lord - is considered very sacred bringing benefits to devotees bathing here. There is a shrine for sage Agasthya and one for his disciple Shivalaya Muni opposite. The statue of Shivalaya Muni is placed under the feet of Sage Agasthya as a mark of respect to his Guru.
The temple has five entrances representing four Vedas and the one being the way of Pilavendhan who came to enjoy the dance of Lord Shiva. In Manakola Nathar Shiva Shrine, Lord Shiva is in his wedding posture and it is located in the prakara. Lord Vishnu with Mother Mahalakshmi offering his sister Ambika to Lord Shiva in wedding, Lord Brahmma as priest conducting the wedding rituals, Sages Agasthya and Brungi are also in this shrine. Those facing delays in their wedding proposals worship here with turmeric, rosewater abisheks offering fragrant garlands and Payasam – porridge Nivedhana seeking a suitable match.
There is a shrine for Perumal in the temple praised Nannagara Perumal blessing devotees with boons of their needs. Lord Krishna also is nearby. Special pujas are performed here on Rohini Star days and Purattasi Saturdays in September-October. This Perumal was in the Shiva shrine earlier. A small shrine is constructed around the jack tree, the sacred tree of the temple with Adhi Kurumbala Easar in the form of a Peeta. The tree yields fruits throughout the year but no one picks them.
It is strange that the fruits are of Shivalinga form. Kuttrala Kuravanji, an ancient Tamil literature portraying the life of the Kurava community devoted to Lord Shiva, describes that all the fruits are but Shivalingas. During important festival days, this fruit is offered to Lord Shiva as Nivedhana. There is also a jack tree in the prakara dating back to centuries. This tree is revered as Lord Shiva by devotees offering him all pujas.
Arjuna lost in Kasi – now Varanasi - his small box containing the Shivalinga he was worshipping. Surprisingly, he got it back in this place. He left this Linga here itself after his usual worship. This Linga is in the Prakara in a separate shrine. Those who had lost anything worship in this shrine for recovery of the object they missed. Arjuna got back this Linga on the Panguni Uthiram day in March-April. Special pujas are performed in the shrine on this day. From this shrine, the devotee can have a view of the Linga, Vinayaka facing west, the vimana Tirikooda hills and the Kuttralam falls.
The design of the Dwarapalakas is different as if they are in a conversation. This was a Vaishnava temple earlier. One Dwarapalaka is asking the other whether Saga Agasthya came there and the other replying in the negative. The devotee can worship all the Pancha Boodha Lingas representing water, Earth, Fire, Vayu and the Space here.
Of the five stages of Lord Nataraja dance – Golden, silver or Rajatha, copper, Ratna and Chitra - The Chitra Sabhai or the hall of pictures is located in a picturesque locale away from the main temple. Lord Nataraja graces in the form of a painting. Architecturally the Chitra Sabha resembles that of the other Nataraja Sabhas elsewhere in Tamilnadu, and its interior is decked with hundreds of murals, depicting images from the Indian epics. Natarajar is brought here during festivals from the Kurumpalaveesar temple.
The Sthala Vriksham is Kurum Pala and the Theertham is Chitra Nadhi. Nataraja is sported with Nrithya Thandavam posture. Kurumpalaveesar, sung in Thevaram is associated with the Sthala Vriksham Kurumpalaa. Tirikootaraasappakavirayar’s well-known work Kutrala Kuravanji glorifies this shrine.
The unique feature of the temple is that it has 5(five) temple cars.
1. Lord Vinayaga temple car
2. Lord Muruga temple car
3. Lord Nataraja temple car
4. Lord Swami temple car
5. Goddess Amman temple car
Allied Temples List:
1. Koothai Temple
2. Chithirai Sabha
3. Kutrala Nangai Amman Temple
4. 18th Step Karupusamy Temple
5. Chinna Thambi Temple
6. Arasadi Vinayagar Temple
7. Aparana Pillaiyar Temple
8. Pandri Madasamy Temple
9. Thirugnana Sambandha Vinayagar Temple
10. Shenbagadevi Amman temple
11. Nan Nagara Pillaiyar Temple
12. Nan Nagara Pandri Madasamy Temple
13. Thittappillayar Temple
14. Pasupatha Sastha Temple
15. Paattapathu Sastha temple