Sri Vaikuntanathan Perumal Temple (Kallapiran Temple), Srivaikundam, Thoothukudi – The Temple
The temple occupies an area of 5 acres (2.0 ha) and is surrounded by a granite wall 580 ft. (180 m) long & 396 ft. (121 m) broad. The Rajagopuram, the temple's gateway tower, is 110 ft. (34 m) tall. The granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all its shrines and two of its three bodies of water. The sanctum houses the image of Srivaikuntanathar in standing posture with a club in his hand. Adisesha, the serpent of Vaikuntanatha, is seen holding a parasol over his head. The image is made of Saligrama stone and ablution is usually done with milk.
The hall preceding the sanctum, the Artha Mandapam houses the festival image of Kallapiran made of panchaloha with the images of Sridevi and Bhudevi on either of his sides. It is believed that the sculptor caressed the cheeks of the image with his hand as he got enchanted by the image and it is seen in the image. The Ardha mandapa is guarded by two dvarapalas on either side.
There are two shrines for the two consorts of Vishnu, Caikunta Nayaki and Chorantha Nayaki, both facing each other. There are separate shrines for Senai Mudaliyar, Garuda, Venugopala, Manavalamamunigal and Yoga Narasimha. The festival image of Yoga Narasimha, Lakshmi Narasimha, is also housed in the same shrine. There is another shrine that houses the images of the ten avatars of Vishnu. The temple has five precincts. The Mahamandapa and the Swarga Mandapa are believed to be later additions.
The Vijayanagar and Nayak kings commissioned paintings on the walls of the shrine of temple, some of which are still present. Thiruvengadamudaiyan hall, located to the right of the gopuram, houses rare life size sculptures commissioned during the 16th century. It was built by Vadamalayappa Pillai, an official in the Madurai Nayak kingdom. There are numerous images of yalis, elephants and Devas in the hall, some of which are even 5 ft. (1.5 m) wide. The major images seen in the temple are that of Bhikshadana, Venugopala, Madanagopala, Govardhanagiri, Nammazhwar, Manmatha and Rathi.
Depiction of Hanuman in various poses can be seen in the temple. There are life size images of Agora Veerabhadra and warriors. Rama is seen hugging the monkey king Sugreevar with his right hand and holding his bow in the left and on his left stands Sita, while in another pillar he is seen hugging Hanuman with his right hand and Angada seen standing in anjali. A host of monkey warriors are standing at the bottom of both the sculptures.
The Dwajastambha Mandapam has pillars with refined architectural features. Tirumozhi mandapam has sculptures of monkeys, squirrels and parrots. It also houses images of monkeys performing various activities. The corridor inside the temple has paintings having the details about the 108 shrines of Vishnu. There are also paintings detailing the coronation of Rama. There are two temple tanks namely Brighu Theertha and Kalasa Theertha near the temple. A huge temple tank near the Thamiraparani River is also associated with the temple. It is in this tank that the float festival is celebrated yearly.
The idol is most exquisitely carved with club in hand. Lions, Yalis and elephants are carved in the pillars of the mandapam. The temple served as a fort during the patriotic war of Kattabomman with the British. The temple has a nine-tier Rajagopuram amidst lush vegetation around the temple.
Sri Vaikuntanathan Perumal Temple is a well-known sacred place of the planet Sun (Surya). The peculiar feature of this temple is that the rays of Sun falls directly on the idol of Lord Vaikundanathar for two days every year (April or May and October or November), as a token of worship.
The idol of the main deity (Moolavar), also known by the names Kalla Piran and Paal Pandiyan is kept alone in Nindra Thirukkolam facing east. This idol with the Gadha (a weapon) in one of hand along with the Sangu and Chakkaram in the other hand is in standing position and the Serpent God, Adiseshan unfurls his hood over Vishnu.
The temple gopuram which is 110 feet in height and 500 feet in width can be viewed from the Tamirabarani Bridge. Several poojas are held in this temple and the most important among them is the pooja done by childless couples. It is believed that if the childless couple consumes the ghee for 48 nights that has been offered at the deity's feet, they will be blessed with children.