Gajendra Varadaraja Perumal Temple, Athalanallur – Legends
The popular legend of Gajendra Moksha is associated with this temple. It should be noted that there are several other temples which claim to have associated with this legend. A king, Indradhyumna by name ruled the region in accordance with the advice of Sage Agasthya, his Guru. One day, he failed to receive the Guru when he came to his court as he was engaged in entertainments.
Angry Agasthya cursed him to become an elephant and be their head in the jungles. He fell on the earth as an elephant bearing the name Gajendran – head of elephants. Similarly, a Gandharva, a community noted for its musical skills, fell to the curse of Sage Kabila. While the sage was bathing in the river, the Gandharva, not meaning to offend him, caught hold of the legs of the sage as he was also bathing the river.
The angry sage cursed him to become a crocodile. He told the Gandharva that he would remain a crocodile till Lord Vishnu would cut his head with his discus. King Indradhyumna and the Gandharva thus began their cursed lives in earth and water then. Due to scarcity of water caused by famine, the elephants came to River Tambiraparani to quench their thirst. The crocodile in the river caught hold of Gajendra who fought with the creature to free itself from its hold.
The struggle went on for thousands of years. Gajendra saw a lotus bud in the middle of the river and immediately thought of Lord Vishnu and offered it to him crying ‘Adhimoolame’. Lord rushed to the rescue of the animal and cut off the crocodile with his discus. When the Lord gave his hand to Gajendra to drag him to the bank, he requested the Lord to stay there itself to rescue people in distress.
Lord obliged the prayers and stayed in this holy soil. Both were simultaneously relieved of the curses. It is strongly believed that salvation is certain to those who worship in this temple where Indradhyumna cursed as elephant and a Gandharva cursed as crocodile attained salvation. The sins of the devotee get washed off.
Lord Vishnu darshan to Sages Brugu & Markandeya:
As per another legend, the sages Brugu and Markandeya got darshan of Lord Vishnu in this site on the banks of the river Tamirabarani.