Saturday, April 1, 2017

Thirukkurungudi Dhivya Desam – The Temple

Thirukkurungudi Dhivya Desam – The Temple
Thirukkurungudi Dhivya Desam consists of Thiruvattaparai Temple, Thirumangai Alwar Tiruvarasu Temple, Azhagiya Nambi Temple, Thirupaarkadal Nambi Temple and Malaimel Nambi Temple. Main Temple is Vaishnava Nambi Temple, located in Thirukkurungudi, a village in Thirunelveli district in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu. It is located 45 km (28 mi) from Thirunelveli and 11 km (6.8 mi) from Nanguneri. The temple has a flat entrance tower and a five-tiered gopuram (gateway tower).

The temple has five praharams, closed precincts of a temple and all the shrines are enclosed in the first two enclosures. The temple occupies around 18 acres (7.3 ha). There are a number of halls that have sculpted pillars from the Nayak period. There is a shrine to Shiva in the temple, which is an unusual feature in Vishnu temples. There are two other temples namely Thirupaarkadal Nambi located half a mile away from the temple and Malai Nambi temple located uphill. 

There is a festival hall in the second precinct in the temple facing south that has sculpted pillars indicating various Hindu legends. The most notable of them being a legend of Mahabharata where Bhīma attacks a lion legged person with his club. The walls of the temple resemble a big fort and the village has been formed around these walls in a very organized manner. The interiors of the main temple tower are covered with wood sculptures of teak depicting most of the deities as well as other secular scenes.

There are five Nambis in this Kshetram. They are Ninra Nambi (Standing posture), Irundha Nambi (Sitting posture), Kidandha Nambi (Sleeping posture), Thiruparkadal Nambi and Thirumalai Nambi. Thiruparkadal Nambi Temple is located very near to the River Nambiyar one km from the main temple. Thirumalai Nambi Temple is on the hills (Mahendragiri Mountain) 8 km from the main temple. In Tamil language the word "Nambi" means personification of all virtuous and righteous qualities blended with beauty and grace.

Everything about the temple is beautiful. Moolavar Nindra Nambi or Azhagiya Nambi is also called as “Sundara Paripoornam”, meaning “Perfect and complete beauty”. He is beauty personified and simply stunning. It is difficult to take one’s eyes off the deity. The deity is present along with two Piratiyar, Markandeya Maharishi and Brighu Maharishi. 

Also there are separate shrines for Veetrituntha Nambi called as “Vaikundhanadhan” and Kidantha Nambi. Close to the Nambi’s legs, the head of Mahabali is found. These huge idols are carved of stone with the application of natural colours and decorated with gold leaves as per the agama rituals.

Shri Vaishnava Nambi is the prime Utsava deity of the temple. All the utsavs are performed only to him. He stands with four hands, two of them carrying the Sangu and Chakra, third with Varada hasta and the fourth in the Yoga mudra. He wears Kasturi tilaka on his forehead and the sacred Yagnapaveeda on his body. Also the sacred Vaijayathi mala occupies his chest. Swami Nammazhwar sees everything on the eternal body of Sri Vaishnava Nambi and picturized them in his Veda Sara “Thiruvaimozhi”.

Lord Shiva is given equal place in this temple as Mahendragiri Nathar and poojas are performed in both the shrines at the same time. The Bairavar shrine is also present. A hanging bell can be found in Kulasekara Mandapam which is offered by a king of Thiruvidhangodu. There are totally five temples that are located in Thirukkurungudi - Thiruvattaparai, Thirumangai Alwar Tiruvarasu, Azhagiya Nambi, Thirupaarkadal Nambi and Malaimel Nambi.

Thiruvattaparai Temple
This temple, also part of the Thirukkurungudi Divya Desam, is located at 1.7 kms South-West of the main temple and about 900 meters from the Thiruparkadal Nambi temple on the bank of the river Nambiyar. It is located at the outskirts of the village. As per the legend, Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a student of Ramanuja. In this temple the relief image Ramanuja along with Vishnu seated in lower seat is found. It is a rare temple dedicated to Guru Ramanuja. Here there is a rock image of Sri Ramanujar.
The brindavan of Thirumangai Azhwar is also present. This is an ideal place for peaceful meditation. This is the place where Sri Ramanujar was unconsciously shifted from Kerala overnight and where Lord Himself became a disciple to him. Sri Ramanuja begged his pardon, but the Lord requested the Acharyan to preach him the Thirumanthiram or Mahamanthiram.
Accordingly Ramanuja sat on a pedestal befitting his dignity and the Lord seated himself at a lower level in an obedient posture with his right ear just below the mouth or Sri Ramanuja. Even today we can see the great teacher and the Lord in this position here. Here the Nambi advised a Brahmin and a tribal man who were fighting regarding their rights to have a dip in this place. It is interesting that even now, the Dalits of this region perform the last rituals in this spot.
Thirumangai Alwar Tiruvarasu Temple
This small temple, also part of the Thirukkurungudi Divya Desam, is located at less than a km North-East of the main temple on the banks of the river in a very tranquil place that is surrounded by dense sugarcane and paddy fields.
Thirumangai Azhvaar, who built the huge walls of Srirangam and contributed in no small measure to the Srirangam temple asked for Moksham from Srirangam Ranganathar, who directed him to visit his ‘Southern home’ here.
After reaching Thirukkurungudi, he rendered Thirumadhil (Castle) and pushpa kainkarya until he attained moksha. So, the last of his Paasurams was rendered here. Unlike in other temples where Thirumangai Azhwar is seen with sword & weapons, here he is seen without any weapons and with folded hands, since he was leaving this materialistic world. Anileeswarar Shiva Temple is located near to Thirumangai Azhwar Tiruvarasu Temple.
Thiruparkadal Nambi Temple
This temple is also part of the Thirukkurungudi Divya Desam, is a small Chathram located at about 700 meters South West of the main temple at Vattakulam road on the banks of the river Ksheerapti or Thiruparkadal. It is believed that Vishnu after taking the form of Trivikrama shrunk himself back into the form of Vamana (short man) in this site. Hence, this site is named as Kurunkudi (meaning the abode of short person in Tamil language). There is a small temple dedicated to Vamana in this village.
It is the original temple and the village got its name based on this. The main deity of the temple is Vamana - a short idol found with four arms holding conch and discus. Apart from the main deity the idols of Garuda facing him and Vishwaksenar on the side and a bas-relief of Narasimha are found in this temple.
Malaimel Nambi Temple
This temple is also part of the Thirukkurungudi Divya Desam, is located at about 8 kms west of the main temple on top of a hillock amidst forests and a refreshing stream for taking bath in a picturesque location. The very place reverberates calmness and devotion. One has to travel for about 45 minutes in the jeep available outside the Thirukkurungudi main temple (even if you have your own vehicle, hiring one of the many jeeps available is recommended due to the poor rood conditions and the hilly terrain).

Malaimel Nambi resides along with Sridevi and Bhooma Devi Naachiyars facing eastern direction. Lord Hanuman is believed to have leaped to Lanka to search for Sita from this mountain top. The last Saturday of every Tamil month is very special here. There is also Vannathi parai water falls, Azhukkuni Siddhar Tamarind tree and Sangili Boothathar Sunai near the temple. Nadukkamparai Sastha Temple is on the way to the Malaimel Nambi temple. One should be fortunate to take bath in Nambiyar at least once in his/her lifetime. The water is crystal clear, clean and has herbal values. It is such a beautiful location that you can claim to have visited the heaven after visiting this place.

Azhagiya Nambi Temple
This is the main temple of the village. This gigantic temple spread across 18 acres is located at the center of the village. The entire village is formed around this temple. This temple is an architectural marvel and there are a lot of beautiful sculptures and carvings found in this temple. The east facing magnificent temple tower is although incomplete and without any tier, it raises over a flight of stairs.

There are so many sculptures beautifully carved on the walls of the tower as well as on the fort-like entrance walls. This tower which is called as Chitra Gopuram has many outstanding wooden sculptures too apart from the stone sculptures. One of the interesting aspects of the sculptures in this temple is that there are many sculptures related so Saivite section (Shiva related). It is rare to find such kinds of sculptures in a Vishnu temple. The 30 feet tall entrance doors too have so many interesting intricate carvings. 

Azhagiya Nambi Shrine:
The main deity of the temple is Sundara Paripoornam aka Azhagiya Nambi aka Nindra Nambi. As per his name, the deity is extremely beautiful. He is tall with four arms holding his usual weapons of discus, conch and mace. He has his consorts Sree Devi and Bhoo Devi on his either sides. All the deities are stucco images and are colorfully painted. Nambi and Bhoo Devi are painted in green color whereas Sri Devi is painted in golden yellow color.
All the three images which are found in the standing posture are outstanding. The main deity is flanked by the stucco images of sages Markandeya and Bhrigu. The metal Utsava idol Vaishnava Nambi along with four Goddesses Sri Devi, Bhoo Devi, Kurunkudi Nachiyar and Andal is also located in the moolasthanam. The ardha mandapa section of the main shrine has two large Dwarapalas.
Also there is a sub-shrine with so many metal Utsava idols such as Rama, Lakshman, Sita, Hanuman, Krishna-Rukmini-Bhama, Vishnu-Sri Devi-Bhoo Devi, a rare image of Narasimha with eight arms and in the sitting posture and other idols. The maha mandapa has a lot of carved pillars with lion faces on top. There is an exterior mandapa where Garuda (again a stucco image) is found facing towards the main deity. A big hanging bell is found on the top. The entire main shrine is built as per the 'maada kovil' architectural style.
Kurungudi Nachiyar & Andal Shrine:
Kurungudi Nachiyar is the Goddess of the temple. Her shrine is found on the right side of the main shrine in the first prakara. Her shrine is big and has a front side mandapa with pillars full of sculptures. She is found in the form of sitting posture with four arms. Andal is the other Goddess. It is not usual to find her with four arms. In this temple, she is found with four arms similar to Lakshmi. Her shrine is located in the same prakara but to the left side of the main shrine.
First Prakara:
The first prakara has thinnai like raised platforms and a lot of pillars with carvings. The back side wall of the main shrine has so many bas relief images. 
The following sub-shrines/idols are also located here:
·        Narasimha with Lakshmi on his lap
·        Dasavathara - 10 Avatars of Vishnu
·        Srinivasa -Sri Devi - Bhoo Devi
·        Lakshmi Varaha
·        Kanni Vinayakar (Ganesha)
·        Kidanda Nambi
There is a shrine dedicated to 'Pallikonda Nambi' aka 'Kidanda Nambi'. Here, Vishnu is found in the reclining posture. All the deities in this shrine are also colorful stucco images. Nambi and Bhoo Devi are in green color. Nambi is flanked by two sages Markandeya and Bhrigu. Both his consorts Bhoo Devi and Sri Devi are also present in this shrine. An additional deity found here is Brahma. At the entrance of this shrine the red colored stucco image of Kala Bhairava which looks ferocious is found. It is very rare to find Bhairava in a Vishnu temple.
Irundha Nambi Shrine:
There is a shrine dedicated to 'Veetrirunda Nambi' aka 'Vaikuntanatha'. Here, Vishnu aka Nambi is found in the sitting posture. He is again found here with his two consorts and two sages. All the deities are colorful stucco images. Next to this shrine, there is a shrine for Maha Bali. Here, Bali is found in the form of a Peeta (symbol) and not in the form of usual figure. 
Lord Shiva Shrine:
It is unusual to find Lord Shiva in a Vishu temple (although the reverse is not unusual). However, in this temple, Lord Shiva is found in the form of Shiva Linga called as 'Mahendra Girinathar' in a separate shrine. In the same shrine, the metal Utsava idols of Shiva Linga, Ambal, Nataraja and Sivakami are all found.
Alwars Shrine:
Towards the end of the inner prakara, there is a very big shrine found along with the front side mandapa and prakara. The mandapa is full of circular shaped pillars. Two mega sized stone sculptures of Hanuman and Garuda with folded hands are found in the mandapa. The shrine has the colorful stucco images of all the Alwars; Kulasekhara Alwar alone is found in green color; importantly he is not holding any weapon but found with his hands folded. 
Manavala Mamunigal Shrine:
Next to Alwars shrine, the Manavala Mamuni shrine is found. This section of the temple is a highlight of the temple. In the shrine the Alwar is found as a small stucco image. Outside the shrine, there are large sized beautiful Nayaka period sculptures. The sculptures are so lively and one of best Nayaka works. Some of the sculptures found here:
·        12 Yazhi pillars
·        Narsimha with eight arms fighting with the demon
·        Narasimha killing the demon by tearing of his demon
·        Hanuman and Garuda with folded hands
·        Vali and Sugreeva ready to fight with each other
·        Gypsy lady carrying a short man on her shoulder
·        Bheema and Purusha Mrigam ready to fight with each other
·        Gypsy kidnapping a lady
·        Few Yazhis in different postures
·        Gypsy and his wife carrying kids
Azhagiya Singar Mana Valar Shrine:
Near the inner tower there is a shrine dedicated to Azhagiya Singar and Manavalar. This shrine has a long front side mandapa. Here, again there are so many beautiful large Nayaka period sculptures found. Some of the sculptures found here include:
·        Arjuna
·        Karna
·        Alli
·        Pavalakkodi
·        Manmada
·        Rati 
Yazhi Mandapa:
Near the Azhagiya Singar shrine, there is a mandapa named 'Yazhi mandapa'. There are so many beautiful Yazhi (the mythological animal) pillars are found in this hall.
Bali Peetha Mandapa:
The flag staff and Bali peetha are all majestic in this temple. Near Bali peetha, there are two Mandapams. One is called as Bali peetha mandapa and the other hall does not seem to have any specific name. Both the halls are long and have so many pillars in square or octagonal shapes. Each of the pillars has a lot of beautiful carvings and sculptures. The second and third prakaras of the temple have so many pillars with intricate carvings, bas relief images and sculptures.
Narasimhar Shrine:
The Narasimhar shrine is located on the bank of the temple tank at the end of the Sannidhi Street just in front of the main Nambi temple.
·        Thirupaarkadal
·        Panjadurai
·        Sindu Nadhi
·        Panja Kedhaka Vimaanam

1 comment:

kksharma said...

Awesome place and full with enjoyable things. its beauty is so charming and so stunning photos you shared.
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