Friday, May 12, 2017

Soundara Pandeeswar Temple (Natarajar Temple), Mela Karuvelankulam, Thirunelveli

Soundara Pandeeswar Temple (Natarajar Temple), Mela Karuvelankulam, Thirunelveli
Soundara Pandeeswar Temple (Natarajar Temple) is dedicated to Hindu God Shiva located at Mela Karuvelankulam Village near Kalakkad in Thirunelveli District of Tamilnadu. It is located at around 2 kms North of Kalakkad. This is one of the popular Natarajar temples of Tamilnadu. This is located at the foot of the Pothigai hill.

This temple is said to have been built by Jatavaraman Sundara Chola Pandyan, the son of Rajendra Chola I (study of the inscriptions that remain here might confirm the fact). While he was the viceroy of Madurai, his daughter is said to have been afflicted with a chronic mental ailment. Treatment by the physicians from far and wide did not yield any results. The prince, a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva, is said to have sought his divine intervention to cure the young girl.

One day, a Nampoothiri visited the Prince, and asked him to take his daughter around the Pandya Kingdom. He was asked to stop at a tank where elephants would be found circumambulating it, and bathe the young girl in its waters, after which her chronic ailment would be cured. The Prince did as he was instructed. When he reached the place that is today called Karuvelan Kulam, he found elephants circling a tank of water. His daughter bathed in its waters, and was immediately cured of her chronic mental ailment.

Wanting to show his gratitude, he built this temple. The Lord is named after Sundara Pandya and also because he helped the young girl regain her beauty (Soundaryam) he is called Soundara Pandiswara. A tower was built by Sundara Pandya in the temple tank where the young girl bathed and got rid of her disease. The place came to be known as Kari Valam Kulam (the pond that was circumambulated by elephants). Over time it has come to be known as Karuvelam Kulam.

Nataraja at this temple was one of the oldest in the region and said to have been made by the same person who made the Chidambaram Nataraja. The same Sthapathy is said to have made five such Natarajas with the first being in Chidambaram and the others in Chepparai, Kattarimangalam, Karisuzhndha Mangalam and Karuvelankulam. The temple now gets grants from the Thiruvananthapuram royal family and hence is able to maintain itself well.

The Temple
Nataraja at this temple was one of the oldest in the region and said to have been made by the same person who made the Chidambaram Nataraja. The Goddess is named Gomathi Ambal as in many temples in this region and emanates compassion and grace in a separate shrine. Goddess Parama Kalyani is also found on the pillars of the Soundara Pandiswarar Temple and is worshipped by those who yearn for child birth and pregnant ladies who seek safe delivery.

The whole Kootambalam where lord Nataraja resides is painted with murals of different Gods and Goddesses. It is sad that most of them have faded and it is difficult to even identify the figures in some of them. However, it is heartening to note that the walls have not been painted over or redone in gaudy acrylic colours. A complete wall is devoted to Nataraja as he performs the cosmic dance surrounded by Goddess Sivakami, Pathanjali, Vyagrapathar and Manickavasagar.

The Nataraja is placed in a beautiful wooden Mandapa during the Arudhra Festival and is taken out on procession on the Arudhra Dharisanam day. Thousands flock here to witness the dancing God wearing splendid white on the 7th day of the festival and then again on the Thiruvadirai day. It is interesting to note that each pillar in the wooden mandapa has the idols of Pathanjali, Vyakrapada, Gnanasambandhar and Karaikkal Ammaiyar in it.

The temple has beautiful Mandapams both before the sanctum sanctorum and also before the Nataraja shrine. These Mandapams have moving and musical pillars which are a delight to watch. There was a temple tank nearby with clean water, and a tower right in the middle. Sthala Vriksham is Amla Tree.

The temple has been last consecrated in 1944. At this time, several stones have been removed and re-laid and we find inscriptions both of Rajendra Chola I as well as Jatavaraman Sundara Chola Pandya and others at odd locations.

Temple Opening Time
·        Morning: 6.30 am – 10.00 am
·        Evening:  5.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Ten day Arudhra festival happens in the month of Margazhi every year. Starting with the flag hoisting on the day of Sathayam star, it ends on Thiruvadirai, the day of Arudhra Dharisanam, the day that celebrates the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva in Tamilnadu, and is commemorated as the birthday of Lord Shiva in Kerala.
Lord Soundara Pandiswara is being worshipped by people suffering from mental ailments and they come back to offer gratitude once they are cured of their ailments.
Soundara Pandeeswar Temple (Natarajar Temple),
Mela Karuvelankulam, Thirunelveli District
Mobile: +91 99447 35288 / 99437 58928 / 94864 83033
The temple is located at about 3 Kms from Kalakkad, 20 Kms from Cheranmahadevi, 45 Kms from Thirunelveli, 95 Kms from Thoothukudi, 210 Kms from Madurai and 140 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram. Nearest Railway Station is located at Cheranmahadevi. Nearest Airport is located at Thoothukudi, Madurai and Thiruvananthapuram.

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