Tirunellikka Nellivananathar Temple – Legends
Nellivananathar marrying Mangala Nayaki here:
A staunch Shiva devotee residing in Tiruvarur came to this place to worship Lord. He noticed that wild beasts in the place living together in harmony and the Devas from the celestial world visit the temple each day and turn back before dawn. He informed the matter to the Chola king. The king came to the place, cleared the land by destroying the forests, made a city and built a great temple. Amala in Sanskrit means Gooseberry, the sacred tree of the temple. Hence, Lord is also known as Amalakesan.
The Chola king who built the temple was also referred to as Amalakesa Chola. Amala Kesa Chola’s son Uthama Chola and his wife Paduma Malai came to the temple and worshipped Lord Shiva seeking child boon. Mother Bharathi as a child of three years appeared there and sat on the lap of the king. A voice from the sky told the King that Mother herself had come to him as the child and should be named Mangala Nayaki. The king followed the advice obediently.
After Uthama Chola’s end, child Mangala Nayaki grew under the care of the mother and attained the marriageable age. While worshipping at the Tiruvarur temple one day, Mangala Nayaki heard the voice of Lord telling her that he would come to Tirunellikka on the first Friday of Aavani-August-September and marry her. Lord came to Tirunellikka and wedded Mangala Nayaki amid chanting of Vedas.
There are five divine trees in the celestial world as Parijatha, Karpaga, Saanthanam, Hrichandan and Mandhara capable of offering any wish the devotee expects. This power made them proud and grew to the extent of humiliating great Rishi Durvasa too. He cursed the trees to become gooseberry trees on earth whose fruits would be citric in taste as tamarind. With all his mercy, Lord Shiva granted them relief from the curse and enable them return back to their place. He also gave this Nelli-gooseberry tree an importance among trees. These trees thus became lucky of serving the Lord. As Lord stayed under the Nelli tree, he came to be praised as Nellivana Nathar and place as Tiru Nellikka.
People worshipped Shiva here:
Lords Brahmma, Vishnu, Sun, Moon, Sani Bhagwan, Sage Durvasa, Divyaroopan, Gandharvas and trees of the celestial world had worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple.
It is also believed that a Gandharva worshipped Shiva here and was relieved of his leprosy, and hence the name Kushtarogaharapuram.