Alanthurai Nathar Temple, Thirpullamangai – The Temple
The Temple is having three-tiered Raja gopuram facing east direction. The temple has just one prakara (corridor). Bali peetha and Nandi statue are located facing the main shrine. There is no flag staff. The Temple follows the typical plan of Chola temples, having a sanctum sanctorum, Artha Mandapam, Mukha Mandapa and shrines for the parivara devatas (secondary deities). The Rajagopuram, Walls enclosing the temple, along with the hall, directly in front of the entrance, are of recent date, as are various subsidiary buildings on either side of the gopuram and the goddess shrine in the north of the hall.
The original parivara (attendant deities) have disappeared. The ardha mandapa here has a flat roof, surmounted by a small shrine decorated with sculptures on each side. On the southern wall of the temple is a splendid Ganesh shrine, equipped with parasol and seated on a lotus. Various makaras adorn the walls and foundations. Presiding Deity is called as Brahmapureeswarar / Alanthurai Nathar / Pasupatheeswarar, Vada Theertha Nathar and is facing east.
Lord is Swayambu Moorthy. The sanctum sanctorum is of Agazhi type – Agazhi is a deep-water canal about 3 ft deep and two feet wide, security arrangement around a fort with crocodiles put in to prevent enemies entry to the fort. The vimana and the external wall of the main shrine are beautiful with a lot of attractive sculptures. Ganesha, Dakshina Murti, Lingodhbava, Brahma and Durga are found as the Koshta deities. Lingodhbava has Brahma and Vishnu on his either sides.
The idol of Durga is a unique feature of this temple. The Goddess is found standing on the buffalo head and an umbrella above her head. She has eight arms and holds various weapons such as sword, bow, arrow, mace, conch, discus, etc. The sculptures of two soldiers are found on either side of the Goddess; they appear to do self-sacrifice by cutting down their own heads. It is believed that the same sculptor sculpted Durga sculptures in Nageswaram, Patteeswaram and this place. All three sculptures are considered powerful.
Mother is called as Alliyankothai / Soundara Nayaki. She is found in a separate shrine adjacent to the main shrine. One of the specialties of the temple is that Nandi statue is located at the center of Navagraha idols. Shrines of Ganesha and Subramanya-Valli-Devasena are found in the prakara. The idols of Bhairava, Surya, Nalvar, Ganesha (at Maha mandapa entrance), Chandikeswara etc. are also found in this temple.
There are lots of miniature panels depicting puranic legends like Arthanareeswarar, Gajasamharamurthy, Manmadan Dhaganam, Oordhva Thandavam, Chandesha Anugraham, Lingothbhavar with Brahma mudi story, Bikshadana with Parvathy, Shiva and Parvathi dancing (while Manmadan and Rathi watching it). Most of the ganas depicted here are having a musical instrument in their hands or playing them or dancing to some tunes with various “bhavas” (facial expressions).
Though it is a Shiva Temple, there are lots of miniature panels depicting Vaishnava legends like Lord Ram being trained on Archery, Birth of Janaki, Thadakai Vadham, Sita Kalayana, Ram helped by Kugan to cross Ganga, Mareechan hunting, Ravana Kidnaps Sita, Jadayu and Ravana fight, Jadayu getting his Moksham, Vali Sugreevan Fight, Vali on his death bed, Crowning of Vibhishana, Bhoovaraha Moorthy fetching Bhoodevi, Hiranya Vatham, Perumal in Parkadal Sayanam, Durgai killing an asuran and Krishna Leela.
Among the hundreds of sculptural subjects found here at Sri Brahmapurisvara, the Ganas are among the most memorable. They are unarguably among the finest collection found anywhere in India. Departing from the oft-depicted mood of troublesomeness they are known for, these ganas express a wide range of happy sentiments and pastimes. Some seem lost in a spirit of devotion to Shiva, dancing and playing musical instruments in an ecstatic mood.
Among the many interesting ornamental aspects are figures of men riding a yali. Although the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Chola sculptures on the interior and exterior of the temple include a number of beautiful images of Lord Brahma, who is parivara Devata here. Because the sculptural images of Lord Brahma are so exceptional, this temple is often cited as a Brahma temple. Sthala Vriksham is Banyan Tree. Theertham associated with this Temple are Shiva Theertham, Cauvery River, Kudamurutti River and Kamadenu Theertham.