Avinashi Temples

Sri Avinashi Lingeswarar temple

Sri Avinashi Lingeswarar temple is hailed as the varanasi of the south.  Avinashi, in Coimbatore district, is only 10km from Tiruppur, famous for its hosiery products.  The temple is off the Chennai-Cochin National Highway, at a walking distance from the bus stand.

Sri Lingeswarar temple is regarded as the first of the seven Sivasthalams in the Kongu region: roughly the Coimbatore/Erode/Salem belt.  The temple was built in the 12th century.  According to the sthala purana, two boys were swimming in the Thamaraikulam tank, when one of them was swallowed by a crocodile.  The great Shaivaite saint, Sundaramoorthy Nayanar, was passing by Avinashi when he heard the story of the dead boy.  Moved by the family's plight, Sundarar is said to have sung a hymn on Shiva.  The crocodile, it is said, emerged out of the waters with the body of the boy and deposited him back, safe and sound.  A temple was then raised on the spot.  Avinashi means imperishable, eternal perhaps, a reference to the aforementioned episode, which is commemorated in the Mudalai Vaai Pillai (the boy in the crocodile's mouth) festival during Panguni Uthiram.  There is a panel in the temple narrating the incident, while Sundarar is honored with a shrine on the banks of the Thamaraikulam tank.

The temple was patronized by the Cholas, Pandyas, Hoysalas and the Nayaks, all of whom made massive endowments to the temple.  The Ambal's shrine is to the right of the sanctum.  She is known hee as Sri Karunaambigai.  The mandapam, in front of the Amman shrine, is famous for its sculptures, and is a protected monument.  Also near the sanctum is a well, Kasi Gangai theertham, a sort of wishing well.  There are two gopurams, side by side, at the entrance, one leading to the main shrine and the other to the Ambal's. The main Rajagopuram is over thirty metres (100 feet) high, and is among the tallest in the district.  It was originally built by a Kongu king, Sundara Pandyan (1285-1300).  It was later reconstructed by the Maharaja of Mysore.  Lightning destroyed the structure in 1860.  It was rebuilt in 1980 by Sri Sundara Swamigal of Sri Kumara Mutt.

There is 21m (70 feet) deepasthambam (lamp post) in front of the Rajagopuram, said to be feature unique to the Kongu region.  At the bottom is a small mandapam, which has images f Lord Ganesh and Sundarar.  It also depicts the crocodile episode.  Near the lamps post is a 30 pillar mandapam, built by the Maharaja of Mysore, Sri Krishna Raja Wodeyar, in 1756, the year during which he renovated the entire temple.  The vast open area in front of the shrine is home to a huge Vilva tree, encased and protected.  In fact, the place was once known as Vilvavanam, for its large number of Vilva trees.  There are a number of holy theerthas associated with this temple.  There are a number of holy theerthas associated with this temple.  The one opposite the Ambal shrine, has, at the entrance, a small mandapam, over which sits a multi-colored nandi.

How to get there:  Avainashi can be reached by road, rail and air.  Buses connect Avinishi with Coimbatore, Tiruppur and Erode, with great frequency.  Tiruppur, on the Chennai-Coimbatore train route, is only 10km away.  Coimbatore (40km) is the nearest airport.
Accommodation:  Excellent accommodation can be had at the industrial town of Tirupur.

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