Sankarankoil Temple

Sankarankoil is the site of Sri Sankara Narayanaswamy Temple.  Basically a Shiva temple, there are two other famous shrines here, one dedicated to Sri Sankara Narayana and the other to Sri Gomathi Amman.  It is said that Goddess Gomati Amman, an aspect of Parvati, did penance here.  On the 9 day, a Full Moon day, Lord Shiva appeared before Her as Sri Sankaranarayana, that is, Shiva and Vishnu as the manifestation of the One Supreme.  One half of Sri Sankara Narayanaswamy depct is as Shiva and the other as Vishnu.  The place came to known as Sankaranarayanan Koil, and, in due course, became Sankarankovil.


The temple was built by King Ukira Pandyan in the 12th century.  There is an interesting story regarding the establishment of the temple.  It is said that the elephant, on which the king was riding, fell into a pit, while he was on his way to Madurai to worship at the Sri Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple.  Around the same time, the caretaker of the forest nearby ran to inform the king of a snake coiled round a Lingam, next to an anthill in the jungle.  The king then ordered the destruction of the forest and built a shrine, with a mandapam, trc.  Later, in the 12th century, Ukira Pandyan's son, Pulidevan, built the impressive 41m (135 feet) tall, nine-tiered Rajagopuram in front of the mandapam.  It is not a colorful Rajagopuram in the Tamil Nadu mould, but painted off-white like the temples in Andhra Pradesh.

The first shrine is devoted to Lord Shiva. In the middle is the second shrine, dedicated to Sri Sankara Narayana. The left side of the Lord, smeared in sandal paste, shows Hara with a cobra, the Moon and a deer, signifying the Shiva aspect.  The right side show Him as Hari, with the symbols of Vishnu, the couch (shanku) and the discus(chakram).  The third shrine is dedicated to Sri Gomathi Amman.  In front of the Amman shrine is dedicated to Sri Chakra Peetam.  Sitting and meditating on the Chakra is said to clear the mind of restlessness. It is said that those afflicted with psychiatric illnesses, like possession by evil spirits etc., can hope for some relief if they sit on the Chakra for 40 days.

The earth (puttrumann) obtained from the anthill, which is available at the Devi shrine, is said to be good remedy for those suffering from cancer and skin diseases.

Nagasunai, the temple pushkarani, was, reportedly, dug by two serpent kings, Padmam and Sangam, who also had the vision of Sri SankaraNarayana.  It is said that devotees should first have a dip in the tank, smear the body with puttrumann and then worship at the temple.  This is said to be an effective antidote to many diseases.

How to get there:  Sankarankoil is 56km from Tirunelveli.  Tenkasi is 46km away, while Rajapalayam is 33km from here.  Madurai is 115km.  The town is well connected by buses.  It is on the Virudunagar-Sengottai train route. Accommodation:  The temple guest houses are available at a nominal rent.  There are also private lodges.

Quickly Find What You Are Looking For