Thirunelveli the headquarters of the district is another ancient city of Tamilnadu with a hoary tradition. It is mid way between Madurai and Kanyakumari and is located on the banks of the Thamaraparani River. Thirunelveli was once the capital of the Pandyas, and it has a history that goes back 2000 years.
Sri Gandhimathi Nellaiappar Temple
The main attraction of Thirunelveli is the twin temples of Ganthimathi Nellaiappar dedicated ot Parvathi and Siva respectively. The temple, built by a Pandya king in the 7th century AD rare jewels, musical pillars, thousand pillared hall, and sculptures are attraction of this temple. It is one of the five (pancha) sabhas of Lord Nataraj. The Shrine is glorified as the Thamara Sabha.
About 13km from Thirunelveli, is Krishnapuram. The temple here is deicated to Lord Vishnu. There are a number of life size sculptures in this temple.
Sankaran Kovil has three shrines dedicated to Lord Sankaralinga, to Goddess Gomathi Amman and between these two, to Lord Sankaranarayana, a combination of Siva and Vishnu. According to a legend, Sri Parvathidevi once wished to see Siva and Vishnu in one form. Siva bade her to go earth and perform penance. On the full moon day in Adi (July-Aug), Lord Siva gave darshan as Sankaranarayana. The Sun rays fall on the pedestal twice in a year.
Kazhugumalai is about 24km from Sankaran Kovil. The rock cut cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is worth visiting. The Jain temples here are among the oldest in the country and have some excellent bas relief sculptures is also worth to see.
Tenkasi is about 55km. Those who worship Sri Kasi Viswanathar in Tenkasi get the same benefit of worship undertaken in Utharakasi (Varanasi). This temple is a palace of sculptural skill of the stone craftsmen of Tamilnadu. 172 feet Rajagopuram (main tower) was built in 1456 by King Parakrama Pandian, Then it was damaged in 1924 due to thunder and it was built with height of 163 feet.
Courtallam is about 59km and 5km from Tenkasi. This wonderful temple is just near to the famous Courtallam waterfalls. The temple is conch shaped prakara. Shiva showed himself as Brahma and Vishnu. The Tirikootamandapam here is the site of festivities here. Parvati’s shrine is also important and is regarded as one of the 51 Shakti Peethams. It is one of the five (pancha) Sabhas of Lord Nataraj. The shrine is glorified as the Chithira Sabha.
Legends says Saint Agastyar proceeded south to stabilize theearth, and relieve the instability caused by the guests that arrived in the Himalayas for the wedding of Shiva and Parvathi.
Papanasam is about 60km. The famous Shiva temple is located at the bottom of Western Ghats and also very near to the origin of the River Tamaraparani. The temple is dedicated to Papavinasar, is known for absolution of sin. Every year the Chitrai Vishnu festival is celebrated in the month of April and another festival Adi Ammavasai is celebrated in the month of July and lakhs of people congregate there.
Thiruchendur is about 62km. The temple here is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramaniya, situated on the Bank of Bengal. It attracts thousands of tourist and pilgrims. After defeating demon Soorapadama , he came to this place offered his prayers to Lord Shiva. The foundation of this temple was laid on the Kandamadana Parvata or red sandstone rock of this coast. The temple is also has a huge tower of about 140 feet. The Skandasashti festival is celebrated at this temple is November each year.
There are nine Vaishnavite centers on the banks of river Tamaraparani. These nine temples are called Navathirupathi. In these Vishnu temples, the Prime Deities themselves are worshipped as the Navagrahas and so there are no separate shrines for the Navagrahaas, as found in other temples. They are 1. Srivaikuntam, 2. Thiruvaragunamangai (Natham), 3. Thirupuliyankudi, 4,5, Thirutholaivillimangalam (Erattai Thirupathi), 6. Thirukulanthai (Perunkulam), 7. Thiruperai (Thenthiruperai), 8. Thirukolur, 9. Thirugurukoor (Azhwarthirungari), It is difficult to cover all the temples at a single stretch travelling by bus.
Srivaikuntam is situated 30km from Tirunelveli, from where frequent bus services are available. The Prime Deity Lord Vaikuntanathan faces east in standing posture, with Adisesha serving as an umbrella an unusual presentation as he is always the bed to the Lord who comfortably lies down on him. The Lord’s Consorts, Vaikuntanayaki and Choranathanayaki dwell in different shrines in the outer praakaram of the sanctum sanctorum. This is quite a big temple and we have to cross several mandapams to reach the sanctum. Mlk abihisheka is considered very sacred. It is considered as a place of important for Shukra.
Alwar Thirunagari is 5km from Srivaikuntam. In Alwar Thirunagari, the Lord appeared on his own. According to tradition, the feet of Lord are below the earth. It is the birth place of Saint Nammalvar, said to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was meditating under a holy tamarind tree in the temple for 16 years. Nammalwar was the author of more than a thousand verses of Divya Prabhandam.
Nanguneri is about 29km. This ancient Vishnu temple is surrounded by 4 lakes. Hence the name Nangu Eri-Nanguneri. Lord Vishnu is dedicated to Deivanathan, Vanamamalai (Thotharinathan). Almost in all temples, ther would be only one Swambumurthy but in Nanguneri there are 11, Sridevei, Bhoodevi, Sun, Moon, BruhuRishi, Markandeya, Urvasi, Thilothama, Garuda and Vishvaksenar. This is a unique feature of this temple.
The Lord in the temple is bathed in gingely oil each day and the oil is saved in a well here. Those suffering from skin diseases use to apply the oil in their body and consume a few drops for cure.
This beautiful Vishnu temple is 42km west of Tirunelveli. It is on the Thirunelveli Nanguneri route. This is one of the 108 Vaishnava Divya desam. The temple is on the banks of Nambi river where Lord Varahamurthuy shrunk his huge form with his consort, hence the place is called Thirukurungudi.
The lord appears here in Nindra (standing), Amarndha (sitting), Nadandha (walking) and Kidandha (lying) positions. Thirukurugudi is also known as Kuranga Kshethram. Kuranga is the name of Boomadevi who performed penance on the Lord in this holy place.
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