Tiruchendur Temple

Sri Subramanya Swamy temple

Tiruchendur is the seashore abode of Sri Subramanya Swamy.  Sri Subramanya Swamy temple, in this extreme southeast part of India, has been an object of pilgrimage for more than 2,000 years.  It is one of Karthikeya's Aaru padaiveedus.  While the other padaiveedus ae located on hills, hillocks or on foothills, this is the only one on the shore.  Tiruchendur is ranked second by Nakkeerar among the padaiveedus in his Tirumurugatrupadai, the first being the Palani temple.  Variously referred to as Tiru Senthil and Tiru Senthilur, in Tamil epigraphs, later Pandyan inscriptions call this place, Tiribhuvana-Madhevi Chandurvedhi-mangalam.

Tiru Senthi means" The House of Victory."  Originally, a shore temple for Shiva, the present shrine commemorates the victory of Lord Subramanya over the asura, Soorapadma, his brother, and their demon army.  The devas, who were harassed by Soorapadma and his hordes, appealed to Shiva for protection.  Shiva then sent His emanation, Karthikeya/Muruga/Skanda/Subramanya, to fight the demons.  The asuric forces were vanquished in five days, in battles at sea and in air, and only Soorapadma survived.  Despite the Lord revealing His Viswaroopa (true nature), Soorapadma continued to battle.  Skanda chased him from place to place, but the wily Soorapadma was a master of disguises.  He first transformed himself as a mango tree, and when Muruga uprooted it with His Vel, turned into a peafowl and cock.  Nevertheless, Subramanya vanquished him, and, in an act of forgiveness, He made the peacock His permanent vehicle, while placing the cock on His standard.  This symbolic victory (Soorasamhaaram) over the asuras is celebrated in the lead up to Skanda Sashti festival in Aypassi (October-November).

Originally, a part of a small hillock was hewn out to form a sanctum for Subramanya.  The second and third prakaras were added in time, as the temple grew during the last one thousand years, mainly due to additions and renovation by the Cholas, Pandyas, Nayaks and many others.  Built at first with sandstone reefs from the shore, which began to disintegrate, the structure was rebuilt with black granite.  The then head of the Tiruvaduthurai Mutt (in present Thanjavur district) built the massive 41.5m (137feet) tall, nine storied Rajagopuram about 300 years back.  The Rajagopuram faces west, not the usual east.  There are several inscriptions in the temple, the first of them dating to 875 CE,  to the Pandya monarch, Varaguna Maran.

The principal entrance to the temple is in the south, which opens into the first prakara.  Then there is a series of four long corridors, after which comes a sandy, but covered path up to the Shamukha Vilasam, a mandapam, supported by 124 columns, facing the sea.  Overlooking the Gulf of Mannar is the Ananda Vilas Mandapam, on a raised sandy promontory.  A passage from here leads o the temple proper, and the sanctum.  The Lord here is in a standing posture, facing east.  Near Him is the Shiva Lingam, worshipped by Sri Subramanya, Portions of the original cliff can still be seen here.  Then there is a pillared corridor with a large figure of Karthikeya seated on a peacock, engaged in the war with the asuras.

In the northern prakara is a shrine for Vishnu.  Hewn out of rock, the shrine is dedicated to Sri Venkatesa Perumal, the Lord of Seven Hills in Tirupati.  Adjacent, in a carved grotte, is Gaja Lakshmi, and next to Her, the reclining figure of Lord Ranganatha, flanked by Sri Devi, Bhoma Devi and Nizha Devi.  Also here are the 12 Alwars.

Inside the temple are a series of murals depicting the Dutch incursions into Tiruchendur, in the 1640s, during the time of the great Madurai ruler, Tirumala Nayak.  The Dutch, it is said, enteredinto a conflict with the Portuguese the European power friendly with the Nayaks seized the Tiruchendur temple and built fortifications around it. Attempts to take over the temple by the Nayak's forces did not succeed.  The Dutch ultimately left the country in 1648, taking with them the idols in the Tiruchendur temple, and demanding a ransom for their return.  According to the murals, once out on the high seas, they were faced with a violent storm that they had to perforce throw the idols into the water, before calm returned.  In the meanwhile, Vadamalaiyappa Pillayan, the local agent of the Nayaks, had a dream in which he was told by the Lord to search in the sea at a particular place for the stolen idols.  Pillayan identified the place, marked by a floating lemon and a kite (Garuda) flying overhead.  The idols were retrieved and reinstalled in 1653.  The Subramanya idol, adjoining the sanctum, is said to be one of them.

The Nazhikkinaru is a spring within a spring that is said to have sprung out when Muruga planted His Vel there.  A bath in the sea and these two springs is considered to confer merit. Valli's cave overlooks the sea.  This is the place where Valli reportedly meditated.

How to get there: 

There is now a direct train from Chennai to Tiruchendur.  Passenger trains run between Triuchendur and Tirunelveli, 62km away.  The station is more than a km and a half from the temple.  Buses, on the other hand, halt near the shrine.
Accommodation:  The Devasthanam runs choultries and cottages (with AC).  Private lodges are aplenty. Tiruchendur Hotels

Tiruchendur Distance Guide

Tiruchendur Chidambaram 524 Km
Tiruchendur Coimbatore 441 Km
Tiruchendur Cuddalore 515 Km
Tiruchendur Dharmapuri 436 Km
Tiruchendur Dindigul 277 Km
Tiruchendur Ernakulam 363Km
Tiruchendur Erode 420 Km
Tiruchendur Hogenakkal 481 Km
Tiruchendur Hosur 532 Km
Tiruchendur Kanchipuram 589 Km
Tiruchendur Kanyakumari 144 Km
Tiruchendur Karaikudi 334 Km
Tiruchendur Karur 354 Km
Tiruchendur Kodaikanal 296 Km
Tiruchendur Kodikkarai 506 Km
Tiruchendur Krishnagiri 484 Km
Tiruchendur Kumbakonam 411 Km
Tiruchendur Madurai 214 Km
Tiruchendur Mamallapuram 673 Km
Tiruchendur Mysore 617 Km
Tiruchendur Nagappattinam 451 Km
Tiruchendur Nagercoil 163 Km
Tiruchendur Palani 336 Km
Tiruchendur Pollachchi 394 Km
Tiruchendur Puducherry 536 Km
Tiruchendur Poompuhar 480 Km
Tiruchendur Pudukkottai 325 Km
Tiruchendur Rajapalayam 144 Km
Tiruchendur Rameswaram 300 Km
Tiruchendur Ranipettai 614 Km
Tiruchendur Salem 436 Km
Tiruchendur Tenkasi 118 Km
Tiruchendur Thanjavur 372 Km
Tiruchendur Thekkadi 350 Km
Tiruchendur Chennai 661 Km
Tiruchendur Tiruchirappalli 342 Km
Tiruchendur Tirunelveli 63 Km
Tiruchendur Tirupathi 721 Km
Tiruchendur Tiruppur 404 Km
Tiruchendur Tiruttani 654 Km
Tiruchendur Tiruvannamalai 607 Km
Tiruchendur Thrissur 522 Km
Tiruchendur Tiruvananthapuram 231 Km
Tiruchendur Tuticorin 39 Km
Tiruchendur Udagamandalam 539 Km
Tiruchendur Ulundurpet 478 Km
Tiruchendur Valparai 434 Km
Tiruchendur Vellore 650 Km
Tiruchendur Yercaud 465 Km


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