Site Name: Tirukkoshtiyappar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location: Oorkkaadu area in Ambasamudram, near Tirunelveli city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: Literally an unknown temple; an architectural marvel with the contributions from Chera, Chola and Pandya
Nearest Railway Station: Ambasamudram
Nearest Airport: Tirunelveli
How to reach: Well connected; can be reached to this temple from an auto rickshaw from the center of the twon
Hotel: Few options within the town; more options in the nearby city Tirunelveli
Restaurants: Only few options within the town
Ambasamudram is a picturesque town located on the banks of the beautiful Tamrabharani river and on the foothills of the Western Ghats. The nearest city of Ambasamudram is Tirunelveli. It is located in Tamil Nadu state in South India.The town has a lot of scenic spots and temples. Let us explore one of the oldest temple of the town, Tirukkoshtiyappar temple. It is an ancient temple located in a remote location called Oorkkaadu. It is a little known temple; even the people from this town visit this temple not frequently. The temple is an architectural marvel.
As per the legend, the sage was once passing through this place. He used to pray six times a day but he did not have the habit of carrying any idols with him. In the place where the temple is currently located, the river Tamrabharani was flowing in those days. The sage made the idol of Lord Shiva Linga with sand. As the river was nearby, the idol was about to get washed away by the water. The sage playfully asked the Lord "Are you a Kotti (Kotti means mad in Tamil language). Hence, Lord Shiva in this site is called as Tirukkottiyappar.
There is another legend which records the event of all the Devas and sages visiting the site in group. In Tamil language, "Koshti" means group. Hence, Lord Shiva in this site is also called as Tirukkoshtiyappar.
The east facing temple is huge in size. It is believed that this temple was originally built by a Pandya King named Jadavarma Pandya in the 7th century CE. (I personally do not know if there are any inscriptions or records to proove this; also, I am unable to related any Pandya king by this name who ruled in this period). The temple has Pandya period inscriptions. Although it was originally built by a Pandya king, there were many contributions from the Chera and Chola kings too.
The entrance of the temple has a steep and pointed pyramidal style of roof (similar to Kerala temple architectural style) as it was built by a Chera king. The highlight is that it was not made up of wood but of stone. (In Kerala, the temple roofs which follow similar style are usually made up of wood.)
Shiva Linga made up of sand
The east facing sanctum sanctorum houses the huge Shiva Linga called as Tirukkoshtiyappar. It is made up of sand. However, the entire idol is covered with copper shield permanently. It is believed that it was covered many centuries ago by a king.
At the entrance of sanctum sanctorum, the idols of Ganesha and the sage Agastya are found.
The maha mandapa houses a separate shrine for Nataraja and Sivakami.
The Goddess Ulagammai is found in the north facing shrine in the mandapa ouside the main shrine. As the temple cannot have only the God, this shrine was built later. The sand was brought from Chidambaram to make the sculpture of the Goddess.
The prakara (corridor surrounding the main shrine) has the following idols:
- 63 Nayanmars
- Togai Adiyargal
- Sapta Matas
- Adhikara Nandi
The following sub-shrines are also located in the corridor.
Saneeswara is also unique in this temple. He is carrying lotus flower on his left arm. He is usually found as carrying crow in his right arm.
The Subramanya sub-shrine is also unique. It is believed that the sculptor who made this idol was from the family of the sculptor who made the famous idol of Skanda in Tiruchendur.
Outside the temple, there are some permanent pillars constructed around 50-60 years ago so that pandal can be put easily.
A huge shrine of Chokkanatha and Meenakshi is located near the temple tank. It looks like a separate temple. The idol of Chokkanatha is not found nowadays.
Near the tank, there is a big statue; the front side of the statue is a man but the back side is of a woman. The sage Agastya created a soldier to fight with a demon woman in this area. This idol represents this soldier and that rakshasi, it seems. A small idol of Ganehsa is found near by. Both these idols are placed below a holy tree.
The temple has flag staff, Nandi and bali peetha similar to other Shiva temples. Nandi mandapa is also called as Mani Mandapa as a big bell is hanging above.
There are many pillars across the temple with fascinating images.
The temple needs proper maintenance and it currently has no income.
When you get a chance to go to South India, if possible, make a visit to this unknown architectural marvel. It is not fair that such a magnificent temple with so many unique features remains unknown.
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