August 14, 2010

Tirunelveli Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple Structure - Part 1

In my previous post, I wrote about the legend and history of Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple of Tirunelveli city. (Tirunelveli is a city located in Tamil Nadu state of India). In this post, I will continue to write about the temple structure, architecture and the sculptures of Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple. Again, it cannot be covered in a single blog post. Hence, I am planning to write a series of blog posts on the temple structure alone.

Kanthimathi Amman Temple Tower
As we have seen already, Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple is the main temple of Tirunelveli city. This temple is located at the heart of the city. This temple is one of the 27r important Shiva temples (Paadal Petra Sthalam). Lord Shiva is named as Nellaiyappar in this temple. Lord Shiva is also called as Venuvananathar, Veimutha Nathar, Nelveli Nathar, and Chalivaadeesar. The Goddess of the temple is Kanthimathi. She is also called as Vadivudai Amman and Thiru Kamakkottamudaiya Nachiar.

Originally, Nellaiyappar temple and Kanthimathi temple were built as two separate temples with space in between. It was in the year of 1647 CE, a devotee named Thiru Vadamalaiappa Pillaiyan linked both the temples by building 'Sangili Mandapam' (chain mandapa/hall). The Nellaiyappar temple is 850 feet long and 756 feet broad. The Kanthimathi temple is almost of the similar extent. Both the temples have Raja Gopurams (towers) at their respective entrances. Apart from these two main temple towers, there are three more small towers in the temple.

Nellaiyappar Temple Tower

Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple has five cars for Nellaiyappar, Kanthimathi, Ganesha, Muruga and Chandikeswara. Nellaiyappar car is the third largest car in Tamil Nadu state. The car festival is one of the famous festivals celebrated in the Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple.

The shrine has 32 teerthams (temple tanks) out of which 4 teerthams are located inside the temple; the rest are located outside the temple.

The Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple is located at the center and surrounded by four main roads called as North Car Street, East Car Street, South Car Street, and West Car Street.

Let us explore more details about the interior temple structure in the next blog post....till then...

Happy travelling.

A Female carrying a Child

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple

City Name: Tirunelveli

1) One of the oldest and biggest temples of South India
2) Musical Pillars
3) Beautiful sculptures
4) One of the five adobes of Nataraj
5) One of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalam temples

Location: 180 kms from Madurai; 620 kms from Chennai; Located in the Southern part of Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Tirunelveli; Tirunelveli station is a popular train junction; you can find a lot of trains from all over India to this city
Nearest Airport: Madurai (around 180 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Tirunelveli
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Tirunelveli; Don't forget to taste the Halwa either from Iruttu Kadai or Shanti Sweets

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