August 21, 2010

Tirunelveli Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple Structure - Part 2

Read: Tirunelveli Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple Structure - Part 1

Tirunelveli, an ancient South India city has the famous Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple. In my previous blog posts, I had written about the legend of Nellaiyappar temple and also the structure of the temple. This blog post is a continuation of those posts, where I am going to write more about the structure of the temple.

As I have already mentioned, the temple of Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi was originally two temples and was linked later. Let me talk about the structure of Kanthimathi Amman temple in this article.

Nellaiyappar Temple - Sculpture
The entrance of Kanthimathi Amman Temple is adorned with a beautiful Raja Gopuram (tower). The tower was built in the year of 1626 CE. You can also find two small shrines of Lord Ganesha and Lord Muruga on either side of the tower entrance. Once you enter the temple, you can find "Unjal Mandapam", a hall where the religious discourses happen. On the left side of the hall, there is open space and to its right side, there is temple tank. The tank is very popular in Tirunelveli and it is named as 'Pottramarai'. It is believed that Lord Shiva is in the form of water and Lord Brahma came here with golden flower (Pottramarai).

Towards the sanctum of Kanthimathi, there is flagstaff (Kodi maram) and Nandi idol. On the left side, there is Aayiram Kal Mandapam aka thousand pillared hall. However, there are not thousand pillars in this hall. After passing through the flagstaff and moving towards the sanctum, you can find another small mandap.

The sanctum enshrines Goddess Kanthimathi, the cosort of Lord Nellaiyappar (Shiva). She is in the standing posture with two arms. She holds lotus and parrot in her arms.  On the entrance of her shrine, there are idols of Ganga and Yamuna. The corridor (prakara) surrounding the Kanthimathi shrine has the small shrines for Lord Ganesha, Muruga, Chandikeswara and Shanmukha (Arumuga Nayinaar) in utsav form. There is another big prakara surrounding Kanthimathi shrine. The big prakara has another tank named 'Karu mari' tank. The legend is that the saint Durvasa cursed a king named Indiraththuiman to become elephant. The elephant took bath in this tank to get rid of the curse and got its human form back. There is a small shrine for Lord Ganesha near the tank.

Nellaiyappar Temple Corridor
Let me continue describing the temple structure in the next post. Till then...

Happy travelling.

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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