December 21, 2011

Ilanji Kumaran Temple

Courtallam is a small town located in the southern most part of India. The town is one of the important tourist spots in South India thanks to the nine waterfalls located within this town. Near Courtallam, there is a village named Ilanji full of fertile land. With the backdrop of hills and green fields, the ancient temple of Kumaran is located in Ilanji village. The temple is popularly called as Ilanji Kumaran Koil. Ilanji is located at a distance of 3 kms from Tenkasi and 5kms from Courtallam.

Ilanji Kumaran Koil has been revered in Tirupugazh by the great saint Arunagirinathar. This temple is believed to have been visited the mythological saint Agastya. As per the mythology, he was sent to South India by Lord Shiva. Agastya visited this temple before visiting Courtallam temple. Although, this ancient temple is considered as Kumaran temple (Murugan aka Kumaran - the son of Lord Shiva) nowadays, it is orginally the temple of Lord Shiva.

The current structure of the temple appears to have been renovated in the 15th century AD. The east facing temple has two entrances. There is no tower for this temple. The temple has ardha mandap, maha mandap and mani mandap (3 types of halls as per the South Indian temple architectural style).

The main sanctum of the temple is dedicated to Iruvaluga Ishwar (Lord Shiva in the form of Shiv Linga). The entrance of the sanctum has two big and beautiful sculptures of Dwarapalaks. There is also an idol of Lord Ganesha located near the sculptures of Dwarapalaks. The main sanctum is facing east.

Apart from the main sanctum of Shiva, the main shrine houses a small shrine for Nataraj-Sivakami and utsav (processional) idols. In addition, the Goddess Iruvaluga Isarkkiniyal is found in a separate south facing sanctum. The entrance of the main shrine has the idols of Ganesh and Murugan.

To the left of the main sanctum of Iruvaluga Ishwar, there is another main sanctum dedicated to Velavan. Lord Murugan is found with four hands and sitting on the peacock flanked by his consorts Valli and Devasena. The temple is nowadays named after this idol as Velavan temple. The Lord is also called as Tiruvilanji Kumaran.

The flag staff (dhwajastambha) and peacock idol are located facing the shrine of Velavan. Nandi idol is located facing the main shrine of Lord Shiva.

There is another important shrine in this temple. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the name of Varadaraja Perumal.

The temple has two prakaras (corridors). The inner prakara has the following idols/shrines:
1) Surya idol
2) 63 nayanmars
3) Sapta Mata
4) Suradeva
5) Kanni Vinayak shrine
6) Murugan-Valli-Devasena utsav idols
7) Venugopal with his consorts
8) Viswanath-Visalakshi along with Nandi and Ganesh
9) Kuttralanathar-Kulalvaimozhi along with Agastya
10) Ayyanar in a different shape
11) Sapta Kanni
12) Nagakanni
13) Vasuki, Lakshmi, Saraswati and two Ganesh idols
14) Shanmukha with his consorts in a separate shrine
15) Dakshinamurti on the niche
16) Shaneeswarar
17) Chandikeswarar
18) Bhairav
19) Shanmukha with his consorts as metal (procession) idols

The outer prakara has just one shrine for Shanbaga Vinayak.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Ilanji Kumaran Temple
City Name: Courtallam
An ancient temple located near Courtallam
Location: 55 kms from Tirunelveli; 3 kms from Tenkasi; Located in the Southern part of Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Tenkasi
Nearest Airport: Madurai (around 200 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Tirunelveli, Tenkasi,Courtallam or Madurai
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Courtallam and Tenkasi
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Courtallam and Tenkasi

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