February 15, 2014

Ambasamudram Tirumoolanathar Temple

Site Name: Tirumoolanathar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Ambasamudram, near Tirunelveli city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The oldest temple of Ambasamudram; located amidst paddy fields in a secluded but scenic location
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 the oldest temple of the town, Tirumoolanathar temple. It is an ancient temple located in a peaceful site amidst paddy fields on the northern banks of the river Tamrabharani. The location is picturesque. It is a little known temple; even the people from this town visit this temple not frequently.

Highlights:
  • God - Tirumoolanathar
  •  Goddess – Ulagammai
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Brahma Teerth and Saraswati Teerth
  • Brahma and Saraswati got boon from this site which resulted in the origination of this temple
  • The sage Agastya got the sight of the divine wedding of Shiva and Parvati in this site
  • The oldest and the original temple of this town; although the other temples are popular now, they were built much later
  • Located in a very beautiful location
  • Nearby temple Purusothama temple is equally unique and beautiful

Legend:

As per the legend, Lord Brahma wanted himself to get rid of birth and death cycle. When he approached Lord Shiva for help, he was advised to perform yagna on the banks of the river Tamrabharani. Accordingly, Brahma along with his consort Saraswati came to Aamalaka Vanam (Forest full of gooseberry trees) and created two ponds, which were later called as Brahma Teerth and Saraswati Teerth. Both of them took bath in those ponds and performed yagna towards Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Shiva Linga made of Vibhuti (sacred ash) along with his consort Ulagammai. Shiva fulfilled the wishes of Brahma and Saraswati.

After many years, in the same site, the sage Agastya got the sight of the divine wedding of Lord Shiva and Ulagammai.

Temple Layout:

The east facing temple is located in a scenic location amidst paddy fields. The temple ponds are located well in front of the main entrance of the temple. There is no temple tower. The temple which is arguably the oldest temple of Ambasamudram town is big in size. However, the other usual symbols such as flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi statue are all located facing the main entrance. The unique feature of the temples in this region is that the flag staff is located in the middle of main shrine and Nandi. It can be found in the same way in this temple too.

The sanctum sanctorum has a very big idol of Lord Shiva Linga named as Tirumoolanathar. In the maha mandapa, the Goddess Ulagammai is found in a separate south facing shrine.

The beautiful and big mural painting of Nataraja-Sivakami is found in the wall of Maha Mandapa.

At the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum, the idols of two Shiva Lingas and two Ganeshas are located. The Maha Mandapa also has a Nandi statue facing the Lord. The entrance of Maha mandapa has another idol of Ganesha. The corridor facing the maha mandapa has many pillars full of sculptures.

The prakara (corridor surrounding the sanctum) has the below-mentioned idols:
  • Nalvar - the four important devotees of Lord Shiva
  • Few saints and devotees
  • Bhairava
  • Shaneeswara
  • Surya
  • Chandra
  • Adhika Nandi (Nandi in the standing posture)
There is a separate big shrine for Meenakshi and Chokkanathar located within this corridor.

There is a subshrine where the tall idol of Lord Vishnu along with his two consorts are found. (The temple authorities have named it wrongly as Navaneeta Krishna).

Some of the other shrines found in this temple include Navagraha (nine planets), Ganesha, Subramanya with Valli and Devasena, Shasta with his two consorts and Annamalaiyar.

The Koshta idols are usually found in the form of bas-relief or relief images in the outer walls of sanctum sancotrum. However, in this temple the two Koshta deities Dakshinamurti and Vishnu Durga are found in the form of complete sculpture inside small sub-shrine. Chandikeshwara is also found as usual.

There is a nearby temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu named as Purushothama Perumal temple. It is a unique temple where Lord Vishnu with Lakshi on his left lap; both of them in the sitting posture with the seven hood Adi Sesha on their head; their legs resting on the arms of Garuda below; Garuda carries Vishnu with his right arm and Lakshmi with left arm; a lotus is found on his left arm and he is not directly touching the leg of the Goddess. Importantly, Lord Purushothama carries two conches and two discuses.

It is believed that both the temples were built by Parantaka Chola. Not sure if there are any records to proove this.

When you go to this part of India, ensure that you take time to visit this unique temple located in a picturesque site.

Happy travelling.



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