Site Name: Nitya Kalyani Temple aka Vilvavaneswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location: Kadayam village, near Ambasamudram town, near Tirunelveli city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A famous temple for mother Goddess; a Devara Vaippu Sthalam
Nearest Railway Station: Ambasamudram
Nearest Airport: Tirunelveli
How to reach: Well connected by road from Ambasamudram; public transportation is not dependable
Hotel: Few options in Ambasamduram and no option in this village; more options in the nearby city Tirunelveli
Restaurants: Only few options in the nearby Ambasamudram 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. Kadayam is a small village located at a distance of around 19 kms from Ambasamudram. The village has an important Devara Vaippu Sthalam temple called Vilvaranyeswarar Temple. As the Goddess is very popular in this temple, it is commonly called as Nitya Kalyani temple. Let us explore this temple in detail.
· A Devara Vaippu Sthalam temple
· The Goddess Nitya Kalyani is very popular in this locality
· The famous Tamil poet and patriot Subramanya Bharatiar lived in this village and used to visit this temple; he wrote many of his popular poems from this village
· God – Vilvaranyeswarar
· Goddess – Nitya Kalyani
· Teerth (holy water) – Chakra Teerth
· Sthala Vruksham (holy tree) – Bilva (Bel tree)
The King Dasharatha, the father of Lord Rama, was passing through the Bilva forest in today’s Kadayam area. He found a Swayambu Shiva Linga and prayed for getting his progeny (as per another legend, he worshiped to get rid of his sin of killing Shravana Kumar). This Shiva Linga was hence called as Bilva Vana Nathar, meaning the Lord of Bilva forest. Later, his name got changed to Vilvaranyeswarar. As per Kapila Purana, Lord Rama took bath in the river and worshiped Shiva in this site to get rid of his sin of killing Sambukasura.
As per a popular legend, Brahma performed penance towards Lord Shiva and got a divine Bilva fruit. He broke the fruit into three pieces and installed it in three different places, Himalayas, Meru mountain and in Dwada Shanta Van (Kadayam). Devas maintained this Bilva forest. Lord Shiva Linga appeared on his own (Swayambu Linga) and Pavati worshiped him in this forest. As she appeared as Kausi to kill the demons named Sumba and Nisumba, her complexion became darker. She started severe penance in this forest; Brahma made her complexion as golden color and named her as 'Nitya Kalyani'.
It is said that there were many unfortunate incidents happened in those days which made people to believe that the Goddess Nitya Kalyani was angry; they moved away from the temple and started staying in remote places. Later, a Brahmin from Sringeri was believed to have performed some religious rituals to pacify the Goddess.
As per another legend, the Goddess Nitya Kalyani was unhappy and angry as the villagers were pursuing material values at the cost of performing their religious rites. Seven priests died on seven successive days. The Goddess threw her “kedayam”, the war shield, to a place which was 4 miles away from the temple. The villagers migrated to the place where the weapon fell. That place was called as “Kedayam” which later became “Kadayam”.
There is also another legend which states that the Goddess was unable to bear the noise created by the inhabitants of the village; hence, she threw her “kadagam” (bracelet) to a faraway place and asked the villagers to migrate there. Thus the place was called as “Kadagam” which later became “Kadayam”.
Historically, as per the stone inscriptions, the Madurai Nayaka kings have developed the current structure of this temple. As per an inscription, Vikrama Pandyan has built the temple around 800 years ago. One of the inscriptions state that the Parivara deities were installed in 1216 CE. Even the Nayakar kings have contributed to this temple. The sage Sundarar had referred this temple and hence it is much older and is also considered as Devara Vaippu Sthalam temple.
The north facing temple does not have tower. It is located in a calm and secluded area in the outskirts of Kadayam village. The temple is surrounded by paddy fields.
Vilvavananathar aka Vilvaranyeswarar, in the form of big Shiva Linga, is the main deity. He is found in an east facing shrine. Adjacent to his shrine, the beautiful and attractive Nitya Kalyani Amman is found in a separate south facing shrine. The Goddess of the temple is much more popular than the presiding deity of the temple.
The flag staff, bali peeth and Nandi are all found facing the Shiva Linga shrine.
At the entrance of the shrine of Shiva Linga, a small Ganesha idol is found.
Near the flag staff, the idols of Ganesha and Subramanya-Valli-Devasena are located.
The temple has three prakaras.
The following idols are located in the inner prakara:
- 63 Nayanmars
- Sapta Matas
- Sura Deva
- Annapoorani-Saraswati-Gaja Lakshmi
- Viswanathar in the form of Shiva Linga
- Another Shiva Linga
The wall around the main shrine has the niche images of Dakshinamurti, Anna Malaiyar, Shanti Durga with eight hands and Chandikeshwara.
There is an important shrine dedicated to Bharani Peeth, a form (similar to Linga representing Shiva) which represents the Goddess.
In Maha mandapa, the utsava idols of Nataraja and Sivakami are located.
In outer prakara, Navagraha, Sankara Nayinar (Shiva Linga) and few nagas under the tree are located.
This temple is also called as Sri Kailasam, Kaliyuga Rameesvaramudaiyaar and Dasaratha Rameesvaramudaiyaar.