June 6, 2014

Papanasar Temple - Papanasam

Site Name:  Papanasanathar Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Papanasam, near Ambasamudram town, near Tirunelveli city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights:  A popular and magnificent Shiva temple in the backdrop of Western Ghats hill range
Nearest Railway Station: Ambasamudram
Nearest Airport: Tirunelveli
How to reach: Well connected by road from Tirunelveli and Ambasamudram; a lot of buses are available for this town as this is a popular picnic spot
Hotel: Few options in Ambasamduram and Papanasam; more options in the nearby city Tirunelveli
Restaurants: Only few options in Ambasamudram and Papanasam

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. Papanasam is a smaller town located near Ambasamudram which offers a lot more scenic spots, dams and wonderful waterfalls. Apart from all such picnic spots, the town also has an ancient and magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, Papanasanathar temple. Let us explore about this site in this article.


  •                A magnificent and ancient temple located in the backdrop of Western Ghats hilly area
  •            Located right on the banks of the river Tamrabharani which is flowing in full swing due to its a proximity from its origin
  •            It is one of Devara Vaippu Sthalam temples (referred by Appar)
  •       Manickavasagar has also praised the deity through his verses in Tiruvasagam
  •                 God – Papanasanathar aka Papanasar aka Papavinasakar
  •                 Goddess – Ulagammai aka Lokanayaki
  •                  Sthala Vruksham (holy tree) – Kala tree
  •                 Teerth (Holy Water) – Tamrabharani river, Veda Teerth, Kalyana Teerth and Bhairava Teerth


In this site, Lord Shiva displayed his wedding scene to the sage Agastya as he had missed the ceremony. There are many sites in South which claim that Agastya got the sight of wedding of God and Goddess. It is one among those sites.

A poet named Namasivaya Kavirayar lived in this town. He was a great devotee of Ulagammai. He used to visit temple every day and sing devotional songs till midnight. One night, he left the temple but continued his songs on his way back to home. The Goddess did not want to miss his songs and hence she followed him. The poet had the habit of chewing pan. While spitting his pan, it fell on the Goddess by mistake. The Goddess did not mind it. She appeared with the spit in the temple. When the priest noticed this the other day, he complained it to the King. The King wanted to enquire about this incident and punish the culprit. In his dream, the Goddess Ulagammai appeared and narrated the incident. The other day, he tied the arms of Goddess’ idol with the golden strings and placed a flower on her arm; he invited the poet and asked him to sing devotional songs. As and when he completed singing every song, the string got untied one by one. This incident further proved the greatness of the poet.

As Virata worshiped this deity, he is also named as Vayirasar.

As three out of four Vedas took the shape of ‘Kala’ trees and worshiped Shiva in this site, he is also called as Pazhamarai Nathar and Mukkalaa Moorti.

Temple Layout:

Exterior Region:

The beautiful temple of Papanasar is huge. It is located in a very scenic spot surrounded by trees, Tamrabharani river on the opposite direction and with the Western Ghats hills behind. It has gigantic seven-tier tower (Raja Gopuram). A vast pillared front side mandapa before entering into the tower with a beautiful entrance arch having stucco images and another mandapa facing towards the tower enhance the elegance of the site.

Nandi Mandapa is artistically beautiful. Bali peetha and the flag staff are huge. All of them are located in a hall full of huge pillars.

Ganesha and Subramanya idols are located at the entrance. Navagraha shrine is located adjacent to the flag staff.

Papanasar Shrine:

The main deity of the temple is Papanasar, a small sized Shiva Linga, located in the east facing sanctum santorum.

The entrance of ardha mandapa has the bas relief images of Ganesha and Subramanya-Valli-Devasena.

In the maha mandapa, a sub shrine of the metal idols of Nataraja and Sivakami are found.

There is a separate pillared mandapa outside the maha mandapa. The entire shrine is built as per the maada kovil architectural style. Nandi is found facing towards Lord Shiva in this mandapa.

Inner Prakara:

The deities that are found in the inner prakara surrounding the shrine of Papanasar:

  • Adhikara Nandi
  • Surya
  • Aditya Linga
  • 63 Nayanmars
  • Veerabhadra
  • Sapta Matas
  • Ganesha
  • Kali
  • Kanni Vinayaka
  • Dakshinamurti as the niche image
  • Madhya Linga and Nandi
  • Shiva Linga – Parvati – Nandi – Ganesha
  • Pazhamarai Nathar (Shiva Linga)
  • Soma Linga
  • Chandran
  • Bhairava
  • Shaneeswara

Bas-relief Images:

One of the highlights of the temple is the numerous bas relief images that are found in the exterior wall of the main shrine. Some of the images that are found here:

  • Mahavishnu
  • Durga
  • Bhikshatana
  • Natesha
  • Shiva with eight arms
  • Shiva with bow and arrow
  • Ganesha
  • Amman with four arms
  • Various saints in groups of two
  • Shiva dancing with his one leg facing upwards
  • Krishna with four arms – holding flute, conch and disc – surrounded by cows and snake
  • Andal
  • Garuda
  • Eka Pada Murti
  • Annamalai
  • Vishnu standing and sitting postures
  • Agastya
  • Trivikrama
  • Subramanya
  • Various saints in different postures
  • Durga with four arms
  • Brahma
  • Amman with four arms
  • Rama – Sita – Lakshman

Kalyana Sundarar Shrine:

There is a rare and important shrine located in the prakara - Kalyana Sundarar shrine. Here, Shiva along with his consort Parvati is sitting on top of Rishaba. The sage Agastya along with his wife Lopamudra and also Gundodhara with his consort are found. All are stone images; usually Kalyana Sundarar is found in the form of metal idol.

Ulagamman Shrine:

The Goddess of the temple Ulagamman is found in the standing posture; her shrine is more or less equal to that of Papanasar shrine in size. It has its own ardha mandapa, maha mandapa and the pillared exterior mandpa. A separate Nandi is located facing the Goddess. Her shrine is located adjacent to Papanasar shrine and it also faces the eastern direction.

Huge Sculptures:

Similar to the other ancient temples in Tirunelveli region, this temple also has big sculptures in the pillars such as Yazhis, the mythological animal in different postures, Arjuna, Karna, a soldier, a king with folded hands, etc.

Happy travelling.

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