July 6, 2014

Alwarkurichi Agneeswarar Temple

Site Name: Agneeswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Alwarkurichi, near Ambasamudram town, near Tirunelveli city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The site where Agni, the fire God, got rid of his sins
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. Alwarkurichi is a small village located near Ambasamudram. The village has an ancient temple, Agneeswarar temple. Let us explore this temple in detail.

Highlights:

  •  God – Agneeswarar
  • Goddess Sivakami
  •  Teerth (holy water) - Agni Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (holy tree) - Vanni tree

Legend/History:

Towards the end of Dwapura Yuga, the Sapta Rishis began a yagna to control Agni from destroying people. Agni, the fire God, destroyed that yagna. Due to this, they cursed him to lose his power. In order to escape from the sin, he disguised as a fish hid himself inside the tank opposite to this temple. As all other fish were staying away from him (in the form of fish), the sin could easily identify him and he lost his power. Later, as per the advice from Soota Maharishi, he made Shiva Linga and installed in this shrine to ultimately get rid of his sins.


In due course, the site became a forest full of Vanni trees. A rich person named Vijeyendra Bhoopati Mudaliar built this temple in the current structure. As the temple was located inside the Vanni forest, the deity is also called as Vaneeswarar.

Temple Layout:

The ancient temple of Agneeswarar is located at the outskirts of Alwarkurichi village. The structure is very old and needs immediate attention. The east facing temple tower as well as the ceiling of many parts of the temple are in dilapidated state. 

The sanctum sanctorum has a big sized Shiva Linga named as Agneeswara. The shrine is facing the east direction. In the Maha Mandapa, there is a Nandi idol facing the main shrine. There is a small Ganesha idol at the entrance of the Ardha Mandapa. The Goddess Sivakami is found in a separate shrine facing the south direction. Both the main shrines are located on a raised platform as per the "maada kovil" architecture style.

The area between the tower and the main temple is huge with so many pillars and some of the pillars have statues such as the mythological animal, Yazhi. The bali peeth, Nandi and the wooden flag staff are all located in this area. There is a big shrine dedicated to Lord Nataraja in this area.

The temple has two prakaras. The outer prakara is not accessible today due to poor maintenance; it appears like a forest and full of structural debris.


The first prakara has the idols of Sapta Matas, Surya, Chandra, Bhairava, few Shiva Lingas, Ishana Linga, few Nagas and 63 Nayanmars. The sub-shrines of Kanni Vinayaka, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena and Dakshinamurti are also located in the inner prakara. Small bas-relief images of Yoga Narasimha and Brahma, which are obviously later additions, are found on either side of Dakshinamurti.

The mandapa opposite the main shrine has so many pillars. In one of the pillars, two carvings are worshiped as Goddesses. One of the female images is worshiped as Kalyani Amman. The local people believe that she gives boon of marriage for unmarried people. The other female image is a typical pregnant woman image which is found in many temples in South Tamil Nadu. In this temple, people call it as 'Garbha Rakshambikai'. It is believed that she gives boon of child for childless couple. More than the presiding deity, these two carvings pull the crowd to this temple.

Go and visit this poorly maintained temple before it completely falls down.

Happy travelling.


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