July 12, 2014

Athalanallur Aadi Moolam Gajendra Varadan Temple

Site Name: Aadi Moolam Gajendra Varadan Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Athalanallur, near Veeravanallur, near Ambasamudram town, near Tirunelveli city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The site where Vishnu saved the elephant Gajendra from the crocodile
Nearest Railway Station: Veeravanallur
Nearest Airport: Tirunelveli
How to reach: Well connected by road from Ambasamudram and Veeravanallur; 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. Athalanallur is a small village located near Veeravanallur near Ambasamudram. The village has an ancient temple, Aadi Moolam Gajendra Varadan temple. Let us explore this temple in detail.


  •  God – Aadi Moolam (Utsava Murti - Gajendra Varadan)
  • Goddess – Theruku Nachiyar and Vadakku Nachiyar
  •  Teerth (holy water) - Tamrabharani


The popular legend of Gajendra Moksha is associated with this temple. It should be noted that there are several other temples which claim to have associated with this legend.

A king named Indradhyumna ruled this region. One day, owing to his other engagement, he did not receive his Guru Agastya Rishi when he came to his court. The saint got angry and cursed him to become an elephant. Thus the king became Gajendra, the head of elephants.

A Gandharva, by mistake, got hold of the legs of the sage Kapila when both of them were bathing in the river. Kapila cursed him to become a crocodile; he was told that he would remain a crocodile till Lord Vishnu would cut his head with his discus.

Once, Gajendra, the elephant came to the river Tamrabharani to quench its thirst. The crocodile caught hold of the elephant's legs. The struggle between these two creatures went on for thousands of years. At last, the elephant took a lotus and offered that to Lord Vishnu; it also cried 'Adi Moolame'. Now, Lord Vishnu rushed to the site with his mount Garuda and rescued the elephant by killing the crocodile. Both the elephant and the crocodile, thus, got rid of their respective curses.

As per another legend, the sages Bhrigu and Markandeya got darshan of Lord Vishnu in this site on the banks of the river Tamrabharani.

Temple Layout:

The temple is located on the banks of the beautiful river Tamrabharani. You can find the river on the backside of the temple.

The temple is facing the east direction and has a stunningly colorful five tier tower (Raja Gopuram). There is another tower found after entering into the entrance. The area between both the towers are full of pillars with beautiful carvings.

The sanctum sanctorum has the presiding deity Aadi Moolam; he is found with four arms and in the standing posture; his two consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi are found in the standing posture on his either sides. The sages Markandeya and Bhrigu are also found inside the main shrine. As per the legend, they got darshan of Lord in this site.

The metal (utsava) processional idols of Gajendra Varadan along with his two consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi are also found in the same shrine. Also, a separate utsava idol of Andal is found here.

At the entrance of the Ardha Mandapa, the sculptures of Dwarapalas are found to be huge in size.

As usual, the sub-shrine of Garuda, flag staff and bali peeth are found facing the main shrine.

The main shrine is build as per 'maada kovil' architectural style. Hence, the main shrine is found on a raised platform and you can reach that by climbing up few steps. Also, as per this architectural style, there is a front side mandapa with carved pillars. The vimana called as 'Indira Vimana' and the back side wall of the main shrine are artistically beautiful.

The temple has two prakaras. The outer prakara is a open space found with trees and plants.

The inner prakara has the shrines of Goddesses - Therku Nachiyar (Lakshmi) and Vadakku Nachiyar (Bhoo Devi). Also, the idols of ten Avatars of Vishnu - Dasavatar, Krishna with Rukmini and Satyabhama, a sub shrine of Paramapatha Nathar - a stucco idol of Vishnu in the sitting posture are all found in the inner prakara.

In Maha Mandapa, the sub-shrines of Andal and Vishwaksena are found. Near Garuda's idol, Chakrathalwar with Narasimha holding four discuses on his back side and the sub-shrine of Hanuman are located.

The temple is full of beautiful carvings. Many of them depict Dasavatar scenes or the scenes related to Gajendra Moksha legend.

A peaceful place - don't miss it.

Happy travelling.

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