Site Name: Ammainathar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location: Cheranmahadevi, near Ambasamudram town, near Tirunelveli city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The second Nava Kailasham site; considered as Chandra sthalam; the popular legend of Nandan is associated with this temple
Nearest Railway Station: Cheranmahadevi
Nearest Airport: Tirunelveli
How to reach: Well connected by road from Ambasamudram and Tirunelveli; local buses are available from Ambasamudram and Tirunelveli
Hotel: Few options in Ambasamduram and no option in this village; more options in the nearby city Tirunelveli
Restaurants: Very limited options in Cheranmahadevi; for better option, go to Ambasamudram
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. Cheranmahadevi is a small village located near Ambasamudram. The village has an ancient temple, Ammainathar temple. It is one of Nava Kailasham temples. Let us explore this temple in detail.
Romasa Maharishi was the grandson of Lord Brahma. He had the sage Agastya as his Guru. As per his Guru's advice, Romasa dropped nine flowers in the river Tamrabharani and installed nine Shiva Linga idols in nine places where those flowers reached. All these nine Shiva Lingas are named as Kailasanathar and all of them are considered as Nava Kailasham temples. Cheranmahadevi is the second Nava Kailasham temple.
The popular legend of Nandanar, the great devotee of Lord Shiva, is associated with this temple too. Nandanar was born in a Dalit family sometime between 7th and 9th century CE. He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. In those days, the people from his community were not allowed inside the temple. He used to worship and pray standing outside the temple entrance. He visited many sites. He also came to Cheranmahadevi and visited Ammainathar temple from outside. He obviously could not see Lord Shvia. Shiva ordered his mount Nandi to move away so that his devotee could get direct sight of him. Thus, in this temple, Nandi is found slightly moved away from the center.
The temple, which is believed to be around 1100 years, was originally built by two poor farmer ladies. Both the ladies were labourers and they used to collect rice daily and offer it to Shiva Linga idol in this site. They were worried that the idol did not have a temple. Lord Shiva made them very rich. Both of them used their wealth to build this massive temple. Later, this temple was renovated by Kulothunga Chola I.
The east facing temple has a recently renovated simple five-tier tower; the usual stucco images are not found in the tower. It is located at the outskirts of Cheranmahadevi amidst banana fields.
The area that connects the main shrine and the tower has its roof covered and has many pillars. The bali peetha, Nandi mandapa and flag staff are all located in this hall. Unlike other regions, some of the temples in this region have flag staff between Nandi and the main shrine. In this temple too, the flag staff is positioned similarly.
The main shrine has slightly bigger Shiva Linga named as Ammainathar or Kailasanathar. The entrance of ardha mandapa has a Ganesha idol in addition to Dwarapalas. The Nandi idol in maha mandapa is slightly moved from the center. In the flag staff, the bas relief image of Nandanar is found. The pillars in the exterior mandapa of the main shrine are carved with beautiful sculptures. It is built as per 'maada kovil' architectural style.
The Goddess Aavudai Nayaki is found in a separate shrine on the right side of the main shrine. It is equally bigger in size with all the three sections and even Nandi facing towards the Goddess.
The inner prakara has Dakshinamurti sculpture as the niche image. Apart from that the sub-shrines of Ganesha, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena and Chandikeshwara are located.
Some of the idols that are found in the inner prakara include Sapta matas, Jwara Deva, Nalvar, Vishnu, Gaja Lakshmi, Surya, Chandra and Adhikara Nandi.
Bhairava sub-shrine and Shasta sub-shrine are located in the outer prakara which is full of trees and plants.