Location: Poovalur, 4 kms from Lalgudi, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights:Lesser known Chola period temple
Nearest Railway Station:Lalgudi
How to reach:Well connected by road from Lalgudi and Trichy; public transport is not dependable
Hotel: No good hotels nearby; better to stay in Trichy or Lalgudi
Restaurants: No good restaurants nearby; it is better to go to Lalgudi
Poovalur is a small village near Lalgudi town in Tamil Nadu state of India. This lesser known site has a lesser known Chola period temple. Let us explore this beautiful and ancient temple called as Moolanathar Temple in this article.
Arunagirinathar has revered Subramanya of this temple in his verses in Tiruppugazh.
God - Moolanathar a.k.a. Gnanapureeswarar
Goddess - KunkumaSoundara Nayaki
Teerth (Holy water) - Panguni Teerth
Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Bilva
As per the legend, the Devas sought help of Manmatha (Kamadeva) to awaken Shiva, who was in deep meditation. They wanted Shiva to protect them by fighting the Asuras. As they did not have guts to approach the Lord themselves, they persuaded Manmatha to perform this task. Manmatha released flower arrows from his bow aiming at Shiva. The flowers hit Shiva and he turned very furious. He opened up his third eye and turned Manmatha into ashes. It is believed that Manmatha released his flower arrows from this village and hence this village is called as Poovalur. The word "Poo" in Tamil language means the flower.
Manmatha's wife Rathi worshiped Shiva in this village and got him back alive. Hence, this village is also called as Manmathapuram.
Sapta Rishis worshiped Lord Shiva in this site and gained knowledge. Hence, Shiva is also called as Gnanapureeswarar.
It is believed that Brahma, Manmatha, Indra, Chandra and Agni also worshiped Lord Shiva in this temple.
The east facing temple has three tiered tower. The temple complex is big. The Gopura as well as the Vimanas of various shrines and the sanctum look very attractive. From the architectural style, we could assume that the temple belongs to the Chola period. (I could not find any historical details about this temple; to my knowledge, there is no inscription found).
The east facing sanctum with a beautiful vimana enshrines a moderate sized Shiva Linga called as Moolanathar.
At the entrance fo the Ardha Mandap, the small idols of Ganesh and Subramanya are found. Nandi is found in the Maha Mandap and another Nandi idol is found near the flag staff.
Dhwajastambha Ganapati is a small Murit found near the flag staff.
The south facing shrine with a big front side Maha Mandap enshrines the beautiful idol of the Goddess Kunkuma Soundara Nayaki.
A small idol of Shanmukha with 12 arms seated on peacock is found in the Maha Mandap of Amman shrine.
Unlike the temple of Northern Tamil Nadu, Nandi is the vaahan of Amman in this temple. Hence, Nandi is found facing towards the shrine of Amman.
Nardana Ganapati, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava, Brahma and Durga are found as the Koshta Murtis. Dakshinamurti and Ganesh look ancient though the other idols appear to be sculpted in the recent past.
The big prakara around the two main shrines have many pillars with interesting sculptures. Also, there are many sub-shrines and idols located in this prakara. They are:
Maha Lingam shrine
Ganesh, Shiv Linga and 63 Nayanmars
Vellaivarana Vinayakar shrine (there are two Ganapatis in this shrine)
Shanmukha with twelve arms seated on peacock along with his two consorts - in a separate shrine - he was revered by Arunagirinathar
Durga in a separate shrine
Gaja Lakshmi and Jyeshtha Devi in adjacent shrines
Bhairav, Shaneeswara idols
Navagraha - Surya alone is found with his consorts
Chandikeshwara near the Koshta of Brahma
Chandikeshwari, the female form of Chandikeshwara, in the prakara of Amman
Vaakkuvaalamman, a small temple for the village deity of the village, at the entrance of the main temple