Saturday, October 16, 2021

Nellaiappar Temple, Tirunelveli

Location of the templeTirunelveli
Lord Shiva known asNellaiappar, Venuvana Nathar
Female deity known asKanthimathi Ammai
How to reach This temple is located in Tirunelveli on the banks of river Taamiraparni. TIrunelveli is well connected by rail network from many important towns in Tamilnadu.
Temple addressArulmighu Nellaiappar Temple
Tirunelveli District
PIN 627006

Temple: This sivasthalam is one of the Pancha Sabha Temples (Copper) of Lord Shiva. This is one of the big temples in Pandiya Naadu measuring 756 in length and 378 feet in breadth. There are 2 temples at Tirunelveli, one for Lord Shiva who is known as Nellaiappar and the other one for Kanthimathi Ammai. Both the temples are located side by side and a corridor joins both the temples. On the southern prakaram of the presiding male deity's temple, the stone statues of Nayak Kings are found who have made immense contributions for the development of this temple. The beautiful statue of Lord Arumugam (Muruga) with His 2 consorts Valli and Deivaanai sitting on His mount Peacock can be seen in the west prakaram. This statue is beautifully carved from single block of big stone. From the eastern prakaram, one has to enter through a series of mandapams to reach the sanctum sanctorum of Nellaiappar.

The temple of female deity Kanthimathi Ammai can be reached from the south prakaram and passing through the connecting corridor. The 1000 pillar mandapam inside the female deity's temple is very famous and it is here the celestial wedding of Kanthimathi Ammai with Nellaiappar takes place every year during the festival in the Tamil month of Aippasi corresponding to October 15th to November 15th.

Legends regarding the Temple: There is a story behind the name of the town Tirunelveli. Once there was a poor Brahmin in this town named Veda Sarma who was a great Siva Bhakta. Every day he used to go out begging and the alms thus gathered were used by Veda Sarma for offering to the Lord. One day, when the brahmin was drying the paddy which he had collected for offering to Siva, it rained suddenly and Veda Sarma feared that all the paddy might be washed away due to heavy rains. He became much distressed and prayed for help to the Lord who took pity on him and protected the paddy from the rain by covering it and standing around it like a fence. So this place came to be known as Tiru Nel Veli (Tiru - means beautiful, Nel - means paddy and Veli - means fence). The Lord also came to be known as Nellaiappar.

There is another legend connected with this shrine. In the south-eastern corner of the prakaram, a Siva Lingam, known as Anavarata Khan, has been enshrined. It is said that the wife of one of the Nawabs was suffering from some acute disease and consulted the Brahmins as to how she might be cured of it The Brahmins advised her to worship Nellaiappar and perform some religious ceremonies in the temple. She readily agreed and did the poojas through the temple priests. To the surprise of all, the Muslim queen not only recovered from her disease but also gave birth to a male child. The boy was named Anavarata Khan and the shrine with a sivalingam known as Anavarata Khan was built in a corner of the prakaram in memory of the Muslim queen and the prince. An opening in the outer wall of the prakararn just opposite the shrine was provided so as to enable the Nawab and his son to worship the Lingam, standing outside the temple.

According to yet another legend associated with this temple, Lord Siva once took the form of a Lingam, came to Tirunelveli and took his abode here. All the four Vedas stood around Him as bamboo trees and provided Him shade. So this Sthalam is came to be known as Venu Vanarn (Venu means bamboo tree and Vanam means forest) and the Lord came to be known as Venuvananathar.

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