Shiva Temples of Tamilnadu

Thevaara Paadal Petra Shivasthalangal

Nellaiappar Temple, Tirunelveli

Temple Information
Location of the templeTirunelveli
Deity 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

Once upon a time, there was a man who used to supply milk to the royal household. One day, as he made his way towards the palace, carrying a vessel filled with fresh milk, he stumbled upon a stone, and inadvertently he spilt all the milk onto the stone. This incident repeated itself over the course of several days, leaving him deeply concerned and anxious. He decided to approach the king and he recounted the peculiar incident to the king. The king assembled his loyal retinue and accompanied the man to the exact location where the stone stood. The king's men attempted to dislodge the stone using their sharp axes, only to be met with an astonishing sight. As the first blow struck the stone's surface, the stone began to bleed, leaving the king and his men utterly bewildered. The king and his entourage were startled by a celestial voice, imploring them to excavate the very spot where the stone had stood. when they shoved the ground around the stone, the stone turned out to be a sacred Shiva Linga, which had a distinct cut-mark left by the axe. The temple was built after consecrating this self manifested Linga, and the cut-mark can be seen on the Linga even today.

Tirunelveli, a town with an interesting origin story, derived its name from a tale involving a devoted Brahmin named Veda Sharma. This Brahmin, deeply dedicated to the deity Shiva, would diligently collect paddy from various households and offer it to the Lord. One fateful day, Veda Sharma left the collected paddy out to dry under the sun. However, an unexpected downpour occurred, causing him great distress as he feared the paddy would be washed away. In his desperation, he fervently prayed to Lord Shiva for assistance. Miraculously, the Lord took pity on him and shielded the paddy from the rain by surrounding it like a protective fence. So this place came to be known as Tiru Nel Veli (Tiru - means a respectful ephitet, Nel - means paddy and Veli - means fence). The Deity also came to be known as Nellaiappar.

Another legend is associated with this temple, where a Siva Lingam named Anavarata Khan is enshrined in the south-eastern corner of the prakaram. It is said that a Nawab's wife was suffering from a severe illness. She was adviced to worship Nellaiappar, to recover from her illness. Following the advice, the queen performed rituals through temple priests and was miraculously recovered, giving birth to a son named Anavarata Khan. In honor of the queen and the prince, a shrine with a Shiva Linga named Anavarata Khan was constructed in a corner of the prahara, with an opening in the outer wall for the Nawab and his son to worship the Lingam.

Aboout the temple: Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu is home to two significant Shiv Sabhas, where God Shiva, in his form as Nataraja, performs his divine dance. Gandhimati-Nellayapar Temple is referred to as 'Tamira Sabha', while Kutranathar Temple is known as 'Chitra Sabha'. Gandhimati-Nellaiappar Temple, located in Tirunelveli, is one of the largest temples in the district, covering an area of approximately 14 acres. It stretches 756 feet in the North-south direction and 378 feet in the east-west direction, with separate temples dedicated to the male and female deity, connected by a stone hall. The main deity in this temple is Nellayapar, while the female deity is known as Gandhimati. Historical records indicate that this place was once called Venuvanam The temple is famous for its thousand-pillared hall and 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.

Upon entering the temple, a magnificent white Nandi can be observed, towering over 10 feet in height. Circling the flagpost adjacent to the Nandi and proceeding further, is the sanctum sanctorum of the presiding deity. Prior to reaching the presiding deity, a grand Ganesha statue, approximately 9 feet tall, can be seen. The sanctum sanctorum of the presiding deity is surrounded by three concentric corridors (praharams). Within the first corridor, customary to most temples, Goshta idols of Dakshinamurthy, Brahma, Durgai and shrines for Sandikeswarar, Mahishasuramarthini, Bhairava can be found. Govinda Perumal is adjacent to the shrine of the presiding deity. The second corridor is slightly larger and features musical pillars at its entrance, producing the sound of seven musical notes when tapped. The Tamira Sabha is situated within this praharam, along with idols of 63 Nayanmars, Ashtalakshmi, Saneeswarar, and Sahasralingam. The third corridor is notably vast and spacious. From this area, one can access the shrine of the female deity, known as Sannidhi, through an enclosure called 'Amma Mandapam'. After returning through the 'Amma Mandapam', the third corridor can be reached again. Additionally, there is an exit from the shrine of the female deity. The third corridor also encompasses a sizable shrine dedicated to God Muruga, depicted as a six-faced, twelve-armed figure seated on a peacock, facing south, accompanied by Valli, Deivanai on either side, and known as Arumukha Nainar.

Juradevar, depicted with three heads, three legs, and three arms, holding a rod, a bell, and a trident is unique to this temple. It is believed that anointing Juradevar with ground pepper and hot water can cure fever. Tamira(copper) sabha, one of the 'Pancha Sabhas' where Nataraja danced, is located in a separate enclosure within the temple. Nataraja in this enclosure, is referred to as 'Thamira Sabapati'. This enclosure is cladded with a copper plate on the ceiling, and the floor is tiled in wood. Nataraja is surrounded by Rudra Vishnu, the Vedas, and Rishis. The seven-tiered temple is adorned with beautiful pictorial works, and the image of Nataraja in the background is known as Sandana Sabapati.

Unlike other temples, this temple does not open at dawn in the Tamil month of Margazhi. Alternatively, the temple opens for darshan at 4 am in the tamil month of Karthikai. Special prayers are offered on Mondays during the month of Karthikai.

Tirunelveli Temple Photos

Temple entrance
Temple Nandhi
SAptha Matha
63 Nayanmars
Temple tree bamboo
Periyanayagi shrine