Ancient Temple City

January 2014

Sri Ranganatha perumal, Vishnu temple, Adhithiruvarangam 16.k.m

Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar, Vishnu temple, Anthli 4.k.m

Arulmigu Veerattaneswarar, Shivan temple 1.k.m

Adhulya Natheswarar , Shivan temple, Arakandanallur, 3.k.m

Sri Ragothuma swamy , Brindhavanam 1.k.m

Sri Gnanantha giri thabovanam, 3.k.m

Arulmigu Kirubaburiswarar, Shivan temple, Thiruvennainallur 23.k.m

Arulmigu Arthanareswarar, Shivan temple, Rishivanthyam 16.k.m

Arulmigu Annamalaiyar Shivan temple, Thiruvannamalai 36.k.m

Sri Lakshmi narasimhar, Vishnu temple, Parikkal 37.k.m

Sri Varaha swamy Vishnu temple, Srimushnam 83.k.m

Sri Devanatha swamy Vishnu temple, Thiruvahindrapuram 67.k.m

This divya desam is one among the Nadu Nattu Divya desams. Closeby is Srimushnam which is a famous puranic place. This sthalam is on the Villupuram-Katpadi railway line. All buses from Villupram to Tiruvannamalai go via this divya desam. This sthalam is one among the Pancha Krishnaranya kshetrams, the other four being Tirukkannankudi, kapisthalam, Tirukkannapuram and Tirukkannamangai. This is one of the few temples whose administration is not under the State government, it is under the control of Tirukoilur Sri Emperumaanaar Swamy.

The Vishnu temple here is very big. A major portion of the temple was built during the Nayak rule. There is an idol of Durga inside the temple, which is rather unusual. It is believed that Durga came here, all the way from the Vindya mountains, to protect and safeguard Perumal Tirumangai azhwar refers to this incident in one of his paasurams.

Moolavar: Tiruvikrama, seen facing east, in a standing posture with the right leg lifted high.
Utsavar: Ayanar, Gopala.
Thaayaar: Poongovai Nachiyar.
Theertham: Pennai river, Krishna theertham, Chakra theertham.
Vimaanam: Srikara vimanam.
Prathyaksham: Balichakravarti, Mirukandu rishi, Brahma, Sounaka rishi, Kashyapa rishi, kavala rishi, Kusadwaja king, Pey azhwar, Bhuthath azhwar and Poigai azhwar.
Sannithis: Perumal Sannithi.

This divya desam is held sacred by all Vaishnavites as it is here that the Divya prabandham was composed. The first three azhwars met here and sang the glories of Lord Vishnu here. On one stormy night, Poigai azhwar sought shelter at a dehali (known as Rezhi in tamil). Soon, another passer by, Bhuthath azhwar sought shelter at the same dehali. The shelter was very small and both could sit. Some time later, a third passer by, Pey azhwar requested shelter at the same place. They all decided that they could stand in the small area. suddenly they felt another presence in their midst. Since it was dark and there was no light, both Poigai azhwar and Bhuthath azhwar sang a song praising Vishnu and when the song was over, the third visitor Pey azhwar had the vision of the Lord. He described what he saw and all three azhwars enjoyed the vision. The three then started to sing the glory of Lord in 100 verses each. They form the part of Iyarpa, a portion of the Divya Prabandham. Thus the Divya Prabandham was born at Tirukkoilur on a stormy night.

There are number of theerthams around this place. When God in his Tiruvikrama form covered the entire earth with one foot and the other foot covered the Brahma loka, Brahma washed the divine feet. The water with which he washed the feet latercollected in this place. This is known as Chakra theertham. It is believed that when Indra was cursed by Durvasa and he lost his kingdom and his wealth, he came to this Chakra theertham and worshipped Tiruvikrama and regained his kingdom through the blessings of Perumal.

Yet another theertham here is known as Sanku theertham. Guhan prayed here and had darshan of Vasudeva. Near this theertham are, Pindasthana and runamosana theerthams and both are special for prayers to the pitrus i.e. forefathers.

Yet another theertham is known as Karga theertham. It is believed that Brahma did his penance and realised Tiruvikrama on the banks of Akasa Ganga theertham. There is another theertham here called, Varsha theertham where Parasurama did deep penance, got rid of the his sin resulting from the kshatriya vadha done by him earlier. Closeby is Agasthiya theertham where sage Agasthiya muni did penance and had the darshan of the Lord. There are two more theerthams here known as Kavala theertham and Mirukandu theertham. The Krishnabadra river which is now known as Pennai river, emanates from Sahya Parvatham and is said to be the Ganga theertham with which Brahma washed the feet of Ulagalanda Perumal.

The temple has a large number of inscriptions. The most important is the record if the 6th year of Rajendaradeva II. One of his governers for this area, Narasimhavarman, pulled down the old bricks which were cracking and rebuilt the central shrine entirely of fine black granite. He alos built the enclosing verandah and the front mandapa. He also presented the central deity a canopy of pearls. After the construction, he engraved the walls with true copies of records found on the walls of the earlier structure.

There are plenty of other inscriptions that record many gifts from various kings such as Kulottunga I, Vikrama Pandya, Kulottunga III, Rajendra Chola I, Saluva Deva Narasinga Maharaja, Chakravartin Rajarajadeva, Rajaraja Chediyarayan, Immadi Narasa Nayak, to name a few.

Tirukoilur promises solace and succour to spiritual seekers.

Tirukoilur, located within the spiritual aura of Arunachala, the hill of the holy beacon, beckons spiritual seekers, promising solace and succour.

This area, where the Vaamanaavataara is said to have taken place, is known for its divine bards, revered saints, spiritual ambience, ancient shrines, and Vijayanagara architecture. Peace and tranquillity reign supreme in Tirukoilur.

The meeting of the MudalAlwars (Poygai, Bhutamand Pey) in the house of sage Mrigandu in Tirukoilur is well known. This holy town has also the samadhis of three revered saints Sri RaghothamaTeertha of the SrimadUttaradi Mutt (1557-1596), Swami GnananandaGiri, a Mahayogi and Gnanasiddha, who attained salvation in 1974, and GnaniyarSwamigal, founder of the Tirukoilur Tamil Sangam. The Sangam period poet Kapilar attained jeevanmukthi by fasting on a rock here, in the south Pennar river.

Tirukoilur is also the birthplace of renowned personalities such as the first Raja RajaChola’s mother Vanavanmaadevi, Tamil poet-scholar AthiMadhuraKaviraayan who lived during the period of KaviKalamegham, (13th century), King MeyporulNayanaar also known as MiladUdayar (seventh century) saint-poetKapila Deva Nayanaar, who authored the 11th Thirumurai, historical story writer Chandilyan...

Sri RaghottamaTheertha choseTirukoilur as his headquarters to spread the DwaitaSiddhanta in the country while GnananandaGiriSwamiji established `Tapovanam’, to encourage the study of Vedanta. Also a Gnanasiddha, he cured diseases through his Siddha medicines. JeeyarMadom was founded here by Sree Emperumanaar to spread Vaishnavism during the 16th century.

The poet who wrote TirukoilurSathakam (a collection of 100 poems) KavimamaniUthiyan (38) is incidentally, the present president of the Tirukoilur Tamil Sangam. He has authored seven novels, 400 dramas and around 2000 poems. He is the Indian representative to the ”World Tamil Poets Organisation” headquartered in Malaysia.

Unique are the temples here, so too the idols. The ten ft tall idol of VaradarajaPerumal in Manampoondi, built in stone during thePallava period is in meditating sitting posture. The p73 Sreedevi andBhoodevi idols are six ft tall; the Sthalapuranam reveals that both goddesses had meditated here. The Vamana idol in theUlagalandaPerumal Temple is one of the three such rare idols in the country. The second is in Srirangam, the third in Rishikesh. The Vishnu’s idol in the UlagalandaPerumal temple is 16 ft tall. The Ten ft tall Sivalingamof thePallava period carved in stone, in the VellaiGanapathy temple is yet another attraction. The Rajagopuram of the Trivikrama Temple is the fourth largestheightwise in Tamil Nadu. The 1300 year old Siva temple stands as a memorial to the killing of Andhakaasura by Lord Siva. The marriage hall just outside the temple was constructed during the Vijayanagara period, in the 14th century. Ganesha, seated south west of this temple has been worshipped by poetess Avvayar (seventh century) ”Seetha kamala poomporpada kamalam”.

History reveals that one among the eight Veerateshwara (Siva) temples, in the country, is in Tirukoilur, also worshipped byAppar and Tirugnanasambandar and saints such as Arunagirinathar and RamanaMaharshi.

The Aathulyannatha temple (Siva) with Goddess Arul Nayaki built in the seventh century during the Pallava period is situated on the northern bank of the River South Pennar on a flattened rock. The Rajagopuram faces south while the main temple faces west. Five caves beneath and a temple tank are other features of this temple.

SrivilliputhurAlwar, lived here during the 14th century. Swami ShanathanandaSaraswathi had his schooling in Tirukoilur, before becoming the disciple of Swami GnananandaGiri, who directed him to take sannyas from the Himalayan sage Swami Sivananda.

Sanskrit scholar Krishna Premi predicts that Varadaraja Perumal at Manampoondi will have a great temple in the days to come. The idol is at present under a temporary shelter. The temple built in the eighth century is believed to have been destroyed in the 12th century by floods. Nowadays, poojas are offered on a daily basis.

The Tirukoilur Cultural Society has been conducting ”KapilarVizha”, an annual affair (May 1 to 4) with unabated regularity for the last 19 years.

”KapilaVaanar” title is also presented by the society to up and coming poets, annually. ”With better roads, more informative literature in English, the Tourism Department can attract more tourists to Tirukoilur”.

This temple is dedicated to Sri Trivikrama – UlagalandaPerumal, the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is situated on the southern bank of Krishnabhadra in South Arcot district of Tamilnadu. This temple tower is one of the tallest, measuring 192 feet in height. The AlwarsPoigaialwar, Boodathalwar&Peiyalwar sang in praise of Lord Vishnu which formed the integral part of the NalayiraDivyaPrabandham.

One of the special features is that one idol contains the forms of two Gods – front side as Chakratalwar with sixteen hands and the back side as Narasimhar.

Bali, the powerful asura king who was the great grandson of Hiranyakasibu had conquered the three worlds, but in spite of being an asura, he ruled his land and people with justice. Even though Bali was just, Indralogam had to be returned to the Devas, who felt humiliated at the loss of their kingdom. Lord Vishnu could not fight so virtuous a king, and therefore he took the guise of a Brahmin boy. Bali was performing a yagna and for the success of the yagna he had to provide anything that a brahmin seeks. Lord Vishnu in his Vamanavataram begged for just three feet of land. This request was considered funny, for three steps of Vamana’s feet would measure upto a very small piece of land only. Bali humbly requested him to ask for something better which he would grant. But Vamana insisted on his three feet of land. To the astonishment of all present, Lord Vishnu as Vamana began to grow to a great height and with one step he covered the whole earth, with his second step he covered the entire sky and region above. With the entire universe covered, Bali had no more land to offer. He bowed down in front of the Lord & offered his head for the third step. Lord Vishnu had thus regained the power from the asura king. Being extremely pleased with the virtuosity of an asura king, he placed his foot on his head and sent him to rule over the lower regions. Vishnu is worshipped as Trivikramar or UlagalandaPerumal. There are shrines to this avataram of Vishnu at Tirukkoyilur and at Kanchi (UlagalandaPerumal).

Mrikanda Maharishi was engaged in severe penance & failed to get darshan of Lord Vishnu in his Viratrupam. He did sever penance & on Lord Brahma’s advice reached Krishnaranya& continued his severe penance. Lord Vishnu gave him darshan in his Viratrupam. This accounts for the Trivikrama image here raising the right leg above the ground. The presiding deity is seen worshipped by Brahma on the right side and on the left by Mrikanda Maharishi, Namachu, Garuda, Ananta, Vishaksvenaad a host of other celebrated saint poets. The Lord is holding the conch in his right hand, instead of the chakram, as if he were blowing on the conch after his victory over Mahabali.

From inscriptional evidence it is seen that the temple was constructed & maintained by the Pallava kings & later by the Vijayanagara rulers. From the sixteenth century onwards the temple administration has been in the hands of the Jeers. Emperumanar Jeer & his successors have launched several renovation programme, mainly concerning Towers.

The temple is surrounded by high rise compound wall. The tower opposite the Rajagopuram measures 192 feet in height with intricate sculptural wonders. The idol of Tirvikramar in the standing posture, with one raised leg, surrounded by worshipping idols. The idols are made of wood & it is indeed a wonder, that though centuries have passed, the idols still appear fresh & bright in a well preserved state. The Thayar is called Poongovil, enshrined in a huge mandapam of great structural beauty. Goddess Durga, usually seen in Saiva temples, is considered the custodian of the temple worshipped with great devotion.

Devout Hindus offer pindas and arrange samaradhanas on large scale at his place. There are several sacred thirthas around this temple. One of them is the Chakra Thirtha. It is believed that Brahma washed the feet of Trivikrama with water from his kamandalam. This water is said to have collected in a pool called Chakra Thirtha. According to tradition, Agasthya bathed in this thirtha before the commencement of his dirghatapas to get the darshan of Lord Trivikrama. Bathing in the waters of this thirtham is considered very sacred, especially in the Tamil month Ani.

Some of the other thirthas are Mrikandathirtham – bathing here blesses one with health, wealth, strength, money, fame, power and above all with offspring. Kalavathirtham – situated on the south-west of the main temple, the water is always pure, clear, sweet and sparkles like crystal, purging off sins instantly. VarahaThirtham – Parasuramar, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu is said to have bathed in these holy waters to atone his sins of having killed the kshatriyas. Pindasthanam&Runavimochanam – famous for offering pindas. Akasaganga – Brahma is said to have done penance here & got the darshan of Trivikramar.

Short Notes:

Listed under 108 VaishnavaDivyaDesangal – Thirukkovalur in Nadu Naadu.

The temple is located in the Vizhupuram – Kaatpaadi rail route. The place can also be reached from Cuddalore.

The Moolavar - Trivikraman seen in standing posture with leg lifted upto the sky facing east. The Utsavar is Aayanaar, Gopaalan.

Thaayaar - Poongoval Naachiyaar.

Theertham - Pennaiyaru, Krishna Theertham, Chakra Theertham.


Thirumangaialwar – 1078, 1138-1147, 1569, 1641, 2057, 2058, 2068, 2673, 2674

Poigaialwar – 2158, 2167

Boodathalwar – 2251

Total of 21 Paasurams.

The sthala puranam for this divya desam can be found in both the Brahmanada puranam and Padma puranam. The story of Tiruvikrama avataram of Lord Vishnu is very well known. Bali Chakravarti, who was known for his generosity was troubling the Devas, who eventually approached Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu decided to use Bali’s waekpoint, his generosity, and came to this world as the son of Kashyapa rishi and his wife Athithi. He took on the form of Vamana murthi. In the course of time, this brahmachari went to Bali chakravarti and asked for gift of land which could be covered by his three steps. Bali Chakravarti agreed. The Vamanan then assumed the Viswaroopa and covered the entire earth with one step, the Heavens with the second and at the request of Bali put the third step on the head of Bali and pushed him to Pathala. It is said the Tiruvikrama avataram of Lord was at Tirukkoilur.

When this avataram took place, Mirukandu rishi, the father of Markandeya rishi was not at that place. When he heared about the avataram, he felt sad as he was not there to witness the glorious form of the Lord. He undertook severe penance wanting the God to appear before him in the same form. He visited many kshetrams such as Gaya, Badri etc. On the advise of Brahma, he come down to Krishnabadra river and reached Krishnapuri where Brahma had told he will get Perumal’s darshan. In the course of time, an old brahmin and his wife approached Mirukandu rishi and said he and his wife were very hungry and tired. The rishi, even though he knew he had no extra food, went in and asked his wife to somehow prepare food for the old couple. His wife Mithravathi prayed to thayar and somehow was able to feed the old brahmain and his wife, to their satisfaction. At the end the brahmin appeared in front of the rishi with Sangu and Chakra in his hands. The old couple were none other than Perumal and Thaayaar. Mirukandu rishi prayed to God to show him His Tiruvikrama roopa so that he who had missed it earlier could derive the divine satisfaction. His wishes were satisfied by Lord and gave the rishi the Tiruvikram darshan. The rishi requested Lord to continue to stay in this form at this place for ever, so that other devotees could also have the similar darshan.

Another story connected with this place refers to the atrocities committed by a rakshasa Pathala Kethu who lived here. He had earlier prayed to Brahma and obtained a boon that he would be invincible. Having attained this boon, he became arrogant and started troubling both Devas and Minis performing tapas at Krishnapuram. Hence the Devas and the Munis approached Lord Vishnu and requested his to rid Krishna kshetram of this rakshas. Lord Vishnu assured them that he would protect them and find a solution soon. In the course of time, a King by name Kusadwajan came to Krishnaranya kshetram. The munis performing tapas here noticed his and immediately knew it was due to Lord Vishnu’s grace they have the protection of the King. They informed the king about the asura and their trouble with him. The king promised them he would take care of the asura. At this time, form no where, a horse by name Kuvalayam appeared. It was Lord Vishnus gift to the king to perform the holy task of killing the asura. The king got on the horse chased the asura and killed him in Kavala rishi’s ashram as he was hiding there. Having completed the task, the king asked Kavala rishi for the sure path to attain moksha. Kavala rishi advised him to stay here at Krishna kshetram and worship Tiruvikrama and his wish would be granted. The King did the same and latter Lord Vishnu apeared before him and granted his wish.

It is also believed that Brahma came to Krishna kshetram (Tirukkoilur) and prayed on the banks of Krishnabadra river (now known as Pennai Aru). Lord Vishnu appeared before him as Tiruvikrama at this place and assured his that he would stay here in his Archa form, thus enabling the rishis and other devotees to have his darshan for ever.

As of 2001 India census, Tirukkoyilur had a population of 1,27,108. Males constitute 49% of the population and females 51%. Tirukkoyilur has an average literacy rate of 78%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 83%, and female literacy is 73%. In Tirukkoyilur, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Lord Vishnu in the name Thiruvikkrama Swamy & Pushpavalli/Vedavalli Thaayaar (Vaamana Avathaaram) temple is located in the center of the town. Town evolves around the temple. This temple comes under 108 Divya Desams. East of the town has the Sivan Temple situated on the banks of River Thenpennai. Near to the temple, middle of the river, there exists Kabilar(Poet) Kundru (hillock). Tirukoilur is a place of historic importance. King Malayaman, who is famous for his war and administrative skills ruled from here. “Valla1” Pari(Vallal – patron king, Pari is one of the 7 patron kings who supported “poets” and scholars. They are famous for their charitable activities.) daughters Angavai and Sangavai were married to Malayaman’s son Deivegan and the marriage ceremony took place in a place called “Manam Poondi”(manam – wedding, poondi – lock/bond; place where the wedlock happened).

The famous chola king Raja Raja Chola was born in Thirukoilur, as Arulmozhivarman, the third child of Parantaka Sundara Chola and Vanavan Maha Devi of the Malayaman dynasty. Tirukoilur, is a place where not only Vaishnavites(Worshipper’s of Lord Vishnu) and Shivites( Worshipper’s of lord Shiva) co-existed with peace and harmony, knowing that Hari and Shiva are the different forms of same almighty. Tirukoilur is one of the “Ashta Veeratanams” [Ashta – eight Veeratanam – Place of Bravery].

Lord Shiva took various forms(incarnations) to destroy evil and establish justice, of which eight Avatars(forms) are very famous and Tirukoilur is one among the places where these Avatars emerged. Ambal (meaning Mother) [better half of lord Shiva],is called as “Brahan nayaki” [Brahan – universe Nayaki – Leader/Queen]. She is called the Queen of the Universe/ Mother of all beings in the Universe. Lord Shiva’s temple has a separate sannadhi[sacred room] for Lord Ganesha, which has historical and epic importance. Here is the place where “Avvaiyar”[Tamil Poet – Tamil king’s court had many Women Poets, Ministers and Warriors] got the blessings of Ganesha and wrote the famous verse “VINAYAGAR AGAVAL”, which has wonderful Yoga Techniques and has lot of Meta-Physics in it. Tirukoilur had scholars in all fields of Science and Arts and has an important place in South Indian History. Some fotos on Tirukoilur Temples: Tirukoilur is also a very regarded place for madhwas (followers of Dvaitha philosophy of Sri Madhwacharya).

Manampoondi is a small village located between Tiruvanamalai and Tirukoilur. Manampoondi is 36 km away from Tiruvannamalai. It is at a distance of 2 km from Tirukoilur. On the banks of River Thenpennai we can find the Moola brindavana of Sri Raghuutthama Teertha (1595 A.D) and Sri Satyapramoda Teertha (1997), very eminent pontiffs of Uttaradi Mutt of Madhwa lineage.

The tapovanam or Brindavanam of the great Hindu saint Gnanananda Giri is located on the banks of the river at Tirukovilur.

It has a number of temples both Vaishnava and Saiva sects, was once a capital of an important chieftain Malayaman of Sangam age datable to 3rd century BCE to 3rd century CE. To corroborate this, a Tamil Brahmi inscription at Jambai (near Tirukkovilur ) mentions about the king AthiyamanNedumanAnchi as SathiyaPutoAtiyanNedumanAnjihiIttaPali. MalaiyamanTirumudikkari was the illustrious ruler of this dynasty. The Sangam works speak of the invasion of Tirukkoilur and defeat of MalayamanTirumudikkari by NedumanAnji, king of Takadur (modern Dharmapuri) who is said to have offered Avvaiyar, the celebrated poetess (of that period), a myrobalan (gooseberry) fruit to increase her longevity.

Tirukkoilur seems to have been as important a religious center as Kanchipuram in Tondaimandalam. There is ample evidence to prove that Vaishnavism, Saivism and Jainism had flourished at this center. It is said the MudalAlvars, the first three Alvars, (Poigai, Butham and Pei) were made to meet by the grace of Almighty in one place at Tirukkoilur and in ecstasy they sang poems on Ulagalandaperumal; these songs were known as Divyaprabhandam. The presiding deity of the temple TiruvikramaPerumal is still a wooden image and this retains its ancient character.

Tirukkoilur, which is also famous for Saivism, was sung by the Saiva saints as one of the Ashtavirattanams.

Kabilar rock stands in south pennarriver.It was named after Kabilar, a sanga poet who is friend and guide of parivallal.

Arakandanallur/ Aramkandanallur (Aram + Kanda + Nalla + oor) is a small village located near Tirukoilur. It has a Shiva temple (Athulyanatheswarar) built on a rock, very close to the banks of the river. This temple has archaeological importance. It has cave rooms carved out of the rock and it also has a sub-way inside of another adjacent rock leading to veemankundru. Local people believe that PanchaPandavas lived here during their time of Vanavasa. It is believed that Ramana Maharishi visited this temple.


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