Ancient Temple City

Tirukoilur Saiva and Vaishnava History

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”.

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