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About the Temple

TheTiruchendur temple is one of the delightful spots sanctified and veneratedby every devout Hindu. The sun bows in adoration each morning as the 'redglobe' rises from the rippling expanse of the ocean. Skireted by sea onthe east and north, the temple walls are lashed by the roaring waves ofthe Gulf of Mannar. The origin of the temple dates back to the Puranicpast. 

ManySaivite saints have worshipped at this shrine and sung in glory of LordMuruga. The immortal idol, Thirumurugatruppadai by Nakkirar, Thiruppugazh,Kanthar Alankaram and Kanthar Anubhuthi by Arunagirinathar and KantharKalivenba by Kumaragurubarar, are unparalleled in the devotional literatureof the Tamils. Sri Adi Sankara, the great exponent of the Advaita philosophyof the Hindu religion, has visited this place. In his hymn SubrahmanyaBhujangam, Adi Sankara lucidly describes the roaring sea skiriting LordMuruga's abode and his mercy. It is said Adi Sankara was cured of his illnessafter worshipping the Lord here. 

Thereis a legend connected with the idol of Shanmukha. About 1648 A.D. the Dutchinvaded the temple and carried away the idol thinking that it may be ofgold. In the high seas, a terrible storm broke out and the frightened menthrew the idol overboard. The theft was duly reported to Sri VadamalayappaPillayan, the local renter of the Nayak ruler. He quickly prepared a similaridol in panchaloka. Meanwhile, the Lord appeared in his dream and instructedhim to put to sea, and the idol was to be found at the spot where a limefruit would be floating, and over it a Garuda (Vishnu-kite) would be circling.Thus the original idol was recovered and reinstalled in the temple. Toprepetuate constructed a mandapam in his name and endowed properties forthe performance of a Kattalai for the Lord on the 7th day of the Masi andAvani festivals.

AVast mandapam with 124 pillars adorns the entrance to the main temple.The sanctum of Lord Shanmukha with his consorts is visible from this Mandapamitself. It is named Shanmukha Vilasam. The principal entrance of the templefaces the south and opens into the first temple prakaram. It is the SiviliMandapam. Towards the west of the southern portal of the first prakaram,the shrine of Dakshinamoorty, facing south, is situated. Further west atthe corner there is a mandapam where the processional deities are decoratedduring festivals. It is at this mandapam that the annual Tirukalyanam ofValli on Panguni Uthiram day is held. Further north on the western portalis the idol of Lord Subramanya astride a peacock giving battle to Surapadman.Sivalingams follow at intervals. Then comes Saint Arunagirinathar. It isworth mentioning here that this idol of the author of Thiruppugazh is givena sanctum. At the centre of this prakaram is the Melagopura Vasal ( westernportal ) of the temple. The main western gopuram stands on the outer sideof this doorway. Welcoming the devotees here is a giant idol of Lord Ganesha,better known as Mukkuruni Pillaiyar.On the northern portal is the shrineof Venkatesh, hollowed out of rock. Sri Venkatesa is seen in a standingposture. Adjacent to it in a carved grotto are Gajalakshmi, PallikondaRanganathar, Sridevi, Bhudevi and Neeladevi. The twelve Alwars are alsodepicted here.

TheTower Miracle
Admirablein this temple is the artistic beauty of the statuary. A rare touch ofthe sculptor's mastery over his art can be seen from the many lingams carvedon a single piece of stone. The  Raja Gopuram on the western gateis a monumental edific and striking landmark. There is an interesting episodeassociated with its construction. About 300 years ago, Desikamurthiswamyof Maha Sannidhanam of Tiruvavadurai Mutt was ordained, in his dream, withthe task of building this tower. Wedded to abject poverty as he was, theSwamy had no means to pay the labour. He gave them pinches of sacred ashesof the Lord as their daily wages. The ashes, it is said, turned into goldcoins as the labourers passed through the Thoondukai Vinayakar Shrine.By the time the sixth storey was finished, this miracle ceased to happen.Again the Lord showed the Swamy another patron by name Seethakathi Maraikkarat nearby Kayalpattinam, from whom he received a basket of salt. On reachingTiruchendur, the salt turned into gold coins, sufficient to complete thedivine task. The original temple has been completely done anew in blackgranite during the course of a century by two devout swamis and completedby a third as his life's purpose. 

Thereis a seperate cave situated about 200 feet north of the main temple. Apicturesque grotto is carved out of hardened sandstone. Two images areinstalled there, one dedicated to Valli and the other to Dattatreya. Behindthe frontal cave, there is a circular passage with another grotto carvedfrom inside, with an idol of Valli in a niche. The cave temple has recentlybeen given a face-lift. 

Ina separate shrine, facing south, there is Shanmukha with his consorts Valliand Deivayanai. These beautiful copper idols are decorated with dazzlingdiamonds and gold ornaments. The Lord is holding various weapons on histwelve hands. Colourfully painted on the walls here are Puranic scenes.All the 33 verses of Sri Adi Sankara's Bhujangam are written on the walls.To the right of Shanmukha's shrine, there is another shrine in which theprocessional bronze deities of Nataraja, the Samayachariars, ThirugnanaSambandar, Appar, Sundarar and Manickavachagar and of Saint Cheraman Perumal,the Chera King, are installed.

Legendhas it that at this holy place Lord Subramanya annihilated Surapadman,who along with his brothers Singamukha and Taraka, was reigning Triloka(the Heaven, the Earth and the Pathala). At the pinnacle of his fame, thedemon subjected the Devas to untold miseries. The distressed Devas ills. These were carried to the Himalayan lake Saravanathrough the Holy Ganges by Agni, the God of Fire. There they took the formsof six divine babies on lotus flowers. They were nourished by the Krithikanymphs. The six babies, on being embraced by Parvathi, Siva's consort,took one divine from with six heads and twelve hands and came to be knownas Shanmukha and Arumukha, the six-faced. In this form, the Lord reachedTiruchendur from Kailas on his mission of subduing the Asuras. Here, hedesired a shrine of Siva for his worship. Mayan, the celestial, was orderedto build the temple on the shores. The Lord plunged into the divine missionand fought the demon and his hordes for six days, on land, under the seaand in the air. The war saw the end of all except Surapadman, who rosein the form of a mango tree in the middle of the ocean. The Lord took Indraas his charger, challenged the demon in his island fortress and piercedthe Asura King into two. The body thus left out took the forms of a cockand a Peacock, but still would not give in. They too were fought to thefinish, and the demon, who was penitent before death, was forgiven by Muruga.In his infinite mercy the Lord gave Viswaroopa darshan and adopted thepeacock as his permanent charger, relieving Indra, and the cock as hisbanner. The Asura thus came to stay in the above two forms ever in thepresence of the Lord. To commemorate this victory, a festival called SkandaSashti is celebrated at Tiruchendur as well as in other shrines of LordMuruga for six days with all pomp and piety. On the concluding day, theepic battle Surasdmhara ( the annihilation of Surapadman ) is re-enactedin all its true form, witnessed by devotees in thier thousands. After thesuccessful mission, the Lord, it is said, turned again at Tiruchendur,halted and worshipped Siva at the temple built by Mayan.nvokedLord Siva for deliverance. Lord Siva extended his merciful eye of protectionand sent six fire ba 

WonderThat's Nazhikkinar 
Asone nears Tiruchendur, the first thing that greets the visitor is the Velon the huge temple tower. This is the weapon of the Lord. It is a feastfor the eyes to see the Lord's lance in colourful lights. Right from theroad, a mile-long shaded shlelter, leads the devotees to the temple, however,the pilgrims will have to pay obeissance to Thoondukai, on the way. Devoteesusually have darshan of the Lord after bath at the sea and then at theNazhikkinaru, a sacred mini-well about 200 yards south of the temple. Anamazing feature of this well (a fountain believed to have been made byMuruga himself with his lance) is that though it is situated right on thesaly sandbed of the sea, the water oozing from this well stays sweet roundthe year. The temple authorities have constructed a mandapam around thisfountain, for which entry is permitted on payment of a nominal fee.

Atthe centre of the eastern portal is a copper-covered Dwajasthambam facingthe Eastern Tower. In the second prakaram is the shrine of Kumara Vitankarand his consorts, the processional deities of Shanmukha. At a distancefrom here is a long row of 63 Nayanmars, saint Manickavachagar and tenThogai Adiyars. On the three columns opposite these, are the lifesize figuresof Sri Mownaswamy, Kasiswamy and Desikamuthiswamy, the authors of the templeTiruppani. Further away stands the distinct shrine of Valliamma with Palliyarai.At the end of this portal stands the shrine of Deivayanai. In the northernportal there is a shrine of Chandeshwara as is found in all Siva temples.Further east are the shrines for Nataraja. Saneeswara and Bhairava. Inthe middle of the eastern portal stands the Dwajasthambam covered withgold. This is called the Alankara kodimaram.

TheSanctum Sanctorum
Atthe entrance to the sancum, two Dwarapalakas stands sentinel over the Lord.The sanctum has an idol of Balasubramanya with four hands and one face.He is considered a brahmachari (bachelor) and hence the name. The formdepicts the Lord before his marriage with Deivayanai, daughter of Indra.A sivalingam enshrined in the northern corner is said to have been worshippedby Lord Subramanya after the war with Surapadman. Poojas and Deeparadhanasare conducted intermittently in the sanctum. Prasadam is given in the formof sacred ash in a leaf. To the left of the principal sanctum towards thenorth is a shrine to senthil Nayagar and his consorts. They are the processionaldeities of Lord Subramanya and officiate in all festival processions. Aninterior apartment to the right of this shrine is the Karuvoolam(treasury)where the temple are kept. 

Thejewel treasure, valued at several lakhs of rupees, includes a set of goldKavachams for the deities of Lord Subramanya, Valli and Deivayanai of Moolasthanam,Lord Shanmukha, Kumara Vitankar and Senthil Nayakar with thier consorts.Then there are Abayahastam and Velstudded with diamonds and rubies. Theidol of Sivili Nayakar is a gold masterpiece of beauty and workmanship.The crowns or kreetams and Vel studded with diamonds and rubies. A recentaddition to the temple is a golden chariot, which is drawn round the GiriPrakaram on certain days auspicious to the Lord. 

Devoteesfrom far and near throng Tiruchendur round the year. The festival monthsespecially see the town brimming with pilgrims from all walks of life.Two great festivals, of twelve days each, are celebrated during the year- one in the Tamil month of Avani (August-September) and the other in Masi(February-March) called Brahmotsavam. The Vasanthotsavam is annual featurecelebrated for ten days in the month of Chitrai (April-May). Senthil Nayakar,the processional deity of the Lord and his consorts are taken from thiersanctum sanctorum to the Vasantha Mandapam with great fanfare. The mandapamis richly decorated and made specially cool for the occasion. The deitiesare placed with thier pedestal in water. There are the six-day Skanda Sashtifestival in Aippasi (October-November) and the twelve-day Visakam festivalin Vaikasi (May-June). Tirukalyanam festival for Deivayanai is celebratedin the Kalyanamandapam the day after Surasamharam. 

Anitem the visiting pilgrims do not miss in this temple is Kavadi, whichis carried on the shoulders by devotees as offering to the Lord. Kavadiis a semicircular hood bedecked with divine offerrings, mounted on a yoke.This is almost a daily feature, especially on Fridays, in all temples dedicatedto Lord Subramanya. There are different kinds of Kavadi, like , Paal Kavadi(of milk), Panneer Kavadi (of rose water), Pushpa Kavadi (of flowers),Chandana Kavadi (of sandalwood paste), and so on. Devotees, as a vow, carryKavadi and foot the distance to the temple from far-flung villages andtowns, to the accompaniment of Nadaswaram and singing in glory of the Lord.Be it pouring rain, scorching sun or spine-chilling cold, this kind ofoffering goes on round the year. 

Abhishekamfor the principal deity Subramanya is performed thrice a day and for Shanmukhaon Vishaka Nakshatram every month and on the first of Chitrai and Aippasimonths. On the last Friday of every Tamil months, Senthil Nayagar withhis consorts if taken round the Giri Prakaram in a procession. Pottiesof the Madhwa Advaita community from Karnataka officiate as priests inthe principal shrine of Subramanya. The poojas at the sanctum of Shanmukhaand other deities are performed by Namboodris, Mukkaanis or TrisutantraBhahmins perform certain other services in the Temple. Thier functionsconsist of making offerings, kattalais etc, for the devotees. Seven majorpoojas are performed daily according to Kumara Tantra 
1.Viswaroopam at 5.30 a.m. 
2.Udhaya Marthandam at 6.00 a.m. 
3.(a) Mudhal Kala Sandhi. (b) Siru Kala Sandhi. (C) Peria Kala Sandhi. -Commencing at 8 a.m.
4.Uchikalam at 12.30 p.m.
5.Sayaratchai at 5.00 p.m. 
6.Arthajamam at 9.15 p.m. 
7.Ekantham at 9.35 p.m. 
Allthe poojas are performed for both Siva and Subramanya. Then follow theRahasya Deeparadhanas behind the curtain- first in the shrine of Lord Subramanyaand then at Shamnukha's. By this ritual Lord Subramanya gives his poweror Atmasakthi to Lord Shanmukha. After this, Deeparadhana is conductedto the sacred feet of Shanmukha. The feet are then taken to the shrineof Valli, where the image of Valli and the sacred feet are placed in agolden swing for the day's rest. And that is the end of daily poojas. Inthe month of Margazhi (December-January), the daily poojas begin at 3 a.m.and end at 8.30 p.m.
Courtesy :  "Hari Kumari Arts, Sannadhi Street, Kanyakumari". We thank them for giving us the information about the temple.


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