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Azhaghar Koil Madurai

Located at a distance of 21 km away from Madurai, Alagar Koyil Temple, also known with the name of Azhagar Kovil is one of the prominent temples situated at the foothills of Alagar hills. This temple has high religious significance as well as presents a captivating architecture. What makes it even more enchanting is the natural setting surrounding this temple. With a history that dates back to early Sangam age, this temple is a must visit when on a Madurai tour.

Alagar Koyil Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is known for its intricate sculpting and mandapams. Alagar Hills also have great importance in the Hindu religion; this hill is called Alagar as the Lord Thirumal is known with the name of Alagar here, hence the hills are named on the Lord.

When we enter into the entrance,first we have to pray the “protection deity of the Alagar koil padinettam padi Karrupanaswamy “

The main deity of Alagar Kovil temple is Lord Paramaswamy. The processional idol of this temple is Lord Alagar or Sundararajan, who is brother of Goddess Meenakshi. The temple has a shrine of Kalyana Sundaravalli, who is the consort of Lord Alagar. There are also separate shrines for deities Andal, Sudarshana and Yoga Narasimha.

There are many legends associated with the Alagar Koyil temple. According to a legend, Lord Vishnu had come down to divine marriage of Lord Sundareswarar and Goddess Meenakshi. Unfortunately, the marriage took place before his arrival, owing to which he turned back from River Vaigai banks. This temple is the place where Lord Azhar, a form of Lord Vishnu resides.

Goddess Andal is in sitting posture in this temple.

Periyalwar Peialwar Boodathalwar Andal Nammalwar Thirumangai alwar has sung praising this Lord .

Twenty one kilometers north-east of Madurai on a picturesque wooded hill amidst panoramic surroundings resides Lord Vishnu, Kallazhagar Perumal, the brother of Goddess Meenakshi. Azhagar Kovil is situated on the foothills of Azhagar Hills or Solaimalai, surrounded by the ruins of an ancient fortified town.

The Pastime

According to legend, When Lord Vishnu manifested the Vishvarupa in His Vamana avatara and raised His foot, Lord Brahma performed padapuja with the Ganga water in heaven. Some of the water drops splashed over the anklet of Lord Vishnu, fell on the earth at Azhagar Hills and still exists as a lake. This water body is known as Nupura Ganga (nupura means anklet in Sanskrit) or silambaru (in Tamil).

Once, while Sage Suthapas was bathing in Nupura Ganga at Azhagar Hill, he failed to pay heed to Maharishi Durvasa who was passing by. The enraged Maharishi Durvasa cursed Sage Suthapas that he would turn into a frog, until he was redeemed of the curse by Lord Sundararajar, who is also known as Kallazhagar (the Lord of Azhagar Kovil).

Because of this curse, Sage Suthapas came to be known as Manduka Maharishi (manduka means frog in Sanskrit). The sage began to perform penance on the banks of river Vaigai, which is otherwise known as Vegavathi, at Thenur near Madurai, not far from Azhagar Kovil.

According to legend, Lord Kallazhagar came riding on a golden horse to Madurai from Azhagar Kovil to participate in the celestial wedding ceremony of His sister Goddess Meenakshi (Goddess Parvathy) and Lord Sundareshwar (Lord Shiva).He arrived late and as He reached the river Vaigai, He was informed that the wedding ceremony was over. He was furious and decided to return home to Azhagar Kovil.

However He changed His plan and decided to visit Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwar to bless them. He presented them with the gifts that He brought with Him from Azhagar Kovil and blessed them. On His way back to Azhagar Kovil, Lord Kallazhagar heard the prayers of Sage Suthapas and was immensely pleased. He went to where Sage Suthapas was and blessed him to regain his original form. Upon getting his original form, Manduka Maharishi requested Lord Kallazhagar to show him His Dashavatara (the ten avataras of Lord Vishnu). Lord Kallazhagar, being very happy, revealed to the sage His divine Dashavatara and blessed him .

It is believed that Lord Kallazhagar came to Thenur to attend the wedding via Malaipatti, Alanganallur and Vayalur.

The Mahabharata says that this temple was visited by both Yudhisthira and Arjuna.

Andal and Kallazhagar Perumal
Andal is the incarnation of the goddess Sri Mahalakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu, and is one of the 12 Alwars. She wanted to marry Lord Sri Ranganatha (Lord Vishnu) of Srirangam, without knowing the birth secret of Her incarnation. She often used to make the garland for Lord Vishnu and had garlanded Him with flowers and her songs. She and her father Periyalwar (also one of the 12 Alwars) often visited Azhagar Kovil and sang paasurams about the hill and Azhagar.

Sri Andal, prayed to offer akkara adisil (sweet milk rice) to Lord Kallazhagar of Azhagar Kovil temple, if her desire to marry Sri Mahavishnu of Sri Rangam would be fulfilled. Though she attained her desire of marrying the Lord of Srirangam, she could not perform her promised offerings. Later, Sri Ramanuja, the incarnation of Adishesha or Anantha, came to Azhagar Kovil on the 27th day of the Tamil month Margazhi and performed offerings of akkara adisil on Andal’s behalf. Every year, this is remembered by performing the offerings on the 27th day of the Tamil month Margazhi and its known as “Kudaravalli”.

Lord Kallazhagar and Sri Andal of Srivilliputtur have a divine relationship. As a mark of this, even today a garland adorned by Sri Andal comes from Srivilliputtur (birthplace of Andal) during Chithirai festival. Wearing this garland, Lord Kallazhagar enters River Vaigai in His Kuthirai vahana (horse vehicle).

In the time of Sri Ramanujacharya, his glories spread far and wide. Along with this, grew the number of enemies, i.e. the people who became jealous of Sri Ramanujacharya. At that time, the Chola king who was influenced by certain groups, ordered Sri Ramanujacharya to be brought to his court. Understanding the king’s plan, Koorathalwar, one of the chief disciples of Sri Ramanujacharya, immediately rushed back to the matha in Srirangam and requested Sri Ramanujacharya and the others to move away to some safer place. Though not interested in moving, Sri Ramanujacharya had to oblige his adamant disciples. When the soldiers came to the matha, Koorathalwar was dressed up as Ramanujacharya. Mistaken, they took him along with Sri Mahapurna, (Periya Nambi), the diksha acharya of Sri Ramanujacharya, to the royal court in Gangaikonda Cholapuram. At the court, the King presented a written declaration which read, “Nothing higher than Shiva exists,” and commanded them both to affix their signatures to it without protest. But both of them refused and argued the supremacy of Lord Vishnu, quoting from the Vedas, Upanishads and various other holy texts.

At some point, the king became furious and ordered their eyes be gouged out. On hearing the order, Koorathalwar replied that he did not need the eyes which have seen a sinner like the king, and he blinded himself. The eyes of Mahapurna were also gouged out by the soldiers and they were sent away from the court. The old Sri Mahapurna died on the way to Srirangam.

Sri Ramanujacharya meanwhile had moved to Melkote in Karnataka along with his disciples and established Vaishnavism there with the support of the local king. After a turbulent period of over 12 years, Sri Ramanujacharya returned to Srirangam and the old friends reunited. Ramanujacharya was very sad to hear of the mournful incident. Sri Ramanujacharya asked Koorathalwar to go to Azhagar Kovil and pray for his eyesight. Sri Koorathalwar who had no desire for eyesight, was obliged to obey the orders of his acharya. Sri Koorathalwar got back his eyesight in Azhagar Kovil, by composing Sundararajastavam, a hymn in praise of Sri Kallazhagar.

Legend has it that the Somasundara Vimanam, also known as the Somaskanda Vimanam or the Somachanda Vimanam was designed by Vishwakarma. This shrine was built by Dharma Deva, upon whose request Vishnu took this place as His permanent abode.

The devotees take bath in the Nupura Ganga to wash away their sins. This water tastes sweet and has medicinal values. Bath in Nupura Ganga during full moon, new moon and Dwadashi are considered sacred.

Azhagar Hills and Azhagar Kovil have been highlighted in the Valmiki Ramayana and Veda Vyasa’s Mahabharatha. Vyasa quoted in the Mahabharatha, that Yudhishthira came here when the Pandavas had been banished from the kingdom for 12 years. In Bhagavatam, Balarama, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, had reached Virushapathiri (Azhagar Kovil), and had gone to Sethu (Rameshwaram), when on His pilgrimage .

The moolavar (main Deity) here is Azhagar/ Paramaswamy, in a standing posture facing east. The utsavar (processional Deity) is called Azhagar and also Sundararajan. This beautiful Deity is made of pure gold and is a fine example of craftsmanship of the ancient period. In the topmost right hand, He has Prayoka Chakram (the chakra that is going to be used). Both the moolavar and utsavar are found along with the pancha aayutham (5 weapons) namely the shanka, chakra, vaal or sword, kodanda (bow) and gadha or mace, in their hands. There are also utsavars of Kalyana Sundaravalli Thayar, Andal, Sridevi and Bhoodevi.

The vimanam (roof of the sanctum sanctorum) is called as Somachanda Vimanam and is fully gold plated. Azhagar is considered to be the tutelary Deity of the Kallar tribe of this region, hence the name Kallazhagar.

Thayar (Mahalakshmi) in Azhagar Kovil is called Kalyana Sundaravalli. The shrine of Kalyana Sundaravalli, the divine consort of Azhagar, is in the southern enclosure. As the Thayar has a separate shrine, she is also called Thanikkovil Thayar.

There is another shrine in the north dedicated to Andal who visited this place with Periyalwar from Srivilliputtur. Other important shrines are those of Sudarshana and Yoga Narasimha. Sudarshana or Sudarshana-chakra is about 2,000 years old and only once a year the door of the shrine is opened. Sri Yoga Narasimha is in sitting posture.

Karuppannaswamy, the God of Kallars and the finely carved eighteen steps are held in great reverence by the devotees. It is claimed that nobody will dare tell a lie at this spot.(source sthalapuranam book)

Published by Ranjini Madhavan

Iam a homemaker who like to travel to spiritual places and like to share my spiritual tours , pictures and my personal tour experiences .Though am not expressive to put it in words thought it would be easy for others who likes to travel these places so that they may know what all places to be covered and a sweet memories for myself.

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