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Madurai


Alagar Kovil

DESCRIPTION

Alagar KovilAlagar Kovil, Madurai Set amidst lush greenery and absolute serenity, One among the 108 Divya desam's situated about 12 miles north of Madurai. Alagar Koil is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The historically and culturally rich town of Madurai is a favored pilgrim destination. Even though the place is synonymous with the magnificent Meenakshi Temple, there are many other temples in and around Madurai are to be visited, One such temple is Alagarkoil.
This 5000 Years Old temple in situated in foot of the hill called as Azhagarmalai which is 888 feet above the Sea Level. The Vaishnavite temple is famous for its beautiful sculptures and exquisite 'mandapams'. It is believed that pilgrims visited Azhgar Kovil even in the early days of the Sangam age. A temple that dates back to the Dwapara Yuga and one that finds reference in Varaha Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Vishnu Purana, Thiruppugazh and in Sangam literature. According to Hindu Mythology, Lord Vishnu came to this place from his heavenly abode to give away Goddess Meenakshi in marriage to Lord Sundareswarer.

The temple contains inscriptions from variousAlagar Kovil dynasties, including those that point towards the presence of Jain rulers and Ashoka's reign. A beautiful place that blends both religion and history perfectly, this is a must-visit on your trip to Madurai.

At Entrance there is shrine, dedicated to Karuppannaswamy, the God of Kallars. There are finely carved eighteen steps, which are an object of both worship and amazement by the devotees. It is claimed that nobody dares to tell a lie at this spot.

Alagar KovilThe story goes that once there was an attempt by magicians to take away the powers of Kallazhagar. Coming to know of this, a priest at this temple captured these 18 men who were so lured by the beauty of Azhagar that they prayed to the Lord and requested to stay there forever as his security guards and to solve any issues relating to the people in this area. To mark this event, there was an image of Karrupana Swamy (representing these 18 men) erected at the Eastern entrance of the temple. Karuppanna Swamy almost acts as a court to solve all issues in this area and is believed to provide a fair judgment for those who believe in him.

It is believed that the 18 steps of the temple at the Eastern entrance represent these 18 men. Every night, garland adorned by the Lord is brought to Karuppana Swamy.

The splendid main tower at the entrance is believed to have been built by the Pandyan Kings during the 13th century. The temple complex is surrounded by the ruins of a historic fort, lending it its old world charm and a historic aura. According to the historical background of the place, Malayadhwaja Pandyan, son of Kulasekhara Pandyan, was the earliest known monarch to patronize the temple. Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan beautified the 'vimana' of the shrine with gold plates. After the Pandya rule, the Nayakas patronized the deity.

Alagar KovilThe main deity of this temple is called Paramaswamy and the processional idol is called Alagar or Sundararajan. The stunning idol is made of pure gold and is an exquisite example of craftsmanship. There is shrine of Kalyana Sundaravalli, the divine consort of Alagar, in the southern enclosure. There is another shrine in the north dedicated to Andal. Other important shrines are of Sudarshanar and Yoga Narasimha.  the Sthala Viruksham (tree) is  Sandhana Maram (Sandal wood tree).

There are a total of 11 Mandapams or halls within the fortified walls of the Alagarkoil.

Alagar KovilCar mandapam, Elephant vehicle mandapam, Sixteen pillared mandapam (Aandal mandapam),  Kondappa Naicker mandapam, Thirukkalyana mandapam, 6 Kodaithirunal mandapam, Ponveintha Perumal mandapam (Constructed by Sundara Pandyan), Aryan mandapam (Padiyetra mandapam), Maha mandapam (Alangara mandapam), Vasantha mandapam, Madhavi mandapam (Noopura Gangai (Rakkaayee Amman Temple).

There are many ornamented pillars within the halls. They are rich in decorative details. It is rather unfortunate that mural paintings presently exist in only one of the Mandapams. These wall paintings in the Vasanta Mandapam are indeed very impressive. They depict scenes from the Ramayana. The yali or an imaginary lion like beast representing human passions that is to be sighted at the Alagarkoil temple Madurai exhibits intertwining trunks and is much akin to the one that is to be found at the Meenakshi temple.

Alagar KovilThere are two shrines, one at the base of the hill and the other at the top , about 2 miles up the hill. The temple at the base is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the deity installed is worshipped as Kallazhahar. This temple is called Azhahar koil. The temple on the hill is known as Pazhamuthir Cholai and is dedicated to Lord Subramanya. Thus this place attracts both Vaishnavite and Saivite devotees.

Legends The origin of the temple is not very clear but the 'sthalapuranam' mentions a few legends associated with this temple. Yama, the deity who presides over death once visited this place and enchanted by its beauty stayed here for meditation. Lord Vishnu appeared before him in response to his meditation. He requested that the Lord remained in this place so that people could worship him. In granting his wishes Vishnu stayed there with his two consorts, Sri Devi and Boo Devi.

There is also a legend associated with the river Silambar that runs on the western side of the temple. A king by the name of Bali by his severe penance became very powerful and brought all the three worlds under his domain. The Devas who had thus lost all their possessions and exalted position approached Mahavishnu and requested that he should restore them to their rightful place. Mahavishnu then took the form of a dwarf by the name of Vamanan and went to King Bali and sought three paces of land for himself. King Bali seeing this dwarf acceded to his request. Then Mahavishnu assumed a gigantic form (Brammanda soroopam). He measured the three worlds by two paces and asked King Bali where he could measure his third pace. King Bali, unable to find any other place, showed his head whereupon Mahavishnu put his foot on his head and pushed him into the netherworld. Lord Brahma seeing this large foot washed it with water from his 'Kamandalam' (pot). The water that trickled from the Silambu (Anklet) worn by Mahavishnu formed into a river thus taking the name 'Silambar'(Silambu+Aaru). The sanctity of this place is further enhanced by the fact that all twelve Vaishnavite saints (Azhwars) had visited this temple and had sung in praise of the presiding deity.

Alagar KovilThe processional deity here is called Soundararajar or Azhahar and the installed deity as Paramaswamy. A special feature of this deity is that the spinning wheel (chakram) of Mahavishnu is depicted as in the process of being released (Prayoga state). The processional deity is made of a very special and costly type of gold called aparanji. In a corner of the corridor of the temple is a shrine to Lord Ganapathy. He is depicted as having his trunk turned towards his right, which is not a common theme. Hence this Vinayagar is called Valampuri Vinayagar

During the Chitrai festival in April/May, when the celestial marriage of Meenakshi to Sundareswarar is celebrated, Azhagar travels to Madurai. A gold processional icon called the Sundararajar is carried by devotees in procession from Azhagar Kovil to Madurai for wedding ritual.

SCARED WATER

Alagar KovilA four-kilometre walk up the Azhagar hills (dense terrain) takes one to Silamboru and Noopura Ganga. According to local tradition, these springs originated from the anklets of Maha Vishnu during His incarnation as Trivikrama.

waterfalls (Nupoora Ganga). It is believed that drops of sacred water fell at this place when Brahma was washing Lord Vishnu’s feet after his Trivikrama Avatar and that those drops spread as River Nupoora Ganga. To this day, the sacred water from Silambaru is used for the daily puja at this Divya Desam. Legend has it that one who bathes here and has the sacred water at Azhagar Koil will be cleansed of all sins.

STHLAPURANAM

Alagar KovilTirupathi - Tirumala which is called the "Vada Venkatam", is popularly named as "Utthira Tirupathi". Likewise, this sthalam, Azhagar koil is called as "Dhakshina Tirupathi".

Like how Sri Srinivasa Perumal in Tirumala is giving His seva in Nindra Kolam on the top of the mountain, Azhagar also gives his seva in same Nindra Thirukkolam on the foot hill (Malaiyadi vaaram) of Azhagar Malai. The surroundings of this sthalam is so beautiful that the cool breeze surrounds the entire temple area and the temple itself is surrounded by Mountains.

The temple is protected by the Karuppar who is said to be Kaaval Deivam (protecting God). The people who come along the Kallar generation led their life by grabbing money and wealth and by killing them.

But, another kind of people of this generation are also found who led their life by giving their wealth to the Emperumaan thereby praising him. Even if they steal others money, they will dedicate it for the perumal. Thirumangai Alwar, who is one of the 12 Alwars, belong to this Kallar generation. "Kallar" in tamil means thief. The Perumal is called with this name because He steals all of His bhaktas heart by His beauty and the blessings. He protects all His bhaktas from the the evil.

Alagar KovilMuruga Perumal is one way related to Sriman Narayanan, since her mother, Shakti is the sister of the Emperumaan. He married Deivayani, who married her in Thirupparankundram and married Valli, who belongs to the people found near mountains. This sthalam is common for bhaktas who worship Sriman Narayanan and Lord Murugan. To explain the world that there should be no difference among the Gods, both the Saiva God, Muruga and the Sri Vaishnva god - Sriman Narayanan as "Kallar" (or) Azhagar are giving their seva to this world in this Maalirunsolai.

The Gopuram of this temple is very big and the first Vaasal (entrance) is the Thondaimaan Gopura Vaayil and 3 pragarams are found inside it. We can find the Sundara Pandiyan Mandapam, Sooriyan Mandapam and Munaiyathareyar Mandapam are found while going towards the Moolavar sannadhi.

The Moolavar gives His seva in Nindra Kolam and found along with Bhoomi Pirattiyaar. It is said that Yamadharman, the God of death daily comes to this sthalam in the night to worship the Perumal. The Perumal is also named as "Paramaswamy" which makes us to remember Lord Shivan. The Utsavar is namd as "Sri Sundara rajar". Both the Moolavar and utsavar are found along with the Panja Aayutham (5 weapons) namely the Sangu, Chakkaram, Vaal (or) Sword, Kothandam (bow) and Gadha, in their hands. Utsavar is made up of Aparanjitha gold, which is said to be the purest gold. The thirumanjanam (spiritual bath) is done only with Noopura Gangai water, if he is done with other water, the Utsavar becomes black in colour. Along with him, Sri Sundara Baahoo Sri Srinivasar, Nithiya Utsavar are found who are made up of pure silver. The outer pragaram of Moolavar, Thumbikkai Alwar (Vinayagar) and Senai Mudaliayar are found. Vairavar, who is treated as the "Shetra Balagar" of this sthalam is giving his seva in this sthalam and is said to be the powerful god with numerous shakti. The thaayar is also named as "Thanikkovil Thaayar" since she has her own separate sannadhi. Tha Manjal (Turmeric) is given as the prasadham in this sannadhi to the bhaktas. Separate sannadhis for Sri Sudharsana Chakrathalwar, Sri Andal are found. Sri Yoga Narasimhar who is found in sitting posture is found who is said to be so powerful.

UTSAVAM

The Azhagar utsavam which is done in Chitra Pournami is the Familiar utsavam of this sthalam. It is celebrated for almost 9 days and the first four days of the Utsavam is celebrated in Azhagar malai. He leaves for Madurai on the fourth day and return back to the Malai on the 9th day. In the same dy, the wedding of Madurai Meenakshi and Sundareswarar is done in Madurai, which is considered to be another grand utsavam in Koodal Azhagar Koil.

Alagar KovilThe Azhagar festival is a grand Utsavam which is celebrated as he witnesses the wedding of Madurai Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar. He is seated on the Horse (Kudirai) Vahanam and proceeds towards the Vaigai river. And after this, he proceeds to the koil in the Kallazhagar kolam. Azhagar getting into the Vaigai river is reffered to as "Azhagar Aattril Iranguthar" festival. It means he is getting into the river Vaigai. Lakhs of bhaktas comes to Madurai to see this festival. During His entrance towards Madurai, the arrival of Him is referred to as the Edhir Sevai (the welcoming of Kallazhagar to Madurai is done). Before He starts for the Utsavam, a garland of Tulsi from Srivilliputtoor Sri Andal is weared to Him. This is done every year showing and expressing the love of Sri Andal towards Kallazhagar.

Other festival which is done in the Maargazhi month's utsavam. Both Pagal Patthu and Raa Patthu utsavam are done and on the 8th day, Azhagar is seated in Golden Horse and he gives His seva. The Marriage utsavam of Sri Kallazhagar and Sri Andal happenes in this Panguni Uthiram day only.

SPECIALITY

The specialty of this sthalam is in this sthalam the bhaktas are given the Vibhoodi (Thiruneeru) which is generally not given in Sri Vaishnava temples but given only in Saivates temples.

PRASADAM

Alagar KovilIn alagar kovil prasadam is given  and sold in front of the temple by temple administration like laddu, puliotharai, venpongal and one of the famous and special prasadam is "alagar kovil dosa" which is very famous among the locals here in madurai.
 

Moolavar
Kallazhazhar, Azhagar, Maalallangaarar
Utsavar
Sundararajan with Hos Five Weapons
Blessing Posture
Standing Pose Facing East Abaya Hastham
Thayar
Kalyana Sundaravalli Nachiyar
Sthala Vriksham
Sandhana Maram - Sandal Tree
Prathyaksham
King Malayathvajan, Dharma Rajan
Vimanam
Somasundara Vimanam - By Viswakarma
Pushkarini
Noorupa Gangal, Silambaru
Praised By
Boothathalwar, Peyalwar,Nammalwar, Periyalwar, Sree Andal and Thirumagai Alwar - 123 Pasurams
The Uniqueness
Temple Vimanam was Built by Viswakara as Instructed by Dharma Rajan - The Shadow Never Falls Down

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