Alagar 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
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 various 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.
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.
The 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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Tirupathi - 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
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.
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
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.
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.
The 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
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.
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.
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.
Kallazhazhar, Azhagar, Maalallangaarar
Hos Five Weapons
Standing Pose Facing East Abaya
Kalyana Sundaravalli Nachiyar
Sandhana Maram -
King Malayathvajan, Dharma
Somasundara Vimanam -
Noorupa Gangal, Silambaru
Periyalwar, Sree Andal and Thirumagai Alwar -
Temple Vimanam was Built by Viswakara
as Instructed by Dharma Rajan -
The Shadow Never Falls Down
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