- May 28, 2021
🛕 Thirunaraiyur Nambi Temple is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, located in Nachiyar Koil in the outskirts of Kumbakonam Town in Kumbakonam Taluk in Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu. Thirunaraiyur is famously known as Nachiyar Koil. Presiding Deity is called as Thirunaraiyur Nambi / Vasudeva Perumal / Srinivasa Perumal and Mother is called as Vanjula Valli Thayar. The temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Alvar saints from the 6th – 9th centuries AD.
🛕 It is considered as one of the 108 Divyadesams to Lord Vishnu and has been praised by Thirumangai Azhwar in over hundred hymns. This Temple is the only Vaishnavite temple built by Kochengata Chola in Mada Kovil type. The temple follows the Thenkalai mode of worship. The Temple is considered as one of the nine Vaishnava Navagraha Temples of Tamil Nadu and is associated with the planet Mars (Sevvai). The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
🛕 As per Hindu legend, the sage Medhavi was doing penance at this place. While taking a bath in the river, he found an image of Chakrathazhwar entwined with Yoga Narasimha. A divine voice asked him to install the image in his hermitage and worship it. Sage Medhavi was a staunch Vishnu devotee. He wanted to have Lord as his son-in-law. He performed penance sitting under the Vanjula tree to have Mother Mahalakshmi as his daughter.
🛕 Mother appeared before the sage as a little pretty girl before him on the Uthiram star day in Panguni (March-April). The sage named her Vanjula Devi and brought her up in his hermitage. Lord Mahavishnu came to earth in five forms as Sankarshana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Purushotama and Vasudeva to find Mahalakshmi and marry her. Each searched for Mother in different directions.
🛕 Garuda Bhagwan who accompanied the Lord, spotted Mother in the Sage’s ashram and informed the Lord. Lord Vishnu expressed his desire to the sage to marry his daughter. The sage accepted Lord’s wish on one condition that his daughter would have all powers in all matters. Lord Vishnu agreed to the condition. The sage happily married Lakshmi to Vishnu and requested him to stay in his place, which Vishnu accepted.
🛕 Both Lord and Nachiyar are seen here in a beautiful wedding posture, a unique feature at this Divya Desam. Lord Vishnu told Garuda that he should have his place here blessing the devotees as he had to be under the influence of his wife. Thus, Garuda Bhagwan became prominent in the temple. The place was named after Mother (Nachiyar in Vaishnavite terms) and came to be called as Nachiyar Koil.
🛕 Thirumangai Azhwar composed Madal comprising of Siriya Thiru Madal and Periya Thiru Madal in which he expressed his intent to embarrass and publicly humiliate the Lord by visualizing himself as Parakala Nayaki and adopting the Madal route to displaying his love and trying to force the Lord to accept the love. In ancient Tamil tradition, when one falls in love, the message is conveyed to the other person through his friends. However, if his attempts turn futile, the man, in a final desperate move, resorted to Madal Erudhal (a practice of embarrassing and humiliating the girl in public.
🛕 As part of this process, the lover would make a horse out of palm leaves, then draw the picture of his beloved on a cloth and hang it as a flag on the horse, wear a garland and go around the streets shouting slogans and crying in public, of betrayal of love in a bid to humiliate his lover, announcing as to how he has been suffering as a result of her not accepting his love. But for a girl to do such a thing was not a traditional practice as this was considered unbecoming of a woman.
🛕 Thiru Mangai in the Madal says that since the Lord had not accepted the love despite repeated requests of Parakala Nayaki, the last option was to try and gain acceptance through the performance of Madal. Even though Madal Erudhal by a woman was not accepted in Tamil culture, Thiru Mangai says that considering the state of the lovelorn Parakala Nayaki, this route had to be adopted based on Sanskrit literature and following the many examples that existed in the Northern culture.
🛕 In the Siriya Thirumadal, Parakala Nayaki refers to this intoxicated state of love with the entire composition being that of a Nayaki expressing her love in short lines through someone else. The identity of the lover of Parakala Nayaki is brought out through a soothsayer, who provides the description of the Nayaki’s lover by referring to the great qualities of the Lord. In the Periya Thiru Madal, the narration is from the dejected lover herself and the terrible experience she has gone through in not being able to convince her man (Lord) accept her love.
🛕 Here, she explains how the handsome Lord, seen in various Vishnu temples in different postures, has been the reason for her to fall in love as Parakala Nayaki. Periya Thiru Madal ends with the threat of her performing the forbidden Madal even if it was at the cost of her being rebuked by everyone. The entire Madal (both Siriya Thirumadal and Periya Thirumadal) is directed at the Lord of Thiru Naraiyur as can be seen from the fact that Thirumangai opens and ends the Madal with reference to Thiru Naraiyur.
🛕 When Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam for whom Thiru Mangai built the famous huge walls requested him for Madal verses of praise, Thiru Mangai retorted ‘Madhil Inghe, Madal Anghe’ (Madhil (the big walls) here for you at Srirangam and Madal (the songs expressing love for the Lord) there for the Nambi at Thiru Naraiyur), thus signifying that the Madal was for the Thiru Naraiyur Lord.
🛕 Thiru Mangai Mannan (Neelan) was an army chief of a Chola king. He spent all his wealth in the service of Lord Vishnu. As he was not a Vaishnava, nobody recognized his devotion and services. He fell in love with Kumudhavalli. She informed him that she could accept him only if he came to her with true Vaishnavite identity. Thiru Mangai Mannan begged to Thiru Naraiyur Lord to give him the Vaishnava identity and help him secure the hands of Kumudhavalli. Thiru Naraiyur Nambi is said to have initiated Thiru Mangai Mannan with the Pancha Samaskaaram, which is the true identity for a Vaishnavite.
🛕 Thus, Thiru Mangai Mannan became Thiru Mangai Azhvaar. As a mark of initiating the Pancha Samaskaaram on the Thirumangai Mannan, Lord Vishnu is seen leaning forward slightly, quite a unique sight at this temple. Lords of few Divya Desams have been praised as Nambi. The most prominent among them is Thiru Kurungkudi, the other one being the Lord here who is referred to as Thiru Naraiyur Nambi.
🛕 An Acharya is referred to as Nambi and since Thiru Naraiyur Lord initiated the Pancha Samaskaaram to Thirumangai Mannan, he became the Acharya of Thiru Mangai Azhvaar and hence the Azhvaar referred to him as Thiru Naraiyur Nambi. As a token of his gratitude to Lord Vishnu, Thirumangai Azhwar sung over 100 verses praising the Lord Vishnu, the highest for any temple. The only other Lord that Thirumangai Azhvaar has praised with 100 Paasurams is Thiru Kannanpuram Sowri Rajan Perumal, where the Lord explained the Thiru Mandhiram to Thirumangai Azhvaar.
🛕 Kochengat Chola was an early Chola king and one of the 63 Nayanmars (Saivite saints) of Saivism. He is believed to have attained spiritual rebirth of a spider that fought with an elephant in its previous birth over the worship of the Lord Shiva. He had red eyes during birth as he remained in his mother’s womb a little longer. His mother, looking into the baby red eyes said Kochengkannano (in Tamil Ko=king, Cheng=red, Kan=eyes), which literally means king with red eyes and hence he was named Kochengat Cholan.
🛕 After becoming a king, he followed Saivism and built 70 Maadakovils, temples with elevated structure where elephants cannot reach the sanctum, in the Chola empire. Kochengata Chola had a desire to see Lord Vishnu in his abode Vaikunda. He prayed to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu granted darshan to the king with two hands and ordered him to build a temple for him. This is the only Vaishnavite temple built by Kochengata Chola in Mada Kovil type. He built this temple in a Shaivite design. Thirumangai Azhwar mentions this temple as Mani Mada Koil.
🛕 An old Brahmin wanted to see all the Divya Desams. However, he could not visit because of his old age. The old Brahmin prayed before Thirunaraiyur Nambi, who is said to have given the idols of all the 108 Divya Desam Lords to the Brahmin. This is the only Divya Desam where the idols of all the 108 Divya Desams can be seen in one place.
🛕 As per local folklore, the sculptor who sculpted the idol of Garuda got frustrated as the idol flew away each time after he had made its wings. He had to carve a new idol each time. In frustration, the sculptor threw a stone at Garuda striking him on the nose. Garuda got injured, fell down and decided to stay at the temple as Kal Garuda.
🛕 The weight gaining of Garuda during procession reminds Lord Vishnu commitment to Sage Medhavi. When both Lord Vishnu and Goddess are taken out in a procession, Lord should lead the procession, but his promise to Sage Medhavi that his wife would have the first place in everything would be broken. Hence, Garuda becomes heavier and it becomes tough for the devotees to carry him faster than Goddess. Thus, Lord Vishnu fulfills his promise made to Sage Medhavi to till date.
🛕 There is huge tank called Manimutharu, in front of the temple. There is a beautiful tale behind the name of this pond. Once, king of the birds, Garuda, took a diamond head ornament to Narayur Nambi from Tirupaarkadal. A diamond (Mani) accidentally fell from the ornaments into this pond. As the precious stone fell into the pond degrading its status equivalent to ordinary pearl (Muthu) this tank is known as Mani + Muthi + Aaru (tank or pond).
🛕 Nachiyar Koil is also called as Suguntha Giri.
🛕 The temple is believed to have been built by Kochengat Cholan of the late 3rd century AD, with later contributions from Medieval Cholas, Pandyas and Vijayanagar kings. He is believed to have built 70 Mada temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Thirunaraiyur is the only Vishnu temple constructed by him. Recognizing this, Thiru Mangai has dedicated 10 verses in praise of Ko Chenganan. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamilnadu.
🛕 This Temple is facing towards east with five tiered Rajagopuram. The Rajagopuram is about 75 feet tall. This temple measures about 690 x 288 feet and has 16 gopurams in total. The entrance through the eastern gateway leads to a hall of 16 pillars, called Neenila Mutram. The centre of the hall is occupied by Dwajastambam (the flag pole) and Balipeedam (the place of sacrifice), one behind the other. The front portion of the flag pole has a small shrine for Garuda. The flag pole, place of sacrifice and Garuda’s shrine are in axial position from the entrance to the main sanctum.
🛕 The Sanctum is situated on elevated structure approached through a flight of 21 steps. Presiding Deity is called as Thirunaraiyur Nambi / Vasudeva Perumal. This is the only Divya Desam where Lord is seen with a conch and chakra in front of his face. He is housed in the sanctum along with his consort Vanjula Valli Thayar (also called Neela Devi Nachiyar). Unlike other Vishnu temples where Vishnu is given importance, in this temple Nachiyar (Thayar) is prominent.
🛕 Vanjula Valli Thayar occupies the central position in the Sanctum with Vasudeva Perumal slightly away by her side. She is a little ahead of Perumal in a standing form. He is gracing the devotees facing east in standing posture ready to marry the Thayar. Both Lord and Nachiyar are seen here in a beautiful wedding posture, a unique feature at this Divya Desam. The sanctum also houses the images of 10 feet tall Brahma, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Sankarshana and Purushotama (Vishnu) and a set of gods, who are depicted attending the wedding.
🛕 The festive idols of Idar Kadutha Tiruvalan (Vishnu), Sridevi (Lakshmi), Vanjula Valli (Lakshmi) and Bhudevi are housed in the same shrine. Procession deity, Vanjula Valli appears with a parrot and a key bunch on her hip showing that she is the head of the Universe overseeing all administration. The Vimana over the sanctum is called as Srinivasa Vimana. It looks like a tower (Rajagopuram).
🛕 The temple has been built in such a way that one can see the sanctum even from outside the temple premises. The shrine of Thirumangai Azhwar is located on the northern side. The central hall of the temple, the Goratha Mandapam, houses the images of Ramanuja, Koorath Azhwar and idols of eleven Azhwars, leaving that of Andal. The southern side of the temple has a garden where the Magizha tree, the Sthala Vriksha (temple tree) is present.
🛕 The Vasantha Mandapa or the spring hall is located next to it, which hosts the Vasantotsavam or spring festival during the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May–June). The temple also has a 100-pillared hall where the wedding festival is held during the Tamil month of Aavani (September–October). There is a separate shrine housing the idols of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita in the northern side of the temple premises. There is a shrine for Lord Hanuman in the southern side.
🛕 There is a shrine for Chakrathazhwar and Yoga Narasimha, believed to have been installed and worshipped by Sage Medhavi. Lord Chakrathazhwar with the Navagrahas below and paintings of Dasavathara (10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu) can be seen in the prakara. Sage Medhavi is nearby in worshipping form. The first precinct has separate shrines for Manavala Mamunigal, Vedanta Desikar and idols of the Utsava (festive images) of the 108 Divyadesams.
🛕 The idols of the procession deities of all 108 Divyadesam temples are near the Garuda Bhagwan shrine. Special Thirumanjanam are performed here on Shravana star days each month. There is huge tank called Manimutharu in front of the temple. It is about 648 feet length and 225 feet breadth. The Tank can be approached through steps in all three sides. Aniruddha Theertham, Pradyumna Theertham, Samba Theertham and Sankarshana Theertham are the other Theerthams associated with this temple.
🛕 The temple remains open from 6.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 4.30 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.
🛕 The temple priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. As at other Vishnu temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Vaishnavite community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day: Ushathkalam at 7 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 12:00 p.m., Sayarakshai at 6:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 7:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 10:00 p.m. Each ritual has three steps: Alangaram (decoration), naivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Srinivasa and Nachiyar. During the last step of worship, Nadaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument) are played, religious instructions in the sacred texts Vedas are recited by priests, and worshippers prostrate themselves in front of the temple mast. There are weekly, monthly and fortnightly rituals performed in the temple.
🛕 Brahmotsavam is a 10-day festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December–January). Garuda Seva is celebrated during the Tamil month of Panguni (March–April). During both these festivals, the festive images of Kal Garuda are taken out around the streets of the temple. There is a unique specialty regarding the stone idol of Garuda.
🛕 When taken out for a procession, until a step out of his Sannathi he can be easily carried by 4 persons. As the Lord goes out of each layer and prakaram, he is said to increase in weight, that 8 people, 16 and then 32 people are required to carry Lord Garuda out of the temple. Finally, when the Lord is taken outside the temple, Garuda increases in weight so much that 64 people are required to carry the Lord.
🛕 On his way back, it is said that Garuda mount decreases in weight and finally when he is back in the Sannidhi, only 4 people are required to carry him. The aspect is treated magical as drops of sweat are also observed on the image of Kal Garuda during the six-hour long procession. During the festive occasion, Garuda receives honors from Srinivasa Perumal (presiding deity) in the form of dress and ornaments.
🛕 Jewels and dress are also presented to Garuda by Ranganatha, the presiding Vishnu form of Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple. Vasantotsavam or spring festival is celebrated during the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May–June). The Thirukalyana Utsavam or the wedding festival is celebrated in the 100-pillared hall during the Tamil month of Aavani (September–October).
🛕 Devotees pray to Garuda Bhagwan on Thursdays offering archanas and vastras for relief from delays in marriages, for child boon, adverse aspects on children and for relief from negative aspects of serpent planets. Devotees offer Tulsi garlands and vastras and sweet pudding-Sarkarai Pongal as nivedhana to Perumal.
🛕 The Temple is located at about 100 meters from Nachiyar Koil Bus Stand, 10 Kms from Kumbakonam Bus Stand, 10 Kms from Kumbakonam Railway Station, 11 Kms from Kumbakonam, 47 Kms from Thanjavur and 107 Kms from Trichy Airport. Nachiyar Koil is situated on Kumbakonam – Thiruvarur Route. Buses are available from Kumbakonam every 15 minutes on this route.
Also read: Nachiyar Koil Temple History in Tamil
Thirunaraiyur Nambi Temple,
Nachiyar Koil, Kumbakonam Taluk,
Thanjavur District – 612 602
Phone: +91 435 246 7017 / 2467167
Mobile: +91 94435 97388.