- June 6, 2022
🛕 Madurai – the town located on the banks of Vaigai River is full of beautiful and soulful temples and shrines like Meenakshi Temple, Azhagar Temple, Tirppuram kundram Murugan Temple, etc. As the city is surrounded in and around by temples, it celebrates festivals throughout the year and hence Madurai is called as the “City of Festivals”. Madurai is not only famous for festivals but also for the artistic sculptures of its temples. Here, we are going to dig deeper about the most famous Azhagar / Kallazhagar Temple.
🛕 Lord Vishnu is the main Deity and he is called as Azhagar / Kallzhagar or Sundara Rajan. The Azhagar temple is where the Goddess Lakshmi married Lord Vishnu and hence she iscalled as Kalyana Sundaravalli. This Azhagar Temple is situated over the beautiful Azhagar Hills which is 21 km away from Madurai. The main deity of the temple is Lord Vishnu and the temple is one among the108 Vaishnava Divinities where Alwars (people who workship Lord Vishnu as their Soul Deity) performed Mangalasasanam. This temple is called as Thirumaliruncholai by the Vaishanavas and is also called as Mavirunkundram and Vanagiri.
🛕 This Temple was built in around 6th to 9th century AD and is believed to be older than the Meenakshi Temple. The temple was originally built by the Pandyas while later additions of pillared halls and major shrines were made by the Nayak Emperors of the Vijaya Nagar Dynasty during the 16th century.
🛕 It is believed that the temple was under the possessions of the Pandya Emperors from 1251 AD to 1563 AD. The researchers believe that the Azhagar Temple was restored by the Malayathuvaja Pandyan, the son of Kulasekara Pandyan. The Emperor Jadavarman Sundara Pandyanmade Golden Vimana for this temple during his period from 1251 AD to 1270 AD. The Great Emperor Krishna Deva Rayar from the Vijaya Nagar Dynastry carried on many renovation works to preserve the beautifulness and soulfulness of the temple.
🛕 Right from Krishna Deva Rayar to Vishwanadha Nayak all the emperors tried their best to maintain the Temple.
🛕 Though the exact period when this temple was built is not known, it is believed to be antique that its eminence is mentioned in ancient Tamil Scriptures and Puranas of other languages namely the Murti, the Talam, the Theertham, the Varaha Purana, the Brahmanda Purana, the Vamana Purana, etc.,
🛕 His divinity of this temple Lord Vishnu is said to be super handsome and he is mentioned as Sundara Rajan in Northern Languages.
🛕 The temple consists of two forts where the inner fort is called as Iraniyan Fort and the outer fort is named as Alagapuri Fort.
🛕 The temple tower (Gopuram) of Azhagar Temple consists of five altars, where we can go up to three tires and each of the altar has a sculpture of Lord Vishnu in three different postures likely standing, sitting and reclining. The inscriptions of the Vijaya Nagar King Krishna Deva Rayar on the Iraniyan Gate dates back to 1513 AD and hence it is said that the tower may be built in the 16th century.
🛕 The main is Lord Vishnu and he is addressed as Sundara Raja here. His Divinity Sundara Raja has Kalyana Sundaravalli to his right and Andal to the left. There is a saying in Puranas that Andal along with her father Periyalvar from Srivilliputhur visited this place to invocate the Divinity Lord Vishnu. The other important deities of this temple are Narashimar and Karuppasamy.
🛕 There is a 16 foot hall in the temple which is called as Andal Mandapam or Community Hall. During the festivals of the Tamil months Aadi ( mid – July to mid – August)and Chithirai (mid – April to mid – May), Andal who is believed to be the Priest of the temple will be presented in that Hall. There is another hall to the north of this Andal Mandapam and is called as Kondapanayakkar Mandapam.
🛕 There is another hall located in the corridor and is called as Thirukalyana Mandapam or Marriage Hall. During the Tamil month Panguni that is mid – March, the Thirukalyana Featival (Marriage of Lord Vishnu) takes place in this hall. There is a tower next to this hall called as Thondaiman Tower which was built by Thondaiman, the son of Selvathur Kathiyandar.
🛕 The Garuda Mandapam also known as Aryan Mandapam was built by Raghavaraja, the son of Tomarasa Ayyan. This hall is also called as Transcription Hall.
🛕 The Madurai Chithirai Feastival is nothing but the festival where the Kallazhagar gets down to the Vaaigaai River. There is a story behind this festival and it goes like:
🛕 Once Guru Durvasa came to visit Maharishi. Maharishi clearly thinking only about Lord Vishnu could not treat the Sage Durvasa properly. In anger, Durvasa cursed Maharishi to become a “Frog”. Realised his mistake, Maharishi begged for forgiveness saying that he could think only about Lord Vishnu. Durvasa asked Maharishi to meditate in Vaigai River inorder to absolve his curse. Maharishi started to pray towards his holiness Lord Vishnu and Kallazhagar came to his rescue in his horse wearing the garland made by Andal on Chitra Pournami. They say that this is the reason behind the Chithirai Festival.
🛕 It is said that once upon a time there is no such thing called as death in the world as no one commits mistake. Even though, a man chases after a woman for rape, Dharma Devan came for her rescue and knocked him down in one swoop. On hearing this, Lord Shiva ordered Dharma to protect justice in the world and came him a horrifying appearance. The living beings on Earth were horrified by his appearance and were afraid to commit mistakes as Dharma Devan would destroy them. Dharmadevan was worried that his outlook had become like this even after doing good. So, he decided that at least the face he woke up to must be beautiful and started praying in this Azhagar Hill. Pleased by his meditation, Lord Vishnu appeared in front of him and promised to grant him a wish for which Dharma Devan asked Lord Vishnu to give him the privilege of praying Lord Vishnu at least once a day and asked him to reside in Azhagar Hill permanently. On his request, Lord Vishnu ascended to Azhagar Hill as Sundara Raja Perumal alongside Kalyana Sundaravalli and Andal.
🛕 63 Staff Qtrs, Alagar Kovil Main Rd, Madurai, Tamil Nadu 618301