Madurai is a city known for Goddess Sri Meenakshi and her temple. This temple town of South India has a long history, and well known as a city. Many rulers had contributed their might by adding new facilities in this temple. This city was ruled by many dynasties, and we had given short version of the history of this temple town in our earlier pages.
Of the many important rulers, Sri Thirumalai Nayak ruled Madurai between 1623 and 1659 CE. He was the seventh and most notable of the thirteen Madurai Nayak rulers. His contributions are found in the many splendid buildings and temples in and around Madurai. Thirumalai Nayak was a great patron of art and architecture. He rebuilt and renovated a number of old temples of the Pandya period. His palace, known as the Thirumalai Nayak Palace, is a notable architectural masterpiece and attracts many visitors.
He had built many mandaps in both Meenakshi Temple and Azagar Temple. He had renovated many of the old structures in these two temples. Both the temples attract many visitors today. He had reorganized the festivals of these two temples. World renowned “Chitirai Thiruvizha” of Madurai was reoriented with aim of uniting the people different school of thoughts and also to increase the productivity of agricultural products of the region. Kindly read “Tallakulam temple” for further information in this regard. The festival is most prominent during Lord Azagar entering in Vaigai River. It is to be believed that more than two lakh devotees take part during this celebration.
There is an excellent temple for Sri Maha Vishnu in a serene atmosphere about twenty kilometers from Madurai. The temple is located in the base of hill which is surrounded by forest. Even today the forest is well guarded and the locational antiquity of the temple undisturbed.
In this temple, the main deity Lord Maha Vishnu is known by the name Paramaswamy. He graces with Sridevi and Bhudevi in the garbhagraham which has Soma Chandra vimanam. Devi here is known by the name Kalyana Sundaravalli. The processional deity is worshiped in the name of Alagar [pronounced as Azhagar in Tamil]. Alagar in Tamil means ‘beautiful’. The other names for Him are Kallazhagar and Sundararajan. Alagar became a “kallalagar” because he stole people's hearts. This is why this Perumal is addressed as “Vanjakalvan Mamayan” meaning? by Nammalvar.
As per Puranams, this temple was built by God Dharmadevan. Later it was renovated by the Pandian King named Malayathdwajan. It is also said that Malayathdwajan prayed Shri Alagar in this temple and blessed to have Goddess Meenakshi as his daughter.
Alagar was not only beautiful in name, but also in appearance as well. The beauty of the Lord has earned fame and spread wildly. Everyone is of the opinion that there is no idol in the world equal to Alagar’s beauty. For this reason a king from the Cheranadu [Malayala desam] wanted to have this deity in his kingdom.
But taking away Alagar from the safe fort was practically impossible. So, the king entrusted the task to eighteen occult system practitioners of his country. These eighteen magicians set out to Alagar kovil to take away the processional deity. They were escorted by the guardian deity of Malayala desam, namely Sri Karuppan. For fleeing with the deity the divine power has to be taken away and deity had to be made as simple ‘vigraham’.
While the magicians were on this particular job, Sri Karuppan fell in love at the beauty of Alagar and could not take his eyes away from Alagar. The mesmerised Karuppan was thus distracted from the duty of guarding and protecting the eighteen magicians who had come for thieving the idol. The magicians were at work without knowing that Karuppan is not protecting them. It was noticed by a devotee as to with what intention eighteen magicians are working. The news spread and the eighteen magicians were caught. As a punishment the eighteen magicians were given death sentence, and they were laid to rest as eighteen steps in the front of the Raja gopuram of the temple. Apart from this description, there are other versions of the legend also.
On the wishes of Sri Karuppan, Alagar blessed him to be His guard then after. Then on Karuppanswamy is the guardian of all the properties of the temple.
There is no ‘roopam’ here for Karuppan Swamy, who is standing as a guard near the eighteen steps near the main gateway to the temple. Hence he is called as “pathinettam padi karuppasamy” by the devotees. The main door for the Rajagopuram remains closed always, great door itself is worshiped in the form of Karuppa. The door opened only for the Chakratthalwar [disc of Sri Maha Vishnu] during the Brahmotsavam. Pujas are performed here behind closed doors. It is custom to pray to Karuppanswamy first before entering into main temple complex to have Darshan of Lord.
There are plenty of beautiful ornaments for Alagtar. When Alaghar goes out for a festival, it customary to read a list of what jewels He is wearing, to Karuppanswamy. Similarly, when returning, Alagar will go inside after Karuppanswamy ensures that the same jewelries had arrived. Even today, when the temple is closed, it is customary to bring the key to the Sannidhi of Karuppanswamy. The tirtha which is brought daily from Nupura Ganga to Alagar will be placed in Karuppan's sannidhi and taken inside after swearing that it has been brought pure. The oath taken by Karuppan is equivalent to the oath taken in the presence God of Justice. Locally many disputes are settled in the presence Karuppanswamy, it is believed that lying in his sannidhi will wreck their life.
The main Raja gopuram of the temple is facing east. The eighteen steps leading to the door of the rajagopuram and ‘pathinettam padi karuppasamy’ temple are located in the enclose facing the raja gopuram. There is a sannidhi for Sri Hanuman along south wall of karuppanswamy temple. In fact it is the first sannidhi a devotee will see on entering the complex. The sannidhi is facing south, and it is not known when it had come into existence. But the idol of Sri Hanuman seems to be of Nayaks’ period. It is presumed that during their rule one of the Nayaks might have got Sri Hanuman installed [pradhista] here. Reason and whose period the sannidhi had come into existence are not known.
At first look itself one can say the vigraha is similar to the one seen in the Sri Meenakshi temple main mantapam with minor changes. Both these shilas come under ‘ardha shila’ ie., embossed type. But close look of these one can see these are nearly fully sculpted vigraham.
Sri Hanuman is in walking posture. His left lotus foot is seen in the front and His right lotus foot firmly on the ground. Both His feet are adorning nupuram and thandai. He is wearing dhoti in a katcham style, held by the tightly waist cloth. His left hand is seen near the left hip, holding the stem of sowgandika flower. The flower is seen above His left shoulder. Bracelet in wrist and nupuram in the upper arm are seen. He is wearing a mala close to His neck. Another mala adorns His bosom. In the broad chest Lord is wearing yagnopaveetham and uttariyam. ‘Bhuja valayam’ adorns his shoulders. With His right hand raised above He showers ‘nirbhsythvam’ [blessings] on His devotees. The Lord is wearing ear ring which is round in shape in His ears as Kundal. His kesam is neatly tied into tuft is held by an ornate ‘kesa-bhada’ as a crown over His head. The tail of the Lord is raised above His head goes up to the left shoulder and ends with a curve. Lord is directly facing the devotees. The fluffy cheek and ‘korapal’ gives confidence to devotee that He is there to protect. His direct looking lustrous eyes are radiating karuna on the devotee.
At the first darshan itself devotee is sure to strengthen his self-confidence and the compassionate kataksham of Lord will make a righteous approach towards life.
Ed: Nov 2022
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SRI HANUMAN THINKS DIFFERENTLY, THINKS FAST, THINKS AHEAD AND ACTS FOR SURE.
Our salutations to this Hanuman who always brings subham - everything that is good - for His devotees and eliminates the bad and the evil. He removes even the traces of bad thoughts and deeds from His devotees. i.e He makes them pure in words, thought and deed.