Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sri Koodal Azhagar Temple – Madurai – Thirukkoodal

About Temple

Apart from being the political capital of the Pandyan and Nayakan dynasties, the importance of the city of Madurai lies in the fact that it was an important center of art and culture. Its temples are the best manifestations of its unique cultural heritage. The Koodal Alagar Temple in Madurai is an ancient temple that reflects the cultural heritage of the land in keeping with the tradition of the land.

Located at a distance of about 2 km to the west of the city, the Koodal Alagar Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, an important God of the Hindu pantheon. There are three altars in the Koodal Alagar Temple and in all the altars Lord Vishnu resides in three different postures.





The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Koodal Alagar who is Lord Vishnu in a seated posture under the Serpent Lord Aadhiseshan. This is the most revered shrine of the temple. Lord Vishnu in a reclining posture is better known as Sri Ranganatha and his altar is just above the altar of Lord Koodal Alagar. Lord Vishnu in a standing pose referred to as Sri Surya Narayan Perumal adorns the temple.

There are a total of 108 Divya Desam or Vaishnavite Shrines in the country. But in only two of these shrines can one witness Lord Vishnu in all three postures – standing, sitting and reclining. The Koodal Alagar Temple is one of those two temples to have this unique feature.

On the occasion of Mahasamprokashanam, the Koodal Alagar, Madurai is thronged by a large number of devotees. As it is not held very frequently, the joyous enthusiasm of the people is really worth noticing. Renovation of the temple that cost more than a crore was undertaken when it was celebrated recently in the year 2006. The paint used was special and made from medicinal herbs of Kerala. It will last for thousands of years.

The other impressive features of the Koodal Alagar Temple, Madurai include the ornamental windows. They are elegantly carved and reflective of the exceptional skills of the stone masons. The intricately carved wooden panels are simply spectacular. What will particularly catch your attention is the panel that portrays Lord Rama’s Pattabhishekham or coronation.

In the temple tower at the entrance, one sees the story of the Ramayana and Mahabaratha depicted through sculpture in different tiers of the tower. These sculptures can be closely seen from Tier 1 of the temple and are not to be missed.

When you visit the Koodal Alagar Temple, the sight of Lord Vishnu at Ashtanga Vimanan will surely remain etched in your minds forever. So make it a point to visit this 1,500 year old temple.

Location

Located very near to Periyar (central) bus stand and the railway junction, Madurai. The towering golden Sthupi is visible from the central bus stand guiding the pilgrims to its vicinity.


History

This temple hails from the earliest Age of Sangam period. There are references of this temple in Paripadal and Silappadikaram. The presiding deity was praised and worshipped by the Sangam tamil Poets as the president and guardian deity of the Sangam and called him by the name “Thuvarikoman” (the King who ruled over from Dwaraka) and Koodal Alagar. Koodal refers to the assembly of Poets and scholars. The Ancient Pandya rulers celebrated Avani Onam festival in praise of Sri Koodal Alagar for a period seven days. This festival is vividly described in Maduraikkanchi, on the ten lengthy poems called Pathupattu of the Sangam period. Ilangovadigal praises the Lord as “Needu Neer-Vaigai Nedumal” meaning the Lord who spanned the universe by taking three strides. (Thiruvokrama) Who is now seated at the bank of the river Vaigai in Archa form.

Arts and Archiecture

The sanctum sanctorums of this temple are seen one above the other, it is unique to this temple. Convenient steps have been provided to reach the top floors. Just like the Peria koil tower of Tanjore, the shadows of Astanganga vimanam do not fall on the ground. The stone walls on the 3 sides of the Athittanam are full of artistic works. Sun’s rays reach the sanctum sanctorum through the 7 windows in this wall. There are beautiful sculptures made of lime mortar on the Vimanam (structure over the sanctum sanctorum). In the third floor, the scenes of “Dasavatharam”(the ten Incarnations) are depited with lime mortar sculptures around the shrine. The shrine of goddess thayar Maragathavalli, built with granite stones and carved with sculptural works is seen here. There is an unjal mandapam (swinging mandapam) full of artistic wooden works.

Large Monoilithic sculptures of yallies are found here. Also there are musical pillars in this temple. Sri Andaal shrine is in the northern part of Perumal shrine.

PeriAzhvaar’s praise

Pandya king Pururavan contributed a lot for the Koodal Lord. His grandson conquered the North and came back prompting PeriAzhvaar to sing:

“Parupathu Kayal Poritha Pandyar Kulapathipol
ThiruPolintha Sevadi En Senniyin Mel
Porithathaai MaruPosithaai, Enrenrum Vaasagamey
UruPolintha Naavinenai Unakurithaakinaiye”


Later, another Pandya king Vallabadevan wanted to know the Lord with the power to show the way to Paramapatham, the heavenly abode. The King hung a Golden Parrot with the announcement that the parrot would automatically fall, once someone informs him of the right Lord to Paramapatham. Several came and went back without success.

It is believed that the Koodal Lord appeared in the dreams of Vallabadevan’s priest Selvanambi and suggested the name of PeriAzhvaar of Srivilliputhur. Accordingly, PeriAzhvaar was brought to the court of the Pandya King in Madurai. With several examples from vedic scriptures as well as historical references, PeriAzhvaar showcased to the Pandya King that Lord Vishnu was the Lord who could take one to the heavenly abode. And to every one’s surprise the parrot fell down.

The Azhvaar taken on a Street procession in Koodal
A delighted Pandya king praised PeriAzhvaar and took him on an elephant procession through the streets of Madurai. Legend has it that Koodal Azhagar himself came to see this sight on his Garuda Vaahanam.
“Pandyan Kondaada PattarBhiraan Sonnaan Enru…….”

PeriAzhvaar’s Thiru Pallaandu
Delighted at the sight of the Koodal Lord, PeriAzhvaar showered praises with his Pallaandu. Hence, Koodal Azhagar is credited with origination of ThiruPallaandu, which now has come to be sung as the first 12 songs of the Divya Prabhandham. Being the place where PeriAzhvaar sang the now famous Pallaandu, this place is considered equivalent to Paramapatham.

“Pallandu Pallaandu Pallayirathaandu, Palakodi Nooraayiram
Mallanda Thinthol Manivanna Un Sevadi Seppu ThiruKaapu…..”
The Pandya Symbol

Pandya king Sathya Varadan undertook penance before the Koodal Lord, who gave him darshan inside a sacred tumbler, as a fish. This is stated to be the reason for the Pandyas to have ‘Fish’ as their symbol in their flags.
Vaigai And Krithumala

At Sathya Logam, Brahmma washed the legs of Lord Vishnu, after his Trivikrama Avataaram, the sacred water drops of which fell on Madurai. These sacred drops spread as two rivers, Vaigai and Krithumala. Koodal Azhagar temple is on the banks of Kruthumala river.
Temple Cars

This temple is endowed with a beautiful wodden Car.


Legend
Brahmanda Purana vividly describes this kshetra in seven chapters. Sri Koodal Alagar is seated in the Ashtanga vimana flanked by his consorts. The legendary Kings Prithu, Malaydioaja workshipped Sri Koodal Alagar, who bestowed them with prosperity and attainment of moksha at the end. The Grand Invocation:Alwars are mystical saints who glorified the presence of Narayana in temples by their hymns. Among them vishnu chittha has a unique position. He was invited to visit the Pandya Court at Madurai in order to settle the disputes among the various religious sects. Vishnuchitha established the supremacy of Sriman Narayana by quoting profusely the vedic texts in support of his argument. At the end of his argument a miracle happened. The purse containing gold coins suspended in a pole landed down in the hand of Vishnuchittha. This was a divine acceptance!. The King celebrated this victory by seating Vishnuchittha on the decorated throne placed on the back of royal elephant and he himself led the procession accompanied by the vedic Pandits. Sri Koodal Alagar pleased by the grand victory appeared before the procession seated on the shoulders of Garuda the divine vehicle and blessed Vishnuchittha. Vishnuchittha got himself immered in the infinite beauty of the lord, regaining his senses he blessed the lord, with a long life of thousands of years by expressing his wishes in the form of twelve verses (first) in tamil known as Thirupallandu. Vishnuchittha recited the verse in tune with the ringing of the bells tied to the elephant. He offered Mangalasasanam at the holy feet of Sri Koodal Alagar. Thirupallandu is recited even today as the starting invocations in the shrines. The Pandya King praised Vishnuchittha as “Pattar piran” while the lord gave him the name “Periyalwar”. Vishnuchitta is regarded as the foremost among the twelve Alwars by the merit of his infinite love and utterance of Pallandu, which was given the foremost place in the recital of Divya Prabandam by Nathamuni who confided the Naalayira divya prabandam.

Unique Pilgirm Centre

Sri Koodal alagar temple one among the 108 Vaishnavaite shrines, is unique as Alwars had performed Mangalasasanam for this temple. Also Periyalwar had praised this temple in his literary work “Thiruppallandu”. Attanga vimana considered the foremost among the 94 vimanas is found over the sanctum sanctorum of this temple. It is rare to see Attanga vimana in temples, which adds to the uniqueness of Sri Koodal alagar temple. It is believed that by coming around the Attanga vimana, 12 times for continous 45 days, one’s wish will be satisfied.

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  5. how can i read this post in tamil

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