Divine Traveller
Divine Traveller

Subramanya Swami Temple - Tiruchendur

Murugan
Subramanya Swamy-(file picture)

This beautiful temple in Tiruchendur is situated on the shores of the beach of Gulf of Mannar in the Bay of Bengal. The origin of this temple is said to be dated to 2000 yrs old. It is one of the six "Aaru padai veedu" (six abodes of Lord Muruga).

As per legends, there was this powerful demon king called Soorapadman, who was invincible and he along with his brothers was torturing the devas and creating big chaos to the three worlds. All the devas and sages rushed to Shiva to save them from the demon.

Lord Shiva opened his Third Eye and six sparks of fire came out of it onto the divine lake Saravan Poigai. They were transformed into six babies. These babies were mothered by the six Kirithika, female deities. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi came to Saravana Poigai, and when Parvathy fondly caressed the babies, they merged together to become a beautiful baby with six faces and twelve arms. Because of his six faces , He was called as Arumugam, Lord Shiva asked him to destroy Surapadma and free the Devas from their evil clutches. Lord Muruga reached Tiruchendur with his lieutenant Veerabaghu and his mighty army. As ordered by Shanmuga ,Veerabahu asked Soorapadma to release the Devas. The arrogant Soorapadman turned down the request and an enraged Lord Subramanya fought with the demon king Soorpadman in a long battle. Shaken with fear Soorapadman turned himself into a mango tree. Lord Shanmuga's lance split the tree into two and there appeared a peacock and a rooster. The demon pleaded with Subramanya to spare him and Subramanya took the peacock as his Vahana ( vehicle) and the cock in his flag. This killing od Soorapadman is now enacted as Soora Samharam in most of the Murugan temples now.

After winning the fierce battle , Lord Subramanya wanted to get the blessings of his father Lord Shiva and the divine architect Mayan ,built a temple at the seashore . Even now we can see the idol of Lord Shiva in the form of a Lingam in the karpagraham (or Garbhagriha the sanctum sanctorum, the innermost sanctuary ) of this temple.( It is said that later Subramanya went to Thiruttani to calm himself and meditate and hence Thirutanni is also known as Shantipuri (Abode of Peace). )

Tiruchendur
Tiruchendur temple view from the beach

The temple is situated on the beautiful shore of the Gulf of Mannar,Bay of Bengal.The unique feature here is that the main Raja Gopuram is in the western side away from the seaside. The gopuram called the Mela Gopuram has nine tiers and it is about 140 feet high decorated with nine kalasams at the top.

The outer most praharam has many pillared corridors built a few decades back, called Devar Mandapam, donated by film producer and a great devotee of Lord Muruga, Chinnappa Devar.

The main Garbagriham (inner sanctum) is actually carved out of a cliff and later reinforced to make this as a room big enough for the principal deity to be in. Moolavar Subramanya Swamy is in Nindra Koalm (standing posture) facing east. To his left is the Lingam of Jagannatha, who receives the daily pujas along with the principal deity of Subramanya. This is said to be the Siva linga worshipped by Subramanya swamy after his victory over the demon Sooran. The idols of Valli and Deivanai are smaller and are at his sides,possibly installed at a later date.

The pooja type here is known as Kumara Thantram. The poojas are performed by brahmin priests known as Potris. Another unique feature here is that the Viboodhi prasadam (holy ash) is given in 'panneer'(Indian Lavender, Panneer (Tamil), Dharu (Sanskrit)) leaves. The leaves are itself considered medicinal and hence the Lord's prasad Vibudhi on the leaves,Ilai vibudhi or Patra vibudhi, are considered special and beleived to cure diseases.

There are four Utsava Murthis, Shanmugar, Jayantināthar, Kumara Vidangar or Mappillai Swamy and Alaivay Perumal. Each of these four have separate sannidhis.

On the northern praharam, there is a sannidhi for Maha Vishnu. This Vishnu sannidhi is hollowed out of a rock. Vishnu as Venkatesa Perumal is seen in 'Nindra Kolam' (a standing posture) and facing the East. Next to this in the big carved grotto (half tunnel) is Gaja Lakshmi, Palli konda Ranganathan in a reclined posture. Śrī Devi, Bhudevi are at His sides. Brahma is seen on a lotus from his navel.

Small idols of the twelve Vaishnavite Alwars are in this sannidhi. Vaishnavite archakas perform the poojas here four times a day. Select hymns from the Nalayira Divya prabhandham are seen on outer walls of the sannidhi.

Hymns in praise of Lord Thiruchendur Murugan have been sung by Saint Arunagirnathar in Tiruppukazh

Adi Shankara and the Subramanya Bhujangam It is said that when Sri Adi Shankara was travelling down south, he contracted severe stomach pain. Lord Shiva appeared in his dream and instructed him to go to Tiruchendur. He reached Tiruchendur temple. While having darshan of Subramanya he saw some divine rays emanating from the idol. He was mesmerised by the beauty and sang a hymn in praise of Subramanya which came to be known as Subramanya Bhujangam. Adi Shankara was not only cured of the illness but the human kind benefitted with such a powerful stotra. Even today, it is beleived that reciting this Subramanya Bhujangam with devotion and sincerity can cure any type of major illness.

Rituals :
Bathing at the Sea Nine teerthas (sacred bathing places) are mentioned in the stala purana. A bath in the sea is said to be divine experience. As per legends it is said that Brahma having one of his heads cut by Shiva got it restored after a bath here.
Nazhi Kinaru About 600 feet to the south of the Shanmukha Vilasa on the beach lies a well of spring known as 'Skanda Pushkarani' or the Nazhi kinaru. It is said that Lord Muruga thrust His lance into the ground bringing out water and forming a well, called Naazhi Kinaru, to quench the thirst of His warriors during the battle with SooraPadman. The square well of around 14 square feet width has a small well within it. The water in the larger well is saltish in contrast to the smaller one which is smaller with one square foot in area contains crystal clear sweet water. These two wells, though lying in close proximity, have two completely different quality and taste which is considered a divine miracle and geo scientists are baffled. It is also referred to as the Miraculous Spring. Sadly these places are always crowded and devotees dirtying the places around it in spite of the temple authorities requests to maintain cleanliness.

Devotees offer their hair ( it is very popular in Tirupathi Balaji temple, and other Murugan temples in the South) as a sacrifice after their prayers have been answered.

Other important ritual is carrying of palkudams (milk pots) by the devotees in huge numbers.

Soorasamharam
Soorasamharam - Tiruchendur temple painting

Poojas Poojas are performed nine times a day, starting from Suprabatham and culminating in the 'palliyarai' (bed time ) pooja for the Lord. During these poojas different neivedyams like pongal, kanji (porridge) , Dosai, appam are offered.

Festivals

Adi Krithigai festival (July–August) is grand here when hundreds of thousands of devotees come from far and near.

Bhramotsavam is celeberated in the month of Maasi(Feb mid to mid March) and Valli Kalyanam is celebrated on the 8th day.Skanda Sashti is celebrated in the tamil month of Aippasi (Oct-Nov).Thai poosam in January and Pankuni Uttiram in Pankuni (March-Apr) festival are celeberated in a very grand scale.The Vasanta festival is an annual festival of ten days in the month of Chittirai (April-May). Unprecedent crowds throng the temple during theses festival days.

More than five lakh devotees participate in the Kanda Sashti festival in the Tamil month of Aippasi (Oct-Nov) at this temple. On the sixth day, Soorasamharam is enacted before the crowd on the shore where Lord Murugan fought SooraPadman. On the seventh day His Tirukkalyanam (holy wedding) to Deivanai is celebrated in a grand manner.

The temple has a golden chariot made of gold and silver and other metals. Devotees on payment of fees can pull the deity in a procession in the golden charriot around the outer praharam, except on Festival days

Tsunami and Tiruchendur Tiruchendur temple is the only major structure in the area not affected by the Tsunami on the December 26, 2004 The waves destroyed everything around the temple but did not touch the temple itself. It is a miracle, and many took refuge there during Tsunami.It caused havoc to the adjacent villages and fishing hamlets and even destroyed a portion of the Velankanni Church.

It is recorded in the scriptures that during 17th century the Dutch who had set up colonies in Tuticorin,looted the Tiruchendur temple and took the pancha loka idol(made of five metals) of Murugan with them. While on the ship just a few miles away from the temple, cyclone struck them with the sea suddenly becoming rogue with huge waves and heavy rains. Some of the Indian workers in the ship said that it was because they stole the idol from the temple. The Dutch sea captain immediately threw the idol into the sea. After that things calmed down.
A devotee named Vadamalaiyappa pillai had a dream and saw the idol's position in the sea. With the help of divers he went to the sea and noticed a lemon floating on the sea. Directly beneath the lemon he saw the idol and recovered it. He then reinstated the idol.
A stone inscription states that Lord Varuna had promised Subramanya that the temple will not be harmed in any way by the sea. Maybe it is due to this, when the tsunami hit the southern coast of India, the sea destroyed everything but actually receded at the site of the temple.

Temple Timings It is open from 5:30 am – 9:00pm with occassional breaks of 30 minutes for alankarams.

How to reach? The nerest airport is Tuticorin (Thoothukudi) and the temple is around 35 kms from here. Tiruchendur has a railway station with trains from Chennai,Madurai,Nagerkoil and other places. It is a three hours drive from Madurai.

Where to Stay? There are plenty of budget and semi luxury hotels and temple Devasthanam accommodations available in Thiruchendur.
Where to Eat?There are several restaurants in Thiruchendur and use your judgement to select the hygienic ones.

Contact Joint Commissioner/Executive Officer,
Arulmigu Subramania Swamy Temple,
Tiruchendur - 628 215.
Phone Numbers : 04639-242221, 04639-242270, 04639-242271
EMail : tiruchendurmurugan@tnhrce.org

Useful data
State: Tamil Nadu
District: Thoothukudi
Famous for: Pilgrimage
Languages: English,Tamil,Malayalam
Best Season: Throughout the year. Summer( from May to July)
Weather: Summer 33-46°C, Winter 16-28°C
Altitude: sea level


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