Post No. 11,055

Date uploaded in London – –    27 JUNE 2022         

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Here are some interesting details in bullet points

1.Tirunelveli, shortened as Nellai, is an ancient town situated 100 miles south of Madurai. We covered it in 3 hours by car. Since this was my third or fourth visit to Nellai, I went straight into Shiva’s shrine and goddess’ shrine. During my previous trip, when I went there with Dr R Nagaswamy, world famous historian and archaeologist, as part of an archaeological tour (year 1977??), he gave us a long lecture on the historical significance of the temple.

(We were so hungry on the day and so me and Setupati High School teachers Mr V G Srinivsan and NCC master Srinivasan went to a near by Halwa shop and had good quantity of the sweet as dinner! Nellai is famous for its Halwa. In my city London, we get only corn flour halwa called Bombay Halwa. But it in Madurai and Nellai, they make the Halwa through a laborious process. They take the milk out of pounded wheat and boil it with milk, spices and ghee. During this India trip also we had Nellai Halwa)

2.Nellai Shiva temple is larger than Madurai Meenakshi temple and has as many important sculptures as Madurai temple

3.Sung by Thiru Gnana Smabandar, the greatest of the Saivite saints ; so has a history of at least 1400 years.

4.Like all ancient temples of Tamil Nadu, we have both Shiva (main shrine) and Vishnu shrine. Vishnu statue here is unique in having Shiva inscribed on him. Lord Shiva has two shrines here (Venuvana Nathar and Nellaiappar)

5. Like all Tamil temples, we have Sthala Vrksha (Plant of the Shrine) as Bamboo.

6.Ancient Sangam Tamil book ‘Madurai Kanchi’ refers to this place as Saaliyur. Both Saali and Nel (llai) mean paddy. So the town is at least 2000 year old.

7.Over 50 inscriptions are in the temple, covering a period  from 946 CE until modern times.

8.Like Madurai temple, we have Musical Pillars, 1000 Pillar Mandapa (Stone hall), Vasantha Mandapa etc. Musical Pillars here are considered the oldest among such pillars. We see such musical pillars in Andhra and Karnataka s well.

9.The Ratha/Chariot/ Ther in Tamil is famous for its wooden sculptures. It is one of the ancient wooden Chariots in Tamil Nadu.

10. Madurai has Velli Ambalam (Silver shrine of Nataraja) and Nellai has Thaamira Sabhai (copper shrine). One has to do some research on the copper attached to the river name (Taamrabarani) and Taamra sabha.

11.The sculptures here show Nayak influence. Like Madurai we have Golden Lotus Tank. Zodiac Signs, a woman with a child, Rathi, Manmatha, Arjuna and other sculptures are remarkable.

12.Seven Mandapas (Stony Halls) including the 1000 Pillar Mandapa have many beautiful sculptures. Ravana lifting Kailash is in one Mandapa.

13.Bhadra Deepa (10,000 lamps) and once in six years Laksha Deepa ( 100,000 lamps) festival on Thai Amavasai is an unique festival.

14.Kubera Lingam shrine is also equally famous. Only three temples in Tamil Nadu have Kubera Lingam, which brings wealth to any worshipper.

15.Every famous temple in Tamil Nādu is attached to one Siddha/Saint and this temple is attached to Amavasai Paradeshi who lived for 120 years.

16.Festivals are celebrated throughout the year, most of them covering ten to fifteen days.

17. Many sub shrines in the temple such as Polla Pillayar shrine, Arumuka Nayinar shrine, Thillai Govindar shrine,Jura Devar shrine, Sarasvati shrine, Manjana Vadivamman shrine, Dakshinamurthy Shrine and Pittapurathi Amman shrine are sought by the devotees for getting particular boons from the gods.

18.From Sambandar to Muthu Swami Dikshitar, one of the Karnatka Sangeetha Trinity, all Saivaite saints composed Kritis, Pathikams and Keerthanas on Shiva and Goddess Kanthimathi residing here. Sri Kanthimathim in Hemavathi Raga sung by Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar in Sanskrit, is popular among musicians.

19.There is a story behind the name of the town- Paddy Town/ Tiru Nel Veli. A brahmin by name Vedha Sarma was drying the paddy grains for the offering (Naivedhyam) and there was a flash flood in the river. When he prayed to god Shiva, he came and made a protective fence around the paddy and so the town got the name Tiru Nel/Paddy, Veli/Fence. Tiru stands as an honorific prefix signifying holy shrine or sung by a holy man. Another secular interpretation is the town is surrounded / fenced by paddy fields.



Nellai, Tirunelveli, Kanthimaathi, wooden sculptures, Thamrasabha, Musical pillars, 

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  1. அடுத்த முறை வரும்போது தகவல் தெரிவிக்கவும் அய்யா…இந்த முறை உங்களின் ஆசீர்வாதம் கிடைக்கவில்லை…


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