We were leaving Madurai on Dec 21st to reach Coimbatore to be in time for the Hanumath Jayanti on Dec 23. As we looked at the different temples that we had visited around Madurai, we realised that there was a Divya Desam temple at the city centre called Koodal Azhagar Kovil.
All three of us hopped into an auto around 8 am and received Koodal Azhagar’s Amarntha (sitting posture) Thirukolam darshan. The temple Gopuram is under renovation and we couldn’t visit the upper levels.
I couldn’t take any pictures of the temple from the outside so have borrowed the picture from tntemplesproject.in website.
Sthala Puranam – Koodal Azhagar
It is believed that when Mahavishnu stood up as Trivikrama, one of his raised feet reached Brahmaloka. Bhagwan Brahma was pleased and immediately performed thirumanjanam for Perumal’s foot. The river formed thus is called Kritamala.
At the point where the temple is located, Kritamala and Vaigai rivers join (Koodal) hence his name as Koodal Azhagar. MahaVishnu is seen in three ways here – Amarntha (sitting) Thirukolam, Sayana (reclining) Thirukolam and Nindra (standing) Thirukolam. We only got the darshan of Koodal Azhagar at the ground level – Amarntha Thirukolam. As repairs were being done, we couldn’t see the first level and the top level.
Interestingly, Amma had an unexpected fall inside the garba griha, someone stepped onto her saree. She wasn’t hurt, just rolled on the floor. We were joking that Perumal wanted her to fall at his feet :). Since there is a dwaja stambham at this temple, we are supposed to prostrate to the deity there, but Amma had the good fortune of prostrating before Koodal Azhagar himself.
This is the only temple which finds mention in all the four yugas in different scriptures.
Inside the garba griha you have Sreedevi and Bhudevi. The presiding Goddess here is Maduravalli and she has a different Sannidhi. On the outer Parikrama you have Sannidhis for Andal, Krishna, Narasimha, all the 12 Alvars, Garudalvar, Anjaneya and a Sannidhi for Rama, Lakshmana and Seeta. This is probably the only Vishnu temple that has the Navagraha Sannidhi as well.
The ashtanga Vimana (spire or tower) is special and its shadow doesn’t fall to the ground. Legend says it was constructed by the architect of the Gods Vishwakarma.
Apparently one of the Pandya kings named Sathyavrathan, while praying to Vishnu was given upadesam (discourse) by Mahavishnu in the form of a fish (Matsya avatar) that emerged from the Kritamala river. That’s how the emblem of the Pandyas became the fish.
Yet another legend associated with this divine place is as follows – Sownaka Maharishi, did penance here and he was so deep in meditation that a mound was formed over him. Yayati’s daughter who plays there sees two spots of bright light emanating from the mound. She accidentally pokes them and Sownaka Maharishi curses her that all the children born to her will be blind. She pleads with him saying it was a mistake and she was truly repentant.
Sownaka Maharishi forgives her and marries her as well. They have 100 children and Janaka Maharishi, is one of them. Janaka Maharishi is Maa Sita’s father !!
Yet another example of the non-existent North-South divide 🙂
Do visit the Koodal Azhagar Kovil whenever you find yourself in Madurai to get his blessings. The 6ft tall Amarntha kolam of Koodal Azhagar lives upto his name – he is mesmerizing.
For context do read – 108 Divya Desams.