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108 Dhivya Desam - Thirumaaliruncholai

Location :  Azhagar Koyil near Madurai
Perumaal :  Kallazhagar
Thaayaar :  Sundharavalli, Sri Devi
Theertham : Noopura Gangai
Paasuram :  PeriyAzhwar, Andal, ThirumangaiAzhwar, BhootattAzhwar,PeyAzhwar, NammAzhwar
Vimaanam : Somasundara Vimanam
Travel Base : Madurai

Description: This Dhivya Desam is the well known Kallazhagar temple located at a distance of about 18 km from Madurai. Nearby is Pazhamudirsolai, one of the six Padai Veedu shrines of Murugan.

There are as many as 128 verses sung by PeriAzhwar, Andal, ThirumangaiAzhwar, BhootattAzhwar, PeyAzhwar and NammAzhwar on Maalairuncholai. Kallazhagar is enshrined at Azhagar Koyil, and Srivilliputtur enshrines Kattazhagar, while Madurai enshrines Koodalazhagar. The sangam period Tamil work speaks of theis hill and the springs in its environs.

 

Deities: The Moolavar here is Azhagar, in a standing posture facing East. Azhagar is also known as Sundararajar, Paramaswamy and Rishabhadrinathar. Azhagar is considered to be the tutelary deity of the Kallar tribe of this region, hence the name Kallazhagar.Thaayaar here is Sundaravalli.

 

Legend has it that the Somasundara Vimanam, also known as the Somaskanda Vimanam or the Somachanda Vimanam was designed by Viswakarma. Legend has it that this shrine was built by Dharma Deva, upon whose request Perumaal took this place as his permanent abode.

 

The Temple: This temple is situated in a picturesque locale. The hill nearby resembles the shape of a cow, and hence the name Vrishabhadri. The temple is surrounded by two forts, the outer one being Azhagapuri and the inner one Hiranyapuri. The Southern gateway to the fort, the Hiranyankottai vaasal is the main entrance here. The Thirumalai Nayakar mandapam is a grand structure while the Anna Vahana Mandapam has sculptures describing scenes from the Puranas. The Kalyana mandapam has life sized images of Narasimhar, Krishna, Garuda, Manmathan, Rathi, Trivikrama and Thaayaar Varaha. The flagstaff  here is gold plated. The Aryan mandapam houses Yalis with non removable stone balls in their mouths as in Trivandrum. 

 

There are shrines to Valampuri Vinayakar and Saraswathi in the temple. There are shrines to Yoga Narasimhar, Karuppannaswami (deity of the Kallar tribe) and Raakkaayee Amman. The doors of the temple over the famous 18 steps in this temple, are considered to be a manifestation of Karuppannasami who is considered to be the gurardian deity here. Songs of the Tamil Siddhar (Bhoga Siddhar) describe the azhagar malai hill and refer to the 18 step Karuppannaswamy.

 

The Noopura Ganga theertham is the Silambaar river. It is believed to have emanated from the anklet of Perumaal. Full moon, new moon and dwadasis are considered sacred for bathing in this theertham. Inscriptions form the period of Rajaraja Chola are seen here as well as those from the 16th century Vijayanagar period, the Hoysala and the Nayak periods.

 

Festivals: The Chittirai festival is a grand one, where on the fourth day, Azhagar is taken to Madurai, where he resides on the banks of the Vaigai river for five days and then returns. Chittirai is the month of great festivities in Madurai, for it is when, the grand Chittirai Thiruvizha of Madurai happens, attracting thousands of visitors. The festival images (gold) here are of great beauty. Bhramotsavam is celebrated in the month of Aadi, Vasantotsavam in Vaikasi. Thirukkalyanam is celebrated in the month of Pankuni, when Sri Devi, Bhu Devi, Kalyanasundaravalli and Andal are seen with Perumaal. On Dwadasi in the bright half of Aippasi, the festival image of Azhagar is given a ritual bath in Noopura Ganga.