Nellaiappar Temple (also spelled Nellaiyappar) is located in the heart of the city of Tirunelveli in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the famous Tamil Nadu temples, deep in tradition and history and also known for its musical pillars and brilliant sculptural splendours.
History:The temple dates back to 700 AD and in the temple are inscriptions going back to 950 A.D. It is believed there were two distinct temples. They were built for Shiva and for Parvati, the consort to Lord Shiva, by the Pandyan kings.It is the largest Shiva Temple in TamilNadu
The Sangili Mandapam, a big terraced hall linking these two, was built in the 17th century. The towers also date back to early 17th century. It is the largest Shiva temple in Tamil Nadu. The Aani Car festival is the most famous festival in this temple. The temple has five cars each for Vinayakar,
Murugan, Nellaiappar, Kanthimathi, Sandikeswarar.
Nellaiappar Car is the third largest car in Tamil Nadu and it is the first largest man-powered car. Nellaiappar Temple is one of the Panchasabha (with the Thaamira Sabha).
Lord Vishnu and sage Agastya are believed to have worshipped Shiva here.
The temple is a complex of two huge temples covering an area of 14 acres (57,000 m2) and linked by the Mandapam (pillared hall) which has pillars with beautiful life-sized sculptures carved into them, as do many of the Mandapams there. The thousand-pillared hall is of great beauty. The musical pillars in the Mani Mandapam produce sound in various pitches when struck and are from the 7th century AD.
This is a vast temple with many unique features such as the Manimandapam near the Nandi mandapam that has two huge pillars carved out of a single stone. Each giant pillar has 48 small pillars
which produce musical sounds when struck.
This temple houses a shrine to Shiva and to Parvati. There is also a shrine to Vishnu near the sanctum signifying the belief that Nellai Govindan (Vishnu) visited Tirunelveli to officiate the divine marriage of Shiva and Kanthimathi. There are several other legends associated with this temple.
There is a legend that there is a tunnel behind the Ravana sculpture in the temple corridor that connects Thirunelveli and Madurai. This tunnel was supposed to have been used by the Pandya kings and their spies on secret missions.
There are many temples in Tirunelveli but the most famous one is the Nellaiappar temple, located 1 km from Tirunelveli junction. There are many buses plying from Tirunelveli junction to this temple. The name of the main deity here is Nellaiappar and the Ambal’s name is Gandhimathi.
According to historical facts, this town was known as Venuvanam. There was a Siva devotee named Vedapattar. Lord Siva wanted to test Vedapattar’s devotion. So he made Vedapattar lose his wealth and suffer. Still, he did not give up the habit of praying to God.
One day, Vedapattar left some paddy in the sanctum of Lord Siva and went to take bath in the river. Meanwhile, it started pouring. Seeing this, Vedappatar rushed to the sanctum to save the paddy. To his suprise, he saw that there was no rain around the paddy, and God had put a fence around it and saved it.
He ran to inform the king, Rama Pandian, about the miracle. From then on the city came to be known as Nel veli – paddy that was saved by a fence. The name Nelveli got changed to Tirunelveli in time.
Sage Agastya has worshipped Lord Siva in this temple. The Lord is also called as Venunathar, Veithanathar, Nelvelinathar and Salivanathar. The Ambal is also called Vadivudaiamman and Thirukamakottamudaiya Nachiar. Lord Vinayaga is also called Polla Pillaiyar and Lord Muruga, Arumuga Peruman.
Saiva saint Tirugnana Sambandar has also sung about this temple. The 2,000-year-old temple has 32 theerthams. The speciality of this temple is that there are a lot of stories about it. Nellaiappar temple is one of the five temples where Lord Siva has danced in the form of Nataraja.
According to Hindu belief, devotees who worship the Lord in this temple will get mental peace and live well. Those who worship Gandhimathiamman would prosper in life.
Devotees can donate curd, milk, oil and other items to the temple. Navaratri festival, Tirukkalyanam in the Tamil month of Aippasi and Arudra Darisanam are the main festivals celebrated here.
Temple: This sivasthalam is one of the Pancha Sabha Temples (Copper) of Lord Shiva. This is one of the big temples in Pandiya Naadu measuring 756 in length and 378 feet in breadth. There are 2 temples at Tirunelveli, one for Lord Shiva who is known as Nellaiappar and the other one for Kanthimathi Ammai. Both the temples are located side by side and a corridor joins both the temples. On the southern prakaram of the presiding male deity’s temple, the stone statues of Nayak Kings are found who have made immense contributions for the development of this temple. The beautiful statue of Lord Arumugam (Muruga) with His 2 consorts Valli and Deivaanai sitting on His mount Peacock can be seen in the west prakaram. This statue is beautifully carved from single block of big stone. From the eastern prakaram, one has to enter through a series of mandapams to reach the sanctum sanctorum of Nellaiappar.
The temple of female deity Kanthimathi Ammai can be reached from the south prakaram and passing through the connecting corridor. The 1000 pillar mandapam inside the female deity’s temple is very famous and it is here the celestial wedding of Kanthimathi Ammai with Nellaiappar takes place every year during the festival.