The sea port town of Nagapattinam is home to the beautiful Divya Desam of Soundara Raja Perumal.
Thiru Mangai Azhvaar is said to have been so lured by the beauty of the tall and lanky Lord Soundara Rajan that he imagined himself as a lady (Nayaki) to admire better the beauty of the Lord. In almost each of the 10 Paasurams that Thiru Mangai Azhvaar composed in praise of Soundara Raja Perumal, one can see him admiring his beauty.
“Ponn Ivar Meni Marakathin Pongu Ilan Jyothi Yagalatharam……
Achho Oruvar Azhagiya Vaa…”- 1758
(“O Sister, his face has a golden hue.He ran his eyes over me, he saw my slender waist, I dread that look on my mother’s face…Isn’t he beautiful”) – Here the Azhvaar addresses the Goddess.
‘Achho’ is a phrase used to show our excitement when we see something that keeps us ‘spell bound’.
The temple is said to have been constructed by the Naaga Kings, improved upon and renovated later by the Maratha rulers and the Nayak Kings.
Fame across 4 Yugams
The fame of this temple is distinct and dates back across each of the 4 Yugams. In Kretha Yugam, the king of Nagas ( Serpent Lord) undertook penance here. Pleased with this, Lord Vishnu agreed to accept Adisesh as the one on whom he would rest ‘always’. Since the Serpent Lord bagged this big gift from the Lord, this place has come to be called ‘Naagar’ Pattinam.
It was here that Bhooma Devi, in Tretha Yugam, and ‘Markandeya’ Rishi, in Dwapara Yugam, undertook penance.
Another story goes that Druva, a young kid (son of King Uthana patha) undertook deep penance wanting to rule the entire world. So pleased was the Lord that he came on the Garuda Vaahanam to grant Druva’s wish. However, on seeing the beautiful Lord, Druva’s mind changed, and dramatically so. Instead of wanting to reign the world, Druva requested the Lord to grant him Moksham and of seeing his beauty all the time at this temple.
It is believed that Naga Raja performed Kanniga Dhanam at this kshetram
All three Postures of the Lord
Lord can be seen in all 3 kolams here – standing, sleeping and sitting posture and is said to have given Darshan in each of these 3 postures to Naga Raja.
Thiru Mangai Azhvaar, in his Paasurams, compares Lord Soundara Rajan to Sarangapani of Kumbakonam, Sathya Moorthy of Thiru Maiyam, Kallarpiran of Sri Vaikuntam and Kall Azhagar of Thiru Maliruncholai, among a few others.
A Unique Narasimha statue
There is a bronze statue of Narasimha where he is seen blessing Prahalad with one hand and destroying Hiranyakashipu with his other hands.
Temple Tower as a Light House
In days gone by, the 7 tiered Gopuram of this Divya Desam had a light atop the tower that served as a ‘light house’ for ships coming into and crossing Nagapattinam.
Worship services are of the highest order at this temple and is done in strict Vaishnavite principles.
Main Deity : Tall and beautiful Neelamegha Perumal Standing Posture, East Facing
Utsavar : Soundara Rajan
Goddess : Soundara Valli (Separate Sannidhi)
Mangalasaasanam: Thirumangai Azhvaar – 10 Paasurams (1758-1767)
Festivals : Chitrai Avataara Utsavam, Vaikasi Vasantha Utsavam
Temple Timing: 730am-12noon and 530pm-9pm
Bus : This is about 3 kms South of New Bus Stand and opposite the Nagapattinam Railway Station.