The Shiva temple is situated in the heart of this major commercial centre. It is dedicated to Nellaiappar and His consort Kanthimathi. The temple was built by a Pandya king in the 7th century and is known for beautifully sculptured mandapams and theerthams. There are two entrances - one is Swami Sannadhi and the other Amman Sannadhi. Tirunelveli is one of the five places where the Lord performed His cosmic dance. It is known as Tambra Sabha.
The Shiva-Parvati marriage is celebrated in the thousand-pillared mandapam in Aippasi during the months of October and November. Vasanta Utsavam is held in April-May. The pillars in the Mani Mandapam render unique musical sounds when struck.
Temples Around Tirunelveli are as follows
: The Venkatachalapathy temple is known for rare sculptural workmanship. There are two beautifully carved elephants adorning the entrance to a mandapam, known as Veerappa Naick Mandapam. The pillars here bear images of exquisite beauty depicting scenes from Puranas. It is situated at a distance of 12 km from Tirunelveli.
: The Sri Subramanya temple, one of the six abodes (Arupadai Veedu) of Lord Muruga, stands majestically on the seashore. An impressive gopuram welcomes the visitor. From the town of Tirunelveli the tourists need to travel 60 kilometers to arrive here.
The origin of this rock-cut temple goes back to Puranic days. Mayan, the celestial architect had constructed a Shiva shrine for Muruga`s worship. Muruga had come here with Devas to annihilate Surapadman, the Asura, who had encamped in the mid-ocean fortress off Veeramahendrapuram near Tiruchendur.
After the victory over Surapadman, the Devas and Devaguru Brihaspati worshipped the Lord at Tiruchendur. Hence the temple is also revered as a Navagraha Sthala dedicated to Guru.
To commemorate the Lord`s victory, Skanda Shashti is celebrated at Tiruchendur as well as in other shrines of Lord Muruga for six days. On the concluding day, Surasamhara is re-enacted. This performance is witnessed by thousands of devotees.
In the sanctum, Lord Subramanya faces east, worshipping Lord Shiva. In one hand He holds a rosary of beads and in the other, flowers to be offered to Shiva. Next to this shrine is another sanctum for Sri Arumuga with His consorts.
On the outer prakaram, there are shrines for Valli and Deivayanai. There are also shrines for Vishnu (in Anantasayanam posture) and Gajalakshmi in a rock-cut niche.
About 60 meters north of the temple alongside the seashore, there is Valli Cave, cut inside natural sandstone rock facing east. There are two images-- one is dedicated to Valli and the other to Dattatreya.
It is customary for pilgrims to have a holy dip at the sea followed by a bath in a freshwater spring on the shores, known as Naazhi Kinaru, before worshipping at the temple.
Adi Sankara had worshipped in this shrine and sung in praise of the Lord in his Subramanya Bhujangam.
: The Vishnu temple, located 32 km away, is dedicated to Adhinathaswamy. There are 9 sacred Vaishnavite centres on the banks of river Thambraparni. These are known as Nava Tirupatis. Alwar Thirunagari, also called Thirukurugur, is one among them. The other places are Srivaikuntam, Thiruvaragunamangai, Thirukulanthai, Thirupulingudi, Thirukolur, Thiruperai and the two shrines of Thirutholaivillimangalam. The latter two are together called Twin Tirupatis. In Alwar Thirunagari, the worship of Bhudha is considered holy. It is the birthplace of Saint Nammalwar, said to be an incarnation of Vishnu. He was meditating under a holy tamarind tree in the temple for 16 years. Nammalwar was the author of more than a thousand verses of Divya Prabhandam.
: A unique feature at the Srivaikuntanatha temple is that the Lord is in standing posture with Adi Sesha providing the shelter. Milk abhisheka is considered very sacred. Srivaikuntam is also one of the Nava Tirupatis. It is considered as a place of importance for Shukra.
: The Vishnu temple here is commonly known as Totadri Mutt. The deity is known as Vaanamaamalai Perumal, who is seated on Adi Sesha with His consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi. The Seer commands wide respect among a sect of Vaishnavites. Nanguneri is one of the eight Swayamvyakta Kshetras, where God is believed to have appeared of His own accord. It is located 28 km away from Tirvnelveli. At Tirukurungudi, 10 km away, there is another Vishnu temple dedicated to Azhagianambi.
: It is situated at the foot of the Pothigai mountain range, from where the Tambraparni river flows down. The temple, dedicated to Papavinasar, is known for absolution of sins.
According to a legend, when Lord Shiva
married Parvati at Mount Kailash, the weight in the North increased because of the large congregation, tilting the South up. In order to make it even, He asked sage Agastya to go to the South, promising to give him darshan at his place. Agastya chose the Pothigai range and did penance there. As promised, in due course of time, the Divine Couple blessed Agastya in their Kalyana Thirukolam (in wedding glory) at Papanasam and remained there ever after. A Lingam sprouted beneath a Kala tree which is revered as Mukkala Nathar. The deities of Somaskandar, Rishabaroodar with Agastya and Lopamudra by his side are quite noteworthy.
Papanasa Theertham is located near the shrine. A few kilometer up the mountain range are the waterfalls, known as Agastya Theertham and Kalyani Theertham or Paana Theertham. Situated near these falls is a shrine dedicated to Agastya Muni.
The processional deity of Agastya is brought to Papanasam every year from his shrine to witness the celestial wedding of Shiva-Parvati.
: King Parakrama Pandyan once went to Kashi (present day Varanasi) along with his Queen and worshipped Lord Viswanatha. On his way back he had a darshan of Lord Sundareswarar at Madurai. The Lord appeared in his dream that night and bade him build another Kashi temple in the south. The king built the shrine and installed the presiding deity, Kashi Viswanatha, and His consort Lokambika in two shrines. The holy Ganga is believed to have appeared at the Kashi Kinaru at the bidding of the Lord.
At the entrance to the main shrine there are excellent pieces of sculptures.
: This popular health resort is situated on the Western Ghats near the Kerala border. There are several waterfalls here and a bath in these cascading falls is said to be very good for both mind and body.
The main fall is adjoining the temple of Sri Kutralanathar (Shiva) and Kuzhalvai Mozhi Amman.
To the north of the temple is the well known Chitra Sabha, one of the 5 such Sabhas where the Lord performed His cosmic dance. The Lord is seen in His Nritya Thandavam posture.
The old waterfalls are 7 km away from the town. The other falls here are Chittaruvi, Shenbagadevi Falls, Thenaruvi, Five Falls and Tiger Falls.
June to September is the best time to visit Courtallam when the waterfalls will be at their best during the south-west monsoon.
Sankarancoil: According to a legend, Devi Parvati once wished to see Siva and Vishnu in one form. Siva bade her to go to Earth and perform penance. On the Full Moon day in Adi (July-August), Lord Shiva granted her darshan as Sankaranarayana - half Siva and half Vishnu. The famous Adi Tapas festival celebrated here is in commemoration of this penance.
There are 3 separate shrines in the temple. The first enshrines Gomathi Amman, the second Sankaranarayana and the third a Swayambu Lingam found in an ant-hill.
The sand obtained from the ant-hill has healing powers. Pilgrims offer silver and copper cobras in the belief that cobras and scorpions will go away from their residential areas.
The Sri Chakra Peetam in front of the Devi shrine is specially worshipped. People suffering from mental afflictions perform penance here. The sacred Theertham is known as Naga Sunai.
The 10-day Vaikasi Visakam and Navaratri festivals are celebrated in a grand manner. Vijayadasami is a day of victory for the Virgin Goddess over Banasura.