Prime Deity: (Moolavar) Vaikuntanathan
Consort (Thayar): Vaikuntanayaki, Chornathanayaki (Bhudevi)
Perumal: Sri Kallappiraan
Significance: Consecrated (Divya Desam)
Sacred Fountain River :Thamiraparani, Bhrigu thirtham
Sacred : Dome (Vimanam) Chandra Vimanam
Planet: Sooriyan (Sun)
City : Srivaikuntam
District : Thoothukkudi
The nine vaishnava shrines, hailed as ‘Navathiruppathi’ are considered to be related to the ‘Navagrahaas’ or the nine planets or celestial bodies, and the deities in these temples are worshipped as the ‘navagrahaas’ themselves. They are:
1. Sooriyan (Sun) Srivaikuntam
2. Chandran (Moon) Varagunamangai
3. Angaarakan (Mars) Tirukkolur
4. Budhan (Mercury) Thiruppulinkuti
5. Guru (Jupiter) Alwar Tirunagari
6. Chukran (Venus) Thentirupperai
7. Shani (Saturn) Perungulam
8. Raghu Irattaithirupathi
( Thirutholaivillimangalam )
9. Kethu Irattaithirupathi
These Navathiruppathis in the Pandya region are recognized on par with the Navagrahaa temples in the Chola country (Surya – Thirumangalakkudi, Chandra – Thingaloor, Angaarakan – Putthirukku Velur, Budha – Thiruvenkaadu, Guru – Aalangudi, Sukra – Kanjanoor, Shani – Thirunallaar, Raahu– Thirunageswaram, Ketu – Keezhperumpallam). In these Vishnu temples, the Prime Deities themselves are worshipped as the Navagrahaas and so there are no separate shrines for the Navagrahaas, as found in other temples. To offer worship to these deities alleviate the malignant influences of the Navagrahaas that come about during one’s lifetime.
It is advisable to engage a car to go to these places for offering worship, since it is time-consuming, if bus-services are opted. The Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation offers a tourist-program twice a month from Chennai, on the first and the third Fridays. The transport and lodging charges for three days is Rs.1100/- per person.
NAVATHIRUPATHI – SRIVAIKUNTAM
Srivaikuntam is in the Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur railway route and the temple is about 3 kms. from the station. It is about 30 kms. from Tirunelveli, from where frequent bus services are available.
The Prime Deity Lord Vaikuntanathan faces east in standing posture, with Adisesha serving as an umbrella – an unusual presentation as he is always the bed to the Lord Who comfortably lies down on him. The Lord’s Consorts, Vaikuntanayaki and Choranathanayaki dwell in different shrines in the outer praakaram of the sanctum sanctorum. This is quite a big temple and we have to cross several ‘mandapams’ to reach the sanctum. In the ardha mandapam, Sri Kallappiran carrying a mace stands majestically on a golden couch, with his lovely Consorts, Sridevi and Bhudevi, on either side. He is the Lord of Procession. Next to the ardha mandapam is the sanctum sanctorum.
Two legends are associated with this temple. Once an asura by the name Somakan appropriated Lord Brahma’s Creation-secret and Lord Vishnu retrieved it from the demon. Since the Lord came direct from His abode Vaikuntam and agreed to remain here, this place came to be known as Srivaikuntam. Later, Kaaladhushakan, a robber, conducted his robbery after worshipping Vaikuntanathan, and surrendered to Him, half of what he had plundered. He was a Robinhood of those days, looted the rich and helped the poor. Once his men, while engaged in ransacking the palace were caught by the King’s soldiers. They had to identify their leader; when Kaladhushakan came to know about it, he prayed to the Lord of Srivaikuntam, to save him. The Lord appeared before the King as Kaaladhushakan, revealed Himself to the King and counseled him to protect dharma. Having had this Beatific Vision, the King requested the Lord to remain in this place as ‘Kallappiraan’.
A marvelous aspect of this temple is that twice a year, the Sun-god comes direct to worship the Lord! The golden rays of the Sun cross the temple portals, reach the sanctum and bathe the Lord with their splendid light on the sixth day of the Tamil months, Chithrai and Aippasi. Of all the Vishnu temples, such a Sun-worship happens only in Srivaikuntam. The construction of the temple portals is thus a brilliant engineering feat.
Nammalvar, has consecrated this Lord in one pacuram, along with the Lords of Thiruppulinkuti and Varagunamangai.
Distance from Important city : 29 kms. from Tirunelveli, situated in the Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur line.
Lodging facilities : Lodges available in Tirunelveli / Tiruchendur; rental rate – Rs.100/- to Rs.400/-.
Transport facilities : Adequate bus-services from Tirunelveli / Tiruchendur. Nearest Railway stations – Tirunelveli / Tiruchendur. Nearest Airport – Thiruvananthapuram, Madurai.