Third Party Video
Third Party Video
Nachiar Koil in Thirunarayur, a village in the outskirts of Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, is dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu and his wife Lakshmi.The temple is believed to have been built by King Kochengat Cholan with later contributions from Medieval Cholas and Vijayanagar kings. A granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all its shrines. The temple has a 5-tiered Rajagopuram, or the temple's gateway tower. King Kochengat Cholan built 70 temples dedicated to Shiva and Thirunaraiyur is the only Vishnu temple built by him. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th to 9th centuries AD. It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Srinivasa Perumal and his consort Lakshmi as Nachiyar. The temple is the place where Lord Vishnu is believed to have initiated Pancha Samskara (religious initiation) to Thirumangai Azhwar. The temple follows Thenkalai mode of worship.
As per Hindu legend, the sage Medhavi was doing penance at this place. While taking a bath in the river, he found an image of Chakrathazhwar entwined with Yoga Narasimha. A divine voice asked him to install the image in his hermitage and worship it. Saint Medhavi wanted Mahalakshmi to be his daughter so he prayed to Mahavishnu and on an auspicious day he found a very beautiful girl child under "Vanjula Maram" tree. The girl was none other than Mahalakshmi. The Sage named her "Vanjulavalli" after the tree from under which he found her.
The Sage led a peaceful life with his students. Gradually Vanjulavalli grew up and reached the marriage age. Vishnu appeared to Medhavi, and asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The Saint happily accepted but layed down three conditions in the form of boons that Lord Vishnu had to satisfy. The conditions layed down by the sage were
1.That he should attain eternity.
2. All the living beings in Narayur which gave the Lord food and their wives, should attain salvation and
3. His daughter should be given the first place in all the aspects.
Six daily rituals and four yearly festivals are held at the temple, of which the Brahmotsavam, celebrated during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December–January), is the most prominent.
A Kal Garuda (Stone Garuda) image located in the temple is unique. Kal Garuda, an image of Vishnu's mount Garuda, is the most prominent feature of the temple. As per local legend, the sculptor who sculpted the idol of Garuda got frustrated as the bird flew away each time, a new image was prepared. In frustration, he threw a stone at Garuda, who got injured and decided to stay in the temple as Kal Garuda. The image of Kal Garuda is made of Saligrama and is housed in the shrine outside the main sanctum.
During festive procession in the Tamil months of Margazhi (December–January) and Panguni (April - May), the festive idols are carried out in procession seated on the Kal Garudar.
There is a fascinating story of this unique icon. While only four people are needed to carry the idol of Garuda out of the shrine,the icon increases in weight and subsequently the number of people required to carry the Garuda multiples to 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128 people as the idol is taken outside the temple. But after the procession is over, while returning to his sannadhi he would start losing his weight (stage by stage) till once again 4 persons are enough to return him to the Sanadhi.
Another feature of the icon is that Garuda during the six hour long procession is visibly seen sweating until his clothing is soaking wet.
During the festive occasion, Garuda receives honours from Srinivasa Perumal (presiding deity) in the form of Vastrum and ornaments. Jewels and dress are also presented to Garuda by Ranganatha, the presiding Vishnu form of Srirangam Ranganthaswamy Temple.
Nachiyar Koil is one of the few Divyadesams where the goddess has prominence over Vishnu. During all festive occasions, the first rights are reserved for Nachiyar, who moves ahead, while Srinivasa follows her. Even the food is first served to Nachiyar and then to Srinivasa. Being a temple where the goddess has prominence, Vishnu is located slightly by the side and goddess has the prominent position inside the sanctum.
The temple has an elevated structure approached through a flight of 21 steps. The presiding deity of the temple is housed in the main sanctum. The sanctum also houses the images of Brahma, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Sankarshana and Purushothaman (Vishnu) and a set of gods, who are depicted attending the wedding. The festive idols of Srinivasa (Vishnu), Sridevi (Lakshmi), Vanjulavalli (Lakshmi) and Bhudevi are housed in the same shrine.