Tiruchendur Murugan Temple is located in the eastern end of the town Thiruchendur in the district ofTuticorin, Tamil Nadu, India.
It is 60 km south-east of Tirunelveli, 40 km from Tuticorin and 75 km north-east of Kanyakumari.The temple complex is on the shores of Bay of Bengal.
The terrain is partially a sandal mountain and sea shore.
In devotional literature and in the Tiru-murugarruppadai, the earliest account of His worship, six chosen spots in the Tamil land are referred to byNakkirar as of more than ordinary sanctity for his worship, and thereby favoured by him. Tiruchendur occupies among them the second place in his order.
Uncommonly enough, this temple is located on the seashore, while the rest of His temples are invariably located on high elevations as on hilltops. The reason is that, in the physio-graphical five-fold division of the land by the Tamil grammarians, Murugan is assigned the Kuriñji or hill country. His shrines are always situated amid mountains and forests, for these regions are considered dear to him.
The variance here is possibly due to Muruga’s divine mission to free the Devas, and the vanquishment of Surapatuma and his mighty hosts in “Vîra-mahendram,” their mid-ocean fortress nearby. As such, the puranas narrate that the Devas gained their deliverance and the Asuras His grace.
Tradition and ?iva-rahasya Khanda in Skanda Puranam relate that at this spot Muruga encamped before and after the vanquishment of the asuras and worshipped ?iva at the shrine Mayan had built for Him. The Kanda-Madana-Parvata, the red sandstone rock of this coast, had worthily received its foundations. A lofty gopuram also rose beside it. A part of the cliff some fifty feet high was bored to form the holy sanctum of Subrahmanyam.
The red sandy rock around about was further carved into, as well the rolling hills of sand moved away to gain more space. The second and third prak?ras were then designed and brought into being. These have been further enlarged upon in the course of succeeding centuries, the earlier ?iva shrine in the meanwhile, having become more famous still for the worship of Subrahmanyam Himself.
The Pandya and the Chera, their vassals, and other men of devotion further improved the temple. Maharaja Marthandavarma (1729-58 AD), the maker of modern Travancore, endowed the very first — the Udaya-Marthanda Kattalai of each morning — more than two centuries ago; and others followed in the nine arathanas of the day. As time rolled on, the effect of the sea and its salt-laden air began to tell upon the inferior sandstones used at the first instance in the original construction.
It was now that a noble sannyasin, Mauna Swami, saw the stones in a state of disintegration. He almost immediately took up the renovation and was followed by two others. The work continued during the course of 72 years, and this noble edifice of three prak?ras was reconstructed anew, in imperishable black granite, discarding every bit of the original white sandstone structure. The sannyasins were wedded to poverty, but nevertheless funds poured in to fulfill their life mission of constructing a worthy kovil (house-of-God) to stand for all times.
The temple was fully constructed anew in all its details, and Kumbhabhishekam performed in 1941. The temple and its gopuram of nine floors, built on the extremity of the sandstone cliff are a landmark, and visible at sea for twelve miles around, looking as has been said like a brig in full sail.
Each of the six major abodes of Lord Muruga has an event mentioned in thepuranas. Thiruchendur is said to be second in importance among his six abodes. This place is also referred to by other names in religious poems and literature as Thirucheeralaivai, Thiruchenthil, and Thiruchenthiyoor. The deity is worshipped by various names such as Senthilandavan, Senthilkumar, and so on. The devotees of Lord Muruga emphasize that Thiruvoragam, one of the four Padaiveedu referred to by sage Nakkeerar in his poem Thirumurugattupadai is none other then Kumarakoil, also known as Kumarashetram by Keralites (Malai Nattavar). The temple is situaatead in the foothills of Velimalai also known as Velvi Malai, the southern tip of the western ghats. The place is where Lord Muruga married his second consort Valli Devi. The marriage was love marriage (Kandarva Kalyanam). The “thala varalaru” cites numerous names of places, river, water bodies, caves and purana stories in support of this. Reference “The Velimalai Kumarakoil Thala Varalaru” written by Annalar Adigal.
The temple is situated so close to the sea that waves from the Gulf of Mannarlap at the eastern perimeter wall of the temple. The devotees take a holy dip in the sea and the Nali Kinaru (small well), the source of fresh salt free water before entering the temple for worship.
The temple has devotees across the world including Singapore, Malaysia, America, Canada, London, etc. This temple plays a significant role in the faith of the world’s Tamils.
Traditions of Tiruchendur
Lord Senthil Andavar
Tiruchendur in the far south of Tamil Nadu is renowned among Murugan devotees everywhere as one of the greatest of the Lord’s Aru Padai Veedugal, literally ‘Six Battle Camps’. Indeed, it is here that Murugan and his deva-sena or army of celestials confront and vanquish the titan Surapadma and his demonic horde. This momentous struggle is annually re-created at Tiruchendur on the sixth day of Skanda Sashti, the ‘Six (days) of Skanda’.
The Tiruchendur Devasthanam and sacred area date from hoary antiquity. Some stone columns and inscriptions date from a thousand years ago, though most of the present temple dates from later periods. Literary evidence, however, including notably the Tirumurukarrupadai, indicates that Tiruchendur has been regarded as exceptionally sacred at least since the early Christian era and probably far earlier.
According to tradition, after the final battle on the beach at Tiruchendur, Lord Murugan felt remorse for His role in slaughtering Surapadma’s demonic army. He therefore built a shrine nearby to His Father Lord Siva and worshipped Him there. Technically, therefore, the temple is dedicated to Lord Siva. Yet the mulasthanam deity is Lord Senthil AndavarHimself standing in a majestic and relaxed pose facing east towards the sea, alone and without His consorts Valli and Devasena.
Devotees by the thousands undertake personal vows including mudik?ni (hair offering, above) and angapradakshina(literally, ‘body-circumambulation’, below). Traditions including all the elaborate daily pujas are strictly maintained. Men, therefore, may enter only bare-bodied to the waist in the age-old Tamil tradition of baring one’s breast to the deity.
Angapradakshina is a specialty at Tiruchendur. During Kanda Sashti one may see hundreds of men, women and children rolling the 400-500 meters around the shrine with heads towards the deity in the early morning hours. Fasting is also very common not only at Tiruchendur but among traditional Murugan devotees all over the world. These acts loosen one’s attachment to the body and help to draw one’s attention towards the ever-present absolute Reality that transcends life and death.
Many also regard vows as small ways of obtaining the Lord’s grace or repaying His generosity. Treat Tiruchendur Murugan with respect and affection, and He will return your affection many times over. Though full of might and danger for the heedless and proud of this world, towards His friends He is tender and supportive, if also inscrutable.
Specialities for Tiruchendur Murugan Temple
This is the one temple located near to the sea source rest five were located in mountains.
Those who are all having marriage ban May pray to Tiruchendur Murugan will get good proposals.
Tiruchendur Murugan Temple Nazhik Kinaru
Almost embedded in a rolling high sand dune on the beach lies a remarkable spring known as Kanda Pushparani the Nazhik Kinaru. It is a natural phenomenon and is said to have sprung up as Lord Shanmukha planted His lance the Vel on the spot.
It is a foot square and inset with the larger well. Another water source is one of saltish and highly sulphurous smelling and muddy-looking water. This swells up during the day and is pumped out daily so as not to allow it to overflow into the smaller one. A bath in the sea and in this well is considered to be of much spiritual merit.
Pujas, Abhishekas and Processions
Time Temple Function
5:00 am Temple opens
5:10 am Suprabhatam
5:35 am Viswarupam
6:15 am Udayamartandam Abhishekam
7 am Udayamarithanelam Dîparadhanai
7:30 to 8:30 am Kala Sandhi Puja
10:30 am Vehi Kala Abhishekam
12:00 Utchikalam Dîparadhanai
5 to 5:30 pm Sayaratchai Dîparadhanai
7:15 pm Ardha-jaman or Rakkalam Abhishekam
7:45 pm Rakkalam Dîparadhanai
8:00 pm Ekantam Potri Archanai
8:30 pm Ekantam Dîparadhanai
8:45 pm Ragacayam
8:45 to 9:00 pm Palli Arai Dîparadhanai
9:01 pm Temple closes
The protocol for daily worship here is known Kumara Tantram. Eight times a day, poojas are done to Lord Subramanyar. On Vishakam nakshatiram day as well as during Chittirai Vishu and Aippasi Vishu, special pujas are done to the Lord.
Every day, processions are carried out in the inner sanctum and on the last Friday of every month, the uthsava murti is taken on a procession in the outer prakaram, along with his consorts. Special processions are conducted on days like Karttikai, Vishakam asterisms and Sashti.
Pujas are conducted daily to the deities. The timings in the table at right have been attested by the Sthaladh?r Sabh? and are current as of Kanda Sashti 2001. The major daily pujas are:
- Mudal-k?lasandhi, Ciru-K?lasandhi and Periya-k?lasandhi
- Ardha-jaman or Rakkalam
- Palli-arai Dîp?r?dhanai or the Lord’s rest
Worshippers receive here the Lord’s pras?dam of sacred ashes put into pannîr leaves known as ilai vip?ti. The significance of the peculiar custom followed in almost all the Saivite temples in the district has to be connected perhaps to the introduction of Potris as the archakas of this foremost temple, and who thus perpetuated their aloofness without a physical contact with the worshippers. And it may even be the pannîr leaves have a peculiar sanctity and the retention of the magnetic effects of the prasadam.
Abishekas are conducted to the principal deity, Subrahmanyam, thrice during the day and to Shanmukha on every Vis?ka Nakshatra in the month and on the first of Chittirai and Aippasi months.
On the last Friday of each Tamil month, Senthil N?yakar with His consorts are taken round the outer giri-prak?ra of the temple in procession on mayil v?kanam as an ubaya kattalai by the Nadar community, out of an endowment trust fund from Nagercoil. Processions within the inner prakaras are conducted on every monthly Tiru-K?rttikai, Vis?kam, Sashti and on the first of every Chittirai and Aippasi months.
During Kanda Sashti, Tiruchendur throngs with tens of thousands of bhaktars from all over Tamil Nadu, especially from southern districts. Many are old hands who come year after year. Hence, Tiruchendur Kanda Sashti is also an annual convention of sorts for the Lord’s devotees. Unlike at many modern temples, there are no loudspeakers blaring film music. Yet during Kanda Sashti in recent years a closed-circuit television system allows devotees (hundreds of whom camp out inside the massive stone temple for six days or more) to view the rituals in the yaaga salai as well as cinema classics of Murugan devotion such as Kantan Karunai.
Outside the Devasthanam, especially in the outerpraharam or circumambulatory corridor, parties of devotees may be seen singing bhajanaiand performing kummi, dancing in group circles while clapping hands and singing. At the large open-air lecture hall nearby, hundreds enjoy the non-stop program of devotional talks by learned devotees. Of course, the seashore is very near and there are always hundreds there as well enjoying the most famous beach in Tamil Nadu. Just fifty meters from the beach isNaazhi Kinnaru, the miraculous freshwater spring which Lord Murugan is said to have created with His Vel to quench the thirst of his warriors after the great battle. For young and old alike, Tiruchendur Kanda Sashti is an unforgettable occasion.
Festival climax: The Surasamharam Battle
The high point of Kanda Sashti, of course, is on the sixth day when theSurasamharam or ‘Destruction of the Titan’ takes place. At many Murugan temples this is ritually re-enacted, but nowhere is it re-enacted on such a scale as at Tiruchendur, where the actual battle is believed to have taken place in pre-history. On that day, half a million devotees descend upon Tiruchendur to witness the final shoot-out on the vast beachfront. Nowadays the event is also telecast on Indian radio and television for millions more to see.
On the sixth day of Kanda Sashti, Lord Senthil Andavar and his army of devotees engage the army of supertitan Cur in battle on the beach at Tiruchendur and vanquish them in an hour-long running battle. At last Cur hides in the form of a monstrous mango tree (below) at the bottom of the ocean, but Murugan hurls his Vel and splits the tree/demon into a cock and a peacock.
Needless to say, it is a challenging task to come anywhere near the battle site. Specially-erected barriers and hundreds of special duty police are there to hold back the massive and exited crowd. But if you are adventurous and light-footed it is possible to enter into the midst of the action, taking care not to get trampled in the process.
In brief, the Surasamharam goes like this. Around 3pm or so, a huge palanquin bearing the titan Gajamukha (‘Elephant-faced’) is carried by men of a local caste group down to the beach where he stands and dares Senthil Andavar to come out of His temple and fight. Some say that Gajamukha is “Surapadma’s brother”. But the most ancient Tamil traditions mention only the terrible and cruel Soor (‘Terror’ personified) who is described as a shape-shifter who can take any form and who cannot be killed. More recent traditions speak of Surapadma and his three ‘brothers’ who successively confront Murugan and are annihilated each in turn.
Not one to turn away from a fight, Lord Murugan emerges from His Kanda Sashti Mandapam borne on a smaller palanquin by Brahmin men devotees. In the form of a modest-sized brass likeness of the Lord with His Vel or spear held aloft ready to hurl, He is garlanded with lemons, an essential ingredient of South Indian ritual magic. The Lord and His Vel gleam brightly in the afternoon sunlight with the Bay of Bengal as a stark backdrop. He appears relaxed but ready for single-handed battle.
Above: Cur’s forces fire live rockets at Senthil Andavar.Below: Tiruchendur Iyer families
The asura then runs around his divine Adversary borne by his loudly shouting troops, first clockwise, then counter-clockwise while Lord Senthil Andavar and His troops just remain at ease. Then the asura stands back and suddenly charges face-on but halts and draws back. He does this three times but the Lord is undisturbed. So the asura and his troops haul out and fire a missile (a real firecracker-sized rocket guided by a string between two poles held aloft). The missile heads straight towards the Lord, but something happens and the missile stops and turns back towards its senders, causing a roar of delight from the Lord’s supporters. To film this properly, one has to get so close to the asura that sparks are flying at one’s face and there is a real danger of getting trampled. The Lord and His troops then charge at the asura with lances drawn and with full battle cry. One young Iyer among them, who represents Lord Murugan, thrusts his spear at the asura and beheads it. The crowd instantly roars its approval.
Then the asura army withdraws some fifty meters and regroups. A new head (of Simha-mukha, the ‘Lion-faced’ titan) is mounted on the asura’s body and again the same things happen. Four times the procedure is repeated; the fourth time Surapadma himself (or his head rather) is represented by a live cock. When Surapadma is vanquished, symbolically he split by the Lord’s Vel into the cock and the peacock, the Lord’s banner-symbol and vehicle-totem respectively. On the following day (the seventh) there is the Tiru Kalyanam or marriage of Senthil Andavar to Lord Indra’s daughter Devasena or Teyvanai Amman as She is best known — the crowning acknowledgement of the Lord’s triumph. This occurs at Tirupparankundram near Madurai but the same marriage is also celebrated in grand style at Tiruchendur.
Senthil Andavar arrives in grand wedding procession on the seventh day to wed Teyvanai Amman.
Sri Murugananda Sangeeta Tiruppukazh Sabha
As an ancient temple town, Tiruchendur is home to ancient traditions, of which Kanda Sashti festival is the most famous. Like any ancient pilgrimage center, however, Tiruchendur has witnessed slow but steady change over the centuries. Over the centuries, for instance, there have been times when local kings felt that more Brahmin priests were required to conduct the elaborate services for Lord Senthil Andavar. Today, however, there are so many Iyer families in Tiruchendur that most can scarcely make a decent livelihood by continuing their ancestral calling.
One of Tiruchendur’s fading traditions is its ?r? Murugananda Sangeeta Tiruppukazh Sabha, the ‘Assembly for Music of Divine Praise of Murugan’. The Sabha has maintained its own spaciousTiruppukazh Manimantiram hall since its founding over sixty years ago. Even today a residentbrahmachari maintains the hall and conducts daily services at its shrine room. But the aging and dwindling population of Tiruppukazh devotees in Tiruchendur finds it difficult to maintain its center there and has appealed to Murugan Bhakti to save it from eventual collapse. The entire center has been offered to Murugan Bhakti enthusiasts to develop into a residential ashram.
Vasanta Festival – 10 days (April – May)
The Vasanta festival is an annual festival of ten days in the month of Chittirai (April-May). Senthil-Nayagar, the utsavar processional deity of Subrahmanyam with his consorts Valli and Teyvay?nai, are taken from their sanctum in the temple to the Vasanta Mantapa on the giri-prak?ra which is suitably decorated with festoons for the occasion and made specially cool with waters filled in the trough which runs around the pedestal on which the deities are placed. It is an enjoyable and pleasant festival, wherein only the blessed who gather there have communion with the deity without much of a crowd.
Vaikasi Visagam (May – June)
Vows and Offerings
Devotees who take a vow place their offerings during festivals and other days.
They austerely fast and carry kavadi, palkudam, offer abishegam etc. to the Lord. The Golden Chariot procession, Chandana Lebanam, Dharabhishegam, and Dharahomam are performed by devotees in fulfillment of their vows.
Devotees who perform such austerities get relieved of their mental worries; the unmarried get married; and the childless beget children by the grace of Arulmigu Subrahmanya Swami.
Temples to be visited
- Thoondugai vinayagar temple.
- Valliamman cave.
- Idumban temple.
- Ayya vaikunda swamy temple.
- Siva temple.
- Moovar samathu.
- Selva theertha kinaru.
- Veilukandamman temple.
- Kulasekaran pattinam “Sri Mutharamman” temple.
- Venkatachalapathy temple, krishnapuram.
Travel To Thiruchendur
It is 55 km south-east of Tirunelveli, 40 km from Tuticorin and 75 km north-east of Kanyakumari.
Govt & Private buses from Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchy and Coimbatore. From Tirunelveli & Tuticorin more frequent buses are there.
Daily Train from Chennai
As there are more Train connectivity to Tirunelveli, One can travel up to Tirunelveli by Train and take a bus or car to Tiruchendur.
Nearest Airports are
Tuticorin 30 km, Madurai 168 km, Tiruchy 311 km, Thiruvanthapuram International Airport.
Accommodation at Tiruchendur
The Devasthanam maintains a large number of rooms and cottages for the convenience of pilgrims who wish to put up close by to ?r? Subrahmanya Swami Tirukkovil in order to have darshan and fulfill their vows. Most rooms and cottages are family-sized. All rooms and cottages provide basic facilities, viz. electricity and running water only. Cottages also offer limited parking facility. During festival times these accommodations tend to fill up quickly, so the pilgrims are advised to book in advance.
For reservations of these rooms, contact the Devasthanam Information Centre. For further details call (+91) 04639-242271.
Arulmigu Subrahmanya Swami Temple
Tiruchendur – 628 215 Tamil Nadu India
Phone: (+91) 04639-242221, 04639-242270, 04639-242271
This was the only temple of Lord Muruga located on the seashore. His shrines are always situated amid mountains and forests, for these regions are considered dear to Lord Murugan.
The variance here is possibly due to Muruga’s divine mission to free the devas, and the vanquishing of evil in the form of Surapadma and his mighty hosts in Vira Mahendram, their mid-ocean fortress.
The Tamils have ever since been celebrating the event as an annual festival during Skanda Sashthi and blessed by fulfilling their are wishes.