Vaikunta Nathan Divya Desam at Sri Vaikuntam is about 30 kms East of Tirunelveli on the Tiruchendur highway on the Northern banks of Taamaraibarani. Buses ply every 10 minutes on this route from Tirunelveli’s new bus stand. There are also trains that ply on the Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur route. The temple has several exquisite sculptures.
Brahmma is said to have undertaken penance on the banks of Taamaraibarani here at Sri Vaikuntam. Lord Vishnu appeared before him and helped him recover the book, containing the secrets relating to creation of the world. Having come from Vaikuntam to help Brahmma, this place came to be called ‘Sri Vaikuntam’. As a thanking gesture, it is believed Brahmma himself leads the festival for the Lord in the Tamil Calendar month of Chitrai.
Lord as a thief
A thief, Kaaladooshan, would pray before the Lord here before venturing out on his daily task. It was his practice at the end of each day to share half his earnings with the Lord. As had to happen, he was caught by the guards of the king during one of his outings and was to be brought before the king.
Coming to his rescue, Lord Vishnu, disguised as the thief, presented himself before the King to save the thief and pleaded that he had turned a thief to help share wealth with the people of the region, which the king had failed to do.
Realising his folly, the king thanked the ‘thief’ for opening his eyes and promised to distribute the wealth of his kingdom for the welfare of the people. Having disguised himself as a thief to help save the thief from punishment, the Lord here came to be called ‘KallaPiran’.
Adhiseshan above a Standing Lord
In Vishnu temples, Adiseshan, the Serpent God, is seen unfurling his hood over Vishnu in a reclining posture. This is the only Divya Desam where Adiseshan has his hood above the Standing Lord.
Sun’s rays on the Lord
Another unique feature of this Divya Desam is that the Sun’s rays falls directly on Lord Vaikuntanathan on two days, on the 6th day of Chitrai (April-May) and Aipasi (October-November) every year.
It is believed that this temple was used as a fort in the fight between the legendary freedom fighter Veerapandiya Kattabomman and the British in the 1800s.
Surprisingly though, Nammazhvar only makes a passing mention of this temple in his Paasurams.
எங்கள் கண் முகப்பே, உலகர்கள் எல்லாம்
இணை அடி தொழுது, எழுது, இறைஞ்சி
தங்கள் அன்பு ஆற, தமது சொல் வலத்தால்
தலைத்தலைச் சிறந்து பூசிப்ப
திரு வைகுந்ததுள்ளாய் தேவ
இங்கன் மா ஞாலத்து இதனுளும் ஒருநாள்
இருந்திடாய் வீற்று இடம்கொண்டே
Deity : Vaikunta Nathan, Kalla Piran Standing posture East Facing
Goddess : Vaikunta Valli, Bhoo Devi
Paasurams : NammAzhvaar 2 Paasurams
Temple timing: 7am-12noon and 5pm-8pm
Contact : Ramesh Bhattar @ 99940 12629, Srinivasa Bhattar @ 96595 83891, A.K. Vaikunta Natha Bhattar @ 98656 28681
How to reach Tirunelveli
From Madras, one can take Kanniyakumari Exp (430am arrival), Ananthapuri Exp(730am arrival) or Nellai Exp(850am arrival).