On first looks, one could easily mistake this Divya Desam for an old fort. The front gopuram (temple tower) reflects a Hoysala style architecture that is so untypical of a Vaishnavite temple. The structure looks half finished and this is attributed to a war which is believed to have stopped half way during the construction.
Located about 20 kms North of Trichy, on the way to Thuraiyur, Thiruvellari temple is housed on a 14 acre property. Inscriptions and the architecture at this temple point to the fact that Pallava, Hoysala and Vijayanagara kings have contributed significantly to this temple.
The story goes thus
Scene 1: Markandeya was destined to die at 16. When Yama came to take him, he clutched on to the Shiva Lingam at ThiruKadaiyur. Pleased with this, Lord Shiva blessed him that he will remain there forever as 16. After enjoying life to the full, Markandeya once again prayed to Lord Shiva asking for Moksham. He is guided by Shiva to go to ThiruVellarai to invoke the blessing of Vishnu.
Scene 2: King Sibhi (Rama’s forefather) came here with a big army with the intention of killing the Lankan King Ravana. While here, he encountered a white pig which gave the army a fight. Angered at this, Sibhi chased the white pig. After stopping at 5 places, the pig disappeared into a pit. Markandeya Rishi who was performing penance here asked Sibhi to pray to Lord Vishnu.
Scene 3: It was Goddess Lakshmi’s wish that she be granted the leading rights at some temple, as she felt that the Lord gets priority over her in all the temples.
Answering Sibhi’s prayers was an invisible voice (Lord Vishnu) which asked him not to pursue his quest to defeat Ravana and that he go back to his kingdom as time had not come for Ravana to be defeated yet and that he himself will be born later to defeat Ravana. A disappointed King Sibhi pleads with the Lord that he could not possibly go back empty handed, without fulfilling the purpose for which he had come.
The Lord asks Sibhi to fulfill the wishes of Goddess Lakshmi by building a temple here that would give her the first rights at all festivities. It is also here that Lord Vishnu gives Darshan (and Moksham) to Markandeya.
Only in three Divya Desams does the Goddess get the first rights over the Lord – Nachiyar temple in Thiru Naraiyur, Andal in Srivilliputhur and here at Thiruvellarai.
This temple dates back to a time much before Srirangam (temple) as can be seen from the fact that Sibhi, the forefather of Rama, built this temple.
The belief is that Sibhi brought 3700 Vaishnavites to this temple. Later, about 50 of them left from here for Melkote (Karnataka), several went to Kongu Nadu and many others went to other temples to perform daily poojas there. Legend has it that all the Vaishnavas who perform daily poojas in temples were originally from Thiruvellarai.
Also, the belief is that Buddhists were in equal strength here at Thiruvellarai along with Vaishnavites.
Another belief is that no Vaishnavite can get Moksham without visiting Thiruvellarai. Hence, there is this tradition at the temple to call ‘Thiruvellarai Kandeero- Thiruvellarai Kanden Aiyya’ (the devotees informing the Lord that they have seen Thiruvellarai and that they are now ready/eligible for Moksham), a voice that is said to echo to the Lord up there.
One can see the Srirangam temple from here, though it is 15 kms away.
Periyalwar and Thirumangai Alwar have each composed 10 paasurams in praise of the Lord here.
Birth Place: This is the birth place of Uyakondan and Engal Alwan.
Main Deity : Pundarikaashan
Goddess : Shenbagavalli
East Facing standing posture
Temple Timing: 9am-1pm and 3.45pm- 745pm
Contact: Ramesh Bhattar@94431 83618
How to reach Thiruvellari?
A number of moffusil buses ply between Trichy and Thuraiyur. This place can also be reached from Samayapuram.
Where to Stay?
It is best to stay at Trichy/Srirangam and reach this place by bus or car