Here is a writeup of Stalapuranam about Thirukovalur, one among the 108 Divya Desams, written by Sri U.Ve.Vidwan Srinivasacharyar Swami. Located about 40 kms West of Villipuram in the South Arcot district of Tamil Nadu on the banks of Pennai River (Krishna Bhadra), the Ulagalanda Perumal temple in Thiru Kovalur dates back to a period before the four Yugams. At the Thiru Kovalur Divya Desam, one finds several interesting inscriptions dating back to the Pallava, Pandya and Chola periods. The 11 storied 192 ft high Eastern temple Tower is one of the tallest temple towers among the Divya Desams. The gigantic Lord Trivikrama measuring over 20 ft in height is seen in a grand standing posture with the left foot on the ground and his right leg raised 90 degrees to his right and with the conch in his right hand and the chakra in his left.
Naalayira Divya Prabandham’s first verses were composed here
The first three of the Azhvaars-Poigai, BhoothathAzhvaar and PeyAzhvaar- came to ThiruKovilur on a rainy night. First to reach was Poigai Azhvaar, of Kanchipuram, who sought refuge for the night at the ashram of Mrugandu Rishi, who told him there was place for just one person to sleep and that he was welcome to sleep here for the night. BhoothathAzhvaar, from Mamallapuram, followed shortly and he too requested that he stay at the ashram for the night. PoigaiAzhvaar welcomed him saying there is place for one to sleep and two to sit and took him inside. PeyAzhvaar, from Mylapore, too reached the ashram. He was told that there is place for one to sleep, two to sit and three to stand. The three of them stood there through the night sharing their experiences. A little later the three Azhvaars felt the presence of a fourth person and with space only for three to stand, the Azhvaars felt uncomfortable. Through their special vision the three Azhvaars realised that the fourth person was Lord Vishnu himself. Delighted at this, they showered praises on the Lord. This is the first temple where the first three Azhvaars sung praise (Paasurams) of Lord Vishnu, the composition of which later came to be called the Naalayira Divya Prabhandham.It is believed that this ashram where the 3 Azhvaars stayed that rainy night is the one where one , today, finds the sanctum. The first of the three Azhvaars also find a place inside the Sanctum.
Mrugandu Rishi, who had missed the Vaamana Avataram, is said to have undertaken penance here at Thiru Kovilur. Pleased with his prayers but wanting to test him more, Lord Vishnu visited his ashram disguised as an old hungry Brahmin. With no food at his ashram, Mrugandu requested his wife to organize food from somewhere. Finding no place to go, his wife offered prayers to Vishnu and sought help from the Lord, so the Brahmin does not leave their ashram in the hungry state. Happy with their commitment of not letting go a hungry Brahmin, the Lord filled the vessels with food, much to the surprise of the Rishi. When the happy couple came out to offer the food to the Brahmin, they found Lord Vishnu standing there displaying his full form –with conch and chakra. Delighted at this sight, the Rishi requested the Lord to display his Vaamana Avataaram at this place and to stay put at Thiru Kovilur. Parasurama and Agastyar are said to have penanced at ThiruKovilur. Arjuna is believed to have taken bath at the Pennai River and then undertaken penance here.
This is one of the Pancha Krishnaaranya Kshetrams, the others being Thiru Kannangudi, Thiru Kannamangai, Thiru Kannapuram and Kapisthalam.
The First three Azhvaars in the Thiruvanthaathi verses have expressed delight at having found the Lord here at Thiru Kovilur:
Poigai Azhvaar’s praise
வையம் தகளியா வார்கஅடேய் நெய்யாக
வெய்ய கதிரோன் விளக்காக
செய்ய சுடராடி யானடிகி சூடினேன்
ஸொன்மாலை இடராழி நீங்குகவே என்று
BhoothathAzhvaar’s praise on the Lord :
அன்பே தகளியாய் ஆர்வமே நெய்யாக
இன்புருகு சிந்தை இடு திரியா நான்புருகி
ஞானச்சுடர் விளகேற்றினேன் நாரணற்கு
ஞான தமிழ் புரிந்த நான்
PeyAzhvaar says he saw the beautiful face:
திருக்கண்டேன் பொன்மேனி கண்டேன்
திகழும் அருக்கன் அணி நிறமும் கண்டேன்
செருகிலரும் பொன்னாழி கண்டேன்
புரிசங்கம் கை கண்டேன்
என்னாழி வண்ணன் பால் இன்று
Perumal : Trivikrama Ulagalantha Perumal East facing standing posture
Thayar : Poongoval Nachiyar
Utsavar : Ayanar or Gopalan
Azhvaar : 21 Paasurams
Temple Timing : 630am-12noon and 430pm-8pm
From Madras, ThiruKovilur is about 200 kms South West via Villupuram and 40kms from Villupuram. Take right at Villupuram into the Perumbakkam, Mugaiyur, Arakandanallur State Highway. Direct buses ply from Madras (will take about 5 hours to reach). From Cuddalore, Thirukovilur is about 70 kms via Panruti From Madras, one can also take a train to Villipuram (2 ½ hours) and then a bus from Villipuram to Thiru Kovilur( 1 hour). Thiru Kovilur Tiruvannamalai train section has recently been converted to broad gauge.