Constructed by the Naaga kings, later developed and renovated by the Marathas and the Nayaks, Sri Soundarya Raja Perumal temple, Thiru Nagai, will sport a new look soon.

Renovation is on at the ancient Soundarya Raja (Soundararaja) Perumal divyadesam in Nagapattinam, a temple where there is a specific tale relating to each of the four Yugams.

The temple in its current form is believed to have been constructed by the Naaga Kings, improved upon and later renovated by the Maratha rulers and the Nayak Kings of Thanjavur.

Special status for Adisesha

In Kretha Yugam, pleased with severe penance by the Serpent King Adisesha, Lord Vishnu agreed to accept Adisesha as his recliner. Since the Serpent King bagged this big gift from the Lord, this place was referred to as ‘Naagar’ Pattinam which in course of time became Nagapattinam. Also, it was here that Bhoo Devi, in Tretha Yugam, and ‘Markandeya’ rishi, in Dwapara Yugam, undertook penance.

Legend has it that, seeking to rule the entire world, young Dhruva undertook severe penance and invoked the blessings of the Lord. Pleased with his penance, the Lord came on Garuda vahanam to grant his wish.

However, on seeing the beautiful Lord, Dhruva changed his mind and sought Moksham here and the opportunity to enjoy the Lord’s beauty forever at this temple.

In Kali Yugam, Naga Raja performed ‘Kanniga Dhanam’ and presented his daughter in marriage to Sali Sugan Raja at this kshetram. Here the Lord can be seen in all three kolams - standing, sleeping and sitting postures - having provided darshan in each of these three postures to Naga Raja.

Thiru Mangai Azhwar was so lured by the charm of Lord Soundaryarajan that he imagined himself as a woman (Nayaki) to admire better the beauty of the Lord. He is seen admiring the Lord’s beauty and exclaiming in delight ‘Achcho Oruvar Azhagiya Vaa’ (Isn’t he so beautiful).

‘Achcho’ as expressed by Thirumangai Azhwar is a phrase used when one is in an excited state of mind.

Thirumangai Azhwar in his Periya Thirumozhi verses on Thiru Nagai compares the beauty of Soundaryaraja Perumal with the Lords of several other divyadesams. He compares the Lord with Lord Aaravamudhan of Thiru Kudanthai, with Lord Sathya Moorthy of Thiru Maiyam, with the Lord at Maliruncholai, Uraiyur, Koodal (Madurai) and Neermalai.

There is a unique bronze statue of Ashtabhuja Narasimha where He is seen blessing Prahlada with one hand and destroying Hiranyakashipu with the other.

In centuries gone by, the seven-tiered gopuram of this divyadesam had a light atop the tower that served as a ‘light house’ for ships coming into and crossing Nagapattinam.

The seven-tier rajagopuram at the eastern entrance will soon wear a fresh look. The kalasam for all the vimanams will be coated with gold and there will be a ‘granite’ addition to the maha mandapam and artha mandapam.

Those who wish to contribute may call 94422 13741.

While there are festivals celebrated all round the year at the temple, the avataara utsavam in the month of Chithirai and Brahmotsavam in Panguni are of special significance.

How to reach: There is a daily night train from Chennai to Nagapattinam.

Frequent buses from across Tamil Nadu.

Auto charge from the new bus stand is Rs. 40.

The temple is about a km from the Nagapattinam railway station.