LEGEND It turned out to be a significant non-event in the history of Vaishnava sampradaya. S. Prabhu Nadamuni was instrumental in bringing back to the world the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham.

The ancient Kurugai Kaavalappan temple, near Gangai Konda Cholapuram, whose legend relates to Alavanthar, grandson of Vaishnavite Savant Nadamuni, is being renovated and will have a new look early next year.

There are two rajagopurams at the eastern entrance welcoming the devotee into the temple. Alavanthar is believed to have built the sanctum while the architecture in its current form - with huge outer and inner walls - is a mix of granite and brick construction dating back to the 11th century AD and the Chola period.

The striking 11-ft moolavar deity Veera Narayana Perumal (similar to the one at Kaatu Mannar Koil, the avathara sthalam of Nadamuni) is seen in a grand standing posture along with Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi.

In memory of the legend relating to this temple, there is a separate shrine where Nadamuni, Alavanthar and Kurugai Kaavalappan are seen together facing south.

The Story

Alavanthar came to this place as directed by his preceptor Manakkaal Nambi seeking initiation into ‘Yoga Rahasya’ from Kurugai Kaavalappan. ‘Yoga Rahasya’ is a secret mantra that empowers one to transform oneself to experience the Lord at Vaikuntam. When Alavanthar reached here, Kurugai Kaavalappan was in a yogic state at the Brindavanam in the north-east corner of the temple. Not wanting to disturb him, Alavanthar stood outside, but to his surprise Kurugai Kaavalappan asked if someone from the ‘Sottai clan’ (Alavanthar belonged to this clan) had come there. Explaining the sequence, Kurugai Kaavalappan said the Lord tried to glance through his shoulders and hence He realised that it had to be someone from Nadamuni’s clan for the Lord to show such interest.

Kurugai Kaavalappan asked Alavanthar to come back on the full moon Poosam day in the Tamil month of Thai for initiation of the Yoga Rahasya as that was the day the former was to attain the Lord’s feet.

During this period, Alavanthar went to Srirangam to witness Araiyar Sevai. At the Ranganathaswamy temple, he listened to the presentation of Anantha Pura Nagar Paasuram during the Rapathu Thiruvoimozhi festival. An excited Alavanthar moved on to visit Anantha Padmanabhaswamy at Thiruvananthapuram.

It was there that he remembered it was the day of his scheduled appointment with Kurugai Kaavalappan for the initiation of Yoga Rahasya.

This turned out to be a significant ‘non-event’ in the history of Vaishnava Sampradaya as Yoga Rahasya (that was only with Nadamuni and Kurugai Kaavalappan) was lost to the future generations and went into oblivion.

As Kurugai Kaavalappan was the only disciple to be initiated into Yoga Rahasya by Nadamuni and was seen here at this place in a yogic state, both the village and the temple came to be named after him as Kurugai Kaavalappan Koil.

Over time, the place has come to be referred to as Kuruvaalappan Koil.

This ancient Chola period temple is being completely renovated now and the plan is to finish the entire activity within the next nine months. The two rajagopurams at the eastern entrance will be refurbished, the temple tank is being spruced up, all the vimanams will sport a new look, vahanams are being replaced and the Andal Sannidhi is being rebuilt. Those interested in supporting the renovation may contact 94443 93244/94453 99369.

Festivals

In olden days, festivals were celebrated in a grand manner at this temple. Several of the vahanams, which are also indicative of the conduct of festivals, are now found in a dilapidated condition. The plan is to renew all the festivals that were once celebrated here including the annual Brahmotsavam. With the cleaning up of the tank, the float festival will be revived as well.

Currently Maasi Makham, Vijayadasami, Vaikunta Ekadasi and Purattasi Saturdays are celebrated at the temple.

How to reach : Kurugai Kaavalappan temple is about one km north-west of Gangai Konda Cholapuram.

Buses ply every 10 minutes from Kumbakonam and Jayakondam.

Auto from Gangai Konda Cholapuram Cross Road (Kumbakonam-Chennai NH) will cost Rs.40.

By train, one can get down at Kumbakonam and take a bus to Gangai Konda Cholapuram (a 45 minutes drive).

Also, one can get down at the Vriddachalam station and reach the temple via Jayamkondan.

The Thiruvarasu of Vaishnavite Savant Nadamuni is at Chokkappallam, two km east of Kurugai Kaavalappan Koil.

Nadamuni who was born in Kattu Mannar Koil about 15 km east of Kurugai Kaavalappan Koil went to Thiru Kudanthai in search of the 1,000 verses after hearing the 10 Aaravamuthey verses at Kaattu Mannar Koil.

As directed by Lord Aaravamudhan, he made his way to Thiru Kurugur and then to Thirukkovilur, where he got initiated into Madura Kavi Azhwar’s ‘Kanninun Siruthambu’ verse. He came back to Thiru Kurugur and recited these verses 12,000 times, on completion of which Nammazhwar appeared before him and shared not just the 1,000 songs that he was looking for but the entire 4,000 verses. Thus Nadamuni was instrumental in bringing back to the world Nalayira Divya Prabhandham of the Azhwars.

Araiyar Sevai

Along with his nephews, Keezhaiyagath Azhwar and Melaiyagath Azhwar (the Araiyars are descendants of these two), Nadamuni presented Naalayira Divya Prabandham, which was until then available only in a text form - in a musical and dance form, creating raga and tala that the world could experience and enjoy. Credit goes to Nadamuni for creating Araiyar Sevai, a visual song and dance enactment of the ‘Paasurams’ through abhinaya. He went to Srirangam and presented Araiyar Sevai and revived the Adhyayana Utsavam at Srirangam which had been discontinued after Thirumangai Azhwar’s period.

The story goes that once when a hunter and a few others visited Nadamuni at Kattu Mannar Koil, they were told that he had gone out for bath.

When Nadamuni returned, he realised, based on the description given of those who had come that they were none other than Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman in disguise. He frantically went in search of them and asked the people ‘Kandeergalo’ (did you see them?) to which he was told ‘Kandom’ (we did see).

In memory of this event, this place came to be called Kandamangalam (between Kattu Mannar Koil and Meensuruti). A little later he found a monkey’s foot marks and realised that it was Hanuman’s . This place has come to be called ‘Kurangu Adi.’

Nadamuni had darshan of Rama at a place called Chokkappallam, about 1/2 km east of Gangai Konda Cholapuram and attained the Lord’s feet.

A new sannidhi is now being constructed at Nadamuni’s Thiruvarasu there.

Those who wish to contribute to the construction of the new sannidhi may contact 96776 90111/04144-220425 for details.


Special Features

  • The temple boasts of two big rajagopurams at the eastern entrance.

  • Kurugai Kaavalappan, the disciple of Nadamuni, was initiated into Yoga Rahasya here.

  • Nadamuni, Alavanthar and Kurugai Kaavalappan are seen together at this temple.

  • A Chola period temple with a mix of granite structure and brick construction.


  • Quick Facts

    Moolavar:11 ft Veera Narayana Perumal in a standing posture facing east.

    Thaayar:Maragada Valli Thayar (separate sannidhi)

    Utsavar:Dwarakanath

    Time:7 a.m.-11 a.m. and 5 p.m.-7.30 p.m.

    Contact:Seshadri Bhattar @ 90252 46545