Lord Murugan has six famous abodes in Tamilnadu collectively
known as 'Aarupadai veedu', each commemorating an event
mentioned in the 'puranas'. Thiruchendur is said to be
second in importance among his six abodes. This place is also
referred to by other names in religious poems and literature as
Thirucheeralaivai, Thiruchenthil, Thiruchenthiyoor, etc. The
deity is worshipped by various names such as Senthilandavan,
Senthilkumaran and so on. The temple is situated so close to the
sea that waves from the Gulf of Mannar lap at the eastern
perimeter wall of the temple.
The town is connected to Thirunelveli junction of the Southern
Railway by a feeder line. Thiruchendur is about 65 km from
Thirunelveli, 40 km from Tuticorn and 88 km from Kanyakumari by
road and is easily accessible either by bus or car.
Usually the temples in Tamilnadu have their main entrance
towers built on the eastern side of the temple. In Thiruchendur
the main entrance tower is built on the west though this is not
used as an entrance. This is because the temple is built on the
sea shore and the sea is close to the eastern border of the
temple.This is the only one among the six famous temples called
'Aarupadai veedu' not situated on the top of a hill.
It is believed that the present temple was built about 300
years ago by Thesigamoorthy Swamigal belonging to the
Thiruvaduthurai Adeenam. He did not have enough money to build
the temple. So he paid his workers daily with a packet of
'viboothi (holy ash) as their wages. When the workers went
home and opened the package they found the wages in cash
according to the task they performed.
The Golden Chariot
The main tower is 137 ft high and is 90 ft by 65 ft at the
base. It has 9 levels and to indicate this has 9
'Kalasams' (finials) at the top. The entrance to the
temple is from the south. There is a large 'mandapam' in
front of the south entrance called 'Shanmugavilasa
mandapam' of 120 ft by 86 ft in dimension. There are two
'praharams' surrounding the sanctum and shrines to
various deities can be seen in these two corridors. After
circumambulating the two corridors you reach the
'Mahamandapam'. From here you can enter the inner area in
front of the sanctum from where you can see the main deity.
The main deity is sculptured in black granite and appears in
the form of a devine and beautiful youth in a pose offering
blessings. Next to this is another sanctum for Lord Arumugan
There was a demon king called Soorapathman (Pathmasuran) who
harassed and imprisoned the Devas from his fortress Mahendragiri
built under the sea off the Southern coast of India. The Devas
unable to stand up to him and his hordes of army appealed to Lord
Shiva to protect them against his menace.Lord Shiva then issued
six sparks from his third eye on his forehead which fell into the
lake 'Saravanappoigai'. These sparks formed into six
beautiful babies and were looked after by six
'Karththigai' maidens. When Goddess Parvathi desired a
son, Lord Shiva pointed to these six children. Parvathy enchanted
by the sight of these six beautiful babies gathered them in her
arms, upon which the children came together forming one body with
six heads thereby earning the name Arumugan. (Aru-six,
Muham-face). His other names are Karthikeyan, Skanthan, Kumaran,
Velalvan, Shanmugan, Subrahmanyan, Murugan and so on. When Lord
Murugan reached adolescence He was made the Head of the army of
the Devas and was bid by Lord Shiva to defeat Soorapathman and
redeem the Devas. He came down to Thiruchendur and set up camp.
From here He prayed to Goddess Sakthi to grant him special powers
in order to kill the demon Soorapathman and in response received
his 'Vel' which embodied all the divine powers bestowed
upon him. First He sent his assistant Veerabahu for mediation.
When mediation failed the battle commenced.
The battle continued for 10 days. After annihilating the army
of the 'Asuras' Lord Murugan finally came face to face
with Soorapathman. Soorapathman took various forms in order to
confuse the Lord and evade death. Finlly he took the form of a
huge mango tree and tried to attack Lord Murugan. The Lord used
his Vel of immense power to split the mango tree into two parts.
He turned one part into a peacock and other into a cock fowl and
took the pea-cock as his vehicle and the cock-fowl as the emblem
on his flag. This war against Pathmasuran is celebrated here
every year as 'Sooran por' during 'Skandasashti'
festival. Lord Murugan is enthroned here in celebration of his
victory against Soorapathman.
There are other legends associated with this temple.
Veerapandiya Kattapomman the last Tamil King who resisted the
British East India Company from taking over Tamilnadu was an
ardent devotee of the Lord of Thiruchendur. He built a special
'madapam' and decreed that when the deity is taken in
procession, it should be brought to this 'mandapam' and
'archchanai' (worship) should be performed. During the
next festival as the deity neared its usual resting place, the
sky opened up with pouring rain, thunder and lightning. The
devotees carrying the deity could not proceed further and took
the processional deity to its usual halting place. Kattapomman
realised his mistake and decreed the usual practice to
During the 17th century AD some Dutch mercenaries robbed the
temple and mistook the statue to be made of gold and took it to
their ship. Soon after the ship set sail the sea became rough and
massive waves hit the ship while rain with thunder and lightning
lashed the ship. Frightened by this they threw the statue into
the sea to evade the wrath of the Gods. The rain and thunder
stopped and the sea became calmer and they sailed away. Lord
Murugan appeared in the dream of one of the devotees and
indicated that the statue would be found in the bottom of the sea
where a lime fruit was floating and a 'Garuda' (eagle)
would be circling above. This devotee with few others went in
search and spotted the area with the clues from his dream. A
diver went down and found the statue which was then installed in
In 1803 AD a British collector seeing the statue being fanned
in devotion ridiculed this action and asked whether the Lord also
sweat. In response the priest covered the statue with a white
cloth which immediately became wet. The collector realising his
fault gave a silver pot as an atonement and an offering.
There is a small entrance near the inner sanctum which leads
to an area where you can view five lingams called
'Panchalingam'. It is believed that Lord Murugan
worshipped one of these lingams which is situated on the left
side of the wall. All the offering of 'light' made to the
presiding deity is made to this lingam too. The
'viboothi' offered to the devotees here is wrapped in a
leaf called 'panneer ilai' in Tamil. This is a special
feature in this temple.
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