Koodal Azhagar Temple in Madurai is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu.It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Koodal Azhagar and his consort Lakshmi as Maragathavalli.
The inscriptions in the temple refer the presiding deity as Koodal Azhagiya Perumal. There are inscriptions in the temple indicating generous gifts and endowments in the form of land, houses and gold to maintain and administer the temple. An inscription from the 8th century indicates the donation of granite stones for the construction of Ardha Mandapa. The temple was expanded during the rule of Madurai Nayaks in the 16th century. The Dwajasthambam madap and mandap before the Hema Pushkarani were constructed by the Nayaks. In modern times, the temple was renovated by Alagappa Chettiar in 1920. In modern times, the temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
Koodal Azhagar temple covers an area of about 2 acres and has a five-tiered gopuram raising to a height of 125 ft . The temple in enclosed in a rectangular enclosure with huge granite walls. The central shrine has an elevated structure and houses the image of the presiding deity, Koodal Azhagar. The image is made of granite is sported in sitting posture and 6 ft tall. The images of Sridevi and Bhudevi are present on either side of Koodal Azhagar. The festival deity is named Vyuga Sundararajar and the image is 4 ft tall made of panchaloha. The vimana, the shrine over the sanctum is Ashtanga in architecture, which has eight parts, namely, Adhistana , three Padas, Prashthana , Griva, Shikara and Stupi . The outer parts of the vimana have stucco images of sages, Dasavatara, Bhuvaraha, Lakshmi Narasimha, Lakshmi Narayana and Narayanamoorthy. The vimana is believed to be the work of Vishwakarma, the divine architect. The shadow of the vimana does not fall on the ground. The Ashtanga Vimana is found in only three places, namely, the Uthiramerur, Thirukoshtiyur and Cheranmadevi temples.
The inner walls of the sanctum have paintings of Ashtadikpalagas. The shrine of the consort of Koodal Azhagar, Mathuravalli, is located to the south of the main shrine. There are smaller shrines of Lakshmi Narasimha, Rama, Lakshmi Narayana and Krishna located close to the sanctum. The shrines of Andal, Narasimha and Manavala Mamunigal are found in separate shrines around the first precinct. The shrine of Andal has the painting depicting puranic stories and inscriptions detailing devotional literature. The shrines of Garuda, Anjaneya, Ramanuja, Vedanta Desika and Azhwars are found in the second precinct. The pillars in the halls leading to the sanctum have small sculptures. The temple has Navagrahas, the nine planetary deities, in the second precinct. The second floor has a shrine dedicated to Suryanarayana standing along with Devis. The Teppakulam, the temple tank, is located outside the temple premises. It has a centre hall made of granite.
Koodal Azhagar Perumal Temple Madurai
As per Hindu legend, a ruler named Vallabhadeva went incognito every day to know about the lives of people under him. During one of his visits, a scholar told him that the ultimate goal in life is to "collect provisions in summer and save for winter", which also meant that one should work during his younger days and save for his old age. Vallabadeva was not convinced and he set this as a competition among scholars to make him realise the true value of life. Vishnucitta, who would later go on to become Periazhwar, one of the twelve most revered saints of Vaishnava sect, came to Madurai from Srivilliputhur.
He was believed to have been directed by the heavenly words of Vishnu and him expound the sacred verses. He explained the concepts of Hitham and Purushartham from Vedas and proclaimed that attained the feet of Narayana could lead to salvation. Vallabhadeva was pleased with the explanation and he awarded a bag of gold to Visnucitta. It is believed that the current gopuram of Srivilliputhur Temple, was built by Periazhwar with the gold won.
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