Sankara Narayanar Koil (Tirunelveli - Tamil Nadu)

Sankaranarayanar Koil of the popular temples is this region. One fine evening, we set off to visit this place. Even before we reached the temple, on the very crowded road that leads to it, has a little temple of Vinayaka. At the first glance, it does look like a modern structure. However on a closer look, that itself is an ancient structure below the vimana, which has a  yaali row and some koodu with sanyasis.
We Right at the entrance of the main temple, on either sides is the Kodi Pen or the Lady with the creeper. Errr.. Wait.. No.... Its actually the Kodi Bhootham, a little celestial being in the place of lady! 
This is followed by a gorgeous wooden door complete with small panels of various Gods and scenes from mythology, some of which I could figure out and some I couldn't!
Soon after I crossed the door, on either sides were some panels, one of which totally took me by awe - a birthing scene! Remember a similar one at Modhera!!!  
Inside, in the Maha Mandapa were the typical Vijayanagara styled huge yaali pillars. In the midst of yaali, there were the Manmadha (Kamdev) and Rathi (his consort). The paintings all over, the pillars, the ceiling, everywhere were beyond gorgeous! 

You saw a post dedicated to just those, earlier. The entrance to Ardha Mandapa again has a arch made of wood complete with intricate sculptures. The Nandi looked pretty curious flicking its tongue. 

What memerized me the most here were the almost full sculptures, but a wee bit stuck on the back making them reliefs, protruding the outer walls of Ardha Mandapa. And some of these sculptures were so unique like PanchaMuga Brahma, Brahmeshwarar, Dhajamkara murthy, Kartha veeriyan, etc! On the opposite side were Arupathumoovar (the 63 saivaite saints), saptha maadha etc.
And here you can spot the Pandyan symbol of dual fishes with a pole between them on the ceiling! The temple was begun in 11th C under Pandyas and later on the Vijayanagara kings also did all they could to expand it! 
The kodungaigal (terracotta tile like structure sculpted in granite) were here as well. However not so gorgeous as in Pudukottai!

And you know what's amazing here! A man, who gave up his life for this nation, also has a shrine here - Pulithevar!!! In 1755, even before the first war of Indian Independence, Pulithevar fought bravely against the Bristish Raj! His entire shrine is made of wood filled with, beyond exquisite sculptural detailing!
The main deity here is the Sankara Narayanar. Sankara refers to Lord Shiva and Narayana refers to Lord Vishnu. The deity here is half Shiva and half Vishnu. The adornment of the sculpture is rather interesting!!! Shiva being a wild man, sans any jewelry and hardly any clothing and Vishnu being a lover of exquisite outfits & jewelry, here the adornment is indeed mind blowing. An independently standing lamp in the form of a woman (Paavai vilakku) with a long braided hair is a must see!!!
Its believed that Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu came together as Sankara Narayana towards the request of Goddess Gomathi (Parvathi) to prove that both are equal!


Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan & Co.


An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands


  1. I would now surely like to follow this trail and visit the places. Your writings are awesome and will be pleasure if you continue writing . Thank You

    1. Do visit. Looking forward for your blog posts on the same places!
      Thanks for your appreciation. :)

  2. really liked seeing the pair of fish w 'whip' - Pandya logo.

  3. Hi Bhushavali,
    Many of us Indian dream of going to exotic foreign destinations without realizing that our own country has so many hidden treasures yet to be unearthed by the government and the public. I love how you have written about the lesser known destinations that all of us can try visiting.

    1. True that! India is incredible. A lifetime is not enough to explore just India.
      Glad you liked my blog.


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