This is the headquarters of the 600 year old Vanamamalai Mutt
Located about 30kms South of Tirunelveli, off the Nagercoil Highway and about 10kms from Thiru Kurungudi Divya Desam is Vaanamaalai Thothadri Nathan Divya Desam at Nanguneri.
Direction to the temple
In centuries gone by, this place was identified as being 1 yojana South of Tamaraibarani, 2 yojanas North of Bay of Bengal and 3 yojanas West of Indian Ocean and Half a yojana East of the Mahendra Hills.
The story relating to Thothadri finds reference in Brahmanda Puranam, Skanda Puranam and Narasimha Puranam.It is said that Lord Shiva narrated the story and the significance and greatness of Thothadri and Varamangai to Sage Narada, who having heard the story is believed to gone to Vaikuntam and heaped praised on Narayana.
Adisesha undertook penance here and hence this place came to be called ‘Naaganai’ Cheri. As the huge lake around the temple was split into 4 canals, this place was referred to as ‘Nangu’ ‘Eri’.
Goddess Lakshmi grew up at Thothadri as Varamangai and later met and married the Lord here. Hence, this place is also referred to as SriVaramangai. In Azhvaar’s praise of the Lord here, he refers to him as the Lord of Varamangai Nagar.
One of the Eight Swayam Vyatha Kshetram
This is one of the eight sacred Swayam Vyaktha Vishnu Sthalams, the others being Srirangam, Srimushnam, Tirupathi, Saligramam, Naimi Saranyam, Pushkaram and Badrinath.
A Sindhu king on a hunting expedition consumed food from the ashram of Gusasana Rishi while he was away. An angered rishi cursed him to turn to a dog. A man trained the dog to provide acrobatic displays to onlookers and thus earned his livelihood. After going all over the place, the dog was finally relieved from the curse after a bath at the sacred water (Chethruththamarai Theertham) at Thothadri. He regained his princely form. Hence, it is believed that a bath at this Theertham will relieve from all curses.
Speciality at this Divya Desam- Oil Abhishekam
Kaarya Maharaja didn’t have a child. He went to Lord Nambi at Thirukurungudi who asked him to undertake pooja of the Lord who is present beneath the earth at Nanguneri. The king who dug up the earth here was shocked to find blood oozing out of the Lord’s head.
The Lord asked him to perform an Oil Abhishekam and to throw the oil into the open well found at this place. Having performed this, he is said to have had children. The temple is believed to have been built by Kaarya Maharaja.
The tradition of Oil Abhishekam has come to stay. Hence, the speciality of this Divya Desam is the daily oil pooja for the main deity and depositing the oil in the 25 feet open well inside the temple. The oil has been hailed by Sage Agastya as ‘Sarva Roha Nivarani’ and is said to have medicinal values helping cure both internal and external illness including ulcer and skin diseases.
The oil at this temple is just as special as the ‘laddu’ of Tirupathi temple.
Garuda’s presence in front of Lord Vishnu
The story goes that Kasiyap, who had two wives- Kathru and Vinathai, remained childless. Invoking the blessings of a rishi, the two wives were given the option of choosing between several children and just the two.
Kathru had several children including Adisesha, the Serpent King, on whom Lord Vishnu rests himself. Vinathai had two children- Arunan (Charioteer of Surya) and Garuda (Charioteer of Vishnu).
With Lord Vishnu resting himself all the time on Adisesha, an upset Garuda undertook penance at Thothadri. When the Lord appeared before Garuda, he expressed his disappointment at not accorded the same status as Adisesha.
It was then that Lord Narayana asked him to come with him to Vaikuntam and accorded him the status of standing in front of him (facing him) ready all the time to take his Lord on a trip. Thus it came to be that when the Lord leaves Adisesha, he gets on to Garuda.
Goddess Earth felt impure after blood and bones of asuras Madhu and Kaitapa fell on Earth after being killed by Lord Vishnu. She undertook penance at Thothadri near Mahendra Hills. Lord appeared in front of her and relieved her from the impurities by showering the nectar on her. As per her wishes, he remained seated under the Vaikunta Vimanam and provided darshan to all devotees.
Liberation from re-birth
The two beautiful damsels Urvasi and Thilothama undertook penance at Thothadri seeking liberation from re-birth and with the single minded devotion of serving the Lord.
Narayana, who appeared before them, expressed surprise at these two beautiful ladies undertaking severe penance at Thothadri instead of enjoying their lives. The two replied that they had now realised that serving him was the ultimate achievement for any one. As desired by them, Lord allowed them a place next to him. Hence, they are seen here at this temple next to the Lord in a gesture of fanning him (white Chamaras) and keeping him always cool.
Azhvaar on the Shataari
Nam Azhvaar is seen on the Lord’s Shataari, a gesture that is said to be equivalent to the Azhvaar himself blessing the devotees.
Azhvaar pleads for liberation
புள்ளின் வாய் பிளந்தாய்
மருது இடை போயினாய்
எருது ஏழ் அடர்த்த என் கள்ள மாயவனே
தெள்ளியார் திரு நான்மறைகள் வல்லார்
மலி தண் சிரீவர மங்கை
உள் இருந்த எந்தாய், அருளாய் உய்யுமாறு எனக்கே - Thiruvoimozhi (5-7)
NamAzhvaar in his praise of the Lord here refers to Him as the one who ripped the bird's beak, the one who entered the Marudu trees and killed the seven bulls. Nam Azhvaar says that many great seers, who were all well versed in all the vedas, resided here at Vanamamalai. Referring to the Lord who lives in Sri Varamangai Nagar amidst these great seers, Nam Azhvaar pleads with the Lord to show him and the devotees the path to Liberation.
600 year old Vanamaamalai Mutt
The 600 years old Vaanamaamalai Mutt (Jeers) are the hereditary trustees of this Divya Desam. Many of the main festivals at this temple are celebrated in a unique way, not found in any other Divya Desam. Srivaramangai Thaayar is considered as the affectionate daughter of the first pontiff of the Mutt Sri Ponnadikal Jeer Swamy. Deivanayakan is considered as the Son-in-Law of the mutt. During the Brahmotsavam and other festivals, the two are given a warm welcome at the mutt and the entire pooja festivities are performed only at the mutt.
All the worship patterns here are according to the Vaikanasa Agamamam.
Moolavar : Thothadri Nathan(Vaanamaamalai Perumal) East Facing Sitting Posture
Thaayar : Srivaramangai Thaayar
Utsavar : Deiva Nayakan
Azhvaar :Nam Azhvaar -Thiruvoimozhi ( 5-7)
Time : 8am-12noon and 5pm-9pm
Priest : Nambi Srinivasa Bhattar @ 04635 250537 or 99942 76118
Temple Office Number : 04635 250119
2 Brahmotsavams – one in Panguni and one in Chitrai
How to reach
Buses every 10minutes between Tirunelveli and Nagercoil
(Nanguneri can be reached within 45 minutes from Tirunelveli bus stand)
Kanyakumari Exp and Ananthapuri Express from Chennai stop at Nanguneri station.