Alwar Tirunagari is a famous Vaishnavite centre, the birthplace of Saint Nammalwar and Manavalamuni. It is one of the largest temples in the district of Tirunelveli, dedicated to Lord Vishnu as Adinathaswamy (also spelt as Adinathswami).
Alwar Tirunagari is also known for Araiyar Sevai, where the Divya Prabanda Pasurams (verses) are recited with expression, music and rhythm as in Srirangam and Srivilliputtur.
Some Unique Features
This temple covers an area of 5 acres. The temple is a grand structure with lofty Mandapams through which the main entrance leads to the inner precincts. The Tirumanjana Mandapam, the Tirumamani Mandapam and the Kannadi Mandapam are of great beauty. A number of paintings depicting scenes from the Ramayana are found here.
There are some remarkable pillars, 48 in numbers, carved out of a single block of granite. There is also a gold-plated chariot for the ceremonial drive of Lord Adinathaswamy during the Vaikasi (May-June) festival.
The Tamarind Tree Within The Temple
Within the temple walls, there is a very big tamarind tree whose bark is stripped by devotees for using as a medicine for the cure of incurable diseases. During the flowering season, the tree is loaded with flowers, but bears no fruit. The origin of the tree dates back to thousands of years and is known only by legend, which has held it in great sanctity from the hoary past.
Legend Of Saint Nammalwar
On the suggestion of the divine architect Vishwakarma, Lord Shiva sent Agastya, who had come to Kailash to witness the marriage of Lord Shiva, to the South to restore the balance of the land upset by the Gods.
Angry with Vishwakarma for preventing him from beholding Lord Shiva's marriage, Agastya cursed him saying, "Though you are a first-rate architect and engineer, your work shall not be accepted as original or genuine and you shall not be paid the worth of your skill and labour". Getting angry at this, Vishwakarma cursed him in return: "Though you are a great Tamil Saint your language shall not be deemed perfect and rich however much you may try."
These legendary curses were supposed to bear their immediate consequences. So Sage Agastya prayed to Lord Shiva to grant him the boon that the Tamil language might attain the same importance and glory as the language of the Vedas. Lord Shiva appeared before him and said that soon an Alwar (one continuously immersed in contemplation of God) would be born on the earth and he would raise the language to its full height.
The Birth Of Saint Nanimalwar
There is a reference in Sri Bhagavata, Chapter V, in verses 38 to 40, prophesying the birth of holy saints in the Dravida land by the side of holy rivers. Saint Nammalwar is one of the Mahatmas in the galaxy of saints, who was born in the Kali Yuga, BC 3,102 just 43 days after the departure of Lord Krishna from the world at the end of "Dwapara Yuga". It is stated that the holy men born in the "Krita", "Treta" and "Dwapara" Yugas wished to take birth in the "Kali Yuga" because they knew that in Kali Yuga, great souls devoted to 'Narayana' or God would be born.
Saint Nanimalwar is considered to be the chief among the Alwars. The Bhavishya Purana foretold that in the beginning of the Kali Yuga and on the day when the full moon is in conjunction with the constellation Visakha, Senesa or Vishwaksena, the chief of the archangels, would incarnate as Nammalwar in order to popularise the path of Love or Bhakti to Vishnu. His place of birth was fixed thus: "In the Pandya land, there is a town called "Srinagari" (Tirunagari) situated on the banks of the river Tamravarni where the Conqueror of the Senses is himself seen in the image of Nammalwar."
The Tamil month of Vaikasi ('Vishaka Asterism' - the birthday of Nammalwar) witnesses the grand Garuda Sevai, where festival images from all of the nine Nava Tirupatis congregate here. Nammalwar is mounted on the Hamsavahanam. The Paasurams on each of these deities are recited during this grand festival. The image above is that of Perumal from Tirupperai.