A view inside the temple premises focussing the main entrance tower at Sri Kallazhagar Temple
A view inside the temple premises focussing the main entrance tower at Sri Kallazhagar Temple

The famous ‘Alagar Kovil’ (Azhagar Kovil) or ‘Sri Kallazhagar Temple’, also named as ‘Thirumaliruncholai’ is located in the outskirts of the ancient city Madurai of Tamilnadu. Sri Kallazhagar Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and also one of the 108 Divya Desam Temples. This temple is located in a small village, Alagar Kovil (Azhagar Kovil) situated near Madurai at the foot of the range of Alagar Malai or ‘Azhagar Malai'(Azhagar Hills or Alagar Hills) and also surrounded by the ruins of a historic fort. Sri Kallazhagar Temple is said to be existence from the early 3rd Century.

Pazhamuthircholai Murugan Temple, one of the ‘Arupadai Veedu Temples’ (Six Abodes of Lord Murugan) is situated on the same hill, about 4 kilometers above. A natural spring called ‘Nubura Gangai’ where pilgrims take a holy bath, is located near the Pazhamuthircholai Murugan Temple. The legend says that the Sage Suthapas did not respect the Sage Durvasar, who passed by when he was taking bath in Nupura Gangai at Alagar hill (Azhagar hill).

The sage Durvasar got angry and cursed sage Suthapas that he would turn into a frog and told that he will be relieved of his sin by the blessing of Lord Kallazhagar. The sage Suthapas who is called as ‘Mandooga Rishi’ because of his frog form prayed Lord Kallazhagar on the banks of river Vaigai at Thenur Mandapam. It is believed that Lord Kallazhagar came along His way to Thenur Mandapam and blessed the sage Suthapas, where the sage got relieved of his curse.

A distant view of the 'Sri Kallazhagar Temple' with hill background at Azhagar Kovil
A distant view of the ‘Sri Kallazhagar Temple’ with hill background at Azhagar Kovil

Specialty

The presiding deity of this Sri Kallazhagar Temple is ‘Lord Kallazhagar’ (Lord Vishnu), in standing posture. The other main deities of this temple are Goddess Sridevei, Goddess Bhoodevi, Lord Sundararaja Perumal, Lord Rishabadrinathar, Lord Kalyanasundaravalli, and Lord Valampuri Vinayakar. Sri Kallazhagar Temple contains a shrine for Kaaval Deivam (protecting god) Karuppa Swamy, depicting the intense human relationship in the form of beautiful statues.

The Main Gopuram (gateway tower) of which contains the shrine of protecting god Karuppa Swamy remains closed. Only once in a year the door is opened for the worship of Sudarshana Chakra, the divine wheel of Lord Vishnu. The Vimanam (the tower above the sanctum sanctorum) of Sri Kallazhagar Temple is called as ‘Somasundara Vimaanam’. Somasundarar is the form which is taken by Lord Shiva to marry Meenakshi Amman. As the remembrance of it, the Vimaanam is said to be the “Somasundara Vimaanam”. The Pushkarani (Temple tank) of Sri Kallazhagar Temple is called Noopuragangai and the holy tree is called Jyothi tree, Sandalwood tree.

A distant view of the temple with Azhagar Hills background at Azhagar Kovil Sri Kallazhagar Temple
A distant view of the temple with Azhagar Hills background at Azhagar Kovil Sri Kallazhagar Temple

Madurai Chithirai Festival

It is said that a Vaishnava Nayak King Thirumalai Naayakkar, a great devotee of Goddess Meenakshi, had a wish to affiliate the Brahmotsavam Celebrations of Meenakshi Amman temple and Sri Kallazhagar Temple. And with this fusion, he aimed to develop communal geniality between the two different tradition peoples Saivites (Who worship Lord Shiva as the Supreme Being) and Vaishnavites (Who worship Lord Vishnu as the Supreme Being).

This affiliation was happily accepted by both the sects and regarding this, the king Thirumalai Nayakkar built a Ship shaped Mandapam (hall) on the Vaigai River, located at the place Vandiyur, named as Thenur Mandapam where the Mandooga Rishi celebration takes place even today. The famous ‘Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha’ (Madurai Chithirai Festival) celebrated with a great grand manner once in a year during the Tamil month of ‘Chithirai’ (April – May) in the ancient city Madurai, also named as ‘Temple City’ of Tamilnadu.

During the Chithirai Festival celebration,when the celestial wedding ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi to Lord Sundareswarar is celebrated in the Madurai City, Lord Kallazhagar travels to Madurai. A gold processional idol of Lord Kallazhagar is carried by devotees in procession from Azhagar Kovil to Madurai for wedding ritual. This Chithirai Festival is celebrated with two separate events. First event is for Goddess Meenakshi (Goddess Shakthi) and another continuous event is for Lord Kallazhagar (Lord Vishnu).

A view behind the divine marriage hall (Pillar Hall) situated inside the Sri Kallazhagar Temple premises
A view behind the divine marriage hall (Pillar Hall) situated inside the Sri Kallazhagar Temple premises

These events are called by ‘Meenakshi Sundareswarar Thirukkalyanam’ (Celestial Wedding Ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi) and ‘Kallazhagar Vaigai Aatril Ezhuntharulal’ (Lord Kallazhagar enters into the River Vaigai). A legend is that ‘Lord Kallazhagar’ (Lord Vishnu) came ride on a golden horse to Madurai from Azhagar Kovil to participate in the Celestial Wedding Ceremony of His Sister ‘Goddess Meenakshi’ (Goddess Shakthi) and ‘Lord Sundareswarar’ (Lord Shiva).

He arrives Madurai late and while gets into the river ‘Vaigai’, He was instructed about the wedding ceremony that has been ended. He gets angry and decides to proceed back to home. However, He gives the Gifts to the representatives of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar that has been already brought from Azhagar Kovil by Him. While Lord Kallazhagar returning back to Azhagar Kovil, He was pleased by the prayers of ‘Mandooka Rishi’. So He went to Vandiyur Thenur Mandapam (A Hall with Pillars) to cure the curse of Mandooka Rishi.

As per Mandooka Rishi’s wish Lord Kallazhagar showed him the ‘Dasavataram’ (All the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu) postures in Ramarayar Mandapam (A Hall with Pillars) and blessed him. ‘Lord Kallazhagar Event’ is an important part of ‘Madurai Chithirai Festival’ celebrated by His devotees in a great grand manner in a time span of four days in the Madurai City.

A view inside the 'Sri Kallazhagar Temple ' at Azhagar Kovil
A view inside the ‘Sri Kallazhagar Temple ‘ at Azhagar Kovil

Pooja Timings

  • Vishva Rupam Pooja – 6.00 A.M
  • Pongal Kalam Pooja – 7.00 A.M
  • UcchikKalam Pooja – 12.00 P.M
  • Sayarakchai Pooja – 5.00 P.M
  • Nithiyana Santhanam Pooja – 6.30 P.M
  • Sampakkalam Pooja – 8.00 P.M

Festivals

  • Chithirai grand festival – April or May
  • Vasandha festival – May or June
  • Muppala festival – June or July
  • Aadi grand festival – July or August
  • Thiru Pouthira festival – August or September
  • Navarathiri festival – September or October
  • Thailakkappu (Sri Perumal visiting Noopura Gangai) – October or November
  • Karthigai Deepa festival – November or December
  • Thiruvadhyayana festival (Pagal Patthu Rappatthu festival) – December or January
  • Kanu festival – January or Febryary
  • Gajendra Motcham festival, Float festival – February or March
  • Thirukalyana Festival – March or April
By Road

Madurai is well connected by road to Chennai, Bangalore, and Mysore, Tirupati, Cochin, Trivandrum and other interstate and other major cities.


By Train

Madurai Railway Junction is one of the major railway junctions in South India. There are direct trains from Madurai connecting important cities in Indian like Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Coimbatore, Kollam, Kanyakumari, Trichy, Tirunelveli, Rameshwaram, Thanjavur, Vijayawada, Calcutta, Nagpur, and Bhopal. Madurai has rail connectivity with important cities and towns across India.


By Air

Madurai Airport is a customs airport serving Madurai in the state of Tamil Nadu. The airport is located about 12 km (7.5 mi) from the Madurai railway station. It offers domestic flight services to major cities in India and international services to Colombo, Sri Lanka, Chennai, Colombo, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Dubai. The airport has two adjacent terminals. Currently the integrated terminal is being used for both International and Domestic purpose.

  • Meenakshi Amman Temple (21 Km from here)
  • Thirupparankundram (28Km from here)
  • Koodal Azhagar Temple (22Km from here)
  • Thiruvaathavoor Temple (20Km from here)
  • Thiruvedagam Temple (30Km from here)
  • Thirumohur Temple (12Km from here)
  • Maariamman Temple (18Km from here)

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