There is a quaint little village called Alagar Kovil nestling in the woods at the foot of the Alagarmalai hills that is famous for its ancient Vaishnavite temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple as well as its beautiful scenic surroundings is famous for a number of reasons including its intricately carved sculptures, magnificent gopurams as well as the historical ruins of a fort making for an interesting day trip to this location.
It’s located about 21km from Madurai city of the state of Tamil Nadu, the land of culture, history and temples! Madurai has an airport as well as excellent rail and road transport networks to enable you reach this destination. Book into any of the heritage hotels in Madurai city and enjoy the city of temples and its’ surroundings.
Alagar Kovil is a small village which’s life revolves around the Kallazhagar temple which has been constructed in the typical Dravidian style of architecture and is glorified in the early medieval era by the Tamil saints during the 6th-9nth AD. It is dedicated to Vishnu who is worshipped here as Kallazhagar and his consort Lakshmi as Thirumamagal. The temple stands in an area of 2 acres and has a five-tired ‘gopuram’ (gateway towers) enclosed within huge granite walls. It is widely believed that Lord Vishnu came here from his heavenly abode to give away goddess Meenakshi in marriage to Lord Sundareswarer. It is believed that pilgrims have been flocking to this area from as far back as the Sangam era (4 BC- 2 AD). The Vaishnavite temple is famous for its exquisite ‘mandapams’ and rare Vijayanagara sculptures, as well as carved depictions of scenes from the epics. The Alwars as well as the famous Tamil poet Nakkirar have composed songs and poems in praise of the residing deity.
The main deity of the temple is also called Paramaswamy while the processional idol is called Alagar; this beautiful idol is a show of great craftsmanship of that era and is made of pure gold. Inscriptions of various dynasties found in the temple are also found in a cavern on the hill, some dating back to times of Ashoka!
This temple also has 18 very intricately carved steps that are a source of amazement to devotees; legend has it that no one dares to tell lies at this spot for wont of dire consequences, so a good place to get one to tell the truth! There are two major natural springs (called Silamboru and Noopura Gangai) occurring here that are believed to be holy for pilgrims. Yet another legend has it that these springs originated from the anklets of Lord Vishnu during his incarnation as Trivikrama.
Alagar Kovil is a great place to soak in history…