Nava Tirupathi is a set of 9 temples of Lord Vishnu located between Tirunelveli and Tiruchendur in the southern Indian state of Tamilnadu. Nava Tirupathi is part of the 108 Divya Desam temples revered by the Alvars, the 12 tamil poet saints who lived 2500 years ago. Located around the banks of the River Thamirabarani, the 9 temples of Nava Tirupathi are Thiruvaikundam, Thiruvaragunamangai, Thirupulinkudi, North & South temples of Thirutholaivillimangalam, Thirukkulanthai, Thiruperai, Thirukolur and Thirugurukoor. A popular gathering of pilgrims happens every year at Alwarthirunagari during month of May-June to honour Nammaalvar one of the greatest Hindu mystics. During this festival, an amazing ceremony happens where Perumals from all the 9 shrines upon Garuda, Nammalvar upon Anna and Madhurakavi Alvar upon Parangi Naarkali arrive in a procession.
The nine temples of Nava Tirupathi can be covered in 1 or 1.5 days depending on the time you wish to spend in each temple. Here is a ready reckoner and guide with Temple timings to plan your trip.
1. Srivaikundam (Surian), Moolavar- Vaikundanathan, Urchavar- Kazhapian, Thayar- Vaikundanaayathi Soranathanayahi, Timings-730am-12pm, 5-8pm
2. Srivagunamangal (Chandran), Moolavar- Vijayasanar, Urchavar- Emmlderkadivan, Thayar- Varagunamangal Varagunavalli, Timings- 9am & 6pm
3. Thiruppullyankudi (Puthan), Moolavar- Boomipaalagar, Urchavar- Kaaichina Venthan, Thayar- Nilamagal Malarmahal Pulingudivalli, Timings- 9am & 6pm
4. Erattai Tirupathi (Raagu), Moolavar- Srinivasan, Urchavar- Thevapiran, Thayar- Alemelumagai Padmavathi, Timings- 8am-12 pm & 1-5pm
5. Erattai Tirupathi (Kethu), Moolavar- Arvindalosanar, Urchavar- Chenthamarai Kannan, Thayar- Karunthdankanni, Timings- 8am-12 pm & 1-5pm
6. Thiruzhanthai (Sani), Moolavar- Venkadavanan, Urchavar- Maayakoothar, Thayar- Kamalavathi Kulanthaivalli, Timings 730am-12 pm & 5-730 pm
7. Thenthiruperai (Sukran), Moolavar- Maharanedun Kuzhalkaathar, Urchavar- Niharilmukil Vannan, Thayar- Kuzhaikaathuvalli, Timings 730am-12 pm & 5-730 pm
8. Thirukkolloor (Sevvai), Moolavar- Vaithamanidhi, Urchavar- Nichopavithan, Thayar- Kumuthavalli Kolloorvalli, Timings- 730am-12pm & 5-8pm
9. Alvarthirunagari (viyazhan)- Moolavar- Aainathan, Urchavar- Polinthunintrapiran, Thayar- Aadinathanayagi Thirukurukurnayagi, Tiimings- 730-12pm & 5-8pm
The best way to visit Nava Tirupathi is to keep your base at Tirunelveli. Take a taxi and start by 8am. Visit Srivaikundam first and go in sequence given above. You can finish all the temples by 6pm with a lunch break at Saravana Bhavan near VanaTirupathi. If you are unable to complete on the first day, you can finish the remainder temples in a couple of hours the next day.
There are plenty of hotels to choose from in Tirunelveli. We had stayed at Sri Janakiram Hotel. It is conveniently located 3 KMs from Railway station. They also have a pure vegetarian restaurant. Contact number is 0462-2331941
Divya desam is a group of 108 temples where the Alvars or Tamil poet saints worshiped Lord Vishnu 2500 years ago through hymns. Out of the 108, 105 are in India with 82 in Tamilnadu, 1 is in Nepal while 2 are in the celestial world. It is interesting to note that while the 11 Alvars sung about Vishnu, Madhurakavi Alvar alone sung hymns on Nammalvar his guru. The Nava Tirupathi temples are a part of these 108 Divya desam temples. It is a belief that a devotee who visits the 106 Divya Desam temples fervently will be escorted by Lord Vishnu himself to the other 2 in the celestial world.
Sri Vaikundam Temple is located 29 Kms from Tirunelveli towards Tiruchendur. Many years back, a cowherd in the Pandya kingdom witnessed a strange event on the land where this temple is situated. One of his cows started showering milk at a particular spot. The King was informed who ordered an excavation. The Lord's shrine was discovered and it is around this spot that the sanctum has been built. The present day Gopuram was built by Chanthirakula Pandiyan. The vedic practice is Pancharathram and Tradition followed is Thenkalai.
The Urchavar sculpture should be observed carefully. The Lord has a pinch mark in his cheek! The legend is that the sculptor broke the mould while working on the sculpture. As his heart leaped the Lord got a pinch mark.
Remarkable murals are depicted in the corridors of the temple. The subject matter are the 108 Divya desam shrines.
Thiruvaragunamangai temple is located 3 KMs east of Sri Vaikundam. The Maha Sambrokshanam was performed on 20th june in 1996. The lord is in a sitting posture. The vedic practice is Vaigasanam and tradition is Thenkalai. The gopuram is very majestic and has 9 tiers. Recently a spring was discovered around the temple which has been renovated now.
Thirupulinkudi Temple is just half a KM towards east of Thiruvaragunamangai temple. The mahasamrokshnam was performed on 15th may in 1996. The deity is also called Boomibalagar. Once upon a time Boomidevi the Earth Goddess got upset with the Lord. The Earth became barren. The lord went and pacified her by telling her she enjoys equal status with Lakshmi.
It is said that childless couples will be blessed with children upon praying here. The vedic practice is Vaikaasanam and tradition followed is Thenkalai.
Thirukulanthai Temple is located 5 KMs towards East of Thirupuliyankudi. Mahasambrokshanam was performed on 9th December in 1998. Legend has it that many years ago, The Lord had married a girl called Kamalavathy, daughter of Vedhasaran and Kumuthavalli. One day a demon named Achmasaran abducted Kumuthavalli while she was having a bath and hid her in the Himalayas. The Lord mounted Garuda and went to the Himalayas and rescued the lady.
Since the Lord went to Himalayas mounted on Garuda, it is Garuda who is the processional deity in this temple.
The vedic practice adopted in this divya desam temple is Vaigasanam while the tradition followed is Thenkalai.
The Erratai Tirupathi temples can be reached from Thirukulanthai temple via Mangalakurich. The shrines are in a forest along a channel called Vadakaal. The vedic practice is Vaikaasanam and tradition followed is Thenkalai.
The puranic lore around South Temple is that a rishi called Athreyasubrabar selected this area for his Yagna. While cleaning the spot, he found a bow and a balance. As soon as he touched them the bow and balance became a man and a woman. They had been cursed into that existence by Kuber. Henceforth the place became known as Thoolaivillimangalam.
The highlight of North Temple is that Nammalvar has performed mangaalasasanam for the Thayar at this temple with the Lord.
Thenthiruperi temple is located 35 KMs away from Tirunelveli on the Tirunelveli- Triuchendur road, besides the southern banks of Thamirabharani river. The mahasamprokshanam as performed on 16th June in 1999. The original temple is very ancient, predating even Nammalvar. During the 10th century the temple got some additions in the form of a mast, hall and temple car. King Sundara Pandiyan had brought 108 Jaimuni Samaveda Thalavakara from Cholas to perform a prayer in this temple. He was blessed with a child soon afterwards. The Vedic practice followed here is Pancharaathiram while the tradition is Thenkalai.
Thirukolur is located 5 kms away from Thenthiruperi on the way towards Alwarthirunagari. This is the birth place of Madhurakavi Alvar. There is a legend that a descendant Of Vyasa called Dharmaguptan had lost all his wealth. He was advised by Bharadwaja Muni to come to this temple and perform prayers. The Lord was pleased with his devotion and wealth returned to him. It is said that anyone who has lost wealth can come here and pray with devotion. The Lord always returns the wealth of those who pray with devotion. The Vedic practice followed here is Vaikaasanam while the tradition is Thenkalai.
Thirugurukoor is located in the famous village of Alwarthitunagari. Tamarind tree is the Sthala vritcham here.
Nammalvar was born to the royal couple Kaarimaaran and Vudaiya Nangiayaar. He didnot speak for 16 years. The worried parents took the child to this temple and cradled it to the tamarind tree near the shrine. Nammalvar spoke only when Madhurakavi Alvar met him during his wanderings under the tamarind tree. This tamarind tree is 2000 years old and can still be seen at the temple.
It is here at Alwarthirunagari that Nadamuni wrote Divyaprabhandam. Nadamuni sought the Kanni Nunsiruthaambu from descendents of Madhurakavi Alvars. Pleased with his dedication Nammalvar appeared before Nadamuni and helped him with the Divyaprabhandam. The presiding deity of Nammalvar was sculpted by Madurakavi Alvar by a special formulation of boiled water from the River Thamirabharani. No sculptor laid his hands on this deity.