Tirunelveli -Sri Nellaiappar Temple

Name of the Temple

Sri Nellaiappar Temple

Period of origin

Before 3000 years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Nellaiappar, Venuvana Nathar

Ambal: Ganthimathi Ammai

Sthala Theertham: swornapukarani

Sthala Virksham: Bamboo

Devaram: Thirugnanasambandhar


According to historical facts, this town was known as Venuvanam. There was a Siva devotee named Vedapattar. Lord Siva wanted to test Vedapattar’s devotion. So he made Vedapattar lose his wealth and suffer. Still, he did not give up the habit of praying to God.

One day, Vedapattar left some paddy in the sanctum of Lord Siva and went to take bath in the river. Meanwhile, it started pouring. Seeing this, Vedappatar rushed to the sanctum to save the paddy. To his suprise, he saw that there was no rain around the paddy, and God had put a fence around it and saved it.

He ran to inform the king, Rama Pandian, about the miracle. From then on the city came to be known as Nel veli – paddy that was saved by a fence. The name Nelveli got changed to Tirunelveli in time.

Sage Agastya has worshipped Lord Siva in this temple. The Lord is also called as Venunathar, Veithanathar, Nelvelinathar and Salivanathar. The Ambal is also called Vadivudaiamman and Thirukamakottamudaiya Nachiar. Lord Vinayaga is also called Polla Pillaiyar and Lord Muruga, Arumuga Peruman.

Saiva saint Tirugnana Sambandar has also sung about this temple. The 2,000-year-old temple has 32 theerthams. The speciality of this temple is that there are a lot of stories about it. Nellaiappar temple is one of the five temples where Lord Siva has danced in the form of Nataraja.

According to Hindu belief, devotees who worship the Lord in this temple will get mental peace and live well. Those who worship Gandhimathiamman would prosper in life.

This is one of the famous temples in Tamilnadu steeped in tradition and history and also known for its musical pillars and other brilliant sculptural splendors. This temple houses a shrine to Shiva and Parvati dating back in time covering a 14 acre area. Shiva is said to have been worshipped by Agastya in a bamboo grove and by Rama after having killed Mareecha some nine miles away at Manoor. There is also a shrine to Vishnu near the sanctum, signifying the belief that Nellai Govindan (Vishnu) visited Tirunelveli to officiate the divine marriage of Shiva and Gantimathi. There are several other legends associated with this temple.

The temple dates back to 700 AD. Supposedly there were two distinct temples for Shiva and his consort both built by the Pandyan kings and the Sangili Mandapam linking these two were built in the 17th centuries. The towers also date back to early 17th century. There are inscriptions dating all the way back to 950 AD in the temple.

This temple never ceases to surprise visitors for the wealth of detail it has to offer. The musical pillars in the Mani Mandapam which produce sound in various pitches when struck (7th century AD by Nindrasir Nedumaran or Koon Pandyan), the Somavara Mandapam, the 1000 pillared hall, and the Tamra sabha with intricate wood work, and the Vasantha Mandapam are some of the noteworthy points in this temple. Lifelike sculptures adorn several of the mandapams in the temple, noteworthy ones being in the Sangili Mandapam which links the temples of Nellaiappar and Kantimathi in this vast temple complex.

The Copper Hall of Dance is a brilliant work of art, and is housed within the inner precincts of the temple. On the occasion of Arudra Darisanam (occuring in the Tamil month of Margazhi – Dec 15 – Jan 15), the images of Nataraja and Sivakami are housed here, and elaborate worship protocols are observed during the enactment of the Cosmic Dance of Shiva. A shrine to Sandana Sabhapati (adorned with sandal paste) is located right behind the Tamra Sabha and to a visitor walking towards the Tamra Sabha, the combination of these, i.e. the vision of Sandana Sabhapati seen through the Tamra Sabha presents a brilliant spectacle. There is yet another shrine to Nataraja here, the Periya Sabhapati shrine. Religious services are carried out here on special occasions, and this festival idol is never moved from this shrine.

Navaratri, Tirukkalyanam in Aippasi, (Oct 15 – Nov 15) and Arudra Darisanam are some of the important festivals here. Arudra Darisanam attracts huge crowds here.The temple charriot is a massive one, second supposedly only to Tiruvarur. The Bhrammotsavam here lasts for an extended period of time during the Tamil month of Aani (June 15 – July 15).


This temple is located in Tirunelveli heart of the twon on the banks of river Taamiraparni. TIrunelveli is well connected by rail network from many important towns in Tamilnadu.

Temple Timings:

6 am to 12 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm

Temple Telephone Number:

0462 – 233 9910

Temple Address:

Sri Nellaiappar Temple
Tirunelveli District
PIN 627006


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