Thiruparankundram Murugan temple
On the outskirts of Madurai, roughly eight kilometers from the city lies one of the most prominent religious shrines India, Thiruparankundram Murugan. It is among the six abodes of Lord Murugan, called Arupadaiveedu as a whole.
The temple is believed to be built by the Pandyas during the eighth century by a single mountain carving out the rocks, which add to its overall magnetism.
According to the story, it is where Murugan married Deivayanai, the princess of heaven and the divine daughter of Lord Indra after slaying the demon king Surapadman.
This is why this temple is considered one of the most promising places for marriages. It is believed that the couples married here, lead a happy and prosperous married life as the blessings of Lord Muruga shower them.
A striking feature that makes this temple one of a kind is that it is visited not only by Hindu devotees but also by those with different religious faiths. The shrine of Sekunder also lies within the temple. Many legends associate the shrine to Lord Murugan. It is popularly believed that Sekunder was one of Muruga’s friends.
History Behind the Temple
During the 8th century AD, Pandya rulers laid a temple which followed rock-cut design. The temple’s worship history may go well into the past, even before Hinduism.
Later on, during the reign of Nayaks of Madurai (From 1559 to 1736 AD), the temple was renovated with beautiful gopurams as well as some beautification. Extensive and marvelous Mukha mandapam complete with 48 ornate pillars carved during the rule of Pandya and Nayaks was also built.
Many stories are associated with this mountain. The hill is also considered to be the “Southern Himalaya” where the gods assemble as per popular beliefs.
The impossible architecture
The Thiruparankundram Murugan is a cave temple which is located upon a hillock that was built in the early sixth century by a king named Maravarman Sundara Pandiyan.
The Temple was built on a rock-cut architecture, which backs to the reign of Pandyas in the 6th century and is full of life-sized sculptures in the mandapas of the Nayaka period from the 16th century. The Aasthaana Mandapa, with several artistically carved pillars, leads one to the large 150 feet high seven-storied raja gopuram at the entrance.
The Kambathadi, Ardha, and Maha Mandapams and the three halls leading to the sanctum, are situated at various heights. The main shrine is a humongous slab of rock that has cells to house the sanctums of Subramanya, Durga, Vinayakar, Shiva, and Vishnu. All the statues are carved on the wall of the parankundram rock.
An interesting yet perplexing feature of this Temple is that the Gods, Shiva, and Vishnu face each other in the main shrine, which is something rare ancient Hindu temples. This is baffling as Hinduism has always been divided among two distinct worshiping groups – Shaivites (worshippers of Lord Shiva) and Vaishnavites (one’s who worship Lord Vishnu). Outside the Temple there lies a beautiful pond where, according to Temple tradition, devotees feed fishes salt and rice flakes. There is also a Vedic school adjacent to the banks of the temple pond. In front of the Dwajasthambam, the flagstaff, there is a carved Nandi(Shiva’s ride), Mayil (peacock), and Mushak (Ganesha’s carrier). There is a flight of six steps called the “Shadashara Padigal”, before Ardha Mandapam. There are intricate carvings of gods at the entrance of the Temple.
The presiding deity of Murugan’s father, Lord Shiva, also known as Parangirinathar and the female deity, his consort mother Parvati is known as Aavudai Nayaki, are craved in the parankunram rock. Slide’s depicting Shiva’s dance of bliss, the Shiva Tandava, are seen outside the sanctum. These magnificent pieces of art date back to the Pandya
Going inside, one can see the sannidhis of various Hindu Gods and Hindu Goddesses.
This Temple not only attracts devotees for its religious significance but also enthralls visitors with its architectural beauty.
Story Behind the temple
This is well followed by mythology as it states Lord Murugan was offered the wedlock of Deivayani, daughter of Indra as a reward of gratitude since Murugan had defeated the Demon King and successfully released the Devas from the clutches of bondage. The marriage took place in Thiruparankundram, which was attended by many, including the Sun and Moon. Afterward, Lord Murugan attained the blessings of his parents Siva and Parvathi.
The divine sculptor, Viswakarma, was hired to erect this abode for the permanent worship of all the deities. This is the only shrine you can see Lord Murugan with his senior consort Deivayani, whereas in all other abodes, both his consorts – Deivayani and Valli are seen along with him. As this is the venue of Lord Murugan’s wedding, it is considered auspicious for weddings, and hundreds of thousands of marriages for generations are taking place here.
According to another tale, King Harichandra, who worshipped Shiva from this hillock, gained eternal wisdom. Later on, he built a temple here.
There are many stories associated with this mountain. Thus, the hill is considered to be the “Southern Himalaya” where the gods assemble. There is also story that this is the place where Sun and Moon take a rest.
On backside of Thiruparankundram hill-top, there is a Muslim Dargah of Hazrat Sulthan Sikhandar Badusha, who came from Jeddah in the 9th century. This is quite rare to see two religions of different ideologies but same goal, peace, to prosper together within the precint of the temple. But this is the beauty of Thiruparankundram.