Author Topic: This God doesn't have shape - Avudayar Koil Temple, Aranthangi, India  (Read 25991 times)


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Note : Avudyar Koil is a very ancient Temple associated with Saint Manickavachagar and being in Tamil Nadu I have never visited it and I intend to visit it in due course . Unlike the other popular Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu this is not so much popular as this is not a Parihara Sthalam ( i.e place for doing pujas and rituals for our own benefit ) .This temple is very unique and is different from the Other Shiva Temples and So I am using this thread to first educate myself as well as others about this temple . Those who have visited this temple and have any specific info about this temple can also share the same here .

This God doesn't have shape - Avudayar Koil Temple, Aranthangi, India

 Avudayar Koil temple is one of the oldest temples in Tamil Nadu state, South India. Avudayar Koil temple is located in the small town named Audayaurkoil, which is around 14 kms from Aranthangi city of Pudhukkottai district in Tamil Nadu state, India. The town was called as Thiruperunthurai in ancient times. The temple is the only attraction of the town, and it attracts hundreds of devotees and tourists daily. Avudayar Koil temple (the word "Koil" means "temple" in Tamil language) is attractive not only due to spiritual reasons, but also due to its architecture and sculpture. It is because of this temple, the entire Avudayarkoil town has been declared as 'heritage town' by the government.

Even thought the temple is famously referred as Avudayar Koil, the name of the temple is Athmanatha Swamy Temple. The original temple is believed to be built by Manikavasagar in the 8th century AD. It is evident that the temple has been extended in the later years. Manikavasagar was one of the four important Tamil saints of Saivism (Lord Shiva worship) out of 63 Nayanmars (63 important saints of Shiva). You can find the idols of all 63 saints in most of the Shiva temples in South India. You can find four saints among 63 saints in separate shrines or in a higher platform in some temples. Manikavasagar is one of those four important Nayanmars. Avudayar Koil temple story is connected to the history of saint Manikavasagar.

The King Arimardhana Pandian asked his minister Thiruvadhavoorar to buy horses and gave him money. The minister came to a place named Perunthurai to buy horses. However, he was impressed by a Ved "paatsaala". Ultimately, he attained "Gnana" (the ultimate knowledge) here, and he used the money to buy horses to build this temple. Initially, only a platform like thing was built and offering of rice was kept on the platform. The steam was considered as God (Shiva) for him. It is the same platform which still present inside the shrine and the same rituals are still followed. In the later years, Pandia kings extended the temple with beautiful sculptures and pillars. The minister Thiruvadhavoorar thus became a great devoteed of Lord Shiva, and got the name Manikavasagar. He wrote the famous "Thiruvasagam" in Avudayaur Koil temple.

The main deity of the temple Athmanatha Swamy (a name of Lord Shiva) doesn't have any image or figure. There is just a platform in the main shrine. This is a unique feature of this temple. Another unique feature of this temple is that you cannot find Nandi, Dwajasthamba, and Chandikeswarar, which are commonly found in all South Indian ancient Shiva temples. The main goddess of the temple, Yogambal, has a separate shrine. Again, there is no idol for the goddess. You can only find Paadam (foot print) in the shrine. There is a small idol of goddess located outside the main shrine.

As you enter the main temple, you can find small Pillayar (Ganesha) idol to your left. Next to that, there is a big shrines for the saint Manikavasagar. There are ancient paintings found surrounding this shrine. Also, there are very beautiful sculptures of Narasimha, Kaali, Ganesha, Subramanya, and others. There are also big life size scultpures such as Veerabhadra, Yatcha, Daksha, and others. All these sculptures are very beautiful and have uniqueness. Once you enter into the temple, there is a small mandapa full of scultpures. There are sculptures that are associated with the temple such as God making foxes as horses when the King was asking the minister for horses, and making the horses back to foxes. You can also find the idols of Arimardhana Pandian, Manikavasagar, and others.

If you enter further into the temple, there is another Manikavasagar shrine surrouded by ancient paintings. There are many pillars with beautiful sculptures. On the ceiling, you can find Pancha Bhoothas. The main shrine of Athmanatha Swamy doesn't have an idol, as described earlier. The corridor (prakara) surrounding the Athmanatha Swamy shrine has the idols of Chokka Vinayaka, Manikavasagar, Nataraj, Bikshandar, Kali, Veerabhadra, etc. I have already mentioned about the shrine of goddess Yogambal. There is a tree (Kurutha tree - Sthala vruksham) where the idols of Shiva teaching Manikavasagar is found. There is a small shrine for Nataraj with Sivakami, and another shrine for Lord Muruga. The outer prakara has idols of Lord Ganesha in all the corners. You can also find the temple tank in the outer corridor. The idols of Muthu Vinayaka and Muneeswaran are also found there.

All over the temple, you can find a lot of meaningful sculptures. There is no separate shrine or idols for Navagrahas (nine planets) similar to other temples. They are found only in the pillars. The 27 stars have figures in this temple. There is a saptha swara pillar (musical pillar). The stone chain is a famous sculpture in this temple. There are a lot to explore in this temple, which cannot be explained in detail in this post. Visit the temple to get your own experience.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Athmanathaswamy Temple aka Avudayarkoil Temple
Site Type: Ancient temple, architecture, sculpture
1) One of the oldest temples in Tamil Nadu state, India; built in 8th century AD; 1200 years old
2) The main deities do not have image/shape
3) Built by the famous saint Manikavasagar
4) Life size beautiful sculptures

Location: Avudayar Koil, 14 kms from Aranthangi, Pudhukottai district, Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Aranthangi
Nearest Airport: Trichy (around 100 kms)
How to reach: Take a bus or taxi from Aranthangi
Hotel: Only budget hotels are available that too in the nearby town Aranthangi
Restaurants: It's difficult to find good restaurants
« Last Edit: September 10, 2014, 05:13:17 PM by atmavichar100 »
However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them? - Buddha


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Re: This God doesn't have shape - Avudayar Koil Temple, Aranthangi, India
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2014, 05:02:42 PM »
Some pics of Avudyar Kovil

However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them? - Buddha


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Re: This God doesn't have shape - Avudayar Koil Temple, Aranthangi, India
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2014, 05:05:51 PM »
Avudayar Koil ? The formless ultimate god


    The original shrine was established by Saint Manickavasagar.
    More than 1200 years old based on the predictions of Manickavasagar?s period and south facing temple which is a rare kind in Siva temples.
    This temple was called Tiruperundurai, Sathurvedhimangalam and Sivapuram
    This temple is full of sculptures with minute details and perfect chiseling. Some of the sculptures are Tundi Vinayagar, stone chains, two pillars with thousand legs, 1008 sivalayas god and goddess sculptures, horse sculptures are world-famous.
    The larger than life monolith figures of Agni and Agora Veerabadras at the entrance and Kaalidevi, Subrahmanya with bow, Bikshadanar, Sankaranarayanar, Urdhuvathandavar, Pasupatheeswarar and Narasimhamurthy are note worthy.
    Two other sculptures of "Kuravan and Kurathi" exhibits the excellence of the artists for minute details from toe to hair style.
    Avudayarkoil- Sabthaswara pillars
    Avudayarkoil-Saint sculpture
    The most awe inspiring work is seen insides of the Canopy and Sun shades known as "Kodungai" which stretches all around the Mandapams. The rafters, tiles, padding with hinges and decorative nails chiseled out of stone looks as though they were done in wood and iron. All over the ceilings are decorated with flowery patterns and stone chain links.
    Tiyagaraja mandapam of this temple has stone chain and Panjatsara mandapam has Sabthaswara pillars.
    Thiruvasakam was originated from this shrine.
    These is no Lingam  in the sanctum. Instead it only has the base, formlessness(Avudayar), which has a metal cover placed on it. This represents formlessness, the absolute ultimate..
    This temple does not have a Nandhi, Dwajasthambam and Navagraha statues. Instead, Navagrahas are represented as pillars.
    Utsavamurti of the temple is Manikkavasakar.
    ?Pittukku mann summantha kadhai?(Tiruvilaiyadal puranam) was happened in this location.
    Pradosam is not celebrated in this temple.
    Brahma was taught the Gayatri Mantra here by Atmanathar. Hence this place is also called Chaturvedapuram.

Special Prayers:

    It is believed that people pray here get blessed to be very intellectual.
    Avudaayakoil - Ceilings
    Also people pray for child boon, business and career advancements.


    God:     Athmanathar
    Goddess: Yogambal


    All the festivals are celebrated only for Manikkavasakar.
    Tirumanjanam on Tamil month Aani
    Tiruvadirai on Tamil month Margazhi


    Avudayakoil, Pudukottai District, Tamilnadu, INDIA.
    45 Kilometres from Pudukottai; 14 Kilometres from Aranthangi.

Temple Timings:

    6AM-12PM; 4PM-9PM.

Nearby Attractions:

However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them? - Buddha


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Re: This God doesn't have shape - Avudayar Koil Temple, Aranthangi, India
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2014, 05:32:59 PM »

Athmananda Swamy Temple

Also known as:Thiruperunthurai Temple, Avudaiyar koil, Audayar Kovil


Avudaiyar Koil (temple)  also known as Athmananda Swamy Temple and Thiruperunthurai temple, is 50 kms from the town of Pudukkottai, a place that resounds with kings and traitors, history and bravery and art, music, culture and spirituality.. The reigning deity of the temple is Athmananda Swamy, but the temple is Avudaiyar Koil. Avudaiyar Koil is one among the 275 ?Paadal Petra Sthalams? or shrines that feature in songs sung by great saints and musicians.


Unusually in this Shiva temple, there is no lingam in the sanctum sanctorum. Avudaiyar Koil has been embellished with beautiful sculpture and art work as a result of which the town of Avudayarkoil has been declared as a ?heritage town? by the government. 


Avudaiyar Koil is the temple of Athmanandaswamy. This holy place has an honoured place in the history of Shaivism. In inscriptions, this temple is known famously as Thiruperundurai (the biggest harbor) and is intimately associated with the Saint Manikavachagar, the great poet whose work ?Thiruvasagam? or sayings is an important religious, spiritual and social commentary in Tamizh language..


Inscriptions found in this temple describe it as a chaturvedi mangalam denoting the fact that it was the home of great scholars, who were masters of all the four Vedas, the holy scriptures of Hindus.


Avudaiyar Koil?s mandapams (hallways) are decorated with breathtaking sculptures. The granite roofs are assembled and are marvelous pieces of construction. Avudayar Koil is famous for the art of Kodungai carving, the work done under the stone that forms the sun shade or overhang of the roof. It usually sits on top of the beam stone and is a superb example of the craft of the 9th century artisans. There is a popular story that states that any contract written for all subsequent temples specifically exclude the structure of Athmanandha Swamy?s Avudaiyar Koil from being replicated. Sculptors from these parts consider the sculptures of this temple as a benchmark in carving.   


The shrine of the dancing Lord Ganesha - Nardhana Vinayakar - is designed in such a way that the rays of the sun fall on the Lord throughout the year! Other masterpieces in carvings are the ones of Goddess Kali and the saint himself, Manikavachagar. The larger monolith figures of Agni, fire god and Agora Veerabadra (the doorkeepers) at the entrance are stunning.


The offering of the ?naivedyam? or prasad is also unique in Avudaiyar Koil. On a platform in front of the Avudaiyar, the priest spreads hot boiled rice, greens and bitter gourd without salt. The steam that rises from these is the offering to the Lord.

The striking granite sculptures in the Avudaiyar Koil temple are the many carvings, stone chains and the pillars of the mandapam. There are stone inscriptions that record one of the temple?s consecrations as 1891 CE. The chariot car of this temple is renowned for its wood carvings.

Later periods of the temple?s history can be identified by the finest examples of the early Chola style of sculptures. An architectural description of the 27 constellations and stories presented in a line of fresco paintings is beautiful.

Avudaiyar Koil?s highlights are the Kuravan and Kurathi. The figures are examples of the attention to intricate details shown by the sculptors. The minute details from the toe nails to the hairstyles with every strand of hair delineated, to the veins and bones of the body lovingly recreated makes the visitor wonder at the dedication of the sculptors of that era.

when to go?

Operating Hours: Mon-Sun : 06:30 AM - 12:30 PM, 04:00 PM - 08:30 PM
what should you know?
Contact Information:Ph.: Office: (04371) 233301 Raman - 9894731606 Guide Janakiraman - 9159854014 Guide Manickam - 9159853680
Address:Aranthangi, Sivaganga district, Tamil Nadu.

However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them? - Buddha