Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Koodal Azhagar Temple/ Koodal Azhagar Koil is situated in the heart of Madurai city. In Tamil language, Koodal stands for Madurai while Azhagar means ‘beautiful one’. This ancient temple of Madurai is located quite close to Meenakshi Amman Temple. A popular pilgrimage and an intricate part of Madurai tour, this temple is considered to be one of the 108 Lord Vishnu’s holy abodes (divyadesams).
This temple attracts devotees with its impressive architecture as well. The five-tiered rajagopuram which is the gateway is one of the most attractive features of this temple. The temple and all its shrines are surrounded by granite walls. The main shrine of the temple has the idol of main deity Koodal Azhagar. There is shrine of Goddess Madhuravalli who is the consort of Koodal Azhagar towards the south. Along with this, there are many small shrines of other God and Goddesses such as Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Narayana.
Koodal Azhagar Temple History, Madurai
This temple was initially built during Pandya reign, while the pillars and shrine were developed later during Vijayanagar dynasty and the rule of Madurai Nayak kings.
The history of this temple can be traced back to Sangam Period. One can find mention of Koodal Azhagar Koil in Paripadal and Silappadikaram. Many poets from Sangam period have praised the presiding deity of this temple with the name of Thuvarikoman and Koodal Alagar.
Inscriptions in the temple describe the huge amount of gifts and donations this shrine used to receive for various constructions during various rules. For instance, during Madurai Nayaks rue in 16th century Dwajasthambam madap was built. Some parts of the temple were renovated even during 1920 and now it is under the maintenance of Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
During Pandyan regime also, Avani Onam festival dedicated to Lord Koodal Alagar used to be celebrated for a span of seven days. There are many other mentions of the Lord and the temple associated with this temple in ancient poems of Sangam period during 3rd Century in works such as Madurai Kanchi by Mangudi Marudan, Kaliththokai, Paripāṭal and Silappatikaram.
Legend of Koodal Azhagar Temple, Madurai
There are mentions of Koodal Alagar in Brahmanda Purana in its seven chapters. It is also said that the great King Prithu, Malaydioaja had worshipped Sri Koodal Alagar. As a result of which, Lord blessed them with opulence along with attainment of moksha.
According to a legend, Vishnuchitha who is considered to the foremost among the twelve Alwars, mystical saints, who used to praise lord Vishnu presence in temple in their poems. Vishnuchitha was known for quoting from vedic texts and his arguments on the sovereignty of Lord Narayana. Once he was invited to Madurai at the Pandya King court where he established the greatness of lord throughout his convincing arguments, after which a miracle happened which even made the King celebrate his divine victory. During the victory procession which was led by the King himself and many vedic saints, Sri Koodal Alagar appeared and blessed Vishnuchitha, who then sung Thirupallandu in the Lord’s praise and offered Mangalasasanam. Even today, Thirupallandu is chanted in the temples.
Timings of Koodal Azhagar Temple, Madurai
Darshan timings at Koodal Azhagar temple are from 5.30 PM to 12 Pm in morning. In evening it opens from 4 PM to 9 PM.
Devotees visit this temple throughout the year. However temple’s charm increases during festivals such as Car festival and float festival. Float festival, which is a 10 day long festival celebrated, is one of the best time to visit. Garuda Seva, Celestial Wedding Festival, Adyayana utsava, Navarathri festival, Vasantha Utsava, etc. are a few other small festivals that are celebrated here.
Reaching Koodal Azhagar Temple, Madurai
Koodal Azhagar Temple enjoys a good location as well. Located in the centre of the city, it is quite close to central bus stand and Madurai railway station. It is easily accessible via various modes of public transports such as buses, auto rickshaws and taxis.