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Kumarakoil or Kumarakovil (Tamil:குமாரகோவில்) is a small village in Kanyakumari district. Here is the famous Subrahmanya (Muruga) Temple by the name of "Velimalai Kumaraswamy Temple'. The temple was built on a hill named 'Velimalai'. Lord Muruga and his consort Goddess Valli are the main deities. It is believed that they married here. It is built on a rocky terrain about 200 feet in height. The rock cut temple with stone carvings is a splendid structure. A large water body is seen in the surrounding. Majority of the devotees are from Kerala state. A police party and band from Kerala state is present on certain celebrations of this grand temple. Many children get their first feed (choor\Oonu kodupu) in this temple. There is a shed for holy animals- cow, bull, peacock in the temple courtyard. Kuramakoil is one of the holiest places for Hindus. It is about 34 kilometers from Kanyakumari and around 50 km from Trivandrum airport. Around 5 kilometers from Thakkallay (thucalay) town bus stand, many buses are available to Kumarakovil. A new landmark nearby is the Noorul Islam University.
Kumarakovil, the Murugan Temple
Kumarakoil is one of the important and renowned among the Murugan temples in the district of Kanyakumari Tamil Nadu. It is located near Thuckalay, 15 km from Nagercoil. Kumara Koil, also called "Kumara Shethram" and "Subramania Sthala" in Malayalam language, and "Thiruveragam" in ancient Tamil scripts is at the foot hills of the Velimalai Hills also known as "Velvi Malai", and Merkada malai means the southern end of the western ghats. Prior to 1950, Kanyakumari District was first with Chera Kingdom (Chera Nadu) and later with Trivancore samasthanam (province) and then with present-day Kerala State. During Tamil Sangam period, Kumara Koil was known as Thiruveragam as evidenced from Thirumurugattupadai, the sangam literature written by poet Nakkeerar. The name of the temple has changed since Tamil Sangam period, under the successive rulers of the area. Thus, Kumara koil is also known as Thiruveragam (Thiru Earagam), Malai Nattu Oru Thiruppathi, Subramania Sthala, Kumara Shethra etc.
The temple is built on the foot hills of Veli Malai where, according to legends, Lord Muruga enacted a drama to win the heart of Valli the divine child found in the hillock by Nambi Arasan, a chieftain ruled over the place with Thirukurangudi (Valliyoor) as his capital. The temple faces east and can be reached by a flight of thirty eight steps. Beyond the comparatively small but beautiful rajagopuram, Veerabagu and Veeramagendra stand guard of the Lord. The statue of Muruga in the Moolasthanam is in standing posture. It is eight feet eight inches height in varadha hastham. The height of the statue of Valli amman is to the left side of the Lord in standing porture and is six feet two inches height. Apart from Valli sametha Murugan sannithanam (temple), sannithanams are dedicated to Lord Shiva (Mahadevar), Parvathy (Shivakami Ammai), Kalyana Vinayagar, Shree Dharma Sastha, Ilaya Naynar (Child Murugan), and Arumuga Nayinar (Brahmachari Murugan). A Sannithanam has been dedicated to Dhakshan. This is considered to be a unique feature. This may be perhaps Dhaksha Prajapathi, one of the first creations of Lord Brahma and father in law of Lord Shiva might have attended the divine marriage of Lord Muruga in his capacity as maternal grandfather. The sacred tree (sthala virusham) is Vengai Tree. The tree has died long ago and the trunk could be found now in a separate enclosure. The Theppakulam (sacred lake) where the devotees take bath before darshan (oblation) of the Lord, bears fresh stream water sourced from the hill top, all the time. There are separate enclosures for the sacred cows, bulls, pecock etc., in the temple enclosure. Devotees feed them and also the fish in the theppakulam. Anna Thanam (feeding poor people) is being done on a daily basis. It is believed auspicious to feed the first feed to the children in the precincts of the Lord. Marriages, ear boring ceremonies etc., are held there and offering like head trouncing, Palkudam, Kavadi etc., are being fulfilled there by devotees.
During Navarathri Pooja, Annai Adi Parasakthi (the divine mother of Lord Muruga) leave Sushintharam temple situate in Nagercoil, and perform a yatra in Pallakku to Trivandrum, the headquarters of the Kerala State, to participate in the Navarathiri Pooja celebrations at the Devi Koil in the vicinity of the Trivandrum Palace. Lord Muruga from Kumarakoil also accompany Annai in a procession, riding a horse. This practice has been in vogue since 1840 when the rulers of the erstwhile Trivancore Samasthanam (province) changed their headquarters from Padmanabhapuram in Thuckalay to Trivandrum. This practice exemplifies the strong connection between the erstwhile Malai Nattu (kerala) rulers and Kumarakoil.
In the history of the temple written by Shri Annalar Adigal, it is stated that, the present day Kerala was known as Malai Nadu. The present day Veli malai was known as Velvi malai. Before that it was known as Merkadamalai, means last part of the western ghats. As an evidence, he refers to a stone carving found in Thirunanthikarai, about ten miles from Kumarakoil wherein it reads ‘Rajaathitha Thevan Perumpadai Nayagar Malai Nattu Nanthikarai Puthur’ and another stone carving found at Thiruvithangode, reads “Malaimandalathu Ravivarmaraya Kulasekaraperuman peruntheruvil chetti Velayuthaperuman” These evidences conform to the assertion of Nachinarkiniyar that Earagam is Malai Nattu Oru Thirupathi
Velimalai is the southern tip of western ghats and Kumarakoil is in the foothills of Velimalai There are ample evidence to show Kumarakoil is the Earagam referred to in Silappathigaram. The places connected with Valli viz, Thirukurangudi and Valliyoor, the capital from where Nambirajan the step father (valarpu thanthai) ruled over the place, Nambiyaru, Nambi Thalaivan pattayam, Valli Aaru (river), Valli Kalyana Mandapam in the hill top, Valli Kugai koil (cave temple) in the hill top, Valli Thinaipunam, Valli Cholai (ravine), Vatta Cholai, Kilavan Cholai, (connected with the disguised form as an old man enacted by Lord Muruga), Valli Chunai (small water body) the sacred place where Valli used to take bath, Uravar Padukalam, connected with the war waged by the relatives of Valli against Lord Muruga, the Vengai tree, the disguised form of Lord Muruga etc., in and around Veli Malai are evidences that conforms to the story of the marriage of Lord Muruga with Valli at Valli Malai. The Valli marriage function is being re-enacted every year in the Tamil month of Painkuni (March–April). There is a temple dedicated to Nambirajan in the hill top of Thirukurangudi the then capital of the chieftain. After the birth of Valli, the name of the place was changed as Valliyur. In the thala varalaru (history of the temple), written by Shri Annalar Adigal, it has been mentioned that when Valli was found abandoned in the Velvi Malai by Nambirajan, his capital was Valliyur (Thirukurankudi). Later he changed his capital to ‘Thenkattur’ near Velvi malai and Valli was brought up there.
References in Legends
Legends have it that Lord Muruga is the cosmic son of Lord Shiva, created by Shivas third eye. He was created to destroy three demon brothers (Asuras) Soorapathuman, Singamugasuran and Tharakasuran who were a source of misery to the Devas (devine people). The annihilation of the demons by Lord Muruga at Thiruchendur is still being enacted there every year and in almost every temple dedicated to Lord Muruga world over. The celebration is known as “Soora Samharam”. Ancient scripts refers to only four Padai veedu. Padai means army (here divine powers) and veedu means one’s own dwelling (here temple). They are, Thrucheeralaivai (Thiruchendur), Thiruvavinamkudi (Palani malai), Thruvoragam (Kumara Koil) and Kuntuthoradal (all mountain temples dedicated to Lord Muruga). According to Hindu belief, Lord Muruga is living in all the mountains, and where there is abundant beauty, there lives Lord Muruga. The Padaiveedu or the most sacred places connected with the sacred deeds of the Lord is described in sangam literature Thirumurukatrupadai (written by Nakkeerar) and in Thirupugal. Avvaiyar and Agastya have also composed many songs on the different forms of Muruga seen in the six abodes.
Lord Muruga have two consorts, Devanai and Valli. Legends have it that these two are sisters and after prolonged penance they were destined to marry Lord Muruga. Devanai the first consort was married at Thiruparankuntrum near Madurai after Soora Samharam at Tiruchendur. There in the temple dedicated to Lord Muruga, the Lord is with Devanai alone. Valli the second consort of the Lord was married at Velimalai or Velvi Malai. This was Love marriage (Kantharva Kalyanam). Therefore, Devanai did not attend the marriage celebrations. As such, the goddess Valli alone is with Subramania in the holey temple dedicated to Lord Muruga at Kumarakoil. Therefore, it is natural that the two marriage places are within the ambit of the Padai Veedu of Lord Muruga. The history of the temple is available in book form. The history written by Annalar Adigal refers to many evidences including stone carvings. Kumara Koil is a religious important place for the Hindus, especially people from Kerala and Tamil Nadu State. During the Tamil month of Masi, countless devotees from Kerala come to worship the Bhagavathi Amman at Mandaikadu and Lord Subramania at Kumara Shethram.
References in Literature
The temple is considered to be one of the "Padai veedu" (the places where the Lord showered devine powers) of Lord Muruga. The sangam literature "Thirumurugattu Padai" written by poet Nakkeerar refers to the place unique in the sense that the devotees there wear only wet clothes only in the lower part of their body and enter the temple in the early morning with flowers to have oblation. This unique feature of worship is being followed there at Kumaran Koil till date. Prof. N.K. Mangala Murugesan in his book “Muruganin Arupadai veedugal” write, As per Thirumurugattupadai, in Earagthu Murugan temple, the Brahmins who observed a bharamacharya viradha for forty eight years sang veda mantras and the Aruchagas wearing wet lower garments and saying the six letter manthra (ohm saravanabhava) performed archanas. This practice is in vogue in Kumara shetram even now. On this basis, Earagam is Kumara shethram or Subramania Sthala besides the western ghats.
The Tamil epic "Silappathykaram" written by Illangovadigal refers four shetras (temples) as Padai veedu of Lord Muruga. Silappathikaram Vanji Kandam refers to,-“seerkezhu Senthilum, Sengodum, Venkuntum, Eragamum Neenga Eraivankai Vel …..” These are perhaps Thruchendur, Palani, Thirupparankuntam, Kumarakoil (Thiruveragam) situate in present-day Madurai, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari Districts. Some say that venguntu is Swamimalai. How it could be that scholars like Elangovadigal omit the place at which murugan married Deivanai, that too very near to the city of Madurai which is the theme centre of Silappathikaram. After burning Madurai, Kannagi went alongside Vaigai river and reached Western ghats. There, the people saw Kannagi and enquired about her. They exclaimed that you are like our Valli, but you are in distress. Who are you? Mangala Devi Koil dedicated to Kannagi by the Madurai King Cheran Chenguttuvan is in the Mangaladevi mountains alongside Periyaru river. This enhance the belief that Valli was brought up in western ghats.
Nachinarkuenier who had written meaning (arumpathavurai) for the poetry Thirumurugattupadai asserted that Earagam is ‘Malai Nattu Oru Thiruppathi’. Malai Nadu means Cheralam now known as Kerala. Veli Malai was part of Travancore Samasthanam in olden days. The place was part of Cherala Nadu when Silapathigaram was written. After Independence too this place was part of the present Kerala State. After a prolonged agitation under the leadership of great leaders like Nesamani Nadar, Ponnappa Nadar etc., the taluks of Thovalai, Agastheeswaram, Kalkulam, Vilavancode, and half of Neyyatinkarai were ceded to Tamil Nadu. In the intermittent period, when Earagam was with Cheralam, the scholars like Arunagirinathar ( 15th century) a staunch devotee of Lord Muruga was probably interested in creating one of the padai veedu in the vicinity of Kumbakonam, one of the temple cities in Tamil Nadu. In the belief that the people of Tamil Nadu had lost track of Thiruveragam, one of the Padai Veedu referred to in ancient scriptures, he had written that Earagam is Swami Malai, without considering the fact that Illangovadigal, lived thousands of years before him had written that Earagam is in Chera Nadu. Swami malai is in erstwhile Chola Nadu. The temple dedicated to Lord Muruga there is in the top of a man made hillock and the existing landmarks and practice referred to about Earagam in Thirumurugattupadai is lacking there.
Puranas refers to land mass, mountains and rivers beyond the present day Kanyakumari. As per Vishnu purana, the southern tip of Bharatavarsha was known as Kumarika. Beyond the boundaries of Bharatavarsha lived the disbelievers (that is, those who disbelieve in the Vedas). Vishnu Purana further says ‘Godavari, Bheemrati and Krishnaveli rivers rise from Sahaya Mountains. Kritmala and Tamraparni rivers rise from Malayachal. Trisama and Aryakulya rivers rise from Mahendragiri. Rishikulya and Kumari rivers rise from Shuktiman Mountain. All these rivers have scores of other branches and tributaries.’ There are references to rivers running from Mahendragiri mountains situate in the present day Tirunelveli-Kanyakumari Districts. According to Puranas, Veera Mahendragiri was the citadel of the Asuras. The Asura Loga Chirpi (divine architect) Mayan has constructed a city for the Asuras there. The three Asuras, whom Lord Muruga annihilated at Tiruchendur ruled over the place from Mahendragiri. The rivers referred to in the Puranas are not there now, and might have dried out. There are references to Shaktiman ranges of mountains and rivers including Kumari river originating from them. These ranges and rivers are extinct and it might have been part of the Kumari Kandam where the first two Tamil sangams (the congregation of Tamil poets) were reportedly held. Kumari Kandam was inundated probably by prayalaya (tsunami). Present day Tamaraparani river running through the city of Tirunelveli is referred to in the Puranas. It is said to have originated from the Malayachal ranges. Therefore, Malayachal ranges are nothing but the southern tip of western ghats. Inference could be made that the words Malayan, Malayalam, Malai Nadu, etc., could have been sourced from the purana words Malaya, and Malayachal.
Inference is being made by some people[who?] that Valli kalyanam was performed at Tiruttani. Valli kalyanam is love marriage (kantharva kalyanam) and Devanai did not attend it. In Tiruttani, Muruga peruman is alone and his two consorts are in separate sannithanams. Kantha puranam lines read as “venki uritha paramparan ma magan vengai uru kolave” meaning, the great son of Lord Shiva disguised as Vengai tree. Therefore, Vengai tree is inseparable part of Valli Kalyanam (marriage). This evidence is present in Kumarakoil. Those being enough evidence to prove that the Kantharva kalyanam of Lord Muruga with Valli did take place at Kumara Koil. Enough evidence is available to show that Valli was born and brought up at Veli Malai where Kumarakoil situate. It is the Tamil tradition that the marriage ceremony is celebrated at the brides place and the bride, after marriage shall go and live with the grooms family. Veli Malai, or Velvi Malai or Thenkadu or Earagam is Valli’s place and therefore as per tradition, after the divine marriage, Valli amman and Lord Muruga would have moved to another place, probably Tiruttani, and settled there in disharmony with Devani, the first consort of the Lord, who was angry on hearing the news about the marriage of Muruga with Valli. Therefore, the two consorts are in two different sannithanams at Thiruttani. Later they sorted out their differences when it was revealed that they were sisters in their previous birth, and both are destined to marry the Lord as a reward for their severe penance, and lived in harmony.
Kumarakoil could be reached by road from Nagercoil (15 km) and Thuckalay (3 km), Trivandrum (45 km). Bus facilities are available. The whole place is filled with lush green paddy fields, banana gardens, coconut trees with the mountain in the background, natural beauty, a feast to the eyes.
Sangam literature Thirumurugattupadai written by poet Nakkeerar. ‘Velimalai Kumarakoil Thala Varalaru’ written by Shri Annalar Adigal. Vishnu Purana. Kantha Puranam in Tamil language