Kutralam is a popular tourist resort in Southern Tamil Nadu known for its waterfalls, amidst picturesque surroundings - and is a source of inspiration of many a literary work. Thousands visit this town when the waterfalls are in season. Kutralam represents one of the 5 Pancha Sabhas of Nataraja - Chitra Sabhai. The five dance halls of Shiva are Chidambaram, Madurai, Tiruvalankadu, Tirunelveli and Kutralam. Kutralam is also known as Trikootaachalam.
The sage Agastyar, at Shiva's request, proceeded southward to stabilize the balance of the earth, and relieve the instability caused by the multitude of entities at Shiva's and Parvati's wedding in the Himalayas, to wait for a glimpse of the divine couple. There he is said to have created the Shivalingam here by shrinking an image of Vishnu, hence the name Kutralam.
The temple has a conch shaped temple(prakaram(closed precincts of a temple)) plan and is referred to as Sangakkovil. In the shrine, Shiva showed himself as Bhrama and Vishnu. The presiding deity lord Shiva is called as Kuttralanathar and the Ambal his consort mother Parvathy is called as Kuzhalvoi Mozhiammai. The Tirikootamandapam here is the site of festivities here.Parvati's shrine is also of significance here and is regarded as one of the 64 Shakti Peethams. The Chitra Sabhai or the hall of pictures is located in a picturesque locale away from the main temple. Architecturally the Chitrasabha resembles that of the other Nataraja Sabhas elsewhere in Tamil Nadu, and its interior is decked with hundreds of murals, depicting images from the Indian epics. Natarajar is brought here during festivals from the Kurumpalaveesar temple. The sthala vriksham is Kurum Palaa and the Theertham is Chitranadhi. Nataraja is sported with Nritya Thandavam posture.
Poems on this temple
Tirikootaraasappakavirayar's well known work Kutrala Kuravanji glorifies this shrine. Kurumpalaveesar, sung in Tevaram was done by Sambandar. It is one of the shrines of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams.
Arudra Darisanam is celebrated in the Chitrasabha, and the Taandava Deepa Aradhanai carried out then is of significance here. In the annual festival Shiva appears as Bhrama, Vishnu, Rudra, Eswara, Sadasiva and Subramanya. Other festivals celebrated here are Vasanta Utsavam in Chittirai, Pavitrotsavam in Kartikai, Navaratri, Skanda Sashti, Chittirai Vishu and Aippasi Vishu. The ivory chariot used in processions is of great beauty.
This temple is located roughly 5 km from Tenkasi. Tenkasi is connected with other parts of Tamil Nadu both by road and Train. Tenkasi can easily be reached by bus from Madurai and Tirunelveli. Bus services from Tenkasi to Courtalam are available. From Kerala through Punalur we can reach Courtalam.