It is my pleasure and privilege to describe this divya dEsam. “Beautiful” is a very mild word to describe the sannidhi of Sri Adi kEsava perumAL here. Although located in the state of Tamil nAdu, this is one of the malai nAdu Divya dEsams and follows the keraLA protocol of worship and rituals. The idol of Sri PerumAL lying resplendently on Adi sEshan is 22 feet in length – the biggest among all Divya dEsams where Sri PerumAL is in a reclining posture. There are three entrances to the sannidhis to facilitate the devotees’ vision of the entire thirumEni of the Lord.
Location and Access:
ThiruvattAru is located near the town of KanyAkumari in Tamil nAdu, on the rail route between kanyAkumAri and Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram). ThiruvattAru is about also about 30 km from Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu. This place can also be reached by taking a bus from Thiruvananthapuram to Nagercoil and alighting at Thoduvetti and then travelling another 9 km by taking another bus.
The mUlavar here is SrI Adi kEsava perumAL and the thAyAr is SrI maragathavaLLi.The theertham is vattAru river (Aru = river in Tamil). The thirumEni of the Lord is so huge that He has to be viewed through three doors in the sannidhi. The thirumEni of the Lord is said to be made up entirely of 16008 salagramam stones. Due to this, there is no abhishEkam (ritual bathing) for the Lord at this Divya dEsam. The mUlavar here has a very serene expression on His divine face, which gets accentuated in the light of the ghee lamps. The right hand of the Lord is held is a yOga mudra, while the left hangs down freely.
There is a huge stone platform (18 feet by 18 feet by 3 feet) in front of the sanctum sanctorum. There are no electric lights inside the sanctum, and it is an out-of-the-world experience to behold the Lord in the light of ghee and oil lamps. There is a Siva LingA at the feet of the Lord. Sri dEvi and bhU dEvi thAyArs are seated in the centre in front of PerumAL. A sage by the name of kAtalEya maharishi is seen near the head of Sri PerumAL. Brahma is not seen.
The sanctum is constructed in such a manner that, on selected days, the rays of the sun fall directly on the thirumEni of the Lord.
The temple has huge corridors adorned with beautiful sculptures. There is a separate sannidhi for Sri KrishnA. A remarkable feature of the perumAL here is that, He is reclining with His head on the right side (when you stand facing the sannidhi). Except for the Divya dEsams of thiruvattAru and thiruvekkA, in all Divya dEsams where perumAL is in reclining position, it is the other way round. The temple can be fully covered in an hour or two, although you could spend days and weeks enjoying the beauty of this temple.
There are a lot of structural similarities between this Divya dEsam and the nearby divya dEsam of Thiruvananthapuram.
Legends and History:
kEsi was a demon who was slayed by Sri PerumAL. Since Sri perumAL annihilated the demon kEsi, He is known as Adi kEsavan. kEsi’s wife prayed to the rivers GangA and thAmirabaraNi and created a deluge and launched it at the Lord. PerumAL ordered Bhoo dEvi thAyAr to elevate the ground beneath Him. As a result, the deluge had no effect on Him. Since the rivers formed a circle around the elevated area, this place is known as thiruvattAru (vattam = circle, aaru = river in Tamil) Finding her efforts futile, kEsi’s wife realized her own helplessness and surrendered unto the Lord at this Divya dEsam.
It is believed that Chandran (the moon God) and parasurAma, the warrior sage, worshipped Sri perumAL at this divya dEsam.
[Note: The numbering convention for the pAsurams seems to differ in various Divya Prabandham books. In some Divya Prabandham books, the same pAsurams by nammAzhwAr is listed as # 3129-3139].
A sample pAsuram:
மெய்ந்நின்று கமழ் துளவ விரை ஏறு திருமுடியன்
கைந்நின்ற சக்கரத்தன் கருதும் இடம் பொருது புனல்
மைந்நின்ற வரை போலும் திரு உருவ வட்டாற்றாற்கு
எந் நன்றி செய்தேனோ என் நெஞ்சில் திகழ்வதுவே ?
In this pAsuram, Sri nammAzhwAr wonders what good he did to make the Lord of ThiruvattAru reside in his heart. The Lord of ThiruvattAru has a thirumEni like a mountain. He wields a discus and wears a crown of fragrant thulasi leaves.
SrI maragathavaLLi thAyAr samEtha SrI Adi kEsava perumAL thiruvadigaLae saraNam