Kulasekara Azhvaar spent the last 30 years of his life at this 1000 year old Mannar Koil and is said to have attained Moksham here
One sees several inscriptions in this historical temple dating back to the Chozha Period
Located 40kms West of Tirunelveli near Ambasamudram on the banks of two rivers, TamaraiBarani and Karuna River, is the huge 1000 year old three tiered Rajagopalaswamy Kulasekara Perumal Koil in Mannar Koil. This temple is named after Kulasekara Azhvaar who spent the last years of his life performing service for the Lord at this temple.
This place is also referred to as Veda Puri (after Veda Narayana Perumal) and Rajendra Vinnagaram(the great Chozha king who built/renovated this temple).
Big Efforts of Narasimha Gopalan Acharya
Thanks to the single handed effort of Shri.Narasimha Gopalan Acharya, who belongs to the Periya Nambi ancestry, a once dilapidated temple is now seeing truly significant renovation worth a lot of commendation. A notable aspect of this is that there has thus far been very minimal support from HR& CE for this initiative. Another point of sadness is the paltry Rs.245 paid to the Bhattar as the monthly salary at this temple.
For those who have commited their entire lives to the service of the Lord, this kind of meagre double and triple digit income is making it very difficult to sustain a reasonable life for the Bhattars of Perumal Koils in Tamil Nadu.
However, Shri. Narasimha Gopalan is not one to be undone by lack of support. His determination to seed and grow the Shenbagam flowers, which is said to be one of Lord Vishnu’s eight favourite flowers, has borne significant results in the last 3-4 years with the Northern side of the temple now full of Shenbagam trees. The fact that the number of Shenbagam flowers that one sees here cannot be seen in any other Divya Desam is testimony to the passionate service provided by Shri. Narasimha Gopalan.
In his praise of Lord Vishnu in the Naalayira Divya Prabandham, Kulasekara Azhvaar refers only to Shenbagam flowers and hence this flower is said to be very sacred.
Garuda alongside Utsava Deity - A Speciality
Along side the utsava deity of Rajagopalan is Garuda, a feature that is seen at the Srivilliputhur Divya Desam.
Kulasekara Azhvaar who was born in Thiruvanjikalam went on to become a Chera King. During his early years, he defeated Chozha and Pandya kings and was a dominant force.
However, his devotion to Lord Vishnu led him to renounce power and to a path singing praise of the Vaishnavite Lord. After trips around several Vishnu temples, Kulasekara Azhvaar finally reached Mannar Koil, where he was taken in by the beauty of Vedanarayanan, in whom he saw the Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam. Like Srirangam, Mannar Koil too is surrounded by two rivers on either side -Tamarai Barani on the Southern side and Karuna River on the Northern side.
Staying here at Mannar Koil for over 30 years, Kulasekara Azhvaar undertook daily pooja of Lord Rama, who was his abhisheka deity, and finally attained moksham at this place. To this day, one finds the idols of this Abhisheka moorthy at this temple.
In recognition of his efforts here at Mannar Koil, this temple has come to be known as Kulasekara Perumal Koil, the only historical Perumal koil to be directly named as an Azhvaar Perumal koil.
One also finds the Kulasekara Azhvaar Sannidhi with the Holy Flag Post (Kodi Maram) dedicated to him, a speciality (for Azhvaars) not seen in any other perumal koil.
Incidentally, Vibheeshana, had also been drawn in to Lord Vedanarayanan of Mannar Koil.
கோலார்ந்த நெடுஞ் சார்ங்கம் கூனர்ச் சங்கம்
கொலை யாழி கொடுந்தண்டு கொற்ற ஒள்வாள்
கால் ஆர்ந்த கதிக்கருடன் என்னும் வென்றிக்
கடும்பரவை இவை அனைத்தும் புறஞ் சூழ் காப்ப
சேலார்ந்த நெடுங்கழனி சோலை சூழ்ந்த
திருவரங்கத்து அரவநியிர் பள்ளி கொள்ளும்
மாலோனைக் கண்டு இன்பக்கலவி எய்தி
வல்லினையேன் என்றுகொலோ வாழும் நாளே - Kulasekara Azhvaar Perumal - 654
Kulasekara Perumal- Moolavar
At the Rajagopalaswamy Kulasekara Perumal koil, one finds several inscriptions relating to significant contributions made by rulers dating back to the Chozha and Chera period.
Rajendra Chozha made big contributions to this temple in the 11th century AD, so much so that this place was referred to as Rajendra Vinnagaram. Later, Chera King Rajasimman donated several pieces of land to this temple. Jatavarma Chozha Pandya as well as Nayak kings also made contributions to the Mannar Koil.
There are also interesting inscriptions on the floor of the temple right at the entrance.
Avathara Sthalam of Azhagiya Manavala Jeer
This is the birth of Vaadhi Kesari Azhvagiya Manavala Jeer who provided detailed vyakanam(explanation/description) of Divya Prabandham known as ‘Panniraayira Padi’
Kaisika Puranam Event at Mannar Koil
An interesting development and a very positive one for Mannar Koil is that the pre event practice session of Kaisika Puranam for the Thirukurungudi Kaisika Ekadesi event will be held here next Saturday 21st November 2009.
Moolavar : Veda Narayana Perumal East Facing
Utsavar : Rajagopalaswamy with Garuda
Gooddess : Vedavalli Thaayar and Bhuvanavalli Thaayar
Azhvaar : Kulasekara Azhvaar attained Moksham at this place
Temple Time : 7am-1030am and 5pm-7pm
Contact : PS. Narasimha Gopalan Acharya@ 04634 252874
Procession of Azhvaar in Pushpa Pallaku in Thai
How to reach Mannar Koil:
Mannar Koil is about 5kms West of Ambasamudram off the Tenkasi – Courtallam Highway.
Ambasamudram is 35kms West of Tirunelveli.
Buses every 15mts from Tirunelveli new bus stand to Ambasamudram/Papanasam.
One can reach the temple in an hour from Tirunelveli.
Car from Tirunelveli to Mannar Koil and back will cost about Rs.500-600.
Auto from Ambasamudram bus stand to Mannar Koil will cost Rs.60/-.
One can also reach the temple by local buses / mini bus service
Manimutharu Dam is about 15kms from here.
Pechiparai Dam is about 50kms from here towards South
Courtallam falls is 50kms West from Mannar Koil.
Update: Samprokshanam will take place on August 23,2010. The temple wears a new and clean look.