The place where Manmatha was burnt to Ashes by Lord Yogeswarar
In the 12th century AD, this place was referred to as Vikrama Chola Chaturvedi Mangalam in Kurukkai Nadu.
An inscription on the Northern wall of the mandapa in front of the Central shrine of the temple dating back to 1169AD tells an interesting story relating to an event at this temple. A piece of land had previously remained uncultivated for over 50years. The assembly of the temple paid the taxes that were due for all these years to reclaim the land. Subsequently once again it remained fallow and taxes unpaid. Hence it was decided to gift the land to the temple. The land was to be cultivated with paddy and with the income generated from it a 100 red lotus garlands (Chengalanur) were to be presented to the deity for mid night service.
It was here that Lord Shiva, who was originally in an East facing direction, opened his third eye, turned west towards Manmatha and burnt him to ashes after the God of Love tried to wake him up from his yogic state by sending an arrow (of Love) directed at the Lord. In memory of the event, the bow is still seen in the Chathura Peedam and the Lord is referred to as Kama Dahana Murthy.
One still finds the place of this historical event a few furlongs south from the current location of the temple.
20 years later, in 1188AD, during the rule of Kulotunga III a gift of house was made to the temple. There was a provision made for bailing of water from adjoining well and for taking water by digging a channel.
Theertha Vahu Muni who undertook penance called out for the Ganges to be brought here in order for the consecration formalities to be performed. Suddenly when his hands shortened in this process, it was Lord Vinayaka who provided darshan to him in a similar posture with shortened hands. Delighted at the sight of the Lord, the rishi forgot about the state of his own hands. Hence Pillayar is referred to here as ‘Kurungai’ Pillayar which also became the name of this place. In course of time, Kurungai became ‘Kurukkai’.
In early 13th century AD, there was a gift of paddy to meet the expenses of servants of Palliyarai and also for the construction of a cave called Thirunavukarasu Thiru Kuhai for the destitute apurvins who visited it and Mahesvaras who attended the festival of Thiruvai Gasi Thirunaal. Also, there is a record of the recitation of Thiru Thandagam at the temple in 1207AD.
Names of Slaves!!!!
One of the most inscriptions inside the temple is recording of the names of slaves that included both men and women numbering over 100 who were purchased!!!!
Through the 12th and 13th Century AD, there were several ongoing contributions for the burning of the perpetual lamp at the temple. These contributions came in the form of cash as well as gift of land.
There are several such inscriptions dating back a 1000 years. Many of them on the outer walls are intact. However, some of them on the inner walls have lost some of the sheen and are not in a readable state.
Where are the Annual Festivals?
Festivals are a time that bring together people from different locations and was generally regarded as a celebratory time.
In the century gone by, several festivals including Navarathri, Pillayar Chaturthi and Thiruvathirai Nataraja procession were celebrated in a grand manner at this temple with Vahana processions taking the Lord around the streets of Kurukkai. However, all of these have been stopped as a result of lack of funds. There was also a 10 day mahotsavam in Maasi. The Vahanas are still there but the traditional inhabitants have all gone away seeking greener pastures.
Somasundara Gurukal who has been here for close to two decades is the only one to take care of all the poojas and the activities at the temple. He is paid a monthly salary of Rs.500/- by the Atheenam, in addition to some provisions for the household!!!!!
The temple itself is in a dilapidated state with big cracks on the walls of the madapalli that could come down anytime. The Vimana of the Lord which has several sculptures is also in bad shape. The huge wall at the entrance of the temple next to the Raja Gopuram has also caved in
The previous restoration work had taken place in 1959. Since then, there has been very little repair and maintenance work that has been undertaken and this has resulted in the sheen going off several inscriptions.
The temple is under the administration of Dharmapura Atheenam.
The temple is open between 730am-12noon and 5pm-8pm. Contact Somasundara Gurukal @ 94435 27044.
How to reach
Buses ply every half hour from Mayiladuthurai bus stand to Manalmedu. Get down at Kondal Junction (about 10kms). From there, take an auto to the temple (3kms).
From Mayiladuthurai bus stand, one can also reach the temple by taking the Kallanai road and turning right towards Ponnur, Pandur to reach Kurukkai (10 kms).