Suchindram Temple

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Location : 11-Km From Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu
Presiding Deity: Sthanumalayan
Unique Feature: Single Image Representing 3 Deities
Festivals Celebrated: Markazhi Festival and The Festival Celebrated In The Month Of Chithirai (April-May)

Suchindram is about 11 -km from Kanyakumari, which has a temple dedicated to a deity, who is the representation of the combined forces of Lords Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The temple has a beautiful Gopuram, musical pillars and an excellent statue of the monkey God Hanuman, apart from a valuable collection of art from different periods. Large number of Vaishnavites and Shaivites visit this temple.

Unique Feature Of The Temple
Suchindram temple is unique in the whole of India. It is dedicated to three different deities represented by one image in the sanctum and is called "Sthanumalayan ("Sthanu" - Lord Shiva; "Maal" - Lord Vishnu and "Ayan" - Lord Brahma) Kovil".

The Legend Associated With The Temple
There are many legends associated with this temple. Anasuya, the wife of Aarti Maharishi was famous for her chastity and her devotion to her husband - an embodiment of a Hindu wife. She could perform miracles by sprinkling the 'Paatha Theertham' (water with which she washed her husband's feet) to bring rain to a parched earth or to transform objects to her desire.

When the 3 Devis, - Goddesses Laxmi (also spelt as Lakshmi), Saraswati and Parvati heard through Sage Narada the powers of this earthly woman they wanted to test her chastity. They approached their husbands Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to test Anasuya's devotion to her husband. The three Moortis (sculptures) transformed into three old mendicants and went to the hermitage where Anasuya was living and sought alms from her. When Anasuya was about to serve them food they told her that they had taken a vow whereby they could not accept alms from a person wearing clothes. As it was a sin to refuse alms to mendicants she prayed to her Lord and sprinkled a little 'Paatha Theertham' on the three old beggars. They were all immediately transformed into babies and throwing off her clothes she offered them food.

The Goddesses learning what had happened pleaded with Anasuya to grant them 'Maangalya Biksha' (gift of married life) and to give them back their husbands. Anasuya showed them the three babies. The Devis ran to the cradle and picked one baby each. Anasuya then prayed to her Lord to restore them back to their original form. Brahma was in Laxmi's embrace, Shiva in Saraswati's lap and Parvati cuddling Vishnu. They accepted that Anasuya's fame as the chasest woman on earth was justified. Thus the Trimoorti or Trimurti came to be represented by the Lingam (also spelt as Linga) at Suchindram; the bottom represents Lord Brahma, the middle represents Lord Vishnu and the top Lord Shiva.

Another Tradition
There is another lore associated with this temple. Once Indra was infatuated with Ahalya, the wife of Rishi Gautama. One night he came to the hermitage where Gautama was living and crowed like a cock indicating the approach of dawn. Rishi Gautama thinking that dawn was imminent awoke from his sleep and went to the river for his ablutions prior to commencing his prayers. Realising that it was too dark for dawn and too early for morning to break he returned to his hut.

In the meantime Lord Indra took the physical appearance of Rishi Gautama, approached Ahalya and satisfied his desire. Rishi Gautama returning from the river was enraged when he saw his wife in another man's embrace and cursed the man's entire body be covered with 'Yoni' (the female organ) and his wife Ahalya to become a statue of stone.

Lord Indra in order to get rid of this curse went to Gnanaranya and prayed to the Three Moortis to rid him of this curse. When he was rid of his curse and transformed into his original form he built a temple and installed the Lingam (also spelt as Linga) to represent the three Moorti - "Thanu-Maal-Ayan", and the name of the place came to be known as "Suchi-Indran" (the place where Indra was purified).

About The Temple
The temple is rich in sculpture and architecture. The entrance tower to this temple is visible from a distance as it rises majestically for 134 feet. The face of the tower is covered with sculptures and statues from Hindu mythology and the entrance itself is about 24 feet high with a beautifully carved door. There is only one corridor running along the outer wall of the temple with many shrines and Mandapam (also spelt as Mandapa) scattered in the inner area.

One can see about 30 shrines dedicated to various deities within the temple complex. There is a large Lingam (also spelt as Linga) in the sanctum, the idol of Vishnu in the adjacent shrine and a large idol of Hanuman at the Eastern end of the Northern corridor represent almost all the deities of the Hindu pantheon.

In the 'Alankara Mandapam' adjacent to the Northern corridor there are four large pillars each formed by a group of smaller pillars all carved from a single stone. Of all these large pillars two have 33 smaller pillars and the other two 25 each, which are famous as the musical pillars. A different musical note can be heard when each of these smaller pillars is tapped. Unfortunately, the pillars are covered by iron grills to prevent vandalism.

A gigantic figure of Hanuman, 18 feet high depicting 'Vishuvaroopam' can be seen when we step out of the 'Alankara Mandapam'. There are other carvings and sculptures on every pillar and panel throughout the temple, which are a feast to the eye and the imagination.

Festivities
There are two important festivals, one in 'Markazhi' (December/January) and the other in 'Chithirai' (April/May). During the Markazhi festival, on the 9th day the deities are taken out in procession around the streets on three festival cars.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: The nearest airport is at Trivandrum.
Rail: The nearest railway station is at Nagercoil on the Trivandrum - Kanyakumari section of the Southern Railway.
Road: Suchindram is just 11-km from Kanyakumari. There are regular buses from Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Trivandram to Suchindram.

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation is available at the economy class hotels, devasthanam cottages and railway retiring rooms in Kanyakumari (also spelt as Kanniyakumari).



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