Suchindram Sthanumalaya Perumal Temple
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Lord Sthanumalya Perumal
Sthanumalaya Perumal Temple is located at Suchindram in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. Suchindram is about 11 km from Kanyakumari and about 7 km from Nagarkoil lying between these two towns.This temple is dedicated to Trimurthis -Brahma,Vishnu and Shiva. The name Sthanumalaya denotes the combination of the Trimurthis. Sthanu is a synonym for Siva, Mal for Vishnu and Ayan for Brahma. It is believed that the top, middle and base of the Linga in the temple represent Siva, Vishnu and Brahma respectively. Suchindram is also famous as Njanaranyam.
The place got the name of Suchindram, according to the Sthalapurana, as Indra was relieved of a curse. 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 Njanaranya and prayed to the Thrimoorthis 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 to represent the Thrimoorthis, and the name of the place came to be known as Suchi-Indran (the place where Indran was purified).According to the believers, Indra even now visits the temple daily for performing "Ardhajama Pooja" in the night.
Sage Athri lived here with his wife Anasuya, who was considered a chaste woman. When the Thridevis(Goddesses Saraswathy, Lakshmi and Parvathy) heard through Sage Naradha 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. Lords Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma visited her once in the absence of her husband to test and prove her chastity to the world. They came as sanyasis asking alms and bade Anasuya to feed them, but without any dress. But Anasuya was not baffled and she just prayed to her husband and transformed the Lords into three small babies (Shiva as Durvasa, Vishnu as Dattatreya and Brahma as Chandra) and fed them. The Goddesses learning what had happened pleaded with Anasuya to give them back their husbands. Anasuya then prayed to her husband to restore them back to their original form.Thrimurthis and Thridevis accepted that Anasuya's fame as the chastest woman on earth was justified. Anasuya requested them to stay there.Thus the Thrimoorthy came to be represented by the Lingam at Suchindram.
The legends about this temple is also associated with the Kanayakumari Devi Temple. Lord Shiva started from this place to wed Kanyakumari Devi. The marriage was to take place at midnight on a certain auspicious day. When Shiva was in the town of Vazhukkamparai [5 km from Suchindarm], Narada assumed the form of a rooster and crowed, falsely heralding the break of dawn. Thinking that he had missed the appointed hour of his marriage, Shiva returned to Suchindram. The Kanyakumari Devi became angery and started penance and later killed Banasura.
Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya visited this temple and praised Sthanumalaya with beautiful Stothras(hymns). There are two important festivals, one in Dhanu (December/January) and the other in Medam (April/May). During the Dhanu festival, on the 9th day the deities are taken out in procession around the streets on three festival cars.
Thirumalai Naykkkan and the Travancore Maharajas, under whose administration the temple remained till Kanyakumari's merger with Tamil Nadu, have made many endowments for its upkeep. The temple is an architectural marvel and is noted for its 'musical' columns and its impressive 3 m tall statue of Hanuman. Two chief attractions are the gigantic Hanuman and Vainayaki (Female Vinayaka) relief carving. The Nandi image in the temple, which is 13 feet high, 21 feet long and 10 feet wide, is one of the biggest of its kind in the country. The main Gopuram is 134 feet high. This temple attracts both Vaishnavites and Saivites in large numbers. About 30 shrines to various deities within the temple complex, the large Lingam 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.
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