Apart from being the political capital of the Pandyan and Nayakan dynasties, the importance of the city of Madurai lies in the fact that it was an important center of art and culture. Its temples are the best manifestations of its unique cultural heritage. The Koodal Alagar Temple in Madurai is an ancient temple that reflects the cultural heritage of the land in keeping with the tradition of the land.
Located at a distance of about 2 km to the west of the city, the Koodal Alagar Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, an important God of the Hindu pantheon. There are three altars in the Koodal Alagar Temple and in all the altars Lord Vishnu resides in three different postures.
The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Koodal Alagar who is Lord Vishnu in a seated posture. This is the most revered shrine of the temple. Lord Vishnu in a reclining posture is better known as Sri Ranganatha and his altar is just above the altar of Lord Koodal Alagar. Lord Vishnu in a standing pose referred to as Sri Surya Narayan Perumal adorns the temple.
There are a total of 108 Divya Desam or Vaishnavite Shrines in the country. But in only two of these shrines can one witness Lord Vishnu in all three postures – standing, sitting and reclining. The Koodal Alagar Temple is one of those two temples to have this unique feature.
On the occasion of Mahasamprokashanam, the Koodal Alagar, Madurai is thronged by a large number of devotees. As it is not held very frequently, the joyous enthusiasm of the people is really worth noticing. Renovation of the temple that cost more than a crore was undertaken when it was celebrated recently in the year 2006. The paint used was special and made from medicinal herbs of Kerala. It will last for thousands of years.
The other impressive features of the Koodal Alagar Temple, Madurai include the ornamental windows. They are elegantly carved and reflective of the exceptional skills of the stone masons. The intricately carved wooden panels are simply spectacular. What will particularly catch your attention is the panel that portrays Lord Rama’s Pattabhishekham or coronation.
When you visit the Koodal Alagar Temple, the sight of Lord Vishnu at Ashtanga Vimanan will surely remain etched in your minds forever. So make it a point to visit this 1,500 year old temple.