Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Monday, June 24, 2024









Srivaikuntam is a panchayat town in Thoothukudi district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located on the banks of the river Thamirabarani. Srivaikuntam  is famous for the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu known as Srivaikuntapathi Swami. 



The temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD. It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Vaikuntanathar and his consort Lakshmi as Vaikuntavalli.



Srivaikuntanathar is believed to have appeared to slay the demon Somuka who abducted the four Vedas. The presiding deity is called Pal Pandian as a cow performed ablution daily to the submerged deity during the Pandyan era and Kallapiran as he helped a thief who prayed to Vishnu while he was in trouble.



The temple is also classified as a Navatirupathi, the nine temples revered by Nammazhwar located in the banks of Tamirabarani River. The temple is next only to Alwarthirunagari Temple in terms of importance among the nine Navatirupathi temples.



Brahmanda Purana one of the eighteen sacred texts of Hinduism and written by Veda Vyasa contains a chapter called Navathirupathi Mahatmeeyam. The first part of the chapter refers to Srivaikuntam. Vaikunta Mahatmeeyam is another work in Sanskrit that glorifies the temple and is a part of Tamraparani Sthalapurana available only in palm manuscripts. The temple is revered in Nalayira Divya Prabandham, the 7th–9th century Vaishnava canon, by Nammazhwar.



The temple occupies an area of 5 acres (2.0 ha) and is surrounded by a granite wall 580 ft (180 m) long and 396 ft (121 m) broad. The rajagopuram, the temple's gateway tower, is 110 ft (34 m) tall. The granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all its shrines and two of its three bodies of water. The sanctum houses the image of Srivaikunanatha in standing posture with a club in his hand. Adisesha, the serpent of Vaikuntanatha, is seen holding a parasol over his head. The image is made of Saligrama stone and ablution is usually done with milk. The hall preceding the sanctum, the Artha Mandapam houses the festival image of Kallapiran made of panchaloha with the images of Sridevi and Bhudevi on either of his sides.



Srivaikuntam temple is also called Kailasapuram and has a Nataraja shrine with eight artistically carved pillars. Sun rays fall directly on the image on two days of the year - once during uttarayana (April) and another during Dakshiyana (October), believed to be a token of worship. The roof over the sanctum is called Chandra vimana, where a stupa of gold is installed on the top. The temple also forms a series of Navagraha temples where each of the nine planetary deities of one of the temples of Navatirupathi. The temple is associated with the planet Surya, the Sun god.




The Garuda Sevai utsavam(festival) in the month of Vaikasi(May-Jun) witnesses 9 Garudasevai, a spectacular event in which festival image idols from the Nava Tirupathis shrines in the area are brought on Garuda vahana(sacred vehicle). An idol of Nammalvar is also brought here on a Anna Vahanam(palaquin) and his paasurams(verses) dedicated to each of these 9 temples are recited. The utsavar(festival deity) of Nammalvar is taken in a palanquin to each of the 9 temples, through the paddy fields in the area. The paasurams (poems) dedicated to each of the 9 Divyadesams are chanted in the respective shrines. This is the most important of the festivals in this area, and it draws thousands of visitors.