Ariyakudi Temple History

On March 3, 2020

The Chettinad region in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu holds a unique place in history. The Nattukottai Chettiars who had been living here were for many centuries wealthy traders and devout Shiva worshipers. There are 9 important temples here and the Chettiar community of 75 villages is divided into 9 clans, with each clan worshiping at a temple.

One of these temples is located in Ariyakudi, just 4 km away from the Chettinad city of Karaikudi. The temple is known as ‘Venkatamudayan Perumal temple’ or ‘Then Tirupati temple’ and is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. This 500 year old temple has a very interesting history attached to it and it goes something like this:

There was a great devotee called Sevugam Chettiar who used to walk to Tirupati every year with a group of devotees during Thiruvonam in Puratasi. With the passing of years and ill-health, there came a year when he couldn’t continue on his annual pilgrimage to Tirupati. He was sitting down very dejectedly when he suddenly heard a voice telling him that he, the Lord himself, will come to give him darshan. The lord then directed him to the Srirangam temple to collect the abhisheka murthi of Ramanuja and return back to this dense forest of Ariyakudi (meaning rare land) and install the idol. The devotee followed his instructions and after installing the deity, he built the first ‘prakaram’ (boundary) around it.

With the passage of time, the temple grew and it is now spread out to over 3.5 acre of land. Soon a 120 feet high, 7-tiered ‘Rajagopuram’ (gateway) was built with magnificent sculptures of figurines in various poses. An interesting detail of this Aryakudi temple is that the main idol is from Srirangam, the ‘sadari’ (feet of the lord) is from Tirupati and the ‘agni’ (sacred fire) is from Thirumaiyam. Devotees have been worshiping at this ‘Then Tirupati temple’ (Tirupati of the south) over the centuries, praying to the gods of these three ‘Divya Desams’, especially those devotees who are unable to travel all the way to Tirupati.

After a period of 100 years, the temple has been recently renovated and the beautifully elaborate herbal paintings given a new lease of life. Getting to this Ariyakudi temple is easy as itis located just 4km away from Karaikudi which has a railway station as well as excellent highway connectivity. Neighboring Trichy provides airport connection as well. You could stay and get royally pampered at the magnificent Chidambara Vilas boutique heritagehotel, which is a century-old Chettinad palace restored in its full glory.