Soorakudi is a sleepy village nestled in the Sakkottai Block of Sivaganga district in Tamil Nadu. It is a part of the Chettinad region and rich in its history and culture. The historical name of Soorakudi was Desikanathapuram and was named after the main deity resident in the Soorakudi temple. The current name is based on the ‘Soorai’ scrub which grows in abundance in this region. This scrub is believed to have strong medicinal values too.
The Soorakudi temple forms part of the 9 Shiva temples that are managed by the Nagarathar Chettiars of the Chettinad region. Each clan belongs to one of these nine temples and cannot inter-marry a member of the same temple clan as they are considered to be siblings. They have to marry someone who belongs to another temple clan. The Nagarathar Chettiar community members are strong believers of Lord Shiva, who is the reigning deity in each of their nine main temples. Shiva is known by different names in each of these temples and there is an interesting legend or two attached to each of these temples.
In the Soorakudi temple, the reigning deity is known as Desikanathar (another form of Lord Shiva) and his consort here is Avudainayaki (Goddess Parvathi). A unique feature here is that Goddess Parvathi has three eyes and four pairs of hands. The temple is believed to have a history going back to the 8th century AD. It has two ‘gopurams’ (gateways), with the main Rajagopuram being a creation of immense beauty. It is a magnificent 5-tiered structure featuring numerous intricately carved sculptures that will keep you spellbound with their beauty. The Soorakudi temple also features ten vimanams and a large peaceful temple pond.
A unique feature of this magnificent temple is that Bhairava (another form of Shiva) who is always depicted with a trident appears in this temple with a club instead. Being devout Shiva worshippers, the daily activities of this community are centered around the temple. They believe strongly in the powers of the temple sculptures. The temple is open from 6 am to noon and from 4 pm to 7.30pm.
If you are planning on visiting this temple, you could stay over in the nearby Chidambara Vilas hotel in Pudukkottai, which is a renovated century-old heritage palace. Here you can enjoy authentic Chettinad cuisine and culture while you spend a few days visiting the unique places this famous region has on offer. Getting here is also easy as Soorakudi is well connected by rail, good roads as well as an airport in nearby Trichy city.