Ninra Narayana Perumal Temple, Thiruthangal – The Temple
Ninra Narayana Perumal temple is located in Thiruthangal, a town 2 km (1.2 mi) from Sivakasi, on the Madurai road. The shrine of Ninra Narayana is built on a 100 ft. (30 m) tall hill. An image of the presiding deity, Ninra Narayana, is seen in a standing posture facing east on the third tier of the temple and sporting Abaya Mudra (right feet gesturing to devotees to surrender to his feet). He is believed to have appeared to Bhoomadevi and Sridevi, all of whose images are housed inside the sanctum. The tier also houses the Mahamandapam and the shrine of Garuda, the eagle mount of Vishnu.
Garuda is seen in a unique posture with a pot of Amrita on his right hand and a serpent in his left hand. His other two hands are seen with supplicating pose. The sanctum is guarded by imposing images of Dwarapalakas, which are believed to be constructed during the rule of Sattur Kolarapatti. The sanctum houses eleven images of Ninra Narayana Perumal, Markandeya, Garuda, Aruna, Vishwakarma, Bhudevi, Sridevi on the right and Neeladevi, Usha, Aniruddha and Bhrigu to the left. The festival metal image of Thiruthangal Appan is placed in front of the images. The images of the deities are made of stucco and hence ablution is not performed as in other temples. The vimana, the roof over the sanctum is called Somachandra Vimana, is similar to the ones in Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple and Alagarkoil.
The images of Nardanakrishan, Andal, Durga and Vinayaka are seen on the precinct around the sanctum, while the image of Azhwars are housed in the hall leading to the sanctum. The consort of Ninra Narayana, Aruna Mahadevi (also called "Shenbagavalli") has a separate shrine in the second tier. Thayar is also called as Annanayaki, Amiruthanayaki, Aanandhanayaki and Jambhavathi. The Utsavar (festival image) of Arunakamala Mahadevi is called Shenbagavalli and is housed inside the same shrine. Unlike other temples, the image of Thayar is seen in standing posture. All poojas are first performed to Thayar before being done for the presiding deity.
The second tier houses the four-pillared hall, vehicle hall and mirror room. A cave temple on the lower tier, bearing the traces of Pandyan art, is located to the West of Kalyana Mandapam. The image of Pallikonda Perumal is housed in the cave, with Sridevi and Bhudevi serving his feet and sages Markandeya and Bhrigu occupying prominent places on either side. The rectangular walls around the temple enclose all the shrines and water bodies associated with the temple. The Rajagopuram, the main gateway tower, has a flat structure, compared to other South Indian temples that have a steep structure. There are four Theerthams Baskara theertham, Sanga theertham and Padma theertham. The Arjuna Nadhi is about two miles north but is considered one of the temple Theerthams.
The special feature of this Thiruthangal temple is that Garuda, the mount of Lord Vishnu, is found with four hands and holding a snake in one of the hands, Amirta Kalasam (nectar pot) in one hand, and other two hands are found folded. The temple in its present form was believed to have been built by Devendra Vallabha, a Pandya king. Later Pandya kings, Vijayanagar and Nayak kings in the region made significant additions to the temple. The temple has three inscriptions in its two rock-cut caves, two dating from the period of 8th century. The temple is located on the other side of Karunellinathar temple, a famous Shiva temple and can be reached from that temple on the hillock.