Kuttralanathar Temple, Courtrallam – Legends
Agastya converting Vishnu Shrine to Lord Shiva Shrine:
Due to an unmanageable crowd of Devas, Rishis to attend the Wedding of Lord Shiva with Mother Parvathi north began to sink due the heavy weight and south began to rise up. To balance the ground level, Lord Shiva called Sage Agasthya to go south and said his single weight alone could solve this problem. Lord also assured the sage that he would be able to have the wedding darshan from Kuttralam itself, because, he changed Vishnu to Shivalinga and worshipped him according to Makudagama rules here. Agasthya took the command of Lord and reached Kuttralam. But the Dwarapalakas of the erstwhile Vishnu temple denied entry to the sage.
The sage, though upset, went to the nearby Ilanji Kumaran temple, made a Linga with the white sand and prayed for Shiva darshan. Lord Muruga appeared before the sage and suggested that he may enter the temple as a Vaishnava, make Perumal a Shiva and worship his Lord. Agasthya entered the temple with Tiruman Nama on the forehead, Tulsi mala around the neck and worshipped holding Lord Shiva in his heart. The conch in Vishnu’s hand changed into deer, Tulsi into crescent moon, Tilak as forehead eye and the Ratna in the chest as the serpent.
Agasthya pressed the head of Vishnu with his hand letting it go down and down till it got the form of a Linga. Agasthya got the Shiva Parvathi wedding darshan immediately here itself. It is still believed that the Devas are worshipping the Lord in the temple during the day and Sage Agasthya during the night. The finger prints of Sage Agasthya on the Linga are still visible. Lord Shiva worshipped by Agasthya at Ilanji is praised as Iruvaluka Nayaka.
It is suggested that devotees should worship Iruvaluka Shiva first before proceeding to Kuttralam for full gain. The temple was in the shape of a conch when it was a Vaishnavite shrine. It is so now too. The devotee can observe this form on his/her way to Shenbagadevi temple. Conch represents the power of Mother Mahalakshmi. The sound gives energy. Hence, conch is blown during Shiva pujas.
The story further goes that while sage Agasthya converted this Perumal temple as a Shiva temple, he changed Sridevi as Kuzhalvai Mozhi Nayaki and Bhoodevi as Parasakthi. Mother Parasakthi is on a peeta of Sri Chakra design. As Bhoomadevi was changed as Parasakthi, this peeta is also praised as Dharani Peeta – Dharani means Earth or Bhoomi.
Ku means the cycle of births and deaths. Thalam means the remedy for this pain. Worshipping Lord in Kuttralam offers the solution.
The temple has five entrances representing four Vedas and the one being the way of Pilavendhan who came to enjoy the dance of Lord Shiva.
Unique Posture of Dwarapalakas:
The design of the Dwarapalakas is different as if they are in a conversation. This was a Vaishnava temple earlier. One Dwarapalaka is asking the other whether Saga Agasthya came there and the other replying in the negative.
Thaila Oil as Prasadam:
When Agasthya pressed his hands on the head of Lord Perumal, it caused headache to Lord Shiva. As a remedy, a Thaila-oil is applied on the head – Shivalinga Bana – during the 9.30 a.m. puja. This oil is prepared with cow milk, green coconut, sandal and 42 herbals boiled together for 90 days and mixed with pure Gingelly oil produced by grinding the Ellu in a traditional manner. This abishek Thaila-oil is offered as Prasad to devotees.
Also the Nivedhana offered to Lord during the Arthajama puja is a medicinal preparation made of a nut called Kadukkai in Tamil along with dry ginger, pepper etc. As Lord is always under the falls water, these are offered to protect him from cold and fever attacks, it is explained.
Arjuna got back his lost Linga in Kasi here:
Arjuna lost in Kasi – now Varanasi - his small box containing the Shivalinga he was worshipping. Surprisingly, he got it back in this place. He left this Linga here itself after his usual worship. This Linga is in the Prakara in a separate shrine. Those who had lost anything worship in this shrine for recovery of the object they missed. Arjuna got back this Linga on the Panguni Uthiram day in March-April.