Rajagopalaswamy Mannarkovil

Rajagopalaswamy, Mannarkovil

Vaishnavite Temples - Tirunelveli District


Veda Narayanar, facing east


Sreedevi and Bhoodevi along with main deity, facing east

Other Deities

Garudan, Narasimhar, Dasavataram, Vedavalli Thaayar, Bhuvanavalli Thaayar, Aandal, Vishwaksenar, Ramanujar, Kulasekara Azhwar, Manavala Mamunigal

Rajagopalaswamy Mannarkovil is a huge east-facing temple with a 5 tiered Rajagopuram at the entrance. After crossing this large gopuram is the spacious outer Prakaram enclosed on all sides by huge walls. On the northern side of the outer prakaram is the shrine for Kulasekhara Azhwar with its own enclosed circumambulatory path. Before that is the shrine of Rama Sita and Lakshmana, the idols having been worshiped by Kulasekhara Azhwar. The outer walls of the inner sanctum are full of inscriptions. East of this shrine are two large Mantapams with the shrines of Ramanujar and Sage Manavala Mamunigal. These Mantapas have exquisitely carved pillars. A large pillared Mantapam leads into the inner prakaram. The inner Prakaram is enclosed within another wall with cloistered Mantapam on the sides. A large Mahamantapam and an elevated mandapam are present before the sanctum sanctorum. In the inner Prakaram are the shrines of Vedavalli Thaayar and Bhuvanavalli Thaayar. The Vimaanam here is a rare form called Ashtanga Vimaanam. It consists of eight parts – 1. Adishtanam (plinth), 2. Padam (pillars and the wall with the ground level sanctum sanctorum housing Veda Narayana Perumal in standing posture), 3. prastara (roof), 4. first level Sanctum (lord in a sitting posture) , 5. khandam (neck) 6. Second level sanctum (lord in reclining posture), 7. shikara (spire), and 8. stupi or kalasa (finial).

In the main sanctum sanctorum is the imposing idol of Lord Veda Narayana Perumal in a standing posture holding the Changu (Conch) and Chakra (discus) in his upper hands. The lower right hand is in abhaya hasta mudra blessing devotees and the lower left hand is resting on his hip. His consorts Sreedevi and Bhoodevi are on his sides along with sages Markandeyaand Bhirgu with folded hands. The idol of the Lord is a stucco treated with herbal compositions. Also in the main sanctum are the processional deities of Rajagopalaswamy, Aandal, and Garuda.

The first level is then reached from the south of the Ashtanga Vimaanam by climbing a narrow flight of steps. Here the Lord is in sitting posture. A small, narrow circumambulatory path called Pillai Thondu runs around his sanctum. Climbing up from the second level is reached with the lord in a reclining posture. Around him are 2 Prakarams – yanai (elephant) thondu and poonai (cat) thondu, respectively larger and smaller. On the roof of the wooden mandapam here are the beautifully carved images of zodiac signs. The deities in the first and second levels are made of lime mortar and palm sugar. Thus Lord Veda Narayana Perumal here at Rajagopalaswamy, Mannarkovil appears in three postures – standing, sitting, and reclining.

A total of 7 Prakarams (Saptha Prakaram) are enclosed in this temple including that of the shrines. Outside a little distance away to the east is the large Temple tank where the annual Thepotsavam (float festival) takes place.

The large wooden doors of the Sorga Vaasal on the northern side of the Prakaram have some excellent carvings of scenes from Ramayana, Dasavatara, and Krishna Leela.

Holy Water (Theertham) – Brigu Theertham

Sacred Tree (Sthala Vriksham) – Pala (Jack Fruit – Artocarpus heterophyllus), Shenbagam (Michelia champaka)


Kulasekhara Azhwar (9th Century CE) spent many years here and died here Rajagopalaswamy Mannarkovil. The inscriptions on the shrine for him here mentions that the temple was consecrated in his memory by Vasudevan Kesavan of Mullappalli, Malai Mandalam (present-day Kerala).

Rajagopalaswamy Mannarkovil was built up during the rule of Rajendra Chola I (regnal years 1014 – 1044 CE) by the Chera King Rajasimha with the permission and support of the former. Rajagopalaswamy Mannarkovil has several inscriptions mentioning significant contributions by Chera, Chola, Pandya, and Nayak Dynasties. Rajendra Chola made large contributions to this temple and was called then as Rajendra Vinnagaram.

There are numerous inscriptions of Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan (regnal years 1250 – 1268 CE) found on the outer (southern, western, and northern) wall base of the Ashtanga Vimaanam. The dates of these are during the various years of his rule, mentioning about
* the existence of Temple Mahasabha empowered to register all the land grants from monarchs
* decisions taken in the meeting of the assembly held in a hall of the ambalam about the land and houses granted to the gardeners, drummers, potters, garland makers, torch bearers, and temple dance girls
* the order about the gift of taxes on the land in a village called Manabharana Chaturvedimangalam,
* the details of land sale by the sabha of Rajaraja Chaturvedimangalam to the temple
* the sale of the village Manabharana Chaturvedimangalam, a brahmadeya in Mulli Nadu, which was the property of two brahmanas of Nigarilisola Chaturvedimangalam named Govindan Madhava bhattan and Govindan Tiruvikraman, to the temple. The brahmanas had originally obtained the village as the gurus of the ruling dynasty
* the sale by the sabha of Rajaraja Chaturvedimangalam to the temple, gift of land to 12 brahmins who had settled down in the village from towns such as Thirukurungudi, Tirukurugur (Azhwar Thirunagari), and Thirumaliruncholai (Azhagar Koil), in recognition of their recitation of the ‘Thiruvaimozhi’ in the Thiruvaimozhi Mandapam,
* the Mahasabha accepting the legacy of land from two widows only after their male relatives had agreed to the land being gifted to the temple
and more.

Chera King Rajasimhan has donated several pieces of Land to Rajagopalaswamy Mannarkovil. Jatavarman Chola Pandya and Nayak Kings have also made contributions. There are some inscriptions on the floor at the entrance.

This is the birthplace of Vaadhi Kesari Azhagiya Manavala Jeer who provided a detailed explanation and description (Panniraayira Padi) of the Divya Prabandham. In recent times Shri.Narasimha Gopalan Acharya, hailing from the Periya Nambi ancestry, took single-handed effort to renovate the temple from a dilapidated state. He also sowed seeds of Shenbagam trees, considered as one of the 12 favorite flowers of Lord Vishnu, and this is seen in plenty in the campus on the northern side today.


Sages Brigu and Markandeya are believed to have undertaken penance to see the divine vision of the lord and being granted with the same installed and worshiped the main deities here at Rajagopalaswamy Mannarkovil. This place was filled with jack trees in the ancient days. The ancient name of this temple was Vedapuri and later during the Chola period as Rajendra Vinnagaram. The idols of Lord Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana are believed to have been worshiped by Kulasekhara Azhwar on a daily basis during his lifetime spent here.


Rajagopalaswamy Mannarkovil is about 5.5 kilometers northwest of Ambasamudram in the Tenkasi Road.

Stay and Food

None locally. Closest is Ambasamudram.

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