Weather :

Timings : 6:00 AM - 12:00 PM, 4:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Time Required : 2-3 hrs

Entry Fee : No entry fee

Pillaiyarpatti, Chettinad Overview

Named after the Elephant God - Lord Ganesha, the small town of Pillaiyarpatti is famous for the Pillaiyarpatti Karpaga Vinayakar Temple dedicated to the Hindu deity of knowledge and wisdom. In Tamil, Pillaiyar refers to Ganesha. The ancient rock-cut temple is a majestic testament to early Pandyan architecture, and the temple is said to have undergone three stages of growth throughout its history. The town is situated 70 kilometres north-east of Madurai, close to the heritage town of Karaikudi on the state highway 35. The temple building is mainly for its masterful sculpture work, elegant temple complex and a well-adorned shrine, and has fascinated hundreds of thousands of tourists and pilgrims since centuries. With detailed carvings adorning the exterior of the structure, the Pillaiyarpatti Temple makes up for an enchanting view.

The approximately 15 historical inscriptions found in the temple haven't been able to establish a definitive age although approximations date it back more than 1500 years since the erection of the first component in the vast structure. The chief deity in the temple is a bas-relief (a relief sculpture in which the figures project slightly from the background) carved out of a hillock in an excavated cave in the temple premises, an image of Karpaka Vinayagar (Lord Ganesh) which is a colossal 6 feet tall. Festivities and grand celebrations take place during Ganesh Chaturthi and is an amazing sight. The original temple is a Shiva temple and only became famous as a Ganesha temple over the course of time. Another unique feature of this shrine is that here, Lord Vinayaga appears with two hands, unlike other places where He appears with four hands. Being one of the oldest rock cut temples in the state of Tamil Nadu, it is the proof of brilliant craftsmanship and engineering of a bygone era.

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Pillaiyarpatti Temple Pooja Timings

Prayers and daily worship is offered to the presiding deity here. People from all over the state and outside flock here on a daily basis to offer their dedication and fidelity. Poojas are offered every day between 6:00 AM to 12:00 AM and from 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM. The different kinds of Pooja and abhishekam timings are given below:

Thiruvanandal Abhishekam: 6:00 AM to 6:30 AM
Kaalsanthi Abhishekam: 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM
Uchikalam Abhishekam: 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Maalaisanthi/ Sayaratsai: 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Iravusanthi/ Arthajaman: 7:45 PM to 8:30 PM

People who are interested to perform abhishekams can contact the administration well in advance. The contact numbers can be found on the official website.

Religious Significance of Pillaiyarpatti Temple

The grand temple is the sole temple in the whole of the state of Tamil Nadu to house a 6-foot rock cut Pillaiyar idol. As one of the nine temples important to the Nagarathar community, it holds great religious and spiritual significance. Deities in the premises other than Pillaiyar are Karthiyayini (goddess of love and marriages), Nagalingam (god of birth) and Pasupatheeswarar (god of wealth).

The Pillaiyarpatti temple is one of the four main Arjuna-Kshetras (abodes of Arjuna) in South India, the other being:
Thirupudai Maruthur, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu
Thiruvudai Maruthur, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
Srisailam, Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh

History of Pillaiyarpatti Temple

Although the inscriptions (said to be more than 15) in the temple premises estimate the age of the temple to be about 1600 years old during the early Pandyan empire, there are some who believe it to be older than thought. It has been found that the complex has undergone a three-stage reformation. First to have come into existence is the beautifully sculpted shrines of Karpaka Vinayagar and Tiruveesar (Lord Shiva). The pillars in the temple are of pre-Pallava origin (before 3rd century A.D.)

A few inscriptions in the temple that dates back to 1091 A.D. - 1238 A.D. prove that during and after the 13th century A.D., Pillaiyarpatti Nagarathars became the custodians of the temple. It was during this second phase that intricate rajagopurams and vimanas were built. The third stage has been in the light of more recent events such as repair, refurbishment, rebuilding and renovation of the temple tank.

Architecture of Pillaiyarpatti Temple

The temple architecture is a beautiful spectacle to gaze at with towering gopurams, rajagopurams, lovely bas-relief shrines, ornate carvings in an excavated cave and a fantastically designed temple complex. Being an ancient cave temple, the Pillaiyarpatti Karpaga Vinayakar Temple has stood the brutal test of time.

Karpaga Vinayakar is the presiding deity here is a bas-relief. Lord Ganesha is portrayed with two arms and his trunk curled towards the right in valampuri position (seating arrangement towards the right side). The deity here is said to grant the wishes of his devotees like the Karpagam tree - a wish-fulfilling divine tree in Hindu mythology. Hence the name Karpaga Vinayakar.

The main shrine was sculpted by a renowned artist called Ekkattur Koon Peruparanan. The proof is a Tamil stone inscription found in the sanctum.  The ancient Hindu texts of Agama Shastra which specify on temple construction, meditative practices and deity worship have been implemented here in an intricate manner. The rock-cut marvel is an awe-inspiring sight.

Pillaiyarpaati Festivals

Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayagar Chathurthi as it is called here is the grandest of all festive occasions celebrated here. It is celebrated in August - September. A ten-day celebration takes place where the deity is taken in procession all over town. A chariot procession (car festival) takes place on the ninth day of the festival and is a divine sight. The local village deity - Kongu Nachiyamman is also honoured during a ten-day festival in the month of Vaikasi (May - June). The Thiruvathira festival is also celebrated during the Tamil month of Margazhi which coincides in December - January.

Tips For Visiting Pillaiyarpatti

There are lockers here for your shoes and other belongings. Also, a fee may be charged for a video camera or a still camera.

Best Time To Visit Pillaiyarpatti

The summer months between March and August can be pretty hot and dry. The best time to visit Pillaiyarpatti would be in the winter months between September and February when the weather is pleasant as compared to the other months. Festive occasions as mentioned above are great crowd attractors. This is the time when the temple and the town are at their glowing best, but the downside would be the large crowds.

How To Reach Pillaiyarpatti

The nearest major city to Pillaiyarpatti is Madurai at a distance of 70 kilometres (by road). Karaikudi, another heritage town, is only 15 kilometres away. The state capital, Chennai is 420 kilometres while Coimbatore is 240 kilometres from Pillaiyarpatti. State transport buses are available from major cities. You can also catch a train to Karaikudi or Madurai and proceed onto Pillaiyarpatti. The nearest airports are in Madurai and Tiruchirappalli (Trichy).

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Unni Krish 1 year ago
One of the special temples should visit at least once in our lifetime.

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