This is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu in Madurai, Tamilnadu, India. Madurai is world-renowned for its Hindu Temples, particularly the Meenakshi Amman Temple. The ancient name of Madurai is Koodal, as recorded in the Tamil Literature, because Koodal means joining or convergence of angels, to see the celestial wedding of Madurai Meenakshi with Lord Siva as per Hindu mythology.
The deity is named Azhagar, meaning extraordinary beauty of a man and his temple is “Koil” in Tamil. (There is another “Kallazhagar” or “Azhagar” in Madurai – a temple for Lord Vishnu – which should not be confused with this temple).
This temple is one of the 108 Special Abodes on this Universe for Lord Vishnu (called Divya Desams). Vaishnavite Saints (called Alwars) have praised this deity especially and one of them – Periyalwar – has coined the verse “Thirupallandu” in praising the image of Lord Vishnu as an idol here – the beauty; the decorations; the jwells; the symbols on both hands etc. This song is recited during Puja in all temples of Lord Vishnu and every home of vaishnavite people.
In line with the architectural splendor, with which the Pandiya and Nayakar Dynasty Kings have structured all the temples at Madurai, the strikingly beautiful Rajagopuram (raising tower at the entrance) is a real feast to the eyes. It has five tiers or altars – and you can go up to three tiers - each of them having a statue of Lord Vishnu, in three different postures – standing; sitting and reclining. You can see all the three postures of the Lord only at this temple, whereas other temples have only one – for example: Standing – Lord Balaji at Thirupathi; Sitting : Lord Ramaswamy at Kumbakonam; Reclining – Lord Ranganatha at Srirangam.
The temple is expansive in 2.5 acres of land and the Ashtanga Vimanam (the altar having eight sides as Octagonal tomb) is worth seeing for enjoying the exquisite sculptures; stucco images showing the scenes from the Hindu epics and stone windows carved elegantly. It has two corridors (Prakarams) to go round the temple with huge stone walls and you can leisurely enjoy the artistic talent of ancient sculptors, playing with their chisels.
Another specialty of this temple is - it has a sannadhi (niche) for Navagrahas (9 planets each with a God’s name, supposed to be deciding the destiny of human life). Normally you can not see this in Vishnu Temples, but only in temples dedicated to Lord Siva.
The small canal flowing near the Temple is called Krithamala - a tributary to the River Vaigai, which was flowing full in ancient times and now looks drastically reduced to sands.
Many legendry stories of Hindu mythology are floating about Koodal Azhagar and the people of Madurai have great belief in him, apart from Madurai Meenakshi Amman, considered as the sister of Azhagar. The festivals of this temple throughout the year draw hundreds of thousands of devotees.
This temple is situated within Madurai city – nearer to Main Bus Stand and Madurai Railway Station (Auto Rs.20) and about 500 meters from the Meenakshi Temple in the Southeast direction, which is a walkable distance.