Kolavalvil Ramar Temple is dedicated to Vishnu. It is 19 km away from Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, on the Kumbakonam-Chennai highway. Built in the Dravidian architectural style, the temple is mentioned in the Nalayira Divya Prabandham. It is one of the 108 Divya Desams. Here, Vishnu has the name Kola Valvill Ramar. His consort, Lakshmi, is called Maragathavalli.

The temple was supposedly built by the medieval Cholas. The Vijayanagara kings expanded it later. There is a granite wall around the temple. It encloses all the shrines and two water bodies. There is also a four-tiered raja gopuram, the temple’s gateway tower.

The story goes that Kola Vallvil Ramar appeared to Sage Markendeya in this temple. There are 6 daily rituals and 3 yearly festivals at the temple.

Legends behind the Temple

The Kola Valvill Ramar Temple was known as Brahma Putram in Satya Yuga, Parasaram in Treta Yuga, Sainthiranagaram in Dvapara Yuga, and Bhargavapuram in Kali Yuga. It has an association with Vishnu’s Trivikrama avatar. According to legend, Shukracharya, the Guru of the demons, did not want King Mahabali to donate land to Vamana (Vishnu), as he was aware of who Vamana really was and suspected that Mahabali was in danger.

He turned into a bee and closed the handle hole of the water bowl used by the king to solemnize the donation. So Vishnu used a grass stem to remove the bee. The stem injured one of Shukra’s eyes, and he lost vision in that eye. Shukracharya went to many places and offered worship to regain his vision. But he regained it only after he came here and worshipped Vishnu. Another name for Shukra is Velli. So, the place got the name, Velliyangudi. Supposedly, the light he attained is still glowing at the temple in the form of a lamp called Nethra Deepam. Sage Parasara also worshipped the presiding deity here.

Once, Vishvakarma and Mayan, the architects of heaven, had an argument about who had superior skills. Brahma, the Creator god, told Mayan that Vishvakarma was better as he built Vaikuntha, Vishnu’s abode, due to his accomplishments in a previous birth. He said that Mayan should identify and build an abode like Vaikunta, near the Kaveri river, to attain the same status. Mayan inspected many places and finally zeroed in on Thiruvelliyangudi, where sage Markendeya was performing penance. He built an imposing temple with a compound here. Vishnu appeared here as Sringara Sundaran (beautiful deity).

Another myth says that Shukra did penance here to Vishnu due to the glory of this temple.

The Architecture of the Temple

Kola Valvill Ramar Temple is in Tiruvelliyangudi, a village 19 km away from Kumbakonam. Brick walls surround it, and it has a three-tiered rajagopuram (gateway tower). Except for the central shrine of the presiding deity, which is of granite, all the other shrines were built using bricks. The consort of Kolavalli Ramar, Maragathavalli, has a separate shrine. Kola Valvill Ramar is seen in Bhujanga sayana (reclined) posture. The Vimana or sanctum roof has a Varthaga Vimana pattern. Shukra, Brahma, Indra, and Parasara are the 4 water bodies here.

Significance of the Temple

The temple is a Vaishnava Shukra Kshetra. Here, Vishnu appeared as a beautiful deity for his devotee Shukra/Venus. Thus the place got its name Thiruvelliyangudi, and the presiding deity is also called Velliyan. Vishnu apparently appeared in Kalyana Kolam (marriage posture) to Parasarar, Markendeyar, Shukran, Mayan, Brahma, and Bhudevi.

His mount, the eagle Garuda, holds the conch and his disc, Sudarshana Chakram Vishnu, to relieve Vishnu. This is quite unique, and it is the only temple where we can see Garuda in this pose. Sage Parasarar supposedly did penance in this temple. Hence, one of the temple tanks here is called Parasara Theertham. There is a plantain tree here that grows from a granite base that is quite ancient. It fruits once a year. The temple is revered in the Vaishnava canon (7th – 9th century) Nalayira Divya Prabandham, written by Thirumangai Alvar. The temple is a Divya Desam, one of the 108 Vishnu temples that find mention in the book.

Festivals at the Temple

Vaigasana Agama and Vadagalai traditions are prevalent here. The temple priests perform Poojas during festivals and also on a daily basis. The priests here belong to the Vaishnavaite community. The temple rituals take place four times a day: Kalasanthi at 8:00 am, Uchikalam at 12:00 pm, Sayarakshai at 5:00 pm, and Ardha Jamam at 7:30 pm.

Weekly, monthly, and fortnightly rituals are performed in the temple. Vishnupathi Punya Kalam, which is an auspicious time during the first days of the Tamil months of Vaikasi, Avani, Karthigai, and Masi, is celebrated here, seeking Garuda’s divine auspices. Rama Navami (March-April), Gokulashtami (Aug-Sept), Thirukarthigai (Nov-Dec), Masi Magham (Feb-Mar), and Margazhi Vaikunta Ekadasi (Dec-Jan) are some of the major festivals here.

Benefits of Worshipping at the Temple

It can cure eye problems.

It can remove delays in marriage.

It bestows progeny blessings.

It reduces the adverse effects of Shukra/Venus in the horoscope.

People believe that worshipping Perumal (Vishnu) here is equivalent to worshipping him in all the 108 Divya Desams. Shukra worships Vishnu here in the form of an ever-burning lamp to express his gratitude to Vishnu for restoring his eyesight.