|The temple we will be discussing today is The Nagaraja Kovil which is situated in the heart of Nagercoil town, in Kanyakumari district, Tamilnadu. The Nagaraja Kovil had attained its name from the words Naga (serpent) and Raja (king). The temple is dedicated to the god Nagaraja and is a Hindu temple. The main attraction of this temple is that it is adorned with images of snakes. In addition, two snakes form the gatekeepers of the sanctums.NAGERCOIL
The name for Nagercoil town too originated from this temple. The town is said to be the southernmost town on the Indian mainland and is quite near the tip of the Indian peninsula. The town was part of the Travancore state, or later the Travancore-Cochin state for almost a decade after the Indian Independence in 1947. However, the city and the district had gotten become one with Tamilnadu. The town and its surroundings were in the earlier days referred to by many as Nanjilnadu.
In an interview taken in 2009, the head priest of the temple had stated that he truly believed that the temple was initially a Dravidian Tamil Jain temple which was later taken over by Hindus and was later rechristened with a new mythological god name of Naga Raja.
IMAGES AND CARVINGS
A visitor to the temple will also find images of Jain Tirthankaras, Mahavira and Parswanatha besides Nagaraja carved on the pillars of the temple. In addition, a total of six Jain idols have been found from this temple. The authorities of the temple are still maintaining the idols of Mahavira and Parsvanatha under careful observation. Images of Lord Shiva and Ananatha Krishna are also enshrined here.
Architecture too is a highlight in this temple as the temple entrance is primarily reminiscent of Chinese architecture of Buddha Vihara.
The age of the temple is quite difficult to determine as there is no relevant information available. So far, historians have been unable to decide on its chronology. It is alleged that the origin of the ‘Naga’ influence in the area goes back to legendary times that the mountain Mahendragiri in the Kanyakumari district is referred to as the abode of nagas in the Ramayana of Valmiki.
Gradually, the name of the town (Nagercoil) too had attained its name from the five headed-serpent deity. With the passage of time, its old name Kottar almost started getting faded (however, the old name remains as a part of the town is still called Kottar) As on date, it has been reported that there have been no cases of snake bites leading to human deaths within a distance of five kilometers of the town.
Legend has it that one day a girl was cutting grass and she noticed that blood had begun to surge from below. On close inspection, she noticed that her sickle had cut into the head of a five-headed serpent. Shocked and confounded with fear, the girl rushed to the nearest village and reported what she had seen. People from the village rushed to the spot in large numbers. Upon reaching, they had witnessed the sight with their very own eyes. The villagers later got together and put in a joint effort to clear the place and preserve it for the purpose of worship.
A small shrine was built in the locality and people began worshipping the five-headed serpent. Upon hearing the miracle, people from other places too thronged the temple and offered their poojas.
KING OF KALAKKAD
The King of Kalakkad had once visited the temple on a Sunday in the Tamil month of Avani. He did his penance before the deity as he was stricken with leprosy and wished for a cure. To everyone’s amazement, the king was cured of the deadly disease. Soon, the news had spread like wildfire and the fame of the temple spread far and wide. As a gesture of gratitude, the king later built the present temple. Later, on every Sunday during the Avani month (August/September), the king would be accompanied by his wife and children to the temple and they would offer their poojas. Since then, the temple has gained distinction and devotees numbering in thousands visit the temple on every Sunday to worship the Serpent God.