The Thanumalayan Temple of Suchindram, Kanyakumari district - where the trinity gods are worshiped in one idol!!

Thanumalayan Temple of Suchindram.
Thanumalayan Temple of Suchindram, TN
The Thanumalayan Temple of Suchindram in  Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu  in the extreme southern peninsular India  is  an important place of Hindu worship for both Shaivite and Vaishnavite sects. Also called  Stanumalayan temple, Stanumala refers to  Trimurtis; "Stanu" meaning Siva; "Mal" implying  Vishnu; and the "Ayan" meaning Brahma,  people who visit the famous beaches of Kanyakumari (where three oceans merge)  to see the Vivekananda Memorial mantap, giant  Thiruvalluvar statue (famous Tamil saint,poet) and Goddess Kumari Amman shrine
Thanumalayan Temple Suchindram, Kanyakumari, TN,
never fail to visit this unique temple.  God Brahma (the god of creation) has very few temples across India, There is one dedicated to Brahma in Pushkar in Rajasthan and the other one is in Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district, TN. Besides there are a few  Brahma shrines  in other parts of India.  Because of a curse  cast by God Shiva Brahma is  not venerated in many temples.  Sucindra Stalamahatmya, written in Sanskrit, gives a detailed  account of the origin and development of this temple.

The  legend of this temple has a link with the  chastity of Anasuya, wife of Sage Atri. The trinity gods, to test her chastity,  appeared before Anasuya in the guise of  brahmins demanding food. When she was ready to serve the food they, purposely, put forth a condition that they would eat only if she  could serve them naked. Unperturbed, through the power of her chastity and character she converted the three Gods into babies and breast-fed them. On the plea of Gods' consorts,  Anasuya  restored them   and on the same place  a linga comprising  three gods  appeared  which still exists.
The Trinity gods are represented in one form (linga)  called Sthanumalyam that is the specialty of this temple.

According to yet another  Sthala Purana, the head of devas Indira is believed to have performed  Ardhajama Pooja at night every night to get rid of his curse through the grace of gods  The Sanskrit word  "Suchi" in Suchindrum  stands for "purify".  Indra, with overwhelming infatuation, wanted  the company of  Ahalya, the wife of Rishi Gautama. He chose the right time when the sage went to the river bank in the early morning to attend to his morning ablution and rituals. He took the form of Gautama  to cheat his innocent  wife. Upon his return to his hut, when sage Gautama saw Indira  trying to mislead his wife, he cursed him that entire body will be covered with ''Yoni''(female organ) and his wife to turn into a rock.  Indira's prayers  to the trinity gods were finally answered.   The three gods  got rid of his curse and transformed  him into his original form. As for Akalya, she was restored back to life.  So
Indira had  a temple built and installed the Lingam  representing  the three Moorthys - Thanu-Maal-Ayan, and the name of the place
came to be known as Suchi-Indran (the place where Indran was purified). 

Once under the management of the Namboodiri families (Thekkumon Madam) when the district was under the Travancore state (prior to 1956), the renovation of this temple took place in the 17th century. Well known for its beautiful stone sculptures and architecture splendor, any visitor to to this town, can locate  the temple by its tall 7-story ornamented  entrance tower (gopuram) .  On the tower one can see a myriads of various  well-made deities of the Hindu pantheon. Abig temple water tank is just near-by with a  small pavilion (mantap) in the center.  
This temple enjoys many endowments made by Madurai Nayak rulers and later by the Travancore Maharajah under whose management the temple had functioned before Kanyakumari merged with Tamil Nadu. Ruler Ayilyam Thirunaall Maharajah of Travancore,  introduced a special a lottery scheme in 1875  AD to get  funds for rebuilding part of the temple and he received roughly Rs. 40,000.00, a big sum in those days. 

Susindram temple, TN

Alangara mandapa, Suchindram, TN.

The temple has amazing  sculptures and art. The  Alankara Mandapam is worthy of mention. Here,  adjacent to the Northern corridor there are four large  stone pillars (which stand at 18 feet (5.5 m) in height), each formed by a group of smaller pillars all carved from a single stone  (chosen specifically for this purpose). Two of these large pillars have 33 smaller pillars and the other two 25 each. These are the famous musical pillars. of this temple. A striking fact is each of these smaller pillars produces  a different musical note when tapped.  These pillars  are  well-guarded surrounded by iron grills to prevent vandalism.  They are quite famous just like those at the Nellaiappar temple of Tirunelveli, TN and the Humpi temple in Karnataka. The workmanship of these  stone sculptures and ornate pillar, etc is just mind-boggling; the stone artisans  of by-gone era had exceptional skill, imagination and patience.  The  Alankara Mandapam is a good example. So is  the big dancing hall that is supported by 1035  ornate pillars with carvings.

Among the many attractions in this temple, the tall stone image of Anjaneya, (Hanuman) never fails to get our attention. Standing  22 feet (6.7 m) tall, it is a majestic piece of work carved out of a single granite block.  Believed to be one of the tallest statues of its kind in India, it was, on purpose,  kept  buried below  on the temple premises in 1740, fearing an attack by  Tipu Sultan of Mysore  and his army. Tipu Sultan raided Kerala in the late 18th century and destroyed many Hindu temples as well as Thomas Christian churches, hence  precaution was taken to preserve this rare Hanuman statue. Only in 1930, the statue was unearthed and later restored by the then Devaswom Board Commissioner Rajya Seva Praveena Sri M.K. Neelankantha Iyer of Kottarathu Mathom, Moncompu for public viewing and puja rituals.
As  for the Nandi (bull- mount of God Shiva), the  stone image made of lime and mortar  is 13 feet (4.0 m) tall and 21 feet (6.4 m) long;  it is one of the biggest Nandi statues in India. The representation of the three main Hindu gods Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma  in one Linga is a rare one found across India, showing the influence of  Vaishnavite, and Shaivite  sects living in this part, because  early Chola, Chera and Pandya kingdoms patronized them. The temple has many deities of the Hindu pantheon, - Rama and Krishna to Amman and kanda (God Karthikaya).
Suchindram Temple Chariot festival
Suchindram Tnicely carved wooden temple car or rath, just base.
The 10-day Car Festival (ther thiruvizha)  is a famous one that comes up every year  between December and January,  attracting  thousands of  devotees and the chariot carrying the processional deity (Utchavar) is physically drawn by hundreds of  devotees  all along the four Mada streets adjacent to the temple.  Float festival locally  known as Teppam, is celebrated between April and May every year and is an interesting temple festival celebrated by lots of devotees.