Lord Subramaniya, Tirupparamkunram - one of the six holy abodes, Tamil Nadu

Tirupparamkunram Temple,Tamil Nadu. en.wikipedia.org

Tirupparamkunram Temple, located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Madurai city, Tamil Nadu, south India, is more than 2000 years old and the presiding deity here is God Subramanya. It is  one of the Aarupadai veedu (six sacred shrines) of Subramanya, also known as Murugan.  Famous Tamil Scholar and Tamil poet during the Sangam period - Nakeerar in his  Thirumurugatrupadai has made references to this ancient temple  and this confirms the temple's  antiquity. Nakkirar had close association with Madurai and Pandya rulers. This temple has a unique place among the six important shrines of God Subramanya because this temple, set in a  hilly area, celebrates the celestial wedding of Subramanya with Deivayanai, the divine daughter of the king of Indiralogam (Heaven), Indra.

The main cave like temple, huge in size and rock-cut shrines resemble those  of the Pallavas, but they seem to have been built by the Pandyas during  the 6th century. Thiruparamkundram finds mention in Kanda Puranam detailing the slaying of demon  Surapadman by Muruga. There are three main rock-carved  caves; the foremost has Subramanyar, Deivayanai and Naradar. The second cave enshrines Durga and the third has Vinayakar. Vishnu with Sridevi and Bhumidevi.

It is believed that the Murugan temple existed long before the 6th century and converted into a Jain worship center by Jain monks during the reign of Pandya king Koon Pandiyan. Later, it was converted into a Hindu temple under the patronage  of Gajapathy, the minister of a later Pandya ruler, in the later part of the 8th century. The Nayak rulers made valid contributions and built the huge pillared hall at the entrance of the temple through which we can access the temple on the hill. The temple is being managed by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

Lord Subramaniya,Tirupparamkunram Temple,Madurai, .murugan.org

As mentioned before, entrance to the hill temple is through the huge Aasthana mandapam, built by Tirumalai Nayak of Madurai Nayak dynasty along with a 7-tiered gopuram (tower) 150 feet tall that  forms the main entrance to the temple above. The hall  has several artistically carved pillars and each of the 48 pillars is 20 feet in height bearing big images  of Yaalis, elephants, warriors on horse-back, hunting tigers etc. There are inscriptions from the Pandya, Vijayanagara and Nayak periods. This temple was built by carving the hill and in front of the Dwajasthambam or the Kodi Maram;  there are rock-carved images of Nandi (bull), peacock, etc. There is a separate  shrine for Sanneswarar. The Shiva, in the form of a lingam, is also enshrined in a rock-cut shrine. 

Tirupparamkunram Temple, templesofindia.net

Location of tiruparamkundram, Madurai. mapsofindia.com

Skanda Sashti  that falls in the Tamil month of Panguni (October- November) is an important festival and Soora Samharam - the slaying of demon Surapadman is enacted in the last six days of the festival. People, in thousands, watch this festival.  Karthigai Deepam - lighting of oil lamp atop the hill in the Tamil month of Karthigai (November) is held with devotion. The 10 - day annual Brahmotchavam, in the month of Panguni, is equally famous. As part of this festival,  Lord Vishnu named Pavalakanivai Perumal and Muruga (Karthikaya) are taken in a procession to Madurai to celebrate Minakshi's (Parvati)  wedding with Sundareswarar (Lord Shiva), with residents of Madurai dressed in festive clothing. This  famous Chitrai festival is part of this city's tradition.  Vaikasi Visakam, and the float festival in Thai attract lots of pilgrims.

A visit to  this large city - Madurai will not be complete if you do not include Tiruparamkundram in your tour itinerary.