Historical and popular Andal temple, Srivilliputhur, Tamil Nadu

In Tamil  Nadu  there are many well-known  temple towns  such as  Palani, Rameswaram, Chidambaram, Kumbakonam Kanchipuram, etc.,  where the  local people's livelihood is dependent on thousands of  devotees visiting the temples there. 

Sri Andal temple at Sri Villiputtur is a popular Vaishnavite temple of great beauty and antiquity. It is the birth place of Azhwar saint in the Vaishnavite tradition Periyazhvar and his adopted daughter Andal (also a saint/ Kothai Nachiyar). Unlike many old Hindu temples, this one is not a massive one. Come third week of January, 2016, the temple authorities have planned to conduct Maha Samrakshanam or Kumbabisekam (temple renovation) on a grand scale after a long time.  On my recent visit to this temple I found that active renovation work was  underway and  they had  already set the Yagasala with Agni Kundams in the front part of the shrine.

Srivilliputhur  Andal temple. en.wikipedia.org

Andal Temple, Srivilliputhur,Tamil Nadu .wikimapia.org

The name Villiputtur in Tamil Nadu (Pandya Nadu), it is believed,  owes its origin to  two hunters Villi and Puttan and it is the  birthplace  of  Andal  and Periyazhvar  and is closely associated with the life of Andal, who gained Lord Vishnu's hand in marriage through sustained devotion and bakthi. This temple,  one of the  108 holiest  Divya Desam shrines, is dedicated to  Lord Vishnu and his consort  here is Andal.  Araiyar Sevai and recitation of Azhwar Paasurams with  laya, music and rhythm are part of the temple traditions here.  
Goddess Andal and Perumal Anudinam.org

Temple Moolavar here is Vatapatrasayee - Lord Vishnu in a reclining posture - Ananda Sayanam  facing east, while Taayaar (goddess) here is Andaal  (Kothai Naachiyar). There are  shrines  to  Andal   and Periyazhvar  here. Vatapatrasayee is flanked by Sridevi and Bhudevi and images of Garuda, Surya, Narada, Sanatkumara, Bhrahma, Sanaka, Bhrigu and Markandeya. ooo Perizhwar, an ardent  devotee of Vatapatrasaye, served the temple by making elaborate  garlands out of fresh flowers plucked daily from the garden which he maintained exclusively for divine services.  Andal, his adopted daughter,  accidentally discovered on the  temple garden premises,  was  groomed by him with utmost care and as she grew older, took interest in her father's divine duties and offered him assistance. She was in the habit of wearing the garlands  meant for god prior to offering them to the Lord. 

One day Periyazhvar  was furious as, he  was unable to stop this un-devotional habit of Andal's and he thought that would affect the sanctity of the holy place. Periyazhvar,  at last, realized that the Lord  himself preferred garlands which had been worn by Andal, and hence Andal  was referred to as 'Soodittanda Sudarkkodi'. Because of her utter and unalloyed devotion to Lord Vishnu since her childhood, it is believed,  that Andal left her mortal body and merged with  Sri Ranganathar (Lord Vishu) in the same place at Srirangam. Hence, she is the main Goddess here with Ranganathar. 

The Andal Shrine, according to tradition, was built by Perialvar upon  his return from Srirangam, with images of Andal, Lord Rangamannar and 'Garuda' all installed  in the same sanctum.
Andal is the author of Tiruppaavai, a scintillating  collection of 30 devotional  hymns  in  chaste Tamiland are  sung especially in the month of Margazhi, the month considered auspicious for the observance of ''Paavai Nonbu" by women. 

temple car festival,  Sri Andal templw,Sri Villiputhur. inidhu.com

This temple has one of  the  tallest towers (12 tired) in Tamil Nadu – 192 feet in height.  In the north eastern part is the Vatapatrasayee temple, in the south western part is Aandal's temple  The temple tower is the official emblem of the Government of Tamil Nadu. Inscriptions of Madurai Nayak period point out that this temple  underwent  major renovations  in the 8th century. The flower gardens once groomed by Periyazhvar  are between these two areas. There are shrines to each of the ten incarnations (avatarams) of Vishnu. The Andal shrine's roof is covered  with the gold plated Pranavakriti vimaanam with stucco work depicting themes from each of the 30 Tiruppaavai hymns. 

 Incidentally Andal's shrine and the adjacent places were once the residence of Andal and  Periyahwar , according the chief Bhattachariyar doing kayankaryam and pooja in the sanctum.
Annual festivals fall in the months of Aadi and Margazhi and Purattaasi.   Margazhi festivals are celebrated with religious fervor. The annual car festival of Sri Andal Temple at Srivilliputtur in Virudhunagar district, is organized every year as part of  Aadi Pooram festival and  it attracts thousands  of devotees from various places. It occurs in the month of July/August.  The temple follows Aarukala pooja - six time worship protocol. Theertham: Tirumukkulam.

 Other attractions:

In Srivilliputtur  there is the Madavar Vilagam Vaidyanathar (Lord Shiva) temple with a six foot tall monolithic stone image of Natarajar considered to be a masterpiece. This temple was also patronized by the  Madurai Nayak rulers. Yet another attractions are the dairy products, in particular, mouth-watering 
''Milk Govaa''  Paalkova) which is available in plenty and is tasty. In the adjacent areas of this temple town there are several milk dairies. Sweets made from milk are quality wise good and the rates are quite reasonable.
Sri Villiputtur is accessible by road from Virudunagar, Rajapalayam or Tirunelveli  towns and also by train.