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The temple is second among six most sacred abodes of Lord Murugan (Arupadaiveedugal) in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Puranic name or historical name for this temple is Jayanthipuram.
The temple is 60 km south-east of Tirunelveli, 40 km from Tuticorin, and 75 km north-east of the renowned town of Kanyakumari. The temple complex is on the shores of Bay of Bengal.
The Temple is open from 5 AM to 9 PM
Tiruchendur means sacred and beautiful town in Tamil language. As already mentioned, murugan is a warrior God. When Murugan came here for the conquest along with his army, he found it to be very small, and ordered the celestial architect Viswakarma to expand it.
The town came to be know with several names like Tiruchendil, Jayanthipuram, Thiruchilavay and Srisandhinagaram.
It is believed to be the place where Muruga conquered the demon Surapadma.
It is believed that the demigods of Murugan wanted to worship him in a place where there was a mountainous tract, sea and river. Hence the town of Tiruchendur was chosen for the temple.
The temple, which is built near the seashore, measures 91 m (299 ft) north to south, 65 m (213 ft) east to west, and has a nine-tier Gopuram, or temple tower gate, that is 157 feet (47 meter) high.
The principal entrance faces south, and opens into the first of two Prakarams, the first of which is lined with rows of Yalis. The inner Sanctum of the temple is in a cave and the main deity or Moolavar is Murugan as a saintly child, portrayed in a granite carving.
A sacred well fed by a freshwater spring, is located 100 m (330 ft) south of the temple. Devotees undergo a Ritual Cleansing by bathing in well water after bathing in the ocean.
Dutch occupation of the Thiruchendur Temple :
The Murugan temple at Thiruchendur was occupied by the Dutch from 1646 to 1648, during the course of their war with the Portuguese. The local people tried to free their temple, but with no success.
The Dutch finally vacated the temple on orders from the local Naik rulers. However, while leaving, the Dutch removed the idol of the main deity of the temple, and took it with them.
During their way in sea, they encountered a massive storm and realised their mistake of stealing the sacred idol. They dropped the idol in the middle of the sea and the storm stopped immediately.
Later, Lord Murugan appeared in a dream to Vadamaliyappa Pillai, an ardent devotee of Murugan, and revealed the place in the sea where the idol had been abandoned.Vadamalaiyappa Pillai, and Athitha Nadar a sponsor of services in the Thiruchendur temple, went to the spot in a fishing boat and retrieved the idol in 1653.
This story is shown through paintings inside the temple.