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Thiru Anbil is an ancient divya desha (one of the 108 Vaishnava temples) located 2 kms from Koviladi (a village 16kms from Srirangam). It is a temple of socio religious importance and also a classic example from the point of view of location, regional architectural style and literature. A good body of literature has been developed around this temple.
Known as Mandukapuri, tradition associates the temple of Thiru Anbil with Manduka Maharshi and Durvasa Muni. However, the early history of the temple is lost in antiquity. It is interesting to note here that Anbil is both a Vaishnava and a Shaiva sthala. The Vishnu kshetra is situated on the western side while the Shiva sthala on the eastern side at a short distance. Manduka pushkarini is common to both. Being one of the Vaishnava divya deshas, this temple is glorified by Thirumazhisai Alwar in his hymns.
Temple at a glance
|Vishnu is referred to as||Thiru Vadivazhagia Nambi, Azhagia Nambi, Sundararajan|
|Lakshmi is referred to as||Azhagiavalli Nacchiar|
|Vimana is named as||Taraka Vimana|
|Pushkarini is named as||Manduka Pushkarini|
|River in the vicinity||Kollidam|
|Hymns by Alwars||One|
|Location||9 kms from Lalgudi|
Thiru Anbil is about 20 kms from Trichirapalli and falls on the Tirichirapalli - Kumbakonam bus route. It is also accessible from the Lalgudi railway station.
It is a small sized tower that greets everyone at the entrance of the village.Though silent and withdrawn, the tower conjures visions of Dravidian temple architecture. Unlike other temples of the region, this temple is simple in design and does not present any striking feature in the landscape. Nevertheless, its majesty speaks of its glorious past.
The temple is endowed with the traditionally Dvaja sthambha. To the right of the is the famous Senai Mudaliar shrine. So also a separate shrine for Goddess Lakshmi manifested as Azhagiyavalli Nachiyar.
Being adored by sages and feared by demons Thiru Anbil is also known as Premapuri. It is said that, faith moves mountains and prayers melt hearts ! The Lord of the universe is said to have manifested here as Nambi to Brahma and Valmiki. As the sages implored the Lord to reside eternally at Anbil, the Lord is seen here in Bhujanga shayana facing the east. Sridevi and Bhudevi are seated at His feet doing Tiruvadi kainkarya (Pada seva).
Thiru Anbil Kshetra sees the three rivers Kaveri, Savitri and Phalguni merge into one. Therefore, this kshetra is also known as Triveni. The confluence of three rivers gives it the name Dakshina Gaya. It is said that those who cannot undertake a trip to Gaya to perform shraddha of their forefathers can do so at this place. This kshetra is believed to yield the same fruit as the Uttara gaya.
Talking of the legends associated with this Divya Kshetra, Prof. S. Narayanan says,
"Legend and history vie with each other in bringing out its sublime divinity and ethereal glory. The much hallowed kshetra is a treasure house for several puranas and myths."
A few legends associated with this temple are as follows:
- It is said that, a Muni was engrossed in the worship of the Lord. He would go into deep waters to meditate for long intervals. He continued his yogic tapas in waters undettered by any obstacle and in due course gained divine powers. However, sage Durvasa on his sojourn was awaiting the Muni for a long time. Unattended by the muni, sage Durvasa angrily cursed him to become a frog. Even as a frog, he went into deep spells of meditation and listened to the words of wisdom from learned sages. The contact with great sages and constant remembrance of the Lord transformed him. He bathed in the temple sarasa observing unremitting penance in his attempt to regain his lost human form. With a heart filled with devotion, he completely surrendered to the Lord and prayed for his mercy. The Lord too redeemed the yearning devotee from the curse of sage Durvasa and he was immediately transformed into his original form. This is the story of the Manduka Maharshi after whom the pushkarini is named.
- It is said that, once, when Anbil was flooded with river waters, the Shaivite saint Thiru Jnanasambandar sang hymns in praise of Lord Sundararaja which Lord Ganesha on the other side of the bank (in the Shaiva kshetra) strained his ears to listen. Thus, Lord Ganesha at this kshetra has earned the name Sevi Saitha Vinayagar. 
- http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in:8080/jspui/bitstream/10603/113183/15/15_appendix.pdf Pg.vii
- Prof. S. Narayanan (April 2004), 108 Temples of Azhvars, Volume 1, Maharashtra: Sri Ramanuja Mission.