The seashore temple of Subrahmanyam at Tiruchendur is one of the delightful spots sanctified and venerated by every Hindu. As one of the first spiritual centres for the salvation of man, His shrine has been an attraction for Hindus for ages. This sacred house of God is in the extreme southwest of the Indian peninsula. The rising sun bows in adoration of it each morning as he rises from the rippling expanse of the ocean, and spreads light and life over every living object.
Bordered by the sea on the East and the North, the temple walls on these sides are washed by the foaming waves of the Gulf of Mannar. The date of the temple is hidden in the Puranic past. The nucleus of the structure however has been here for more than 2,000 years as the Tamil Classics inform us.
Lord Muruga’s association with Tiruchendur is highly significant. It is described in extenso in His epic, the Skanda Puranam. The young Muruga as the Devasenāpati vanquishes evil in the form of Surapatuma. The Tamils have ever since been celebrating the event as an annual festival during Skanda Sasti.
Tiruchentil means as it does, the House of Victory. It borders the sea and has all the natural charm of a hero’s fortress. It is verily a haven of Peace and Bliss. The Tamils in this part of the peninsula have such an attraction for the place and its presiding Lord Arumuga Nayinar.
An attempt is here made to give His bhaktas all over a close account of His shrine at Tiruchendur; and with this additional desire of impressing that the Temple is one worthy of a pilgrimage in this life. The divine inspiration and His grace that the bhakta is sure to secure will more than recompense his labours.
The great and noble abode of Lord Subrahmanyam measures 300 feet north to south and 214 feet east to west.
The principal entrance of this great temple faces south, and opens into the first temple prakāra. It is Sivili Mantapa. It is a series of four long corridors running around the still inner second prakāra flanked on either with the familiar rows of columns of yalis. The Sivili Mantapa produces a fine effect of symmetry and grandeur. This prakāra 292′ 6″ north to south and 190′ east to west branches off both ways to the west and the east of this grand portal.
The western portion has a number of rooms where are lodged a few vahanam, and in another portion in the temple stores. On the opposite row is the shrine of Dakshinamurti. As the corner is reached there is a mantapa where the processional deities are given the festival alankara before starting out and when they return thereto after the processions. Here is also conducted the annual Tirukkalyānam for Valli on the Panguni Uttiram day.
Text and black/white photos for this website are extracted from Tiruchendur The Seashore Temple of Subrahmanyam by J. M. Somasundaram Pillai, B.A., B.L. printed at the Addison Press in 1948.