Madurai is sometimes called the city of temples for the sheer number it has. And while it is impossible to rank each and every temple in terms of importance and relevance, the Kallazhagar Temple in the nearby village of Alagar Koyil is certainly among the top. One of the 108 sacred Divyadesam pilgrimage sites dedicated to the god Vishnu, the Kallazhagar temple is mentioned in the Divya Prabandha of the Azhwar saints. The temple is surrounded by granite walls, with a seven-story Gopuram rising above in the style of Dravidian architecture. ALSO READ: This photo tour of the magnificent Meenakshi Temple at Madurai will leave you in awe!
Dedicated to Vishnu in his Kallazhagar form, the temple is linked to the legend of the sage Suthapas. While bathing in the water below Azhagar Hill, he was cursed by the sage Durvasa that he would turn into a frog until his redemption. Sudapas performed penance by the Vaigai River until the god Kallazhagar descended from the heavens to rid him of the curse. Another legend tells of the story of the god of death, Yama, who worshiped the presiding deity and prayed that he could stay and build a temple with Vishwakarma. The temple as we see it today covers around two acres, with some incredible statues and images of gods and goddesses. The sanctum has images of goddesses Bhudevi and Sridevi, and there are two striking images of the Narasimha avatar of Vishnu. CHECK OUT: Top 5 temples of Tamil Nadu you simply cannot afford to miss
Another point of interest here is the Vijayanagara sculptures, which are similar in their artwork to the ones in other like the Thadikombu, Soundararajaperumal and Jalakandeswarar temples. The architecture also includes some more modern elements, like images of an English policeman. Some scholars say that the temple initially began as a place of worship for Jains, as evidenced by Jain inscriptions and caves in the hill nearby. The temple has been mentioned in works of prose dating back to the 3rd century AD.
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