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Nagaraja Temple, Nagercoil

Categories: Sacred & Religious Sites, Tourist Spots
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Nagaraja Temple (Tamil: Naga (serpent) + Raja (king)) is a Hindu temple temple dedicated to the god Nagaraja situated at the heart of Nagercoil. The name for the town Nagercoil originated from this temple. The temple is full of images of snakes. In addition, the gatekeepers of the sanctums are two snakes.Nagaraja Temple, from which the town derives its name.

The temple has two main deities Ananda Krishna and Nagaraja. The upadevathas are Mahadeva, Subrahmanya Swami, Vighneshwara, Devi and temple guardian. The temple has a vast pond.

Devotes installing Naga idols in the temple campus is unique to this temple.The temple is open from 4.00 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. and from 5.00 p.m. to 8.30 p.m

Naga devathas

Nagas are children of Kashyapa and Kadru. Among the prominent nāgas of Hinduism are Manasa, Sesha, and Vasuki.

Ananda Krishna and Nagaraja.

The Nairs of Kerala and the ethnically related Tulu Bunts of Karnataka are clans which are believed to have originated from the serpent dynasty.

The nāgas also carry the elixir of life and immortality[citation needed]. Garuda once brought it to them and put a cup with elixir on the ground but it was taken away by Indra. However, few drops remained on the grass. The nāgas licked up the drops, but in doing so, cut their tongues on the grass, and since then their tongues have been forked.

Nagas are snakes that may take human form. They tend to be very curious. According to traditions Nāgas are only malevolent to humans when they have been mistreated. They are susceptible to mankind's disrespectful actions in relation to the environment. They are also associated with waters—rivers, lakes, seas, and wells—and are generally regarded as guardians of treasure.

They are objects of great reverence in some parts of southern India where it is believed that they bring fertility and prosperity to their veneration. Expensive and grand rituals like Nagamandala are conducted in their honor (see Nagaradhane).

The prominent nagas in puranas are Vasuki, The King of the Nagas who helped the devas recover amrita from the Ocean of Milk.

Aadhi-Sesha, ("Limitless-Eternal") the world serpent with a thousand heads.

Karkotaka, controls weather.

Padmavati, the Nāgī queen & companion of Dharanendra.

Paravataksha, his sword causes earthquakes and his roar caused thunder.

Takshaka, tribal king of the Nāgas.

Ulupi, a companion of Arjuna in the epic Mahabharata.

Manasa, the Hindu goddess of Nagas and curer of snake-bite and sister of Vasuki

Kaliya, a snake conquered by Krishna in Yamuna river.

Matali, charioteer of Indra, Matali was also the charioteer of Lord Rama during the Lanka Battle.

The head priest, who was interviewed in 2009, truly believes that it was originally a Dravidian Tamil Jain temple taken over by Hindus and rechristened as new mythological god by name Naga Raja.

A Sarpakavu in Kerala, There are similar idols in the temple

Besides Nagaraja, there are images of Jain Tirthankaras, Mahavira and Parswanatha carved on the pillars of the temple. Total six Jain idols have been found from this temple. Mahavira's and Parsvanatha's idols are still being kept in the temple. The entrance is reminiscent of Chinese architecture of Buddha Vihara.


It is difficult to ascertain the exact age of the temple. There is no authentic epigraph to aid the historian with its chronology. The mountain Mahendragiri in the Kanyakumari district is referred to as the abode of Nagas in the Ramayana of Valmiki. From this, it can be presumed that the origin of Naga influence in the area goes back to legendary times.

From the five headed-serpent deity of the temple, the name of this place (town) Nagercoil is derived; gradually its old name, Kottar, has mostly faded. There is a part of town called Kottar, so the old name remains.With in five kilometer there is no human death for snake bite in current dates.

Traditional background

There is a traditional background regarding the origin of Nagaraja temple.

One day when a girl was cutting grass, blood began to spurt from below. She discovered that the sickle had cut into the head of a five-headed serpent. Dazed with fear, the girl fled to the nearest village and reported what she had seen. People in large numbers flocked to the spot and witnessed the miracle with their own eyes. By the joint effort of the villagers, the place was cleared and preserved for the purpose of worship.

They built a small shrine in the locality and worshiped the five-headed serpent. Hearing that the miracle happened at this place, people from other places visited the temple and offered poojas.

King of Kalakad

Once the King of Kalakkad, who was stricken with leprosy, came to the temple on Sunday in the Tamil month of Avani and did penance before the deity. Miraculously, he was cured of the deadly disease, and the fame of the temple spread far and wide. The king built the present temple in gratitude. On every Sunday during Avani (August/September) the king, accompanied by his wife and children, used to visit the temple and offer poojas. Ever since, the temple is visited on every Sunday in Avani by thousands of devotees and the serpent shrine is worshiped.
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  • Really nice temple. When we visited it was a holy month for the Tamils so there was a lot of crowd. The temple is beautiful and there are a lot of small temples within the main complex. 
  • This is a great place to worship the serpent God, also known as Nagaraja. Very calm temple found in the heart of the city. 
  • One can easily noticed the difference between Suchindrum temple and Nagaraja temple by its architecture. Nagaraja temple sculptures are looks like jain method. Sundays between August 15 to September i...  read more »
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