Avudaiyar Kovil, a small town in Pudukottai District of Tamil Nadu, is home to a famous Siva temple which is distinctly different from other shrines dedicated to this deity. The presiding deity of this temple is Sri Atmanata Swami.
Avudaiyar Kovil was known earlier by a number of names, the best-known being Tiruperundurai. It was also called Adi Kailasam, Kurunta Vana and Yoga-pithapura. Inscriptions in the temple point to the fact that this place was a Chaturvedimangalam, going by the name Pavitramanikka Chatur-vedimangalam, peopled by scholars who were masters in the four Vedas (Chatur Vedas).
This temple is closely associated with a great devotee of Siva named Manikkavachakar. He was born in a place called Tiruvadhavur, approximately 11 km. from the sacred city of Madurai on the banks of river Vaigai. Historians are of the opinion he was a minister of a Pandyan king called Varaguna I of the 9th century C.E., who ruled from Madurai.
Built by Manikkavachakar
According to tradition, Manikkavachakar was given a lot of money by his king to buy horses for the Pandyan kingdom, and the former set out to do so. When he reached Tiruperundurai (Avudaiyar Kovil), he was overwhelmed by the sanctity of this place and lost interest in material pursuits. He spent the money given to him by the king in propitiating Lord Siva and built a temple for him here.
The irate king punished Manikkavachakar by putting him in jail. Lord Siva then performed his lila to save his devotee. He transformed a number of foxes into high-breed horses and presented them to king Varaguna, making it appear that they had been bought by his minister. These horses later turned into foxes again and caused much pandemonium. The ruler, realising what had happened, released the great devotee of Siva and himself turned into an ardent worshipper of.....