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Papanasanathar Temple – Wash Away Your Sins Here

Papanasanathar Temple

Wash your sins away in the Thamirabharani river after praying at the Papanasanathar Temple. This beautiful temple is one of the Navagraha kshetras, and is also a Surya Kshetra.

Those seeking relief from the problems caused by the planetary positions in their birth chart can find temples dedicated to all the nine planets in Tamilnadu. The Papanasanathar temple located on the banks of the Thamirabharani river is the place to worship to the sun god Surya.

Gopuram of Papanasanathar Temple in Tirunelveli
View of the main gopuram of the Papanasanathar temple.

Papanasanathar Temple History

There are no clear records as to when the temple was built or by whom. However, this temple is believed to have been constructed by Pandya kings, especially during the reign of king Chandrakula Pandya. Later, Vijayanagara kings and Nayak rulers of this region expanded it. Chandrakula Pandya constructed the central shrine and its roof (the vimana). During the period of the Nayaks, Veerappa Nayaka built the flagstaff (dwajasthambam), the yagashala, and the Nataraja hall. Currently, the Hindu Religious Endowments Board manages the temple.

Important Information About Papanasanathar Temple

Location of the Temple: The Papanasanathar temple is located on the banks of the Thamirabarani river in the town of Papanasam, in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.

Major Festival: Both the Agastya Thirukalyanam and the Brahmotsavam of Papanasanathar temple occur in the Tamil calendar month of Chaitra (April-May). Thiruvathirai, Thai Poosam, and Pradosham are other auspicious occasions at this temple. The Papanasanathar temple attracts huge crowds of devotees during these occasions.

Temple Timings: Devotees can visit the Papanasanathar temple every day from 6:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and then from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Unique Features of Papanasanathar Temple: Lord Shiva is present in the form of a Lingam. This form is said to be made completely from Rudraksha. The name of the goddess here is Ulagammai. There is a pounding stone in front of the Ambal shrine. Women pound turmeric here to offer to the goddess and then apply it on their foreheads.

Papanasanathar Temple Architecture

A granite wall surrounds the entire temple. A seven-tiered gopuram stands majestically over the structure. The entranceway below the gopuram leads to the main shrine of Papanasanathar. This Lingam first appeared under three kala trees. Hence, Mukkulanathar is another name for this deity.

The shrine of Parvati or Ulagammai is West facing. You can also see statues of other deities here including Subramanya, Vinayaka, Durga, Dakshinamoorthy, and the Navagrahas. The West facing hall of Papanasanathar temple houses a Nataraja shrine. He is in the Ananda Tandava pose. This Nataraja is also known as Punugu Sabhapati.

The Papanasanathar temple has three ponds. Papanasa Theertham is the name of the main pond. Agastya Theertham and Kalyani Theertham are the names of the other two ponds.

The Legends Of Papanasanathar Temple

Numerous legends exist behind this temple’s origin.

Agasthiar waterfalls near the Papanasanathar Temple
The beautiful Agasthiar waterfalls near the temple.

Sage Agastya Witnesses the Divine Marriage

During the marriage ceremony between Lord Shiva and Parvati at Kailash, the Northern portion of the land tilted down due to the presence of several people. So Shiva asked Sage Agastya to go to the South as he alone could counterbalance the weight of all the other rishis.  Agastya did so but he was sad at having to forgo seeing the marriage of Shiva and Parvati.

Knowing this, Lord Shiva appeared before him in this temple along with Parvati in their marital attire. The Agasthya Thirukalyanam festival on the first day of the Tamil month of Chaitra reenacts this event each year at the Papanasanathar temple.


Rishi Romasa floated 9 lotus flowers along the river Thamirabarani. At every spot where each flower touched the land, he constructed 9 Shiva temples known as Navakailasam. Each temple represented one of the Navagrahas. The first flower touched land here. Hence this temple is dedicated to Surya. The Shiva Lingam in the main shrine relates to Surya.  Thus, devotees can also worship the sun god here.

Indira Gets Relief From Brahmahathi Dosham

During a war between the Devas and the Asuras, one of the sons of Shukracharya was performing a yagna to increase the power of the Asuras. Indra, the king of the Devas, came to know of this and killed him.  However, because of this act, he incurred the Brahmahathi dosha. On the advice of his guru Brihaspati, he came to this place and observed penance for his actions. Lord Shiva absolved Indra of his sin. Indra’s sin (Papa) was destroyed (Nasam) here. Hence, this place is known as Papanasam.


Shiva appeared before the sages Patanjali and Vyaghrapada as Nataraja, dancing between the horns of his bull, Nandi. So, this temple also has a shrine for Nataraja.

Travel Route to Papanasanathar Temple

This temple is located in the village of Papanasam of Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu. It is 60 km away from the Tirunelveli town. You can reach Tirunelveli by train and take a bus to Papanasam. There are many good hotels in and around the town close to this popular pilgrimage destination.


The Papanasanathar temple is located in a scenic area against the backdrop of lush green hills of the Western Ghats, near the Agasthiar waterfalls and the Thamirabarani river. This temple attracts thousands of devotees of Lord Shiva as well as those seeking to worship the sun god Surya. This is one of the Navagrahasthalam. Here you can seek remedy for Navagraha doshas.

Thamirabharani river near Papanasanathar temple of Tirunelveli
The sacred Thamirabharani river near the temple.

After visiting the beautiful Papanasanathar temple you can trek up to the Agastya waterfalls and take a dip in the Thamirabarani river. There is also a tiger sanctuary nearby. Plan a visit during the festival seasons, to get a divine experience.