Agnipureeswarar Temple (also called Thirupugalur temple) in Thirupugalur, a village in Nagapattinam district in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is dedicated to the god Shiva. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is believed to have been built during the Cholas period in the 10th century. Shiva is worshipped as Agnipureeswarar and his consort Parvathi as Karundar Kuzhali.
This is the place where saint Thirunavukarasar got mukthi (free from rebirth and death cycle). Saint Sundarar received a golden brick during the over night stay at this temple. This is also the place where one of the 64 Nayanars – Muruga nayanar lived here. This temple is known for worship for all the periods of time – past, present and future, known as Muk-kaalam (3 kaalams – 3 periods of time). Agni bagawan got curse relief in this Thirupugalur temple.
Banasura belongs to the demon community. His mother was Madhiniar. She was a staunch Lord Shiva devotee. To facilitate his mother’s Shiva puja, Banasura was bringing many swayambu Lingas. He once came to Tirupugalur and found countless Lingas. He found a Swayambulinga but could not move it. He dug a deep and vast Agazhi around the temple and tried to move the Linga again but in vain, except that the agazhi was full of water springing from the ground.
He decided to end himself in frustration. A voice from the sky told Banasura, “I will make myself present for your mother’s Shiva puja”. Lord in the name of Konapiran with Punnai flowers on His head, appeared before his mother. After the puja was over, Lord returned to Tirupugalur.
This is the sacred land where Saint Tirunavukkarasar respectfully known as Appar Adigal attained salvation after serving the Lord by cleaning Shiva temple grounds and paths to enable devotees to walk comfortably with an instrument in his hands called Uzhavaram. This land is praised as Salvation Centre. Appar festival begins 10 days before Chithirai Sadayam Star dayin April-May. The events includes his home coming from the Jains, the greatness of his Uzhavaram, dance of Deva women and his merging with Lord at the midnight of the fourth day festival. Every devotee would be moved to see this episode only with tears in his/her eyes.
There are two shrines in the same temple for Saint Appar Adigal and Saint Sundarar. Lord Agnipureeswar (Swayambumurthi), also praised as Sharanyapureeswarar, Pratyaksha Varadar and Konapiran is gracing devotees from a shrine. Mother Karundhar Kuzhali, also praised as Sulikambal blesses devotees from other shrine. Lord Vardamaneswarar and Mother Manonmani are in a separate shrine. Muruga Nayanar served Lord Vardamaneswara by preparing garlands for Him.
This is also the place where Agni Bhagwan worshipped Lord Shiva and got relieved from a curse. Though he has no form as such, he appears here with two faces, 7 hands, 7 jwala sparks, four horns and 3 feet. This is a rare Agni Bhagwan idol.
Lord changed the bricks into gold bars for Saint Sundarar in this holy place. Those building new houses bring bricks to the temples for vasthu and bhoomi puja to make the new building all prosperous. Also, Mother Karundhar Kuzhali was gifted with a piece of land for her services to a woman in labour pain and is praised as Sulikambal. There is no and will not be any infant or maternal mortality in this place, a belief people strongly hold.
The temple has a single shrine for Emperor Nala and Sani Bhagwan in the temple. After Nala came out of a bath from the Bana Theertha, a voice from Sani Bhagwan said that He would leave the king from his adverse aspects at Tirunallar 7 km far from this place. Saturn-Sani Bhagwan is this temple is praised as Anugraha Sani – merciful Sani.
The grace of Mother Karundhar Kuzhali towards Her devotees is boundless. Sool in Tamil means pregnancy. As She took care of a woman during her labour time and ensured safe delivery of the child, She is praised as Sulikambal. Women strongly believe that nothing untoward would happen to them or the child as they under the direct grace of Mother Sulikambal. People pray to Her offering vastras for child boon.
Three Murthis in the temple, Bhoodeshwarar, Varthamaneswarar and Bhavishyeswarar are the symbols of past, present and future. This is the birth place of Muruga Nayanar who worshipped Varthamaneswarar offering garlands made by him. He has three faces – human, bird and a swine. As devas sought asylum here for protection from the threats of demons, the place is also praised as Pugazhoor.