Emerald (Maragatha) Lingams and Idols in Ramanathapuram at Tamil Nadu Temples


Emeral Natarajar, Uthirakosamangai


Thiru Uthira Kosa Mangai- Ramanathapuram,Tamil Nadu

Uthira Kosa Mangai is a tiny hamlet, famous for the Siva temple considered to be 3000 years old. This is the place where Siva transferred the secrets of  Vedas to Parvati. Uthiram means (updesham) kosam( secrets) Parvati  (Mangai )  hence this place is known as Uthira Kosa Mangai.

The main deity here is Mangalanathar ( Siva) and his consort is  Mangleshwari.  There is a Nandi just outside the sanctum and a bigger Nandi in the outer prakaram  known here  as Pradosha Nandi.   Special poojas are conducted here on Pradosham days in the evenings as it is  believed that Siva dances between the horns of Nandi during that time. There  are also  shrines for Kalabhairavar and  Sanishwarar here. Each pillar in this temple has beautiful carvings and the ceiling is painted in myriad hues.

The main attraction of this temple is a statue of Natarajar made of emerlad which is about  51/2 feet tall. This idol is known as Margatha Natarajar and the deity is always covered with sandal paste.  Only in the Tamil month of Margazhi on Tiruvathira nakshtram (latest  was on Dec. 22nd 2010)  the sandal paste gets removed and there is abhishekam for the idol and this special darshan is known as  Arudhra darishanam. Lakhs of devotees visit the temple on this day and on the next day again the idol  gets smeared with sandal paste. To have a darshan of this deity, one must be there around 12.00 noon on regular days.

On the way to Natarajar temple we find other sub shrines dedicated to Sahasra Lingam ,which has thousands of tiny Lingams carved on a single Shiva Linga and a separate shrine for Manikka Vasagar(the saint poet who was a regular visitor to this temple) near the Agnitheertham (tank) . The sthala vricksham is also considered as old as the temple. The base of this  tree has a huge hollow in which I could find some images of serpents.


Sapta (Seven) Vitanka Sthalams

Seven Saiva temples dedicated to Lord Thiyagaraja or Somaskanda (a form of Lord Siva) are located in the vicinity of the temple town Tiruvaroor in Tamil Nadu (Ancient Chola country –Southern banks of the holy river Cauveri). The Chola emperor Musukuntha Chakravarthy said to have obtained seven icons of Lord Thiyagaraja from Lord Indira. The emperor enshrined these seven icons at these seven shrines.All these seven Saiva shrines are referred as  ‘Sapta Vitanka Sthalams (Shrines). The tern ‘vitanka’ suggests that the Maragatha (emerald) Siva Lingam icons are self formed (swayambu) and not chiseled or sculpted. The seven Lord Thiyagaraja shrines are located at:

  1. Lord Thiyaraja temple, Thiruvaroor. Here Thiyagaraja (Gomethaga Lingam enshrined) is called as Veedi Vitankar. The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Ajapaa Natanam.’
  2. Lord Dharbaranyeswarar temple – Thirunallaru, Pondichery Sate (near Nagapattinam). Here Thiyagaraja (maragatha Lingam enshrined) is called as Naga Vitankar. The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Unmatta Natanam.’
  3. Lord Kayarohaneswarar temple – Thirunagaikaronam (Nagapattinam) temple.  Here Thiyagaraja (Maragatha Lingam) is called as Sundara Vitankar. The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Paraavaara Taranga Natanam.’
  4. Lord Kannayira Natheswarar temple – Tirukkaaraayil, Tiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu. Here Thiyagaraja (maragatha Lingam enshrined) is called as Aadi Vitankar. The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Kukkuta Natanam.’ 
  5. Lord Sundareswarar temple  – Tirukkuvalai, Thiruvaroor district, Tamil Nadu. Here Thiyagaraja (maragatha Lingam enshrined) is called as Avani Vitankar. The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Bhringa Natanam.’
  6. Lord Vaimurnathar  temple – Tiruvaimur (near Tirunellikka) Tiruvaroor district, Tamil Nadu. Here Thiyagaraja (maragatha Lingam enshrined) is called as Neela Vitankar. The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Kamala Natanam.’
  7. Lord Maraikkaadanaar temple, Vedaranyam, Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu. Here Thiyagaraja (maragatha Lingam enshrined) is called as Bhuvani Vitankar.  The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Hamsapaada Natanam.’

The ‘Gomethaga Lingam’ of Lord Thiyaraja temple, Thiruvaroor and the ‘Maragatha Lingam’ of Lord Kayarohaneswarar temple – Thirunagaikaronam (Nagapattinam) temple were stolen during early 1990s. The police case regarding the theft of these two priceless Siva Lingams remains undetected.

The Tamil Nadu CID police of  Economic Offences Wing (EOW) – Idol Wing has recovered the Maragatha Lingam icon – weighing 990 grams – belonging to  Lord Maruntheeswarar temple Thiruthuraipoondi, Thiruvaroor district, Tamil Nadu from the two member gang. The idol was stolen by the team of five gang members from the temple on February 22, 2009 during night time. The police acted up on tip-off and hatched plan to catch the criminals. On October 26, 2009, Monday,  the police team encircled the gang at Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus or CMBT, Koyambedu, Chennai. The antique value of the stolen Maragatha Lingam idol is estimated about Rs. 50 crore. Few days later the stolen Maragatha Lingam was handed over to the temple authorities (HR & CE). The CID police have emphasized the need for tight security to protect the priceless maragatha lingam icons in seven Saptha Vitanka sthalams and 27 upa-vitanka sthalams in Tamil Nadu.

Lord Mangalanaathar temple at Uthirakosamangai (near Ramanathapuram) in Tamil Nadu is another ancient Saivite shrine glorified in Thiruvasagam by Saint Manickavasagar. The temple houses the most precious and rare emerald (maragatha) Natarajar icon. The six feet (1.83 meter) tall and huge sized Lord Nataraja statue has separate shrine at Lord Mangalanathar temple. Normally bronze icon of Lord Nataraja will be enshrined in Saivite temples. You can not find such a huge emerald Nataraja any where in the world. The idol will be covered in sandal paste all through the year. On the eve of Aardhra or Tiruvathirai star (Lord Siva’s birth star) the temple celebrates Arudhra darshanam festival. The sandal paste will be removed on this day. Thousands of people come here to witness the event. Thereafter the icon will be protected with sandal paste.

Tiruvidaichuram Temple
Lord Idaichuranathar temple, Tiruvidaichuram, Sembakkam (Vada Thiruvanaika) (Pancha pootha sthalam) is an ancient Saivite shrine located in the Chingleput, to Tirupporur bus route. The shrine represents water (one of five elements). Similarly Thiruvanaikka temple (near Tiruchirapalli) represents water element. It is one of the 32 Thevaram shrines located in Thondai Nadu region of Tamil Nadu. The self formed principal deity is the Maragatha Lingam.

Thiru-engoi-malai Temple
Lord Thiruvenginadhar Temple at Thiru-engoi-malai is another ancient Saivite hill-shrine located in the Tiruchirapalli – Musiri bus route. It is 40 km away from Tiruchirapalli. The self formed (Swayambu) Principal deity Lord Maragatheswarar(Malaikozhnthar) is an emerald (Maragatha) Lingam. It was reported that the Maragatha Lingam was stolen from the temple.

Panchetti (Panjetty) Temple
Sri Aanandavalli sametha Lord Agastheeswarar temple Panchetti (Panjetty),Chennai, Tamil Nadu is another Saivite temple located in the Chennai – Calcutta National Highways and the shrine is 30 km away from Chennai. Sri Anandhavalli, the consort of Lord Siva, has separate shine in this temple. It is a south facing shrine. The icon of this goddess is made up of emerald (maragatha) stone.
Palani Temple (Hill Shrine)
Sri Dandayuthapani Swamy temple at Palani is the saivite shrine devoted to Lord Subramanya. The icon of Lord Dandayuthapani Swamy is sculpted out of the material formed after composing nine deadly poisons – Navapashanam” ( a combination of  Gauri Pasanam,  Jathilingam, Kandagam, Mridharsingh, Pooram, Rasam, Silasat, Veeram and Vellai Pasanam). The idol was conceptualized by Saint Bhogar (one of the 18 Siddhars of Tamil tradition) . You may find the shrine of Bhogar at the southern part of the Palani hill shrine. The Maragatha Lingam found at this shrine was believed to be worshiped by Saint Bhogar.
Siruvapuri or Chinnambedu Temple
Sri Unnamalai Amman Sametha Lord Agasteeswarar temple, Siruva puri, Chennai is Saivite shrine devoted Lord Subramanya and is located in the Chennai – Calcutta National Highways and the shrine is 37 km away from Chennai. The icon of Lord Agasteeswarar is the self formed one. The peacock (the vehicle of Lord Subramanya) is carved from emerald (maragatha) stone.


  1. Uthirakosamangai Sivankoil, Wikipedia
  2. Arulmigu Dhandayudhapani Temple, Palani
  3. Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu Tourism
    Sapta Vitanka. Templenet
  4. Siruvapuri Murugan Temple
  5. Stolen ‘Maragathalingam’ idol recovered from gang The Hindu October 26, 2009
  6. Thiru Engoimalai Maragathachaleswarar Temple
  7. Tiruvidaichuram -Idaichuranathar Temple
  8. Thiruvarur. WhatisIndia

How to reach: The nearest airport is Madurai . Ramanathapuram is 100 Kms from the Madurai airport.

Many buses ply from Madurai  to Ramanathapuram.

Accommodation- It is better to stay in Madurai which has good hotels.

Ramanathaswamy temple,Rameshwaram , Tirupullani, Sethukarai and Navapashanam are the other  famous temples  nearby.