Among the six Major Subrahmanya Temples in Tamil Nadu( Subrahmanya is called Murugan in Tamil), Thiruthani is believed to be the place where Subrahmanya married Valli.
Thiruthani is in the northern parts of Tamil Nadu and a small hillock.
But historical evidence suggests that it is not so and Murugan married Valli in Kumaran Koil in Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu and it was a part of Ancient Chera Kingdom of the Tamils.
Nachinarkiniyar , a commentator of ancient Tamil Grammar mentions this fact.
Silapaddikaram, one of the Five Epics of Tamil penned by the brother of the Great Chera King Cheran Chengkuttuvan, mentions this as well.
He was Illangovadigal.
So Thiruthani is not the place where Lord Murugan married Valli and it was Kumaran Koil.
Wherever there is a hill, there is an abode for Lord Murugan.’ True to this saying, there is a beautiful temple for Lord Murugan at the foothill of Velimalai, on the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent, fifteen kilometers northwest of Nagercoil on the road to Thiruvananthapuram, bordering the town of Padmanabhapuram.
Set in scenic surroundings, the temple is renowned among all the Murugan temples in Kanyakumari District. There are many versions as to how the hill derived its name veli malai. Vel was the surname for the Ay rulers. The Ay kingdom was a medieval Hindu feudal kingdom on the Malabar coast of South India. The hill that belonged to the Ay rulers came to be called as Velimalai. It is also known as Velvi Malai since Lord Murugan performed a yagna of sublime love, for the purpose of union of jivatma with Paramatma.
Kumarakovil is also known as Kumara Kshetram and Subrahmanya Sthala in Malayalam. The early Tamil epic Cilappatikkaram refers to the temple as Chera Nattu Aeragam.
Kumarakovil is a very ancient temple, as attested by the massive sculpture of Lord Murugan in a style dating from the Buddhist period. Buddhism probably flourished from 650-850 CE in Kerala. However, the available inscriptions about the temple date from from the 18th century CE only.
The temple is accessed through a flight of forty steep steps. Lord Murugan graces the devotees with His consort Valli. He is faces the east and said to be facing Sthanumalayan (Lord Siva) of Suchindram. The idol of Lord Murugan is a monolithic sculpture measuring eight feet and eight inches in height. Its long ears indicate that it belongs to the Buddhist period. Goddess Valli who adorns the sanctum is six and a half feet tall. Nandipadam and Murugan Padam on the top of the hill are believed to be the imprints of Nandi and Murugan.
Kalyana Vinayakar, who aided His brother in His marriage with Valli is in the right side of the entrance to the inner circumambulatory path. On the western circumambulatory path there is a shrine for Kasi Lingam and on the southern circumambulatory path there are shrines for Mahadevar, Sivakami and Chadikeswarar. The unique feature of this temple is that there is a shrine for Daksha, the maternal grandfather of Lord Murugan.
The sacred tree of the temple is a venerated vengai tree that is a hundred years old. Here, Arumuga Nayinar (Lord Murugan) is flanked by both His consorts, Valli and Deivayanai. This temple is associated with the legends of Valli’s marriage with Murugan. This is said to be the birth place of Valli.
Valli guhai is on the top of the hill which is two kilometers off the main temple, Valli sunai, a pond where Valli took bath, Valli colai, the millet field that Valli guarded, and kizhavan colai is where Murugan came in the disguise of an old man to woo Valli. The protocol of worship offered here is Kerala Tantram.
The divine wedding of Valli and Murugan is celebrated with great fervor in the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April) and is attended by thousands of pilgrims all over the state. Kuravar Patukalam, the war waged by Valli’s relatives against Murugan, is colourfully re-enacted during the divine wedding. The seven-day festival begins in the star of Anuradha in the month of Panguni. On the day of the wedding Manavalakkumaran (processional deity) seated in a palanquin proceeds towards Tiru Kalyana Mandapam which is at a distance of two kilometers from the temple. After the celestial wedding the deities are taken in procession back to the temple.
En route we witness the ceremonial Kuravar patukalam. Kuravas (tribal folk of the hill) wage a war against Lord Murugan in line with the legend associated with Murugan and Valli’s marriage. When the wedded couple reaches the rear entrance of the temple, Kuravas surrender to Lord Murugan and happily consent to the marriage. Then Lord Murugan is propitiated with abhishekam and deeparadhanai and a formal wedding is celebrated at night in the decorated temple mandapam bedecked with flowers. During the marriage, Valli colai, Vatta colai, Kizavan colai…etc are given as gifts to Lord Murugan from the bride’s side. This gift list is read aloud in the assembly. Kum-kum, honey and millet flour are given as prasadam after the divine wedding.’
The temple is considered to be one of the “Padai veedu” (the places where the Lord showered devine powers) of Lord Muruga. The sangam literature “Thirumurugattu Padai” written by poet Nakkeerar refers to the place unique in the sense that the devotees there wear only wet clothes only in the lower part of their body and enter the temple in the early morning with flowers to have oblation. This unique feature of worship is being followed there at Kumaran Koil till date. Prof. N.K. Mangala Murugesan in his book “Muruganin Arupadai veedugal” write, As per Thirumurugattupadai, in Earagthu Murugan temple, the Brahmins who observed a bharamacharya viradha for forty eight years sang veda mantras and the Aruchagas wearing wet lower garments and saying the six letter manthra (ohm saravanabhava) performed archanas. This practice is in vogue in Kumara shetram even now. On this basis, Earagam is Kumara shethram or Subramania Sthala besides the western ghats.
The Tamil epic “Silappathykaram” written by Illangovadigal refers four shetras (temples) as Padai veedu of Lord Muruga. Silappathikaram Vanji Kandam refers to,-“seerkezhu Senthilum, Sengodum, Venkuntum, Eragamum Neenga Eraivankai Vel …..” These are perhaps Thruchendur, Palani, Thirupparankuntam, Kumarakoil (Thiruveragam) situate in present-day Madurai, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari Districts. Some say that venguntu is Swamimalai. How it could be that scholars like Elangovadigal omit the place at which murugan married Deivanai, that too very near to the city of Madurai which is the theme centre of Silappathikaram. After burning Madurai, Kannagi went alongside Vaigai river and reached Western ghats. There, the people saw Kannagi and enquired about her. They exclaimed that you are like our Valli, but you are in distress. Who are you? Mangala Devi Koil dedicated to Kannagi by the Madurai King Cheran Chenguttuvan is in the Mangaladevi mountains alongside Periyaru river. This enhance the belief that Valli was brought up in western ghats.
Nachinarkuenier who had written meaning (arumpathavurai) for the poetry Thirumurugattupadai asserted that Earagam is ‘Malai Nattu Oru Thiruppathi’. Malai Nadu means Cheralam now known as Kerala. Veli Malai was part of Travancore Samasthanam in olden days. The place was part of Cherala Nadu when Silapathigaram was written. After Independence too this place was part of the present Kerala State. After a prolonged agitation under the leadership of great leaders like Nesamani Nadar, Ponnappa Nadar etc., the taluks of Thovalai, Agastheeswaram, Kalkulam, Vilavancode, and half of Neyyatinkarai were ceded to Tamil Nadu.