Koyiladi is home to the Appakoodathan or Appala Rangan (Vishnu) temple, which is one of the one hundred and eight Divya Desams or holy places that have been praised by the important Vaishnava devotees called Azhvars. Four of the twelve Azhvars Thirumazhisai Azhvar, Nammazhvar, Periazhvar and Thirumangai Azhvar have eulogised the deity enshrined here. Nammazhvar composed the last of his Pasurams (verses) in praise of this God and subsequently attained Moksha.
The traditional name of this place is Thirupernagar. It is said that Appala Rangan once saved Indra and thus the small hill on which the main sanctum is located is called Indra Giri. The vimanam above the principal sanctum is known as Indra Vimanam and the sacred water (River Kaveri) is Indra Tirtham. This temple is one of the Pancha Ranga Kshetrams (places where Vishnu appears as Ranganatha), the others being at Srirangapattanam, Srirangam, Kumbakonam and Mayavaram (Indalur). It is said that King Uparisaravasu gave appam (a sweet) to God Vishnu who was disguised as an old man and hence even today, this deity is offered appam as neivedyam (offering) at night during the Sayana sevai.
The principal deity, Appala Rangan is a stucco image of Vishnu in a reclining form. His left hand is lifted up and bent at the elbow while the right hand is stretched out to bless Sage Markandeya, seated in anjali hasta (palms in supplication). Near Markandeya Maharishi is a pot for appam, a special feature of this temple.
Goddess Bhudevi is at the feet of Appala Rangan, kneeling and praying. The processional deity (Utsava-murti), known as Ranganatha Perumal, holds the Sankha and Chakra in the upper hands. His lower right hand is in abhaya hasta (blessing devotees) and lower left hand holds the gada (mace). The sanctum for Goddess Lakshmi, worshipped as Kamalavalli Thayar is in the front mandapam of this temple. There are a number of donative inscriptions here belonging to the Pandya, Chola and Vijayanagara times.
The Sthala Vriksham is the Purasa Maram
The Brahmotsavam is in the Tamil month of Panguni
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Koyiladi is about 60 km from Kumbakonam and 25 km from Thiruchirapalli
The writer is a historian who focuses on temple architecture