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Unique Temple of Lord Kurma

The most sacred and ancient shrine of Sri Kurmam, situated on the shores of bay of bengal, is the only swayambhu temple in the world where lord vishnu is worshipped in the form of Kurma Avataara (tortoise : the second incarnation of the famous dasa avataras).

Initially dedicated to Shiva and referred to as Kurmeswara temple, Ramanuja is said to have converted Srikurmam into a Vaishnavite temple in the 11th century AD. Since then, the temple was regarded as an important centre of Vaishnavism. This ancient shrine is believed to be prior to the golden era of sri raama (raama raajyam).

Prominent references about this shrine are available in Kurma, Vishnu, Agni, Padma, Brahmaanda puranas. while the shrine is said to be more than a few million years old, outer structures were reconstructed many a time after dilapidation of previous one , and the latest temple structure of outer walls is more than 700 years old.

The legends runs as follows. There existed a mountain, Swetachala, which was ruled by the king Sutha. His wife being profoundly attached to the religious chores was to observe a vow (Vratham) on a Suddha Ekadasi day and shunned herself from the sensual pleasures. As the king made amorous advances to her on the very same day set for prayers and worship she reproached his advances and made a fervent appeal to Lord himself for the unhindered continuance of the Vratham which ought not be violated. In answer to her prayer, Lord Kurmanatha bade Ganges to flow in between the king and queen, thus segregating the couple and as a result the queen started living on the banks of the river, while the king was pining for his beloved in solitude. Sage Narada advised him to please Lord Vishnu by doing a penance at the confluence of river Vamsadhara and the sea. He taught Kurma-mantra to meditate upon. Pleased with his prayer, the Lord appeared before him with all his divine attributes such as Sanka, Chakra, Gadha and Padma. Lord Brahma, the creator of universe, himself officiated the celestial rituals and consecrated the shrine with gopaala yantra .

Sweta Pushkarini (the lake in front of the temple) is formed by the sudarshan chakra. sri mahaa laxmi (the consort of lord vishnu), emanated from this lake and is adored in the name of Sri Kurma Naayaki, in varadaa mudra posture seated on garuda vaahana.

The deity of Kurmanathaswamy is made of black stone, but due to regular applications of sandalwood paste, it appears yellow. It sits on a platform made of stone with a length of 5 feet, a height of 1 foot, and a width of 4 feet. The idol is 2.5 feet (0.76 m) long and consists of three stone structures. The stone representing the head faces the west; the middle stone represents the body of the tortoise the small stone at the rear end, covered with swirling circles, represents either the tail of the tortoise or the Sudarshana Chakra.

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