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Papanasam is a small village located at the foot hills of Western Ghats, on the banks of river Thamiraparni. The place is easily approachable from the nearest town Tirunelveli.
It is believed, once there was a Pandya king who got converted to Buddhism and ill-treated those among his subjects who did not convert to Buddhism as he decreed. Unable to face the harassment, a family with who were ardent devotees of Lord Shiva, left their home with their two children and went to a neighboring state. Unfortunately the family got caught up in a war that was raging there and the children, one boy and the other a girl, got separated from each other. Many years later they arrived in Banares the holy city, where they met each other, fell in love and got married without realising that they were brother and sister. They found out their mistake afterwards and sought ways of absolving their sin. They were advised to wear black and to bathe in all the sacred waters in India and when their black clothes turning white sill be an indication that they were absolved of their sin. Accordingly they went from place to place in search of redemption and finally when they bathed in the river Thamiraparni at Papanasam their clothes turned white thus indicating the absolution of their sin. Hence the deity in this temple, Siva, is refered to as 'Papavinaseswarar' - the redeemer of sins. The river Thamiraparni passes in front of the Temple. The Papanasam water falls and Banatheertham water falls in the river up hills are very sacred, beautiful places.