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Tirunelveli is a district of Tamilnadu, its headquarters being Tirunelveli town, one of the major towns in Tamilnadu. The main temple in Tirunelvei town is dedicated to Lord Shiva, worshipped as Nellaiappar. It is situated in the middle of the town and occupies an area of about 850 feet X 750 feet. There is a large manadapam with thousand pillars where the marriage ceremony of the Lord to his consort Kanthimathi takes place during the festival of 'Thirukkalyanam' (Royal marriage). There are two more 'mandapams' known as 'Vasantha mandapam' and 'Mani mandapam'. The pillars in the Mani mandapam numbering 48 give musical notes when tapped gently. It is in this temple the famous Thamirasabha exist, one of the sacred five sabhas where Lord Shiva is believed to have danced as Nataraja
Legends about Tirunelveli
There was a poor devotee of Lord Shiva by the name Vedasarma. He begged daily for rice, which he cooked and offered to his Lord during his daily pooja. One day he was given some paddy that he left out in the Sun for drying. Unfortunately it started to rain heavily. Vedasarma was distraught that his paddy would be washed away and that he would not be able to make his offering as usual. When the rain stopped he came out of his hut to find that there was a fence around his paddy and no rain had fallen over the area where his paddy was drying. He marveled at this miracle which he was convinced it was due to the kindness of his Lord. This place then came to be known as Thirunelveli - Thiru (Sacred); Nel (paddy); Veli (fence). The Lord came to be known as Nellaiappar.
Another legend connected with this temple was that there was a Nawab (Muslim ruler) in Thirunelveli whose wife was suffering from an incurable disease. She tried various methods to get rid of this illness but without success. She was then advised by one of her courtiers to arrange a special pooja propitiating the deity at this temple. She did so and found that she was not only cured of her illness but was also expecting a baby. In a few months a baby boy was born and the parents were overjoyed. They named the boy Anavarata Khan. As an act of gratitude she arranged to build a shrine inside the temple complex which was built in the south-eastern corner of the 'praharam' (corridor). An opening was provided on the outer wall opposite this shrine so that this Muslim royal family could worship from outside the temple as non-Hindus were prohibited from entering the temple. A Sivalingam was installed in this shrine and named as Anavarata khan in memory of the Muslim prince.