A massive Hindu temple, which spans into 33 acres. The 1000 years old temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. Here, he is worshipped along with his consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi.
The temple is known as Dakshina Dwaraka or Dwaraka of the South. Legend is that, two-rishis (Saints) named Gopila and Gopralaya were asked by Lord Vishnu to reach Dwaraka to attain nirvana – that is salvation.
But by the time they reached Dwaraka, the Krishnavatar had ended. So Narada-the cosmic – sage directed them to go to Mannargudi temple by declaring it as Dakshina Dwaraka. At Mannargudi temple, Lord Vishnu gave them his darshan; on their request, Lord Vishnu appeared before them as Krishna. He enacted the childhood plays of little Krishna that took place at Vrindavan in Mathura, on the banks of Harithra river at Mannargudi. The river was flowing through Mannargudi at that time. The tradition holds that Harithra River became the present temple tank later on.
The Garuda shrine on top of a 50 feet high monolithic pillar is imposing.
It is surprising that none of the Alwars of Vaishnavite movement mentioned this temple in their Krithis.
But the temple is very popular in carnatic music as there are many krithis in praise of Lord Krishna of this temple. The Contributions of Sri Oothukkudy Venkata Subbaier- a maestro of carnatic music and Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar-one of the trinities of carnatic music deserve special mention here.
The grand Chola temple is near Thanjavur and Kumbakonam about 30 kilometers from both places.