What are DIVYA DESAMS and where are they located

Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple is known as the first Divya Desam.
  • Know what are Divya Desam Temples and where they are located, Names of 12 Alvars (11 non-Brahmins). Temples are in TN, Uttaranchal, Kerala, U.P., Andhra, Gujarat and Nepal.

For followers of Vishnu, a visit to the 108 Divya Desams is an important aspect of their spiritual growth. Krishnan and I have just started our journey down this path. For all this while, we didn't realise the importance of visiting temples. 

Our core philosophy hasn't changed which is that Bhagwan is everywhere and in every single thing. So the entire Earth is sacred. The temple ecosystem was an important pillar of sustaining Sanatana Dharma and our culture. We would like to participate in these efforts and so have made it a point to visit as many temples as possible during our travels. We have had a lot of learnings which I will share in subsequent blogs. 

Alvars - The Poet Saints 


There are 12 poet saints who were devoted to Mahavishnu and they penned 4000 songs in his praise. All the 4000 paasurams (songs) that the Alvars have written are compiled as the Naalayira (4000) Divya Prabandham. For Iyengars (Vishnu followers) learning the Naalayira Divya Prabandham is a lifelong mission. 

The paasurams are written in Tamil so that the common man could understand and sing along. The songs distil the messages from the Vedas and the Upanishads in everyday language. 

Very Important to Note - Except for one Alvar none of them are Brahmins. Having said that, Alvars rose who transcended jati and merged with the Supreme, so their varna is not relevant. Here are the 12 Alvars.

1. Poigai Alvar - Found in a Lotus flower near a small pond in Kanchipuram. No known antecedents.

2. Bhoothath Alvar - Found in a Liquorice flower in Mahabalipuram. 

3. Pey Alvar - Found in a Lily flower at the Adi Kesava Perumal temple in Mylapore.

4. Thirumalisai Alvar - Raised by a tribal couple.

5. Nammalvar - Born in a Shudra family in Alwarthirunagari. He is considered the foremost amongst the Alvars and he has penned 1352 paasurams of the 4000 Divya Prabandham. 

6. Madhurakavi Alvar - Even though he was older than Nammalvar, he was his disciple and recorded all the 1352 paasurams. 

7. Kulasekhara Alvar - A Chera King who became an Alvar !. The Srirangam temple's prakara was renovated by him and hence called Kulasekhara Thiruvadi. 

8. Periyalvar - Also known as Vishnuchitta, or one who has Vishnu in his mind 24/7. He adopted Vishnucittan Kodhai aka Andal the only female Alvar. Both Periyalvar and Andal are from Srivilliputhur.

9. Andal - Found under the Tulsi plant by the childless Periyalvar. He adopted her and Andal penned the 30 songs titled Thirupaavai besides the 143 verses of Thirumozhi.

10.Thondaradippodi Alvar - Also known as Vipra Narayana. He was so devoted to Ranganathar (the reclining form of Mahavishnu) of Sri Rangam that he would worship even the dust at his feet. 

11. Thiruppaan Alvar - Born in the family of Paanars, who are considered "untouchables" as per the modern definition of caste. He was carried on the shoulders of the sage Loka Saranga into the Garba Griha of Srirangam temple. 

12. Thirumangai Alvar - Born in the Kallar community (robbers). His father was a general in the Chola army and became the ruler of a small kingdom gifted by the Chola emperor. Thirumangai Alvar was also a soldier, a king and ofcourse a Vishnu devotee. 

Definition of Divya Desams

Divya Desams are those Vishnu temples where one or more of the 12 Alvars have sung in praise of Mahavishnu. The ranking system is loosely based on how many songs have been sung in each of the temples. The temple where all the Alvars have sung is the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple or hence it is the first Divya Desam. 

In Iyengar lingo, we say the Alvars have done "Mangala Saasanam" at these temples. Lovely word!

Note: In many Divya Desam temples, Bhagwan Shiva is also worshipped. So all this Siva - Vishnu divide is a modern day creation to divide Hindus.

Also read Creating a Shiva Vishnu Divide in Tamil Nadu  

List of Divya Desams city and state wise?

Of the 108 Divya Desams, 84 are in Tamil Nadu. Further, 40 of these temples are in the erstwhile Chola Kingdom, the famous Shaivite empire. For Tamil Nadu, list is city wise for others it is state-wise.  


1.Thiruvarangam (Sri Rangam) – Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

2.Thirukkozhi (Uraiyur) – Sri Azhagiya Manavala Perumal Temple

3.Thirukkarambanoor – Sri Purushothaman Perumal Temple

4.Thiruvellarai – Sri Pundarikashan Perumal Temple

5.Thiru Anbil – Sri Vadivazhagiya Nambi Perumal Temple

6.Thirupper Nagar – Sri Appakkudathaan Perumal Temple.

See album Srirangam Temple

Thanjavur & Kumbakonam

7.Thiru Thanjaimaamani Koil – Sri Neelamega Perumal Temple

8.Thirukkandiyur – Sri Hara Saabha Vimocchana Perumal Temple

9.Thirukkoodaloor – Sri Aaduthurai Perumal Temple

10.Thirukkavithalam (Kabisthalam) – Sri Gajendra Varadha Perumal Temple

11.Thiruppullam Boothankudi – Sri Valvil Ramar Perumal Temple

12.Thiru Aadhanoor – Sri Aandu Alakkum Ayan Perumal Temple

13.Thirukkudanthai – Sri Saarangapani Perumal Temple

14.Thiru Vinnagar – Sri Oppiliappa Perumal Temple

15.Thirunarayoor (Naachchiyaar koil) – Sri Thirunarayoor Nambi Perumal

16.Thiruccherai – Sri Saranathan Perumal Temple

17.Thirukkannamangai – Sri Bhaktavatsala Perumal Temple

18.Thirunandhipura Vinnagaram (Nathan Koil) – Sri Jaganatha Perumal Temple

19.Thiruvelliyankudi – Sri Kola Valvilli Ramar Perumal Temple.

See album Temples of Kumkakonam

Mayiladutural or Mayavaram

20.Thiru Indhaloor – Sri Parimala Ranganatha Perumal Temple

21.Thiruvazhunthoor – Sri Devaadi Raja Perumal Temple

22.Thiru Sirupuliyur – Sri Arulmaakadal Perumal Temple

23.Thirukkannapuram – Sri Sowrirajan Neelamega Perumal Temple

24.Thiru Naagai – Sri Soundaryarajan Neelamega Perumal Temple

25.Thirukkannankudi – Sri Loganatha Perumal Temple

26.Thiru Thalaicchanga Naanmathiyam – Sri Naan Madhiya Perumal Temple.


27.Kaazhicheeraama Vinnagaram – Thadalar Seerkazhi Thirivikaraman Perumal

28.Thiruvellakkulam (Annan Kovil) – Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple

29.Thiru Devanaar Thogai – Sri Deiva Naayaga Perumal Temple

30.Thiruvaali Thirunagari – Sri Lakshmi Narashima Perumal Temple

31.Thiru Kavalampaadi – Sri Gopala Krishna Perumal Temple

32.Thiru Manikkoodam – Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple

33.Thiru Paarthanpalli – Sri Thamaraiyal Kelvan Perumal Temple

34.Thiru Manimaada Kovil – Sri Narayana Perumal Temple

35.Thiru Arimeya Vinnagaram – Sri Kuda Maadu Koothan Perumal Temple

36.Thiru Thetri Aambalam – Sri Seganmaal Ranganatha Perumal Temple

37.Thiru Sempon Sei Kovil – Sri Per Arulaalan Perumal Temple

38.Thiru Vann Purushothamam – Sri Purushothama Perumal Temple

39.Thiru VaiKunda Vinnagaram – Sri Vaigundha Nathan Perumal Temple.


40.Thiruchitrakootam (Chidambaram) – Sri Govindaraja Perumal Temple

41.Thiruvaheendrapuram (Cuddalore) – Sri Deyva Nayaga Perumal Temple

42.Thirukkoviloor – Sri Thiruvikrama Perumal Temple.


43.Thirukkachchi – Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple

44.Ashtabhuyakaram – Sri Aadhikesava Perumal Temple

45.Thiru Vekka – Sri Yathothakaari Temple

46.Thiru Velukkai – Sri Azhagiya Singar Perumal Temple

47.Thiruthanka – Sri Deepa Prakasar Perumal Temple

48.ThirukKalvanoor – Sri Aadhi Varaha Perumal Temple

49.Thiru Ooragam – Sri Ulagalantha Perumal Temple

50.Thiru Neeragam – Sri Jagadeeshwarar Temple

51.Thiru Kaaragam – Sri Karunakara Perumal Temple

52.Thirukkaar Vaanam – Sri Thirukkaar vaanar Temple

53.Thiruparameshwara Vinnagaram – Sri Vaikunda Perumal Temple

54.Thiru Pavala Vannan – Sri Pavala Vannar Temple

55.Thiru Nilathingal Thundam – Sri Nilathingal Thundathan Perumal Temple

56.Thiru Paadagam – Sri Pandava Thoodhar Temple

57.Thiruputkuzhi – Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal Temple.

See album of Varadahraja Permunal Temple


58.Thiruvallikkeni – Sri Parthasarathy Temple

59.Thiruneermalai – Sri Neervanna Perumal Temple

60.Thiruvedanthai – Sri Nithya Kalyana Perumal Temple

61.Thiru Kadalmalai (Mahabalipuram) – Sri Sthala Sayana Perumal Temple

62.Thiru Nindravoor (Thirunindravur) – Sri Bhatavatsala Perumal Temple

63.Thiruevvuloor (Tiruvallur) – Sri Veeraraghava Perumal Temple

64.Thirukkatikai (Sholingur) – Sri Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple.


65.Thirukkoodal – Sri Koodal Azhagar Perumal Temple

66.Thiru Moghur – Sri Kaalamegha Perumal Temple

67.Thirumaalirunsolai (Alagar Kovil) – Sri Kallazhagar Perumal Temple

68.Thirukkotiyoor – Sri Uraga Mellanayaan Perumal Temple

69.Thirumeyyam – Sri Sathyagiri Natha Perumal Temple

70.Thiruppullanni (Ramanathapuram) – Sri Kalyana Jagannatha Perumal Temple

71.Thiruthankaal (Sivakasi) – Sri Nindra Narayana Perumal Temple

72.Thiruvilliputtur (Sri Villiputhoor) – Sri Vadabhatra Saayi Perumal.


73.Thiruvaikuntham (Sri Vaikundam) – Sri Vaikundanatha Perumal Temple

74.Thiruvaragunamangai – Sri Vijayaasana Perumal Temple

75.Thiruppulingudu – Sri Kaaichina Vendha Perumal Temple

76.Thirukkulanthai – Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple

77.Thiruttholai Villimangalam (Twin Thirupathis) – Sri Aravindha Lochana

78.Thirupperai – Sri Magara NedungKuzhai Kaathar Perumal Temple

79.Thirukkoloor – Sri Vaitha Maanitha Perumal Temple

80.Thirukkurugur (Alwar Thirunagiri) – Sri Aadhinatha Swamy Temple

81.Thiruvaramangai Vaanamaamalai (Nanguneri) – Sri Thothatrinatha Perumal

82.Thirukkurungudi – Sri Nindra Nambi Perumal Temple

83.Thiruvanparisaaram (Nagercoil) – Sri Kuralappa Perumal Temple

84.Thiru Vattaaru (Marthandam) – Sri Aadhikesava Perumal Temple.

Kerala  (11 Divya Desams)

85.Thiruvananthapuram – Sri Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temple

86.Thirupuliyoor (Chengannur) – Sri Maayapiran Perumal Temple

87.Thirucchenkundroor (Chengannur) – Sri Imayavarappa Perumal Temple

88.Thiruvaaran Vilai (Aranmulla Temple) – Sri Parthasarathy Perumal Temple

89.Thiruvanvandoor (Chengannur) – Sri Paambanaiyappa Perumal Temple

90.Thiruvalvaazh (Thiruvalla) – Sri Kolapira Perumal Temple

91.Thirukkadithaanam (Changanassery) – Sri Athpudha Narayana Perumal

92.Thirukkaatkarai (Near Ernakulam, Edapally) – Sri Kaatkarai Appa Perumal

93.Thirumoozhikkalam (Near Cochin Int Airport) – Sri Moozhikkalathaan

94.Thiruvithuvakkodu (Near Thrissur, Pattambi) – Sri Uyyavantha Perumal

95.Thiru Naavaay (Near Kuttippuram) – Sri Naavaay Mugundha Perumal Temple.

Andhra Pradesh   (2 Divya Desams)

96.Thirupathi (Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh) – Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple

97.Thiru Singavel Kundram (Ahobilam, Andhra Pradesh) – Sri Nava Narasimhar

Gujarat    (1 Divya Desam)

98.Thiru Dwaraka (Dwaraka, Gujarat) – Sri Kalyana Narayana Perumal Temple

Uttar Pradesh    (4 Divya Desams)

99.Thiru Ayodhi (Uttar Pradesh) – Sri Ramar Temple

100.Thiru Naimisaranyam (Uttar Pradesh) – Sri Devaraja Perumal Temple

101.Thiruvaaipadi (Aayarpadi) – Sri Navamohana Krishna Perumal Temple

102.Thiru Vadamathura (Govardhanesan) – Sri Govardhana Nesa Perumal Temple

Uttaranchal      (3 Divya Desams)

103.Thirukkandam (Devaprayag) – Sri Neelamega Perumal Temple

104.Thiruppirudhi (Joshimutt) – Sri Paramapurusha Perumal Temple

105.Thiruvadhari Ashramam (Badrinath) – Sri Badri Narayana Perumal Temple.

Nepal    (1 Divya Desam)

106.Thiru Salagramam (Mukthinath, Nepal) – Sri Moorthy Perumal Temple

Celestial Abodes

107.ThirupPaarkadal (Vyugam) – Celestial Abode

108.ThirupParamapadham (Parathuvam) – Celestial Abode.

During this trip to the south and earlier, we have visited a few of the Divya Desams.

Author is an Executive Coach, Co-founder www.Shikshadaan.com and blogs at www.90rollsroyces.com

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