The Koviloor temple of "Sri Kotravaleeswarar" was initially built by one Pandiya King "Veerasekara Pandiyan" approximately thousand years ago. At that time Koviloor was known as Saliwadi (Land of Rice) and Kalani Vasal (Land of Agriculture). It had been a laterite construction.
Later during the 18th century, His Holiness Shri la Sri Mukthiramalinga Gnana Desika Swamigal had started reconstruction work. Simultaneously he had established our Vedanta Mutt, when it came to be known as Koviloor.
Once Pandiya King Veerasekaran went for hunting near Saliwadi village and lost his sword and later recovered. He ordered the construction of the temple and named the deity as Kotravaleeswarar or Raja Katka Parameshwar (God who saved King's sword, valour and there by citizens)
A legend explains how merciful and considerate has been the Goddess towards the truthful devotees. In ancient times there was a devotee by name Sivagupthan, living at Saliwadi with his wife Sudanmai and daughter Aradhanavalli. One day Sudanmai asked her daughter to go to their farm to protect the rice grains from birds. At noon, the mother went to the farm and fed her child with curd rice. The child relished the food and happily ate it.
But to the surprise of Sudanami, after some time Aradhavalli came running and requested for lunch. On enquiry it was explained that she had not gone to the farm at all, instead gone to play with her friends. Immediately Sivagupthan and Sudanmai realised that Mother Universe had come down to save their rice grains. They rushed to the temple and saw the Mother sitting with a smile and remains of curd rice on her lips. From that day onwards She came to be known as "Thirunellai Amman" (Goddess who saved rice grain).
Description of Temple
Koviloor, at present, is a small village, 2 kilometres away from Karaikudi, an educational and commercial centre. The main features of Koviloor are our temple and the mutt.
On the main road, two magnificent chariots constructed with concrete, on both sides of entrance, welcome us to Koviloor Mutt and Temple and from that point a well laid road, leads us to the southern tower of the temple.
The temple is surrounded by four broad Mada Streets. In front of the temple, on the eastern side is the tank "Madhu Puskarani" with a mandapam in the centre of the tank. Surprisingly, by the grace of the lord, the tank is always full with water even during hot summer months. On the southern side, our mutt stands like a palace with granite structure. Northern and western side of the temple, residential quarters for the temple and mutt employees are built. The main temple tower, Rajagopuram, is built with seven tiers according to 'Agama' tradition. It is full of beautiful sculptures.