Chitra Sabha, Courtrallam, Thirunelveli
Kutralam represents one of the 5 Pancha Sabhas of Nataraja - Chitra Sabhai. The five dance halls of Shiva are Chidambaram, Madurai, Thiruvalangadu, Thirunelveli and Kutralam. Kutralam is also known as Trikootaachalam. Lord Nataraja’s Chitra Sabha is one among the five Sabhas is located here. It is located to the north of Tirukutrala Nathar Temple at a distance of ½ Km. The Saba was open to public and the entrance fee was Rs 10. The Chitra Sabhai or the hall of pictures is located in a picturesque locale away from the main temple.
Architecturally the Chitra Sabha resembles that of the other Nataraja Sabhas elsewhere in Tamilnadu, and its interior is decked with hundreds of murals, depicting images from the Indian epics. Natarajar is brought here during festivals from the Kurumpalaveesar temple. This Sabha or hall is made of copper. Lord Nataraja in the form of paintings appears as Tirupura Thandava Murthi. The Chithra Sabha was initially built by Parakrama Pandyan (1422-1483 A.D) and completed by King Udaya Marthanda Varman, since the place is for dance, dancing girls are found to be engraved in welcoming dance postures the statue of the musician panar is found on one side.
There is a mandapam with a Gopuram at the center of Temple Pond in front. There are no pictures in front mandapam of Chitra Sabhai. The Sabha is in the form of a temple with Copper plated roof with 8 kalasams on the top. The wooden carved planks serve as doors, beams, cornices and roof structure. The temple authorities have conserved the paintings and they appear bright with modern touch. The roof of the painting hall is covered with copper sheets.
Statues engraved on wood are found on the entrance doors, including Sakthi peetam, Goddess Parvathi in feeding posture, Lord Kannan playing the flute, Lord of south direction Yegapatha Murthi, Veerapathirar, Lord Murugan, Lord Vinayagar, Goddess Meenakshi, Lord Gajenra’s heavenly scene, Vrishabarudar, Kangalar, Ravana Anugraha Murthi, Lord Shiva kicking lord Yama, statues of kings are also found. Unfortunately they are not allowing photography.
It is in this hall; sage Agasthya pressed the head of Lord Vishnu changing him as a Shivalinga. The miracles (Tiruvilayadal) played by Lord Shiva and various forms of Lord Dakshinamurthy are beautifully painted here with colours made of herbals. A 10 day festival-Margazhi Tiruvadhirai in December-January dedicated to Lord Nataraja is grandly celebrated with car festival. The Arati shown to Lord Nataraja is offered in his dancing style, known as Thandava Deepa Aaradhana. Lord Nataraja is dressed in white and green using fragrant Marikozhundu. This puja is followed during the Chithirai Brahmmotsavam in April-May also.