Papanasam Temple is located at Papanasam village, near Tirunelveli
. The presiding deity is Papavinaseswarar (
), the redeemer of sins.
Legend has it that a
Pandya king who had converted to
Buddhism tormented those of his subjects who did not agree to convert. An ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, unable to put up with any more harassment, left the state with his son and daughter. The family was caught in some strife, and the children got separated from each other. After a long time, they arrived in Varanasi, where the children, now grown up, met each other and got married without realizing that they were siblings. When finally they realized their sin, they started searching for ways of absolution. They were advised to wear black and bathe in all the sacred waters of India. When their black clothes turned white, they would be redeemed. It was at Papanasam that this finally happened.
The river Thamiraparni that flows by the temple teems with fish. Devotees believe that these are redeemed souls, and harming them would bring retribution. Thousands of pilgrims come here every year to bathe in the sacred river.
The nearest airport is at Madurai and the nearest railway station, Tirunelveli.