January 29, 2011

The structure of Vellore Jalagandeswarar Temple

Vellore, the Fort city of Tamil Nadu state in South India, is of course famous due its gigantic fort. The main building within the fort is the magnificent temple of Jalagandeswarar. In my previous post, I wrote about the legend and history of Jalagandeswarar temple. In this post, let me briefly write about the idols, sculptures and the temple structure.

Jalagandeswarar temple has seven tiered tower which look gigantic along with its fort like long walls. Once you enter into the temple through this gigantic tower, you will find the Kalyana Mandap (wedding hall, if translated in English) and another temple tower with three tiers. The Kalyana Mandap is the highlight of this beautiful old temple of  the 16th century. If you visit this mandap alone and do not proceed to the temple, I would say it is more than enough. The mandap is so beautiful that it is very difficult to explain in writing. The mandap is full of extraordinary sculptures, artistic pillars and artistic ceilings. There are six big pillars in the front side of the mandap. Each pillar has soldiers on top of horses fighting with cheetahs. Each pillar is carved in unique style.

If you enter into the mandap, you can find 24 big pillars. Each pillar has three sections, and each section has four sculptures. Thus, there are twelve sculptures in each pillar.

Apart from this, there are sixteen pillars on the platform. Each sculpture is unique and beauty on its own. Yazhis (mythological animal), lions and Bhootas are found in many pillars and they are intricately carved. The sculptures such as Krishna lifting mountain, dancing lady warrior, dancing girls, Vishnu with Lakshmi, Vishnu with musical instrument, Narasimha with Garuda, Nataraj with his leg raised towards sky and Gajendra Moksha are some of the rare and unique sculptures. It is difficult to write about all the sculptures as hundreds of pages are needed to write about their intricacies in detail. You should go, visit and experience on your own.

Once you pass the internal temple tower, you will get into the main temple. Valmburi Vinayakar, the idol of Ganeshji with his truck turned toward right side, is the first idol that you would get to see. You need to turn towards your right to find the flag staff and the sanctum. The sanctum enshrines Jalagandeswarar in the form of a big Shiv Linga idol. You can find two Dwarapala idols at the entrance of the sanctum. There is a small corridor surrounding the main sanctum where various metal (utsav) idols are found. Some of those idols such as Brahma, Bikshandeswarar, Dakshinamurti, Chandrasekarar and Nalvar are really very beautiful. The walls surrounding the  sanctum has the niche images of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava, Brahma and Durga. Chandikeshwara is found in his usual location.

In the outer corridor, you can find a big shrine for Nataraj and Sivakami. The idols of Surya, Chandra, Bhairav, Shaneeswarar, 63 nayanmars, Ganga Paleeswarar Linga, Sapta Mata, Adi Shankarar, Ganesha and Bhairav are found in the outer corridor. The temple has two Nandi idols one inside the sanctum and another near the flag staff. The outer corridor also houses the shrine of the Goddess of the temple, Akhilandeswari. The walls surrounding the shrine of Akhilandeswari has the niche images of Ganesh, Chandikeswari and four Ambals. Adjacent to Akhilandeswari shrine, the idols of Lakshmi and Saraswati are found. There is a shrine for Lord Murugan found along with his consorts Valli and Devasena. There is a shrine for Venkatesa Perumal and Garud facing  him.

Vellore fort and this beautiful temple of Jalagandeswar are something which you should never miss to visit.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:
Site Name: Jalagandeswarar Temple 
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location: Vellore, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India 
Highlights: Known for its architecture and sculpture
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai - well connected from the cities/towns all over India
Nearest Airport: Chennai has both national and international airports
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Chennai or Bangalore
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Chennai; Many decent and budget hotels are available in Vellore
Restaurants: Saravana Bhavan in Vellore is one of the good vegetarian restaurants in Vellore; apart from that, there are only few good options available in Vellore

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