January 5, 2013

Gunaseelam Temple

Site Name: Prasanna Venkatachalapati Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Gunaseelam, near Trichy, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: It is believed that mentally ill people get cured in this temple; due to this belief a huge number of such people are made to visit the temple; there is even a rehabitation center located near the temple
Nearest Railway Station: Trichy
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Trichy
Hotel: Go to Trichy where there are a lot of options 
Restaurants: Go to Trichy where there are a lot of options

Gunaseelam is a small village located at a distance of around 20 kms from Trichy city in South India. The village has become popular due to Prasanna Venkatachalapati temple located here. Although there are a lot of Divya Desam temples (108 important shrines of Lord Vishnu) located near Trichy city, this particular temple of Vishnu attracts more number of devotees although it is not a Divya Desam.

Temple Structure:

The temple is very simple in its structure. There is a small temple tower and flag post. Apart from the main shrine, there is only one small sub-shrine in the entire temple. The temple just has one wide prakara (the corridor around the main shrine). Although the legend claims that the temple is thousands of years old, the current structure is very recently renovated; hence, it looks like a modern temple constructed nowadays.

The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Prasanna Venkatachalapati (a form of Lord Vishnu). He is in the standing posture with four arms - somewhat similar to Tirumala Tirupati Balaji idol. The temple doesn't have Goddess. The procession (utsava) idol Srinivasa is found along with his two consorts in the main shrine itself.

In the prakara, there is a small shrine for Vikanasar, the founder of Vaikanasa agamam. It is believed that Lord Vishnu himself was born as Vikanasar. I am not sure if there is any other temple where the idol of Vikanasar can be found.

The wall around the main shrine has the sculptures of Navaneetha Krishna, Narasimha, Varaha and Yagna Narayana as the koshta deities.

Gunaseelam Temple

As per the legend, Thaalpiya Maharishi along with his disciple Gunaseela Rishi went to the Himalayas. On their way back, they stayed in Tirupati. Gunaseela was so attracted to Lord Venkatachalapati of Tirupati that he wished to have the Lord in his place (called as Gunaseelam nowadays).

 After he came back to his place, he performed severe penance. Pleased by his devotion, the Lord Venkatachalapati stayed here. The rishi offered daily poojas to the Lord. At the beginning of Kali Yuga, as per the request from his Guru, Gunaseela left for Naimisaranya by appointing his disciple to perform daily poojas at Gunaseelam. 

Due to fear of wild animals, the disciple left the place unattended. The idol got immersed in a pit. Several years later, a Chola king named Nyana Varma was ruling this region with Uraiyur as his capital. Everyday, the cowherds used to milk the cows near the pit. One day, the milk that was filled to the brim of the pot vanished all of a sudden. The king heard a divine voice which ordered him to dissolve the pit by pouring milk. He thus discovered the idol and built this temple.

Happy travelling.

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