February 9, 2013

Uthamar Koil - A temple for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva

Site Name: Uthamar Koil
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Uthamar Koil, near Trichy, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A temple for Tri murtis - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva; one of 108 Divya Desam Temples
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

Uthamar Koil is a small village located near Trichy city in South India. The place is famous for its temple dedicated to Holy Trinity (Trimurtis of Hinduism) - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Technically, the structure has two temples - one dedicated to Vishnu and another dedicated to Shiva. As there is a separate shrine for Brahma also, it is generally considered as a temple of all the three deities. The temple is named as Uthamar Koil (correct pronunciation - Uttamar Koil) and Bhikshatanar temple. Another significance of the temple is that it is the third Divya Desam temple in the Chola country. Tirumangai Alwar has praised the Lord in his hymns. It is also believed that he had lived in this village and supervised the renovation of Srirangam temple. 


Highlights:
  • A unique temple where all the three supreme Gods along with their respective consorts are found in separate shrines
  • Considered to be a temple of Trimurtis
  • One of Divya Desam temples - mangalasasanam done by Tirumangai Alwar
  • Seven Gurus are found in the temple - Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, Subramanya,  Brahaspati and Sukracharya
  • God - Purusothama and Bhikshatana
  • Goddess - Poornavalli and Soundarya Parvati
  • Holy tree - Kadamba (a plantain variety)


Legend:

    As per the legend, Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva had five heads. Once Brahma visited Kailash, Shiva's abode. Parvati, the consort of Shiva, mistook Brahma for her husband and washed his feet. Brahma was proud of himself and hence he didn't stop her from doing so. Shiva saw this and got angry. He cut down the fifth head of Brahma. However, he could not get rid of this sin; the fifth head of Brahma stuck to his finger. He started begging (in the form of Bhikshatanar) with the skull as the bowl; whenever someone put food into the bowl, it automatically disappeared. Ultimately, Shiva got rid of his hunger when Lakshmi filled his bowl with food. 

    As per another legend, the king Janaka (father-in-law of Lord Rama of Ramayana, the great epic of India) performed a yagna in this site. The sanctity of yagna got spoiled by a dog and even the seers forgot how to continue with the ritual. As per the advice by a seer who disappeared later, Janaka worshiped a kadamba tree. He got darshan of all three Gods in the tree. He accordingly built this temple with all the three deities.

    It is also believed that the childless king Dasarath (Rama's father) visited this temple and prayed to the Lord.

    Temple Layout:

    Although the temple is supposed to be ancient, the current structure is renovated in the recent past. The antique signs can be felt only in the idols and sculptures and not in the building. 

    There is no tower for this temple. A small flag post and bali peeth are found facing the main shrine. 

    The sanctum sanctorum has the idol of Lord Vishnu called as Purushothama in the reclining posture. He is found lying on Adi Sesha with Brahma on the lotus flower emerging from his navel. The idol is slightly longer. There are two large dwarapala idols at the entrance of the sanctum. A small Garud idol is facing the sanctum. Poornavalli, the consort of Purushothama, is found in a separate shrine in the prakara.

    From the first prakara, there is a separate entrance to get inside the Shiva temple. It is located on the back side of Purushothama's sanctum. This section of the temple has idols related to Saiva sect. The sanctum has a small Shiv Linga called as Bhikshatanar; a utsava (processional) idol of Bhikshata form (beggar form) of Shiva is also found here. Soundarya Parvati, the consort of Bhikshatanar, is found in a separate shrine in this section. It is a small idol; the Goddess has four arms. A separate flag post and bali peeth along with Nandi idol are found in this temple.

    A separate shrine for big idol of Brahma in the sitting posture and the shrine of Gnana Saraswati in the sitting posture nearby are located in the prakara.

    Apart from the above three main Gods and Goddesses, there are other small shrines and idols found in this temple. Let us explore those details too.

    There are other idols such as Surya, Chandra, Bhairav, Nalvar, Vinayaka, Bana Linga, Vayu Linga, Dandayudhapani and Adi Brahma are found within the Shiva temple.

    To the right side of the sanctum of Purushothama, the Goddess Lakshmi is found in a separate shrine. A small shrine for Hanuman is found to the left side of Purushothama shrine.

    A separate shrine for Venu Gopala along with his two consorts is located in the prakara.

    Dakshinamurti, Bhikshatana, Bala Vinayak and Durga are found as koshta idols surrounding the wall of Shiva temple. Chandikeswara is found near Durga. 

    Twin Ganeshas, Navagraha, a big Linga called Dasaratha Linga along with Nandi, Alwars, Ramanuja and Manavala Muni, Varadaraja Perumal are some of the small shrines found within the temple complex.

    Happy travelling.


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