May 26, 2013

Mappedu Singeeswarar Temple

Site Name: Singeeswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva
Location:  Mappedu, near  Kadambattur, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The idol of Hanuman playing Veena in front of Lord Shiva; built by Aditya Karikalan Chola
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai; public transport is difficult
Hotel: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options 
Restaurants: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options

Mappedu is a small village located near Chennai city in South India. The nearest landmark to this village is Kadambattur. This tiny village has an ancient temple for Lord Shiva called as Singeeswarar. It was built by Aditya Karikala Chola, the elder brother of the great king Raja Raja Chola who constructed the most popular Brahadeeswara Temple at Tanjore. 

Highlights:
  • Hanuman playing Veena in front of Lord Shiva.
  • Built by Aditya Karikala Chola in the 10th century CE.
  • Prayers offered here helps to get the devotees skillful in music.
  • The site is particularly good for those who were born with Moolam as the birth-star.
  • God Singeeswarar  
  • Goddess Pushpakujambal aka Poomulai Nayaki
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Sweta Padma Pushkarani
  • Holy Tree (Sthala Vruksha) - Ilandai tree

Legend:

Lord Shiva danced in Tirvalankadu site; Singi, one of eight Nandis, played mrudankam; he was so devoted that he closed his eyes and missed the divine dance. He requested the Lord to dance again so that he could watch the same. Shiva fulfilled his wish in Mappedu site. As Singi got darshan of Lord Shiva's dance in this place, Shiva is called as Singeeswarar.

Hanuman played amrutavarshini raaga using his veena in this site which turned the dry land into fertile land. Hanuman idol playing veena is found in this temple.

History:

Aditya Karikalan II Chola was a great warrior who won Veera Pandian; he was the elder brother of the great Chola emperor Raja Raja Chola. His murder still remains as a historical mystery. He built this temple in 967 CE.

In 1501 CE, Ariyanatha Mudaliyar, who served as the Dalavai in Vijayanagar king Krishnadevaraya's kingdom, constructed the compound wall and the tower of this temple. To honor him, his idol in the posture similar to that of Lord Ranganatha (reclined on a serpent) is found in the temple tower.

Temple Layout:

The temple which has north facing tower has the east facing main shrine. The flag post, Nandi mandapa and bali peetha are located facing the main shrine. 

Singeeswarar is found in the form of a slightly big Shiva Linga in the sanctum sanctorum. There are two Ganesha idols found at the entrance of the sanctum. The Maha mandapa has few pillars with good sculpture. 

The Goddess Pushpakujambal is found in a separate east facing shrine in the prakara. The mandapa of this shrine has good sculptures. 

The wall around the main shrine has Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga as the koshta idols. Chandikeshwarar isfound near Durga.

There is only one prakara in this temple - wide and big. The sub shrines of Ganesha, Surya, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena, Varadaraja-SreeDevi-Bhoo Devi and Bhairava are located in the prakara. 

There is a vasanta mandapa with a lot of beautiful pillars with sculptures. Near that mandapa, there is a sub shrine for Shiva Linga - Veerapaleeswarar. Facing this shrine, the rare idol of Hanuman with veena is found.

It is worth visiting this beautiful ancient temple in "Meip pedu", which is called as Mappedu nowadays.

Happy travelling.






















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May 23, 2013

Tiruvirkolam aka Cooum

Site Name: Tripurantaka Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva
Location:  Tiruvirkolam, near  Kadambattur on the Chennai Arakkonam suburban railroad, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai; public transport is difficult
Hotel: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options 
Restaurants: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options

People of Tamil Nadu state in South India know Cooum river more as a dirty river. However, it used to be the major livelihood for Chennai city in the olden days (when it was hardly a city). Even today, the river is in good condition in its origin. The village, where the river originates is also called as Cooum. It is traditional to find temples on the banks of the river. On the banks of the river Cooum also, there are two ancient temples dedicated to Lord Shiva are located. One of those two temples is called as Tripurantaka temple located in Tiruvirkolam. This small village is located near Kadambattur junction and can be reached from Chennai. It is considered as the 14th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in Tondai country. 

Highlights:
  • Sambandhar has revered the temple in his verses in Devaram.
  • The deity cannot be touched even by the priest - called as 'Theendaa Tirumeni'.
  • The color of Shiva Linga changes on its own as per the seasons.
  • The Rakshasas stand at the entrance as the Dwarapalas.
  • As it is believed that the frog might disturb the penance of Lord Shiva, no frog is found in any nearby tanks or Cooum river.
  • God Tripurantaka aka Tiruvirkolanathar 
  • Goddess Tripurantaki aka Tirupura Sundari
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Virkola Teerth (Agni Teerth)
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - No particular tree; the entire site is considered as Naimisaranya forest



    Legend:

    There was a great Asura king (demon) named Tarakasura. He was a devotee of Lord Shiva. He had got the boon from Shiva that he could be killed only by the son of Shiva. (He was later killed by Subramanya, the son of Lord Shiva.)

    Tarakasura had three sons - Tarakaksha, Kamalaksha and Vidhyunmaali. They did severe penance towards Lord Brahma and got two boons. As per the first boon, no one in Brahma's creation could be stronger than them. As per the second boon, they got three flying forts made up of gold, silver and iron which would be separate from each other and come together only rarely; a single arrow, which would bring all the forts together and burn could only destroy the Asuras. Maya, the Danava architect, constructed the golden fort in the heaven for Tarakaksha, the silver fort on the skies for Kamalaksha and iron fort on the earth for Vidhyunmaali. 

    The three Asuras happily lived in their flying forts without troubling anyone. However, the Devas were partly jealous and partly afraid of them. They sought the help of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu created a man and ordered him and his four disciples to preach a new religion which is anti Vedic (Jainism). They were successful in converting the Asuras into their religion. They stopped worshiping Shiva and following other Vedic rituals. They even started waging war against the Devas.

    The Devas got a reason now to appeal Lord Shiva to kill the Asuras. Shiva agreed to wage war against the Tripuras. He made the earth as his chariot with the Sun and the Moon as the wheels of the chariot. He got the Meru mountain as his bow and Vasuki, the serpent king, as the bow string. Vishnu became the arrow and Agni became the tip of the arrow. Brahma drove the chariots and the four Vedas became the horses. 

    As the Devas missed to worship Lord Ganesha, he broke the axle of the chariot's wheel. Realizing this, Lord Shiva requested Ganesha to set it right. Tiruvirkolam is the site where this incident happened. There is an idol of Lord Ganesha in this temple, who is believed to have broken the axle in this site. As Lord Shiva took the bow and arrow in his arms, he is called as Tiruvirkolanathar in this site (Vil=bow; Kolam=posture; Tiruvirkolanathar means the Lord holding the bow). He rose as a Swayambhu Linga in this place; as the axle (Kooram) of the chariot fell in this site, it got the name 'Kooram'. It later became 'Cooum'. The village is called as 'Cooum' and the river that originates near this place is also called as 'Cooum'. (Technically, the river does not originate in this village but in a nearby site; as per the mythology, this site is considered as the origin of the river).

    Shiva finally put the arrow to his bow and in a split second all the three forts were merged into one and set aflame. As he destroyed the Tripura Asuras, he is named as 'Tripurantaka' (the destroyer of Triupras) in this temple.

    Temple Layout:

    The 7th century brick temple was rebuilt as the stone temple by Nagarathars in the 11th century CE. The huge temple with the river Cooum alongside has the south facing five tiered Raja gopura. The idols of Ganesha and Kartikeya are found at the tower entrance.

    Although the main entrance faces the south direction, the sanctum is facing the east direction; a long flag post, bali peetha and Nandi idol are located facing the sanctum. The entrance to the sanctum is not at the front side but on the right side facing the southern direction. 

    The sanctum sanctorum enshrines the big Shiva Linga idol made of sand called as 'Tirupurantaka' aka 'Tiruvirkolanathar'. It is 'Theenda tirumeni' meaning no one including the priest is allowed to touch it. It is believed that it changes its color on its own as per the season; during rainy season, it is in white color and it changes to red color during the dry season or war times. 

    At the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum, there is an idol of Lord Ganesha. The two out of three Tripura Asuras took the form of Dwarapalas; their appearance also slightly differs from that of typical postures of dwarapalas. 

    The wall around the sanctum sanctorum has the niche (Koshta) idols of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava, Brahma and Durga. All these images are very attractive. Chandikeshwara is found in his usual location.


    The vimana of the sanctum sanctorum is in the form of Gaja prshtha architectural style. 

    Ganesha, who broke the axle of the chariot as per the legend seen above, is found with two arms in a separate sub-shrine in the inner prakara. He is named as 'Achcharutta Vinayakar' - achcharutta means "the one who broke the axle".

    The sub-shrines of Brahadeeswarar, Shanmukhanathar-Valli-Devasena, Bala Murugan and Meenakshi-Chokkanatha are also located in the inner prakara. The sub-shrine of Shanmukha is not found in his usual location. Instead, it is unusually found behind the niche image of Lingodbhava.

    In the maha mandap, there is a sub-shrine which has the big Chola period bronze idols of Nataraja and Sivakami. Kali was once defeated by Nataraja (Shiva) in dance competition. In this site, Nataraja danced with pleasure to please Kali; hence, the dance form in this shrine is called as 'Rakshi Natam'. (There is a separate small temple for Kali in this village.)

    Bhairav is found unusually without his vaahan dog in a sub shrine in the inner prakara. It is said that when Shiva was getting ready to wage war against the Asuras, he went to invite all the Devas; during that time, his dog lost its path. Hence, he is found without vaahan in this temple.

    The Ardha Mandap in the main shrine of Shiva has few idols such as Surya, Nalvar, etc. and very beautiful utsava (bronze) idols of Chola period.

    It is unusual to find the shrine of Goddess adjacent to the Lord's shrine. In this temple, the Goddess Tripurasundari is found in a separate sub-shrine on the right side of the main shrine. It also faces the east direction. Goddess is very tall with four arms. The shrine has a front side mandap and also there is a separate flag post and Simha (lion) idol facing the shrine.

    The outer prakara is very huge; however, there is no shrine or idol found here except that of Navagraha.

    When Shiva lost the axle of his chariot, Lord Vishnu helped him. He is found in the name of Kariya Manicka Perumal with his consorts - Sree Devi and Bhoo Devi, in a separate small temple. This temple is very small and found outside the main temple. It also appears to be an ancient temple. Apart from the main deity, Hanuman idol is also found in this small temple. Another interesting feature of the temple is Buddhist Dharmachakra (possibly) is found near the entrance of the temple. It is said that a big idol of Buddha was unearthed in this site few years ago. (Well, the villagers mistook this for Sudarshan or Chakrathalwar and worship accordingly.)

    There is a small temple at around half a km from the main temple which is dedicated to the village deity Tharkathamman. It is believed that Tharkathamman is the guardian spirit (Kaaval Deivam in Tamil). From the style of the Vimana, it appears that this temple is also very old. Tharkathamman is not found in the temple nowadays. Instead the idols of Sapta Matas are found. 

    Happy travelling.


    May 21, 2013

    Narasingapuram

    Site Name: Lakshmi Narasimha Temple  
    Site Type: Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha
    Location:  Narasingapuram village, near Perumbakkam, 55 kms from Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
    Highlights: A Chola period Narasimha temple in a remote peaceful village
    Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
    Nearest Airport: Chennai
    How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai; public transport is not dependable
    Hotel: A lot of options in Chennai city 
    Restaurants: Go to Chennai where you can find a lot of options

    Narasingapuram is a small village located at a distance of around 55 kms from Chennai, on the national highway connecting Chennai and Sri Perumbudur. The nearest landmark is Perumbakkam town. The village is popular due to its beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha.

    Few inscriptions dating the period of Kulotunga Chola I, Vikarama Chola and Vijayanagara kings are found. It is believed that this temple could have been built during the Chola period.

    This small beautiful temple is located in a peaceful location. The east facing temple is attractive. The sub shrine of Hanuman is found outside the temple facing the tower.

    The main shrine has Lord Narasimha, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, as a Shanta Murti (peaceful posture). He has four arms and has his consort Lakshmi on his left lap. Lakshmi is unusually looking at the devotees instead of facing the God. He is also called as 'Kalyana Lakshmi Narasimhar'.

    The idols of Alwars, Ramanujar and Senai Mudali are located at the maha mandapa.

    The temple has a single prakara where the sub-shrines of the Goddess Maragadavalli - a beautiful big idols with four arms, Andal, Rama-Lakshman-Sita, Desikar and Chakrathalwar are found. Another highlight of the temple is that eight forms of Lakshmi called as Ashta Lakshmi are found in separate sub-shrines.

    The flag post and bali peetha are located facing the main shrine. The Garuda sub-shrine is located nearby. Garudha has 16 serpents coiled in his body here. Hence, it is considered as a special temple to get rid of Naga (snake) dosha.

    Happy travelling.





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    May 19, 2013

    Ilambaiyankottur Arambeshwarar Temple

    Site Name: Arambeshwarar Temple
    Site Type: Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva
    Location:  Ilambaiyankottur, 10 km south of  Kadambattur on the Chennai Arakkonam suburban railroad, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
    Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
    Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
    Nearest Airport: Chennai
    How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai; public transport is difficult
    Hotel: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options 
    Restaurants: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options

    People of Tamil Nadu state in South India know Cooum river more as a dirty river. However, it used to be the major livelihood for Chennai city in the olden days (when it was hardly a city). Even today, the river is in good condition in its origin. The village where the river originates is also called as Cooum. It is traditional to find temples on the banks of the river. On the banks of the river Cooum also, there are two ancient temples dedicated to Lord Shiva located. One of those two temples is called as Arambeshwarar temple located in Ilambaiyankottur. It is located on the western bank of the river. This small village is located near Kadambattur junction and it can be reached from Chennai. It is considered as the 13th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in Tondai country. 


    Highlights:
    • Sambandhar has revered the temple in his verses in Devaram.
    • The God cannot be touched even by the priest - called as 'Theendaa Thirumeni'.
    • Dakshinamurti in 'chin mudra' posture - Yoga Dakshinamurti; the temple is considered as an important Guru sthalam.
    • God Arambeshwarar aka Deivanayakeshwarar aka Chandrasekharar
    • Goddess Kanakakujambigai aka Kodenthu Mulaiyammai
    • Teerth (Holy water) - Mallikai Teerth (Chandra Teerth)
    • Sthala vruksha (Holy tree) - Mallikai (Jasmine)

    Legend:

    As per the legend, the divine damsels - Rambha, Menaka and Urvashi worshiped the God in this site seeking their lost youth. Rambha created a beautiful lotus pond surrounded by fragrant maramalli trees. Hence, the village got the name 'Arambaiyankottur'. Later it became 'Ilambaiyankottur'.

    There is another legend related to this site. Lord Shiva took the form of a child and then an old man to guide Sambandhar to this temple. Sambandhar left Tiruvallam and was looking for this site. As he could not understand the signals, the God appeared as a cow and directed him to this site.

    It is believed that the Moon God (Chandra) also worshiped the Lord in this site. The temple tank is named as Chandra Teerth.

    It is believed that a sprig from the wreath of flowers adorning Lord Shiva's matted tresses dropped in this site and formed as the Shiva Linga.

    Temple Layout:

    The temple which was built by the Cholas and later renovated by the Pandyas lost its heritage value completely; the current structure is an entirely renovated one during the modern days.

    There is no tower; the entrance is at the west side; however, the main shrine is facing the east directions. Arambeshwarar is a big Shiva Linga; Kanakakujambigai is slightly bigger idol found in a separate south facing sub-shrine. 

    At the entrance of the main shrine the idols of Ganesha and Subramanya are located.

    The regular stuff such as bali peetha, flag post and Nandi idol are found facing the main shrine.

    There are two prakaras in this temple. The outer prakara has two sub-shrines - Ganesha and Subramanya with his consorts.

    The inner prakara too has two sub-shrines - Ganesha and Subramanya; apart from that the idols of Hanuman, Surya and Nalvar are also found here.

    Nirudha Ganapati, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Durga and Brahma are found as the koshta deities. Chandikeshwarar is found near Durga. Dakshinamurti is very popular; he is found in a different posture with 'chin mudra'. He is called as 'Yoga Dakshinamurti'; the site is also considered as one of Guru sthalams.

    Happy travelling.


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