December 28, 2015

Uthiramerur Sundara Varadar Temple

Site Name: Sundara Varadar Temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:   Uthiramerur, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: Three tiered Vimana; Nine Murtis of Vishnu
Nearest Railway Station: Kanchipuram
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Kanchipuram and Chennai
Hotel: Go to Uthiramerur for mid-range hotels; for better option, go to Kanchi or Chennai
Restaurants:  Limited options in Uthiramerur


Uthiramerur town is located near Kanchipuram city in Tamil Nadu state of India . The town is famous for the democratic practice that was existed around 1000 years ago. Click here to know about the same. The most famous temple of Uthiramerur is Sundara Varadar temple. Let us explore this temple in this article. 


Highlights:
  • God - Sundara Varadar
  • Goddess - Anandavalli
  • Lord Vishnu is seen in all the three postures namely, irundhan (seated), ninran (standing) and kidandan (reclining)
  • Five Murtis of the temple are named as Varadar; they are Sundara Varadar, Vaikuntha Varadar, Achuta Varadar, Anirudhha Varadar and Kalyana Varadar
  • Three tiers of Vimana one above the other having shrines and deities in all the tiers
  • Shiva is wearing Namam
  • Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva found in the same shrine
  • There is a stucco idol of Dakshinamurti in the Vimana which is unusual for a Vishnu temple
  • There are totally nine different forms of Vishnu in all the three tiers of Vimana; hence, it is called as Nava Murti Sthalam.


Legend:

As per the legend, the Pandavas of Mahabharat epic, during the last one year (Agnanavas) of their exile, visited this site. There are five Vishnu deities in this temple in the name of Varadar, which were worshiped by the five Pandava brothers. Vaikuntha Varadar was worshiped by Yudishtra, Sundara Varadar by Bheem, Achuta Varadar by Arjun, Anirunddha Varadar by Nakul and Kalyana Varadar by Sahadev. Due to five Varadars worshiped by the five Pandavas, the site is also called as Pancha Varada Kshetram.

Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas, worshiped the Goddess of the temple, Anandavalli.


History:

Nandivarma Pallavan donated this entire town to 1200 Vedic scholars in the 8th century CE. Hence, it was called as Uthiramerur Chadurvedimangalam in those days. This temple of Sundara Varadar is believed to be built during the Pallava reign in the 8th century CE. In the 11th century CE, it was renovated by Rajendra Chola. Again in the 16th century CE, Krishnadeva Raya renovated the temple and made many additions to the structure.

As the bricks and lime were also used as the building materials for second and third tiers of the Vimana, there are scholars who debate that the temple must belong to the 6th century CE. They claim that the Pallavas would have rebuilt the pre-existing temple.

There are few scholars, who believe that Tirumangai Alwar might have referred Varadar of this temple instead of Vaikuntha Varadar of Parameswara Vinnagaram (Kanchipuram) in his hymns. Nevertheless, this temple is not recorded as a Divya Desam, as majority of the scholars believe otherwise. 

Temple Layout:

This is one of the very few temples where Lord Vishnu is found in all the three postures namely, Irundhan (seated), Ninran (standing) and Kidandan (reclining). Another important feature of the temple is three tiered Vimana. Each level of the vimana is found one above the other and in each level there are deities and shrines.

The other three temple in Tamil Nadu which have three tiered Vimana are Tirukoshtiyur, Paramesvara Vinnagaram and Koodal Azhagar. All these temple have just one murti in each floor. However, this temple is different as there are totally nine murtis in all the three floors (four deities each in first and second level, one murti in the third level). Another difference is that all the other three temples are Divya Desam temples, whereas this temple is not a Divya Desam.

First Level:

In the first level that is in the ground floor, the sanctum sanctorum enshrines the presiding deity of the temple, Sundara Varadaraja Perumal. He is found along with his two consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi. He is in the standing posture (Ninran). This shrine is facing the east direction.

The southern side facing shrine enshrines Achuta Varadar. Behind Sundara Varadar, there is shrine of Aniruddha Varadar facing west. Kalyana Varadar shrine is also present in the same tier which faces towards the northern direction. Kalyana Varadar is found seated on Sesha serpent.

Second Level:

Above the sanctum sanctorum in the second level of the Vimana (or simply the first floor), Vishnu is found in the sitting posture (Irundhan). He is called as Vaikuntha Varadar in this shrine.

The idols of Arjun and Krishna, shrines of Yoga Narasimha and Lakshmi Varaha are also found in the second level. Krishna has four arms and is found preaching Gita to Arjun. Lakshmi is found seated on lap of Varaha.

Third Level:

In the third level or the second floor, Vishnu is seen in the reclining posture (Kidandan). He is called as Ranganath here. He is reclining on Adi Sesha with Brahma emerging out of lotus from his navel. Lord Shiva is found near his feet. Thus the Tri Murtis of Hinduism namely Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are seen in a single shrine, which is very rare. Another unique feature is that Shiva is wearing the Vaishnaivite sign 'Namam' instead of his own sign 'Vibhuti' or 'Bhasma'. Ranganath is blessing Markandeya Rishi. Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi are also present in this shrine. The Rakshasas Madhu and Kaitabha are also found near the feet of Ranganath.

The shrine also has some interesting paintings. The river deities Ganga and Yamuna are found in the form of Dwarapalikas of this shrine, which is unique.

The idols that are found in the vimana in all the tiers are very beautiful.

Main Shrine:

The main shrine is situated on a high raised platform (mada kovil). The flag staff, bali peetha and Garud shrine are all located facing towards the main shrine.

Apart from the sanctum sanctorum where the presiding deity is enshrined, the main shrine also has long ardha mandapa and maha mandapa.

Goddess:

The Goddess of the temple is Anandavalli. Her sub-shrine and the sub-shrine of Andal are located in the prakara around the sanctum sanctorum in the first level.

Anjaneya:

Outside the temple complex, near the temple tank, there is a shrine for Anjaneya. It is in the form of relief image sculpted on a very big rock. It was installed by Sri Vyasaraja, the Guru of the King Krishnadevaraya.

Tower:

The temple has a beautiful and gigantic seven tiered gopuram (tower). The tower is east facing. A big temple tank is located near the tower. The stucco images in the tower are very attractive.

Mandapas:

The temple is full of many small and big sized mandapas. All the mandapas have pillars with many interesting carvings.

There are few other sub-shrines such as Senai Mudaliyar and Alwars found in the temple.

In the outer prakara, there is a Ganesha idol, which is not usually found in Vishnu temples.

Happy travelling.




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