March 29, 2016

Tirupullam Boothangudi Valvil Raman Temple

Site Name: Valvil Raman Temple 
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Tirupullam Boothangudi, 13 kms from Kumbakonam and 5 kms from Swamimalai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: Ram in the reclining posture and is found with four arms
Nearest Railway Station: Kumbakonam
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Kumbakonam
Hotel: No good hotels nearby; better to stay in Kumbakonam or Swami Malai
Restaurants: No good restaurants nearby; it is better to go to Kumbakonam or Swami Malai

Tirupullam Boothangudi is a village near Kumbakonam town in Tamil Nadu state of India. The village has a prominent temple for Vishnu called as Valvil Raman Temple. It is considered as the 10th Divya Desam located in the Chola region. Let us explore about this temple in this article.


Highlights:

  • Tirumangai Alwar has sung about this site in his verses.
  • It is considered as the 10th Divya Desam temple. It is located in Chola region.
  • It is considered as a Budha Parihara Sthalam
  • Ram is found in the reclining posture.
  • The utsav idol of Ram has four arms and he is holding conch and discus.
  • God - Valvil Raman
  • Goddess Potramaraiyal; Utsav deity - Hemambujavalli
  • Teerth (holy water) - Jatayu Teerth or Kruthra Teerth 
  • Sthala Vruksha (holy tree) - Punnai
  • Vimana Shobana Vimana

Legend:

As per the legend, Lord Ram performed the funeral rites for the giant eagle Jatayu in Tirupullam Boothangudi. The word 'Pul' means bird in Tamil language and hence the site is called as Pullam Boothangudi. 

After performing the rites, Ram was taking rest and hence it is said that he is found in the reclining posture in this temple. As Ram's wife Sita was not with him, while he was performing the rites of Jatayu, Bhoo Devi accompanied Ram. Hence, she is found near the feet of Ram in this temple.

As per another legend, a great Vishnu devotee named Kruthra Raja was performing penance towards Vishnu and got his darshan in this site.

There is one more story about this temple. Tirumangai Alwar was passing through this site without realizing that Ram was lying down. Then, he came back to this site and prayed to Lord Ram. Ram appeared to him in the form of Vishnu with four arms holding conch, discus, bow and arrow.

Another legend states that Lakshmi took birth in the temple tank and hence she is called as Pottramaraiyal (Pottramarai is the Tamil word which means the golden lotus.)


My Opinion:

I have difference of opinion with the primary legend of this temple. Let me explain why.

If Ram had to take rest after performing funeral rites of Jatayu, why would he sleep in the typical Sayana posture of Vishnu? Why would he lie down on Adi Sesha and how he would have had Brahma in his navel? There is no logic for Ram to appear totally like Vishnu in the first place.

As Sita was not there, it is said that Bhoo Devi accompanied Ram to perform the final rites of Jatyu. It is not acceptable. Bhoo Devi might be the wife of Vishnu. However, when it comes to Ram, she is considered as the mother of Sita, Ram's consort. Hence, I don't think the mother in law of Ram would have accompanied him in the place of her own daughter.

The utsav idols of typical Vishnu with four arms along with his two consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi are found in the main shrine. However, it is said that the main idol is Ram with four arms and he is accompanied by Sita and Bhoo Devi. This is again not acceptable for two reasons. The first reason is that Bhoo Devi is the mother in law of Ram. The second reason is that the highlight of Ram's life is that he has always been portrayed as Eka Patni Vrita. How can he be portrayed with two women? If Bhoo Devi accompanied Ram to help him to perform his duty towards the giant eagle as Sita was not there, how come Sita along with Bhoo Devi are present with Ram in the form of utsav idols?

The sculptures of Lakshman, Hanuman and Jatayu are found worshiping Ram in the reclining posture in the sanctum. I don't think it could be Lakshman. As per one of the legends, Vishnu gave darshan to Ram. Hence, I believe the sculpture of the deity who is found to hold bow must be Ram and not Lakshman.

If Ram performed final rites of Jatayu in this site, why would we find Jatayu along with Lakshman worshiping Ram? As per the legend, Ram was taking rest after the death of Jatayu and hence he is found in the reclining posture. Now, how did Jatayu enter into the scene? Also, there is a vanara seen along with him. Regardless of whether it is Hanuman or Sugreev, how come we have a Vanara along with Jatayu. The Vanaras are introduced in Valmiki Ramayan only after the death of Jatayu. Hence, there is no way that we can have a Vanara and Jatayu together.

This is what I could logically connect and accordingly identify the sculptures. It must be Vishnu in the reclining posture like any other Vishnu temple. He has only Bhoo Devi accompanied him. (There are temples where only Bhoo Devi is found instead of both the consorts.) As he gave darshan to Ram, the figure holding bow must be Ram. Probably, he would have given darshan to Hanuman and Jatayu in different times and hence along with Ram, both of them appear with the folded hands. 

I would identify the utsav idols as Vishnu with his consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi. 

Probably, Tirumangai Alwar saw this Vishnu as Ram and recited hymns accordingly, such stories must have been built up later. 

History:

The temple was  built by the Cholas.

Temple Layout:

The east facing temple is adorned with a five tiered Raja gopuram (tower). A tall flag staff, bali peetha and Garud are situated facing towards the sanctum.

In the sanctum, Lord Ram (or Vishnu?) is found reclining on Adi Sesha with Brahma in his navel. Lakshman (Ram?), Hanuman and Jatayu are in the form of big relief images and they are found worshiping Lord. Bhoo Devi is found near the feet of Ram (Vishnu?).

The utsav idols of Valvil Ram with Sita and Bhoo Devi (or Vishnu with Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi) are also situated in the sanctum.

The completely renovated temple still retains the ancient beautiful pillars in the Maha mandap section alone. The sub shrines of Alwars, Vishwaksena and Yoga Narasimha are situated here.

In the prakara, there is a sub-shrine of Goddess Pottramaraiyal. The utsav deity named Hemambujavalli is also found here.

Another sub-shrine in the prakara is dedicated to Yoga Narasimha, who is very popular in this temple.

A small sub-shrine of Hanuman is found near the flag staff.

Happy travelling. 


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