March 31, 2016

Sirupuliyur Kripa Samudra Perumal Temple

Site Name: Kripa Samudra Perumal Temple 
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Sirupuliyur , 15 kms from Mayiladuthurai and 10 km from Karaikal, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The sage Vyagrapatha (devotee of Lord Shiva) is found along with Vishnu in this temple; the smallest of the idols of Vishnu in the reclining posture
Nearest Railway Station: Karaikal
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Karaikal and Mayiladuthurai
Hotel: No good hotels nearby; better to stay in Karaikal or Mayiladuthurai
Restaurants: No good restaurants nearby; it is better to go to Mayiladuthurai or Karaikal 

Sirupuliyur  is a village near Mayiladuthurai town in Tamil Nadu state of India. The village has a prominent temple for Vishnu called as Kripa Samudra Perumal Temple. (What a beautiful and meaningful name this deity has.)  It is considered as the 24th 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 24th Divya Desam temple. It is located in Chola region.
  • Along with Vishnu, Kanva Rishi and Vyagrapada are found in the main shrine.
  • The smallest idol of Vishnu in the reclining posture is found in this temple.
  • The temple is named after the Utsav deity instead of the presiding stone deity.
  • God - Sthalasayana Perumal; Utsav deity - Kripa Samudra Perumal or Arul Maak Kadal Perumal
  • Goddess Tirumaa Magal; Utsav deity - Dayanayaki
  • Teerth (holy water) - Manasa Pushkarani 
  • Sthala Vruksha (holy tree) - Vilva
  • Vimana Nandiyavardhana Vimana

Legend:

As per the legend, there was an enmity between Garud and Adi Sesha. Both of them argued with each other on who was better. They both came to Vishnu in this site to conclude on who was correct. Vishnu favored Sesha as he thought Garud was very proud. Sesha feared that he might be attacked by Garud. As per the advice from Vishnu he coiled himself and had Vishnu lie on him. Garud was unhappy and he decided not to fly above this site forever.

Vyagra Pada was a devotee of Lord Shiva. He got tiger's legs from Shiva and hence he was called as Vyagra Pada. He prayed to Shiva for salvation. Shiva in Chidambaram advised him to go to Sri Rangam and pray to Vishnu for salvation. The old saint lost his way and reached Sirupuliyur. Due to his poor eye sight, he could not clearly get darshan of Lord Vishnu. Hence, Vishnu shrunk his body and thus became the smallest idol so that the sage could see him clearly and completely. He gave salvation to the saint in this saint. The site is named after this saint as Puliyur. (In Tamil language, Puli means tiger whereas in Sanskrity the Vyagra means tiger.)

It is believed that Tirumangai Alwar first disappointed to see very small image of Vishnu in this site. However, later he sang ten hymns on this deity. 

History:

The temple was  built by the Cholas.

Temple Layout:

The south facing temple is adorned with a five tiered Raja gopuram (tower). The tower looks very colorful with a lot of stucc images depicting various scenes from the epics and Vaishnaivite Puranas.  Inside the temple complex, there is one more tower. 

The sanctum is also facing the southern direction. It enshrines the small idol of Vishnu called as Sthalasayana Perumal reclining on Adi Sesha. Brahma is emerging out from his navel and is found with folded hands. Vishnu is accompanied by Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi. The sages Kanvar and Vyagra Pada are found near the feet of Perumal.

The utsav idols of Kripa Samudra Perumal along with Sri Devi, Bhoo Devi and Andal are also situated in the sanctum. 

A tall flag staff, bali peetha and Garud shrine are situated facing towards the sanctum.

In the Maha mandap, there is a sub-shrine where many utsav idols such as Vishnu with his consorts, Ram, Sita and Lakshman and many Alwars are found.

In the prakara, the Goddess of the temple, Tirumaa Magal is found in a separate east facing shrine. There is a sub-shrine for Alwars found in the prakara.

Near the flag staff, the sub-shrines of Andal and Hanuman are situated.

There is a separate shrine for Adi Sesha where he is depicted in human form with four arms. In the upper arms he holds conch and discus and his lower arms are folded. Above his head, his serpent form is also depicted.

Manavala Mamunigal is present in a separate shrine outside the Raja gopuram.

Happy travelling. 


March 30, 2016

Oppiliappan Temple

Site Name: Oppiliappan Temple  
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Uppiliappan Koil (Tirunageswaram), Near Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: No salt in the prasad prepared in this temple
Nearest Railway Station: Kumbakonam
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Kumbakonam
Hotel: Many options in Uppiliappan Koil as well as the nearby town Kumbakonam
Restaurants: Very good vegetarian options

Uppiliappan Koil is a small locality near Kumbakonam town in Tamil Nadu state of India. The village has a prominent temple for Vishnu called Oppiliappan Temple. It is considered as the 13th Divya Desam located in the Chola region. Let us explore about this temple in this article.


Highlights:

  • Tirumangai Alwar, Nammalwar and Peyalwar have sung hymns about this site in their verses.
  • No salt in the prasad prepared in this temple
  • Oppiliappan temple is also called as Tiru Vinnagaram
  • It is considered as the 13th Divya Desam temple. It is located in Chola region.
  • God Oppiliappan or Uppiliappan; Utsava deity - Ponnappan
  • Goddess Bhoomi Devi
  • Teerth (holy water) - Ahotra Pushkarani
  • Sthala Vruksha (holy tree) - Patali
  • Vimana Suddhananda Vimana

Legend:

Bhoomi Devi

Bhoomi Devi was reborn as the daughter of Markandeya Rishi in this site. Lord Vishnu disguised as an old man and sought her hand in marriage. To ward him off, the Rishi informed him that his daughter was not well versed in household chores. He added that she would often forget to add salt in the food that she would prepare. Then, the old man revealed himself as Vishnu and married Bhoomi Devi. In this temple, the prasad (holy food) is prepared without salt due to this reason. Due to this, the deity is called as Uppiliappan. The word 'uppu' means salt in Tamil language. Uppiliappan means the Lord who does not have food. He is also referred as Óppiliappan, which means the Lord who cannot be compared with anyone else.

I have given brief and clear version of the legend. There are few variations and extensions for the above mentioned legend. Let me brief about them too.

Tulsi wanted to adore the chest of Lord Vishnu similar to Lakshmi. As per the advice of Vishnu, Tulsi took the form of a plant and grew in Tiru Vinnagaram. Markandeya Rishi performed penance towards Lakshmi wishing her to be born as his daughter. Lakshmi took the form of Bhoomi Devi and the Rishi found her as a child under the Tulsi plant near Pushkarani. Then, Bhoomi got married to Vishnu and thus Tulsi became a holy plant and could adore the chest of Vishnu.

Brahmotsav

As part of celebrations of Vishnu's marriage, Brahma performed a grand utsav (festival) for nine days. It is even celebrated today and is being called as Brahmotsav.


Pushkarani


Once a learned Brahmin called Devasarma forcefully had union with the daughter of Jaimini Rishi. Due to this he was cursed to become a Krauncha bird by the saint. The sinner sought pardon from the saint. The saint advised him to live in the branch of tree and break the branch of the tree slowly so that the bird would fall in the waters of Pushkarani of this site. It would help him to get rid of his sin, the saint advised. As the bird fell during the night in Pushkarani, while the Brahmin was taken to the Vaikuntha by the men of Vishnu, Varun intervened them. He pointed out that bathing in the holy waters during the night was not permitted and hence the Brahmin had committed a sin again, he complained. However, the messenger from Vaikuntha clarified Varun that in this Pushkarani, it was allowed to take bath both during the day and night. From that day onwards, the Pushkarani is being called as Ahoratra Pushkarani, which means 'day and night holy tank'.

Shiva and Indra



As per few other legends, Shiva plucked off the fifth head of Brahma. To get rid of this sin, he took bath in Ahoratra Pushkarani and is still doing penance towards Vishnu.

The tanks where Surya, Indra and Brahma took bath were called as Surya Teerth, Indra Teerth and Brahma Teerth respectively. They do not exist today.

Indra had illicit relationship with Ahilya. To get rid of his sin, he took bath in the holy tank near this temple, which was called as Indra Teerth.

History:

The temple was  built by the Cholas. Inscriptions of Rajendra Chola I period are found in the temple.

Temple Layout:

The east facing temple has five tiered Raja gopuram (tower). The temple is huge in size.

The sanctum is facing the eastern direction. It enshrines the 8 feet tall gigantic image of Oppiliappan. Bhoomi Devi is found to his right side and is in the kneeling posture. Her father Markandeya Rishi is also found in the shrine. 

The utsav deity is called as Ponnappan; he is found along with Bhoo Devi in the sanctum.

The flag staff, bali peetha and Garud shrine are found facing towards the main shrine.

In the prakara, the sub-shrines of Alwars, Desikar, Anjaneya, Krishna, Ram-Sita-Lakshman, Maniappan with his two consorts and Ennappan. The sub shrine of Muthappan also used to be there in the olden days. The birth spot of Bhoomi Devi is also situated near the sub-shrine of Ennappan. 

In the olden days, apart from Áhoratra Pushkarani, there were few tanks outside the temple complex which are missing now. The names of those tanks were Saranga Teerth, Surya Teerth, Indra Teerth and Brahma Teerth. 

This is the only other temple apart from Srirangam temple where there are two holy pillars in Ardha mandap, which are believed to give salvation to the devotees. 

The huge temple complex has a lot of mandaps and many of them have beautiful pillars with sculptures.

The holy Pushkaranai is located near the outer prakara.

Happy travelling.





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. 


March 28, 2016

Aadhanoor Andalakkum Aiyan Temple

Site Name: Andalakkum Aiyan Temple  
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Aadhanoor, 7 kms from Kumbakonam and 3 kms from Swamimalai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: Vishu holding Marakkal, palm leaf and a writing element; one of 108 Divya Desam temples
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

Aadhanoor is a village near Kumbakonam town in Tamil Nadu state of India. The village a prominent temple for Vishnu called as Andalakkum Aiyan Temple. It is considered as the 11th 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 11th Divya Desam temple. It is located in Chola region.
  • It is also called as Bhargava Kshetram
  • God Andalakkum Aiyan; Utsava deity - Ranganath
  • Goddess Kamalavasini or Bhargavi; Utsava deity - Ranganayaki
  • Teerth (holy water) - Surya Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (holy tree) - Patali
  • Vimana Pranava Vimana

Legend:

There are many legends related to this temple.

Kamadhenu


In Tamil language, the word 'Aa' means cow. As the divine cow Kamadhenu performed penance in this site, this place is called as Aadhanoor. 

Tirumangai Alwar

As per the legend, Tirumangai Alwar, one of the great devotees of Vishnu, exhausted all his money in the renovation of Srirangam temple. The work was not over and he wanted more money. He prayed to Lord Vishnu for the solution. Vishnu indicated him to come to the site where Aadhanoor is situated now. There Alwar met a trader, who claimed that he was sent by Vishnu. He was holding a writing instrument, palm leaf and the measuring jar (Marakkal). Alwar requested him to provide money so that he could pay the wages for the workers. The trader told him that he did not have money; however, he would measure sand using his marakkal and give the same to the workers. Those workers who had genuinely worked would see sand turned into gold and for the others it would remain as sand, he claimed. Most of the workers did not get gold. So the workers and Alwar chased the trader. The trader ran away and reached the current spot of the temple and appeared as Vishnu.

Lord Shiva

As per another legend, Lord Shiva plucked the fifth head of Brahma. It got stuck to his arm. He asked Agni to burn the head but Agni could not do that. Thus, Shiva got Brahma hatya dosha and he got rid of this sin by praying to Lord Vishnu in this site. 

Bhrigu Rishi

Once Bhrigu Rishi had visited Vaikuntha and was presented a flower garland by the Goddess Lakshmi. Rishi gave that garland to Indra. Indra gave that to his elephant Iravat, which crushed it under its feet. Rishi got furious and cursed Indra to loose all his wealth. Indra came to Aadhanoor and prayed to Vishnu and Lakshmi. Lakshmi took birth as the daughter of Bhrigu Rishi and married to Vishnu in this site. Then, she gave darshan to Indra. Thus, he got rid of his curse.

It is said that Rishi found the child in the temple tank and hence Lakshmi in this site is called as Bhargavi.


History:

The temple was  built by the Cholas.


Temple Layout:


The east facing temple is situated between the Cauvery and Kollidam rivers. It is adorned with a three tiered Raja gopuram (tower). 

The east facing sanctum enshrines Lord Vishnu called as Andalukkum Aiyan in the reclining posture. He is reclining on the serpent Sesha; his conch and discus are sculpted on Sesha. He has a measuring jar called as Marakkal in Tamil language as his pillow. He holds palm leaf and the olden days writing instrument (called as Ezhudhkol in Tamil) on his left arm. The sculptures of Tirumangai Alwar, Bhrigu, Agni and the divine cow Kamadhenu along with its calf Nandini are seen near his feet. Brahma emerges out of lotus from Vishnu's nabi (navel). Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi are found along with Vishnu in the same shrine.

The utsav idols of Ranganath, Sri Devi, Bhoo Devi and Andal are found in the main shrine.

In Maha mandap, there are few sub-shrines enshrining Vishwaksena and Alwars. Few of them are stone idols and the rest are bronze idols. The idols of Yoga Narasimha and Hanuman are also situated in the Maha mandap. 

The flag staff, bali peetha and Garud are found facing towards the main shrine. 

In the prakara, the sub-shrine of Goddess Kamalavasini is situated. The bronze utsav idol of Goddess is found in the same shrine. 

Unusually, a small Ganesha idol is also found in the prakara of this Vishnu temple

It is believed that this temple must be older than the famous Srirangam temple, as it is refereed as Aadi Rangeswaram.  

This is the only other temple apart from Srirangam temple where there are two holy pillars in Ardha mandap, which are believed to give salvation to the devotees. 

Happy travelling.