March 25, 2017

Koviladi Appa Kudathan Temple

Site Name: Appa Kudathan Perumal Temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:  Koviladi, 23 kms from Lalgudi, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of Divya Desam Temples
Nearest Railway Station: Lalgudi
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Lalgudi and Trichy; public transport is not dependable
Hotel: No good hotels nearby; better to stay in Trichy or Lalgudi
Restaurants: No good restaurants nearby; it is better to go to Lalgudi

Koviladi is a village near Lalgudi town in Tamil Nadu state of India. It is located at a distance of around 23 kms from Lalgudi. The village, which is also called as Tirupper Nagar,  has a very important temple of Lord Vishnu. The name of the temple is Appa Kudathan Perumal Temple. This temple is considered as the 6th Divya Desam located in the Chola region. Let us explore about this temple in this article.

Highlights:

  • Tirumazhisai Alwar, Tirumangai Alwar, Periyalwar and Nammalvar have sung Pasurams about this site.
  • It is considered as the 6th Divya Desam temple. It is located in Chola region.
  • God  Appa Kudathan Perumal a.k.a. Appala Ranganatha Swamy
  • Goddess Kamalavalli a.k.a. Indra Devi
  • Teerth (holy water) - Indra Teerth
  • Vimana Indra Vimana
  • It is one of Pancha Ranga Kshetrams.
  • Presiding deity holding the pot of Appam, which is a unique feature.
  • Separate shrine for Lord Ganesh in a Vishnu temple.
  • It is perhaps the only temple where Appam (a kind of sweet dish) is offered to the presiding deity every night.
  • It is one of those Divya Desam temples where Vishnu is in the form of Bhujanga Sayanam posture.

Legend:

There are many legends connected to this holy site.

Lakshmi's Penance:

As per the Brahmanda Purana, once Narad Rishi, who is known for creating rifts among the people with some ultimate wise objective, had created a misunderstanding between the two consorts of Vishnu (Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi). Each of them claimed that she was greater than the other. Vishnu had to resolve the issue by placing both of them on a weighing scale. The pan holding Bhoo Devi went down, which had annoyed Sri Devi. She left Vaikuntha and came down to Palasa Vananam. (Koviladi was called as Palasa Vanam in those days). She performed severe penance towards Vishnu. Vishnu appeared to her and told her that she was superior and due to that reason he was holding her on his own chest always. Thus, Sri Devi became happy and returned to Vaikuntha. As Sri Devi (Maha Lakshmi) stayed for long time in this village, it is also called as Tirupper Nagar. The prefix "Tiru" in Tamil language is equivalent to the term "Sri" of Sanskrit.

Indra's Pooja:

Once, Indra insulted the sage Durvasa. When Durvasa presented a holy garland to Indra, he got that with his left arm and gave the same to his white elephant, Iravat. Iravat pulled the garland down and crushed the same with its legs. The sage, who is known for his anger, cursed Indra and as a result Indra lost his wealth and kingdom. 

As per the advice of Brahma, Indra came down to this village. He created a tank here. He used to take bath in that tank daily and worship Lord Vishnu in this village. Hence, the tank is called as Indra Teerth and the place has another name called Indra Vanam. The hillock on which the temple is located is also named after Indra as Indra Giri.

In this site, Indra heard a divine voice which prompted him to make arrangements for churning the milky ocean and ultimately win back his lost wealth.

Appa Kudam:

Once, a Pandya King, Uparasavarisu (a.k.a. Upamanyu) by name, was hunting in the forest. He chased a wild elephant. The elephant ran away in order to escape from the arrows of the King. It fell down in a tank where a Brahmin was performing his poojas. The elephant got killed and before dying the elephant crushed the Brahmin. The King felt bad that he indirectly killed the Brahmin. He wanted to get rid of his sin. He gave up his kingdom and started wandering to various pilgrim centers. 

At last the Pandya King reached this site called Indra Vanam and did penance towards Lord Shiva. When Shiva appeared to him, he requested Moksha to the Lord. Shiva advised him to build a temple for Vishnu in this site. He also taught him a holy hymn and advised him to do Anna Daan (sacred tradition of offering food) to Brahmins. 

Accordingly, the King was chanting the holy hymn and offered food to Brahmins for many days. One day, Vishnu disguised as an old man and came down to this place. When the King requested the old Brahmin to go and take bath in the river like the other Brahmins, he refused to leave the place. He demanded food immediately from the King. The King had no choice but to offer food to him immediately even before the other Brahmins reaching the site after their bath. 

Vishnu, in the form of old Brahmin, consumed all food and demanded more. The poor Pandya King was helpless. He ordered his men to cook more food. Then, he brought a sweet dish called Appam in a big pot and offered it to the Brahmin. Now, Vishnu appeared in his original form and accepted the pot offered to him. In Tamil language, the word "Kudam" means pot. Appa Kudathan means the Lord who holds the pot containing the sweet dish called Appam. Thus, the deity is named as Appa Kudathan. Ultimately, the Pandya King was given moksha by Vishnu.

Mahabali:

As per another legend, the holy tank is called as Nitya Pushkarani. Mahabali took bath in this tank daily and prayed to Vishnu regularly. As a result, he attained Moksha.

Markandeya:

Markandeya Rishi was destined to live only for 16 years. His father advised him to visit Indra Vanam and pray to Vishnu for longevity. Accordingly, the sage came here and did regular poojas to Vishnu. Shiva appeared in the form of swan and started conversing with the sage. Later, the Lord appeared in his own form and taught a hymn on Narayana to the sage. He advised the sage that this mantra would save him from the fear of Yama.

Accordingly, the sage continued to pray to Vishnu by chanting this hymn regularly. When he completed sixteen years, Yama visited the site. The frightened Markandeya prayed to Shiva again. Shiva appeared again to him. He promised that he would keep Yama at bay. Meantime, he advised the sage to go to Pandya King's tent and pray to Vishnu.

As per the advice of Shiva, Markandeya went to the tent of Pandya King. There, he found Vishnu in the form of an old man holding the pot. He bowed to the old man for one hundred times. Vishnu took his arm from the pot and placed it on the head of the sage, thus offering longevity for him. The holy tank got yet another name as Mrityu Vinasini Teerth, due to this incident.

History:

The temple has been sung in many Pasurams of Nalayira Divya Prabandham by four Alwars. Peyalvar have sung two Pasurams on this deity. Tirumangai Alwar, Nammalvar and Tirumazhisai Alwar have sung 19, 11 and one Pasurams respectively about this temple. Thus, there are totally 33 Pasurams sung on Appa Kudathan.

The temple appears to be a Chola period temple with additions and contributions by the later Pandyas and Vijayanagaras.

The inscriptions that belong to the period of Rajaraja Chola I, Rajendra Chola I, Vikrama Chola, Maravarma Pandya, Jatavarma Pandya and Vijayanagar Kinga Sadasiva Raya are found in this temple. 

Specialty:

Koviladi Appa Kudathan Temple is one of the five important temples of Sri Ranganath (Vishnu in the reclining posture). Thus, it is one of the Pancha Ranga Kshetrams. It is called as Appala Rangam. The other four sites are Srirangam (Adya Rangam), Srirangapatna (Adi Rangam), Kumbakonam Sarangapani (Vada Rangam) and Mayiladuthurai (Parimala Rangam). (As per some interpretations, Vada Rangam is at Sirkazhi).


Temple Layout:


The west facing temple has a three tiered tower. The temple complex is located on top of a small hill called Indra Giri. The temple is easily accessibly by flight of few steps. The flag staff and bali peetha are located on the steps in the mid way.

The west facing sanctum has Ranganath called as Appa Kudathan in the reclining posture. The posture is called as Bhujanga Sayanam, as he is reclining on Sesha. His right arm touches the head of Markandeya Rishi. Near the sage, the pot of Appam is placed. At the feet of Appa Kudathan, Bhoo Devi is found. Both the sage and Bhoo Devi are found seated on the floor. Appa Kudathan has only two arms and Brahma is not found at his navel.

The utsav deities of Appa Kudathan with his two consorts as well as Nardana Krishna are found in the sanctum.

There are two prakaras around the sanctum. In the Ardha Mandap, there is a sub-shrine enshrining the utsav idols of few deities including Venu Gopala. Maha Mandap has a shrine that houses the utsav murtis of Vishwaksena, Ramanuja and few Alwars. 

Kamalavalli is the Goddess of the site. She is found in a separate east facing shrine in the outer prakara. An old idol of Garud is found near this shrine. 

Interestingly, a moderately big idol of Ganesh is found in a separate shrine in the outer prakara. He is named as Tumbikkai Alwar. There is a separate sub-shrine for Lakshmi Narayana. 

The old and beautiful Rath (temple car) is located outside the complex in the Agraharam. The car looks very attractive with so many wooden carvings. 

Happy travelling. 






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