June 14, 2017

Two Headed Hanuman - Unamancheri Kodanda Ram Temple

Hanuman with five heads is common in the name Pancha Mukha Anjaneya. Have you ever seen Hanuman with two heads? I found one such lesser known temple in a small village called Unamancheri. It is located at a distance of around 13 kms from Tambaram in the outskirts of Chennai city of Tamil Nadu state in India. It is easily reachable via Vandalur-Kelambakkam Road.

As per the legend, a physically challenged king visited Ram temple of this village and he got rid of his limp with the blessing of the deity. Hence, the village is called as Unamancheri (the Tamil word Unam refers to limp here).

Kodanda Ram Temple of Unamancheri was built by Achyuta Raya, the brother of the famous Krishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagar Kingdom, in the 16th century CE.

The temple has beautiful vimana, which is painted in vibrant colors in the name of renovation. The curse of getting renovated badly in the modern days could not spoil the beauty of the temple completely. The sculptures on the pillars of Maha Mandap and Mukha Mandap still look interesting and beautiful.

The small east facing temple enshrines Ram and all his three brothers in the sanctum. Although it is not rare, it is not common to find all the four brothers together in single shrine. Ram is found in the form of Kodanda Ram. Ram has Sita on his right side and his brother Lakshman on his true left side. Bharat and Shatrughna are found in either corners with their hands folded and placed towards their chest (namaskar posture).

In the sanctum, Hanuman is also found. He is found at a corner and faces towards Ram. Interestingly, he has two heads. While his front-side head faces his deity, his backside head faces the devotees.

In the sanctum, two sets of bronze idols of Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman are found. One set is very small in size, somewhat similar to what we generally have in the pooja rooms of our homes. The other set of the bronze idols are bigger. They are very beautiful. In fact, I would say that this is the best bronze idol of Ram that I have ever seen in and around Chennai.

In Maha Mandap, the stone as well as bronze idols of Ramanuja, Desikar, Kulashekhara Alwar, Nammalvar and Vishvak Sena are found. In addition, the bronze idols of Srinivasa-Sri Devi-Bhoo Devi are also kept in this mandap. They were brought from Tirupati few years ago.

Garud is found facing towards the sanctum. There is no flag staff; instead, deepa stambh is found. The Mukha Mandap has few interesting images including the Vijayanagara symbol of standing sword and boar. Stone inscriptions are found on the exterior walls of the temple. I heard that the temple administration is in the possession of some copper plate inscriptions of Vijayanagara period.

A newly built south facing Hanuman shrine is found outside the main temple.

The village is a remote village and the temple is located in a very peaceful location. A big pond with full of water is situated on the back side. At one direction, the entire area is full of paddy fields with the distant hills at the backdrop. The location has scenic beauty for sure.

Happy travelling.

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