March 29, 2017

Manakkal Nambi Temple

Site Name: Manakkal Nambi Temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:  Manakkal, 3 kms from Lalgudi, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The birthplace of Manakkal Nambi
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

Manakkal is a small village located close to Lalgudi town in Tamil Nadu state of India. The village is the birthplace of Manakkal Nambi. There is a temple named after him located in this village. Let us explore about this temple in this article.

About Manakal Nambigal:

Manakkal Nambigal was an important Vaishnavite Guru. His original name was Rama Misrar. He was born in this village, which is called as Manakkal (named after him nowadays) in the 10th century CE. His Guru was Uyyakondar. After the demise of Uyyakondar's wife, Rama Misrar took charge of attending the personal needs of his Guru and his two young daughters.

One day, the young daughters of Uyyakondar, after taking bath in the river, had to cross the muddy way. Rama Misrar lied down forming himself as a human bridge. He made the young girls to cross over the path by walking on his back. As the sandy footprints of the girls were found on his back, Rama Misrar was called as Manakkal Nambigal from that particular day onwards. The word Manakkal means sandy footprints.

Uyyakondar entrusted the task of finding his Guru Nathamuni's grandson to Manakkal Nambi. Manakkal Nambi traced Alavandar. Alavandar was leading a royal life. Manakkal Nambi met him, convinced him and turned him into spiritual path. Thus, due to the attempts of Manakkal Nambi, Alavandar a.k.a. Yamunacharya came to Sri Rangam and he also became a Vaishnavite Guru in the future.

Temple:


The temple is very small. It does not have tower. The presiding deity of the temple is Varadarajar in the standing posture. He has his two consorts, Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi, on his either sides. 

The temple has simple layout. It has one prakara around the sanctum. 

The utsava idols of Varadarajar and his consorts are also found in the sanctum. In the Maha mandap, in a separate shrine, a lot of bronze idols of located. It includes the idols from the nearby Kailasanathar temple such as Nataraja, Sivakami, etc.

In the Maha Mandap, there is another sub-shrine which enshrines the idols of Vishwaksena, Ramanuja and Lakshmi Narayana.

Garud is found facing towards the direction of the sanctum. Near Garud, there is a shrine for Manakkal Nambi. Although the presiding deity of the temple is Varadarajar, people call the temple as Manakkal Nambigal Temple.

Happy travelling.





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. 






March 21, 2017

Natham Adimoolanatha Perumal Temple

Site Name: Adimoolanatha Perumal Temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:  Natham, 17 kms from Lalgudi, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: Unique sculpture of elephant and crocodile along with the presiding deity
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


Natham is a small village near Lalgudi town in Tamil Nadu state of India. The village is also called as Nandam. It is located at a distance of around 17 kms from Lalgudi. In this fertile village, a unique temple of Lord Vishnu is located. The village is surrounded by paddy fields in all directions and it is a calm and serene locality. Lord Vishnu in this temple is called as Adimoolanatha Perumal. Let us explore this temple in this article.


Legend:


Like many other temples of Tamil Nadu, this temple also claims to have connections with the popular legend of Gajendra Moksha. It is believed that the elephant Gajendra was caught by the crocodile. Gajendra cried in pain and pleaded to Lord Vishnu to protect it from the clutches of the crocodile. Vishnu came down to the earth and killed the crocodile, thus liberating the elephant. It is believed that this incident took place in this holy village called Natham.


History:

It is said that Rajaraja Chola I built this temple originally in the 10th century CE and the prakara was constructed by Kulotunga Chola III.


Temple Layout:

The east facing temple has a five tiered tower with a lot of colorful stucco images. An important idol depicted here is the replica of Gajendra Moksham scene of the sanctum. The holy tank is found in front of the temple entrance. Unfortunately, there is no water in the tank nowadays.


The temple's layout is very simple. Only the sanctum and another shrine are found in the temple. There is no other sub-shrine. There is just one prakara around the sanctum.

The east facing sanctum enshrines the presiding deity Adimoolanatha Perumal. He is found in the reclining posture. He has two arms and does not carry his weapons. His consorts are not found. This posture of Vishnu is called as Yoga Shayana. Perumal's right arm is found touching the head of the elephant depicting its moksha. The crocodile is found pulling the leg of the elephant. It is rare to find the depiction of Gajendra Moksha scene in the main shrine of the temple. Hence, it turns out to be unique.

In the prakara, the shrine of the Goddess Adi Lakshmi is located.

In the sanctum, the utsava murtis of Adimoolanatha with his two consorts and Adi Lakshmi are found. 

The beautiful bronze idols of Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman are found in the Ardha Mandap. The Maha Mandap enshrines the idols of Vaishnavite seers such as Ramanuja, Manavala Mamuni, Periyalvar and Vedanta Desikar.

Outside the temple complex, the sub-shrine of Garud is found facing towards the tower.

It is a well maintained temple located in a serene locality with unique features. Don't miss this temple!

Happy travelling!






March 13, 2017

Anbil Mari Amman Temple

Site Name: Mari Amman Temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:  Anbil, 8 kms from Lalgudi, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of the most important Mari Amman temple
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

Anbil is a village near Lalgudi town in Tamil Nadu state of India. It is located at a distance of around 8 kms from Lalgudi. In this village, there are two ancient and important temples located. The first one is a Devara Sthalam called as Alanthurai Temple.  The other temple is a Divya Desam, Sundara Raja Perumal Temple. However, the temple that attracts the large number of devotees is Mari Amman Temple. Let us explore this temple in this article.


Anbil Mari Amman Temple is one of the three important temples of Anbil village. It is the most popular temple in terms of number of devotees visiting the site. In the entire India, there are seven temples of Mari Amman which are considered as the most important. This temple is one among them. The other most important Mari Amman Temples are located in Samayapuram, Narthana Malai, Veera Singa Pettai, Kannanur, Punnai Nallur and Tiruverkadu. 

It is not known who built this temple and when it was built. However, as per the local people's belief, the temple was built by a King called Muthalagan around 700 years ago. Before that, the idol was there under a neem tree without the temple structure. Although, the current structure of the temple may lead us to assume that the temple might be at least 300-400 years old, there is no historical record about the date of this temple.


The east facing sanctum enshrines the five feet tall red colored stucco idol of Maha Mari Amman. She is found in the seated posture. She has eight arms. (There is a possibility that Ashta Bhuja Durga might have been named as Mari Amman in this temple). The stone walls of the sanctum and the beautiful vimana make us to believe that the temple must be few hundred years old. A Shiv Linga idol is also found in the sanctum.

Near the sanctum, there are 6-7 tiny sub-shrines enshrining male Grama Devtas (village deities) are found. There is a statue of horse along with a man in uniform located facing the sanctum.

Happy travelling.