February 28, 2018

Vairavan Kovil

The current Sivaganga district and few areas of Pudukkottai district in Tamil Nadu state of India are together called as Chettinad, the home of Nattukkottai Chettiars. Nattukkottai Chettiars or Nagarathars is a prosperous business community of Tamil Nadu.

There are nine important temples in Chettinad for Nagarathars. They are being called as Nagarathar Temples. Vairavan Temple in Vairavanpatti is one of those nine temples. The village is located at a distance of around 15 kms from Karaikudi. The locals refer this village as Vairavan Kovil.


Highlights:

  • This is one of the nine Nagarathar temples.
  • This is one of the most popular Bhairava temples in Tamil Nadu.
  • God Valaroli Nathar and Bhairav
  • Goddess Vadivudai Nayaki
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Vairavan Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Azhinji 
  • The village was also called as Veera Pandiapuram, Vayiramapuram and Vaduganathapuram in the olden days.

Legend:

As per the legend, the Devas were troubled by the Asura brothers namely Surapadma, Simhamukha and Taraka. Lord Shiva appeared as a Brahmin and advised the Devas to worship Shiv Linga in this site. Accordingly, the Devas worshiped Valorali Nathar and felt confident to face the Asuras.

History:

The temple authorities claim that this temple was built by Nagarathars in 712 CE. I am not sure how the year of construction has been arrived without any historical proof. I don't think there is any stone inscription found in this temple. Moreover, the current structure including the tower, vimanas, stucco images and the sculptures cannot be considered as ancient. The structure appears to be hardly 200+ years old and belongs to Nagarathar style. I am not sure if there was an earlier structure of the temple in this village, which was renovated/reconstructed by Nagarathars.

Temple Layout, Architecture and Sculptures:

Exterior:

The east facing five tiered temple tower (gopuram) has many interesting stucco images. The most interesting one is the rare icon of Subramanya with twelve heads and twenty four arms

The pond, which is called as Vayiravar Teertham, is located in front of the temple complex.

The shrine of Ganesh and Muppali Karuppar are located outside the tower. Karuppar is a village deity who is considered as the guardian deity of this temple. The females are not allowed to this shrine. 

Main Shrines:

The east facing sanctum enshrines big Shiv Linga called as Valorli Nathar. The Goddess Vadivudai Nayaki is found in a separate south facing shrine.

The south facing shrine of Bhairav is found in between the shrines of Valorli Nathar and Vadivudai. Although the presiding deity of the temple is Valorli Nathar, Bhairav in this shrine is more popular and the temple is also referred as Vayiravan (Bhairav) Temple.

In the shrine of Bhairav, the stone idol of a girl is also found. She is Valli Ammai, a staunch devotee of Bhairav. The gigantic icon of Bhairav is found in his usual standing posture along with his vahan, dog. He has four arms and looks fierce. He is found standing on lotus pedestal. She was from Nagarathar community. She lived in this temple and devoted her whole life. Similar to Andal, this lady has attained the status of a deity due to her devotion.

Mandaps:

The temple is big with many mandaps and sub-shrines. The main shrine has sanctum, Ardha Mandap and Maha Mandap. The pillars of the Maha Mandap have many interesting sculptures such as Bhikshatana, Gandharvas, Meenaksh-Sundareswara marriage, Subramanya seated on peacock, Shankara Narayan, Narasimha tearing apart Hiranya, Rishabharuda Murti, Nardana Ganapati, etc.

The Mukha Mandap has few more sculptures on the pillars which include Rati, Manmatha, Kodanda Ram, Lakshman, Sita, Hunter and his wife, Bhairav, Aghora Bhadra, Veera Bhadra, Urdhava Tandava Moorti, the dancing Kali and so on. 


Sub-shrines:

The temple has so many other deities and sub-shrines such as Nataraja, Ganesh, Murugan, Surya, Chandra, Vishwanatha-Vishalakshi, Kanni Moola Ganapati, Subramanya with his consorts seated on peacock, Navagraha, Chandikeshwara, Adi Vadivudai Amman and Saraswati.

Brahma, Lingodbhava and Dakshinamurti are found as the Koshta deities. There are two musical pillars in the Dakshinamurti mandap. 


The sculpture of Ram with folded hands in front of Hanuman is found in the prakara, which is rare and unique.

Many interesting mural paintings are found on the walls as well on the ceiling.


Nagarathar Temples:

The list of nine Nagarathar temples is as given below:

1) Illayathangudi Kovil 
2) Mathur Kovil
3) Vairavan Kovil
4) Iraniyur Kovil
5) Pillaiyarpatti
6) Nemam
7) Illuppaikudi Kovil
8) Sooraikudi Kovil
9) Velankudi Kovil

Happy travelling. 













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