Kothanda Raamar is seen holding the hand of Sita
Located about 80kms South of Madras on the Madras-Tiruchirapalli Grand Southern Trunk (GST) Road is the Kothandaraamar(Eri Kaatha Raamar) Temple in Madurantakam. This place was once referred to as Vakularanya Kshetram (this place is believed to have been full of Maghizham flowers- Vakulam= Maghizham flowers. Hence the name.).
The story- Raama visiting this place
Vibandaka Maharishi’s son Rishya Singar was the one who helped King Dasharatha conduct the Putra Kameshti Yaagam which resulted in the birth of Raama.
In his search for Sita, Rama and Lakshmana reached Vibandaka Maharishi’s ashram here in Madurantakam. It is believed that the Rishi reassured Raama that he will locate Sita and wanted him to visit this place and provide Darshan along with Sita.
After having defeated Ravana, Rama comes back with Sita on the Pushpaka Vimaanam showing her, on the way, all the places that he had been to in search of her. On reaching Nyana Giri Parvatham, he was reminded of his promise to Vibandaka Rishi.
To fulfil this commitment, he is said to have landed here in the Pushpaka Vimanam and given darshan to Vibandaka Rishi along with Sita and Lakshmana.
No Hanuman inside the temple
A unique feature at this temple is the absence of Hanuman inside the temple. As Raama had sent Hanuman as a messenger to inform Bharata that he was on his way and did not come along with Raama in the Pushpaka Vimaanam, Hanuman is not seen inside the temple.
It is also believed that having given the idol of Lord Ranganatha to the new Lankan king Vibeeshana, Raama, the king of Ayodhya, is said to have invoked the blessings of Karunakara Perumal and that he was the pooja deity of Raama.
The Name-Eri Kaatha Raamar
Just over a couple of centuries ago, in 1798, the people of Madurantakam sought the help of the then British Collector at Chengalpet Lionel Blaze to protect the temple from the floods that would strike the town every year, resulting in the breach of the tank bund, thus ravaging the villages and the crop.
The collector, who found some granite stones behind the temple, suggested that these be used to prevent the breach. In the argument that followed, he was told that these stones were to be used for the construction of the Sannidhi for the Goddess inside the Kothandarama temple. Not pleased with this answer, the General questioned as to why their favourite Lord could not protect this place.
Reacting to this, the people of Madurantakam performed Vishnu Sahasranama Parayanam seeking Lord Raama’s help. With the rains belting down and the lake close to its brim, the Collecter visited Madurantakam once again and this time is believed to have camped here on the night that the tank bud was expected to breach and lash out into the temple and the entire town.
What he saw that night was a miraculous event. Amidst the flash of lightening, he saw two people in the lake holding a bow (and arrow). The next morning, to everyone’s surprise, there was no breach and everything was normal.
A delighted collector is said to have immediately allocated 10000 Pagodas for the construction of the Thaayar Sannidhi and a bridge across the lake, just behind the temple.
As Lord Raama is believed to have protected this place from the bursting of the lake bud, this place is called ‘Eri Kaatha Raamar’.
The meeting of Ramanuja with Periya Nambi
Ramanuja, coming from Kanchipuram, met with his Acharya Periya Nambi, sent by Lord Ranganatha to bring Ramanuja to Srirangam, at this temple below the Makila tree and Pancha Samskaram took place here. Amongst Ashtaacharam, Dwayam and Saramaslokam, Ramanuja is said to have been specifically initiated with the ‘Dwayam’ manthiram here. Hence, this place is also called ‘Dwayam Valaintha Tirupathi’.
Rama Navami Celebrations – The Lord in 5 different attires
On the Rama Navami day, Raama provides darshan in five different attires- ‘Lord with a Plait’, ‘Ekaantha Vastram’, ‘ThiruAabarana Alankaaram’, ‘Vaira Mudi Sevai’ and ‘Muthu Kondai’.
Once a year, on the 3rd day of the Tamil Calendar month of Thai (mid January to mid February) on the occasion of Parivettai Utsavam, Karunakara Perumal goes on a procession to Nyana Giri Parvatham, the hill where Raama is believed to have descended on his Pushpaka Vimaanam.
This temple is believed to be about 1500 years old. Uthama Chozhan, the ancestor of the great Chozha king Raja Raja Chozhan, is said to have played a role in the construction of this temple and is believed to have dedicated and given this temple to those learned Vedic Scholars (Vedham Othum Anthanar).
Later, Pandya and Naayak kings are said to have helped in the renovation and contributed to the improvement of the temple. Naayaks are believed to have constructed the Raja Gopuram that is seen today.
Ahobila Mutt Educational Institution
Outside the Eri Kaatha Raamar temple is a six decade old Oriental high school run by Ahobila Mutt with hostel facilities. Started in 1950, the school runs classes from 6th to 10th standard with Sanskrit as the first language.
The Ahobila Mutt also runs, entirely free of cost for the students, a 7 year Vedic Education class, a 5 year class to learn Divya Prabhandham and a 5 year Shiromani class (equivalent to MA). The school currently has around 150 students, who have come from across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Moolavar : Kothanda Raamar(Kalyana Raamar) with a bow in Hand, East Facing Standing Posture
Goddess : Janaka Valli Thaayar
Utsavar : 1. Karunakara Perumal
Temple Time : 730am-12noon and 430pm-830pm
Contact : Rangarajan Bhattar @98429 09880 or 93814 82008
Address : Lord Kothanda Raamar Temple, Madurantakam- 603 306
Festival : Sri Raama Navami in Panguni, 15 day Brahmotsavam in Aani,Bashyakaarar Jayanthi in Chitrai
How to reach Madurantakam
Buses every 5-10mts between Madras (Chennai) and Tindivanam/Villipuram/Trichy
One may also take the Sub-Urban train to Chengalpet and then a 30 minute bus drive to Madurantakam (25kms from Chengalpet)is a good option.
With the 6 laning of the Chennai-Trichy highway, one can reach Madurantakam from Chennai in an hour and half by car