Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kattu Mannar Koil

Avathara Sthalam of Nathamuni and his grandson Alavanthan

About 15kms from Gangai Konda Cholapuram amidst greenery of the paddy fields is Kattu Mannar Koil, the Avathara Sthalam of the Vaishnavite Savant Natha Muni, who was responsible for bringing back the Naalayira Divya Prabandham that had been previously lost to the world.

Veera Narayana Perumal, the presiding deity at Kattu Mannar Koil, is the Lord who asked Nathamuni to collect and spread the sacred verses of the Azhvaars.

Direction to the temple
In centuries gone by, the direction to Kattu Mannar Koil was given as being North of Cauvery/Coloroon, West of Veda Pushkarani and South of Vedanarayana (Veeranam) lake.

CauveriYaacha Uthareytheerey SarasaPachimeythade
VeeranarayanoPaathi Vimaaney Punya Naamakey

Answering Jhirumbana Raja Maharishi’s prayers, Goddess Mahalakshmi herself was born here as his child.  Once she grew up in to a beautiful young girl, there was a svayamvaram organised to find a match for her to attend which Lord Narayana came here in his Garuda Vahanam in the guise of a king (Mannan). Having won over her hand, he took her away to the wrath of the other kings who attacked him. Displaying his Vishwaroopam, he defeated all the kings. Having shown his valour here, the Lord came to be called ‘Veera’ Narayanan.

Another story goes that Mathanga Rishi committed an error while uttering the Vedic chant at the Aswamedha Yaaga organised by Brahmma at Kanchipuram. To liberate himself from Brahmmas curse, he was directed to Sri Mushnam, where the Lord appeared before him and redirected him to Manyu Kshetram, South East of Sri Mushnam to undertake penance near the Veda Pushkarani.

After undertaking penance here for several years, Lord Narayana in his Chathurbhuja form appeared before the rishi and provided darshan to him and agreed to stay here as per the wishes of the rishi.

The 4000 sacred verses of the Azhvaars
Nathamuni, who mastered himself in Vedas at a young age, was very attached to Veera Narayana Perumal and spent most of his time performing daily poojas for the Lord here. One day, while he was performing his daily poojas, he heard a set of devotees who had come here from Thiru Narayanapuram in Melkote chanting the Aaravamuthey song (Nam Azhvaar’s Tiruvoimozhi verse praise the Lord of Kumbakonam).These devotees ended with the words ‘these 10 out of the 1000’.

Nathamuni was drawn to these songs and asked them to sing the rest of the 990 verses. However, they knew only these 10 songs.

Nathamuni goes to Thiru Kurugur
A restless Nathamuni went to Kumbakonam, where Lord Aaravamudhan asked him to go to Thiru Kurugur. Unable to get his answers at Kurugur, he went to  Thiru Kolur, a place about 4kms East.

There he got initiated with Madura Kavi Azhvaars verses of Kannin Siruthambinaal. He came back to Thiru Kurugur and sitting under the Tamarind tree, he recited these verses 12000 times, on completion of which NammAzhvaar is said to have appeared before him and shared the entire 4000 songs- Naalaayira Divya Prabandham.

Veera Narayana Perumal then called Nathamuni back to Kattu Mannar Koil where the Vaishnavite Savant chanted and shared the Naalayira Divya Prabandham. Thus, Nathamuni of Kattu Mannar Koil, was instrumental in bringing back to the world the 4000 verses of the Azhvaars. He also initiated the Vaishnava Sampradayam from here.

The name - ‘Kattum Mannan-Aanaar’ koil

As Lord Narayana came here as ‘Mannan’ to take the hand of Mahalakshmi (as seen in the story above) and later asked Nathamuni to share the Divya Prabandham and the Vaishnava Sampradayam to the world at large, he was referred to as ‘ Kattum’ ‘Mannan- Aanaar’ (the Lord who came as a king and later presented the entire prabandham through Nathamuni). In course of time, Kattum Mannan-Aanaar became Kattu Mannar.

Creation of Araiyar Sevai
Along with his nephews, KeezhaiyagathAzhvaar and MelaiagathAzhvaar (the Araiyars are descendents of these two), Nathamuni gave the Naalayira Divya Prabandham a musical (creating Raagam and Thaalam) and dance form and presenting it in a form that the world could experience and enjoy . To him goes the credit of creating the Araiyar Sevai, a visual song and dance enactment of the ‘Paasurams’ through Abhinayam.

He went to Srirangam and performed the Araiyar Sevai, of the Thiruvaai Mozhi verses, with his two Nephews, and once again started the Adhyayana Utsavam at Srirangam which had been discontinued after the time of Thirumangai Azhvaar.

Some of Nathamuni’s disciples include Uyyakondan, Thiru Kannamangaiaandan and Deivanayagaandan.

Aalavanthan- The grandson of Nathamuni

Nathamuni’s grandson was named as ‘Yamunai Thuraivan’(Alavanthan) as per his wishes. Born in Kattu Mannar Koil, Aalavanthan would travel to Srirangam often and spread the message of Vaishnavism. He is also said to have nominated Ramanuja as the ’to be’ acharya after his death. Aalavanthan’s disciples include Periya Nambi, ThiruKoshtiyur Nambi, Thiru Kachi Nambi and Srirangam Araiyar.

Structure of Kattu Mannar Koil

The temple is perfectly built as per KoorathAzhvaar's sacred verse:
"Lakshmi Naatha Samaarambaan Natha Yamuna Mathyamaam
Asmath Aacharya Pariyantham Vanthey Guru Parampara"

Lord Veera Narayanan in the middle, Natha Muni Sannidhi(facing South) to his left, Alavanthan Sannidhi (facing North) to his right (exactly opposite to Nathamuni Sannidhi) and with Maragathavalli Thaayar Sannidhi to his right between the Nathamuni and Alavanthan Sannidhi

In the Nathamuni Sannidhi, one finds his disciples at their Acharya’s feet ready to serve him.

Veera Narayana Yeri ( Now Veeranam Lake)
About 6kms North West of the temple is the Veera Narayana Lake (now referred to as Veeranam Yeri), which is said to have been built by Paranthaka Chozha I in the 10th Century AD.

Inscriptions relating to Kattu Mannar Koil
There are several inscriptions relating to Kattu Mannar Koil and its history that can be found both inside this temple as well as in other temples in this region that goes back in time to different periods and rulers.

Inscriptions relating to Chozha period refer to this place as Veera Narayanan Vinnagaram, while during the times of Sundarapandyan this was called Mannanar. Krishna Deva Raya, who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, referred to the Lord as Azhagiya Mannanar.

At the Kattu Mannar Koil, one can find inscriptions, on the temple walls, relating to the time of Kulothunga Chozha I. During his rule, this place was referred to as Veera Narayana Puram.

Sadayavarma Sundarapandyan who ruled between 1250 and 1274 is said to have undertaken extensive renovation of the Kattu Mannar Koil giving the temple some of what we see today. Chozhas, Rayar and Nayakars have also contributed to this temple.

This place has also been referred to as Veera Narayanan Chaturveda Mangalam and Thuvarapathi Mannan Thiru Koil.

There are 5 wells inside the temple and an expansive garden, which Nathamuni for his daily poojas for Veera Narayana Perumal.

10 day Brahmotsavam in Chitrai
10 day NammAzhvaar Avatara Utsavam in Aani and Alavandar Avathara Utsavam in Aadi
Theerthavari Utsavam in Maasi on the Coloroon river banks

Quick Facts
Moolavar: Veera Narayanan East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar: Maragatha Valli Thaayar (Separate Sannidhi)

Utsavar: 1. Rajagopalan with Rukmini and Satyabhama
2. NithyaUtsava Perumal- Sundara Gopalan
3. Prarthana Perumal- Shenbagamannan with Sridevi and Bhoodevi

Utsava Thaayar; Shengamala Valli

Temple time : 730am-12noon and 430pm-9pm

Contact details : Annan Srinivasan Bhattar @ 99522 76110
Srinivasa Swami(hereditary Theerthakar) @ 04144 262257 /96299 79779

How to reach Kattu Mannar Koil
1. By Train /Bus

Take Chennai - Mayavaram Train ( Chozhan/Uzhavan/Mannai /Karaikal Exp) and get down at Chidambaram. From Chidambaram buses every half hour to Kattu Mannar Koil ( about 45minutes)

2. By bus:

a. Chennai- Chidambaram -Kattu Mannar Koil

b. Chennai-Sethiya Thope (on Kumbakonam highway) and Sethiya Thope-Kattu Mannar Koil
(18kms) along side the Veeranam lake

c. Chennai- Meensuriti (on Kumbakonam highway) and Meensuriti-Kattu Mannar Koil (8kms)- Jayamkondan/Trichy -Chidambaram buses

By Car

Chennai- Vikravandi- Panruti-Vadalur-Sethiya Thope- Kattu Mannar Koil or Chennai-Chidambaram- Kattu Mannar Koil- 235kms

Near by Tourist Places

1. Pichavaram - 40kms North East of Kattu Mannar Koil-2-3-5 hour boat rides through ManGroves

2. GangaiKonda Cholapuram-20kms South West

3. JayamKonda Cholapuram- 30kms South West

4. SriMushnam- Artistic Temple- 20Kms West of Kattu Mannar Koil

5. Coloroon Bridge at Meensuruti- 10kms South


usha said...

Great Prabhu. Great Work. Can u also give us important tourist places around that area.

PRabhu S said...

Thanks for the comment.

Have added a few.


sangee said...

thank u very much prabhu . i'm living in k.m.koil.i'm so proud of this

sangee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Prabhu.S said...


Good to know.

Look forward to meeting you the next time I am there:)


Unknown said...

Other important places around this place are Udayargudi, (a Rahu sthalam), Omampuliyur, thirunaariyur,Kurungudi, Kandamangalam,Thirumulasthanam,

Prabhu.S said...

Thank You for this addl piece of information.


Nappinnai NC said...

Dear Prabhu,
You have not mentioned the important fact that Sriman Nathamuni here doesn't sport pavithram and dhandam/staff.
We don't call all sannyasis as muni yet we call him 'nathamuni'.
You may want to add this.