500 year old Vijayanagara period temple
Located 15kms east of Tirunelveli in a remote village near Seydunganallur off the Tiruchendur Highway is the 500 year old Panduranga Vittaleswarar Perumal Koil in Vittalapuram. This is one of the two ancient Panduranga temples in India and is referred to as Dakshina Pandaripuram.
With his handsome looks and ‘hands on hips’ posture, Panduranga, seen here with Rukmini and Satyabhama, steals the heart of every devotee who visits this temple.
The story goes that Lord Panduranga of Pandaripuram (Maharashtra) appeared in the dreams of Vittalaraya, the Vijayanagara Chieftain who had camped near Tirunelveli on his way to a battle against the Travancore King and expressed His desire to provide darshan in the South of India as well.
As per the instructions, Vittalaraya came to this village and found the Pandaripuram idol buried on the banks of the Porunai (Tamaraibarani) River. He installed the Panduranga idol and built this temple, a few kms west of the river, and named the village as Vittalapuram (previously called Nattarkulam).
Victory without a battle
Having obtained the blessings of Lord Panduranga, Vittalaraya continued on his campaign with his huge army and reached Suchindrum, near Kanniyakumari. In a sudden turn of events and much to his delight, the Travancore ruler agreed for a favourable settlement without entering the battle field. Happy at this quick and positive end to his campaign, and as a thanking gesture, Vittalaraya returned to the Panduranga temple in Vittalapuram. Camping here, he put in place a process and the finances for a daily six time pooja as well as the conduct of festivals round the year.
It is believed that Lord Panduranga immediately fulfils the wishes of devotees who visit this temple and offer their prayers with sincerity.
Though one does not find exquisite sculptures here like the ones inside Krishnapuram Venkatachalapathy temple (another Vijayanagara period – renovated- temple) located 2kms from here, there are several inscriptions relating to contributions made as well as festivities undertaken during different periods of time.
A temple that for centuries witnessed grand celebrations including 10 day Utsavams and processions on different Vahanams now wears a rather deserted look. With a major contribution coming in from the Sringeri Mutt and support from local people, the Kumbabhishekam was held in July this year.
However, much remains to be done to get the temple back to its glory days. There is still renovation work to be completed including construction of compound walls. Currently, the temple does not have a permanent Bhattar. With financial support from 3-4 families here, 2 Kala pooja is being done and that with the help of a (temporary) Bhattar who comes from the nearby Alukudi Village. Only Vaikunta Ekadesi, Thiru Karthigai and Margazhi Utsavams are being celebrated. There are not sufficient funds to even purchase flowers for the Lord.
Moolavar : Vittaleswarar Perumal East Facing Standing Posture
Utsavar : Panduranga
Thaayar : Rukmini and Satyabhama (Separate Sannidhis)
Temple Time: 7am-12noon and 5pm-8pm
Contact : Bhagavatha Bhattar @ 92458 94065.
How to reach Vittalapuram
Buses every half hour between Tirunelveli and Vittalapuram temple ( Route Nos. 11A, 23B and 3G)
One can also take the Tiruchendur bound express bus and get down at Seydunganallur and reach the temple (3kms North) in an auto (Rs.30/-)
The other option is to take the Tuticorin bound bus and get down at Vasavapuram and reach the temple (3kms South) in an auto (Rs.30/-)