Thursday, March 14, 2013

Vempathur Sundararaja Perumal Temple

Kulasekara Pandya Period Temple
Great Poets like Kambar visited this place and composed poems
Located about 35kms East of Madurai and 4kms North of Tiruppachetti is the Sundararaja Perumal Temple in Vempathur. The temple in its current form is said to date back to the 13th Century AD and to the rule of Kulasekara Pandya. The Moolavar deity is a Mooligai idol and is seen in a Abhaya Varada posture blessing the devotees

Scholars from Thiruvellarai
Several Centuries ago, over 500 Vaishnavite scholars and priests had been brought in from Thiruvellarai (near Srirangam) to the Pandya Kingdom to spread Vedas and Vaishnavism. About 150 of them had moved into Vempathur with just as many going to Sikkal and hundreds of them had stayed back at Perunkarunai, the Avathara Sthalam of Selva Nambi.  All of them had a kudumi in their head and hence were referred to as ‘Poorva Sikha Sozhiya Srivaishnavas’.

Conversion to Saivism
Over a period of time, all of them at Vempathur had converted to Saivites. Hence, the priests at this Perumal temple are Saivites. Also, an interesting feature here is that Vibhuthi is provided as the sacred prasadam every evening after a presentation of Sahasranamam.

It is also believed that Lord Bhoo Varaha emerged from the earth and was installed here inside the temple to the North of Sundararaja Perumal Sannidhi. Belief is that Lord Bhoo Varaha fulfils the wishes of those devotees who place their prayers on a white paper at his feet.

Great Poets and their compositions from here
Great Poets like Kambar, Avvaiyar and Oththa Koothar (contemporary of Kambar) have visited this temple and composed poems. Rajendra Chozhan built the front mandapa here so the great poets could sit in peace and compose their works and spread their Tamil poetry. There is a Hayagriva Sannidhi in front of whom it is believe that Poet Kamban sat and composed songs.

U Ve Swaminatha Iyer in his Thiruvalayadal Purana makes a detailed reference to this place and the vedic recitals that used to take place here.

Aavani Thiruvonam
Vaikunta Ekadesi
Procession in Karthigai
Hanuman Jayanthi

Quick Facts
Moolavar         : Sundararaja Perumal with Sri devi and Bhoo devi
Time                : 6am-11am and 530pm-8pm
Contact            : 98409 35113/ 97915 83169/97903 25083

How to reach
One can take the Madurai-Rameswaram Bus from Maatuthaavani Bus Stand in Madurai. Get down at Tiruppachetti (about 30kms from Madurai) after Tiruppuvanam. From Tiruppachetti, an auto to Vempathur (about 6kms) will cost about Rs. 75/-.

There are also mini buses/share auto from Tirupachetti.

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