Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pathamadai Kariya Manikkam Perumal Temple

A historical place that had its time of glory during the Pandya Period – Donation of Lands and Gifting of Oil for Perpetual Lamp was a regular feature in the 12th and 13th Century AD
Special Status for Women at Pathamadai

Located just under 20kms from Tirunelveli on the Cheran Maha Devi Highway is the Pandya Period Kariya Manikkam Perumal Temple in Pathamadai, one that dates back a 1000 years.  In several verses, Azhvaars have referred to Kariya Manikkam Perumal in their Nalayira Divya Prabhandham. One of the temples dedicated to Kariya Manikkam Perumal in this region is in the heart of Tirunelveli South of Nellaiappar Temple. 


Cheran Maha Devi Chaturvedi Mangalam (as it was referred to then) and its adjoining region is home to several ancient perumal temples that were close to the hearts of the Pandya and Chera rulers as can be seen from the contributions made.

Several inscriptions inside the temple on the walls of the prakara indicate significant contributions by the Pandya Kings. However, the white washing of the walls of the strong granite structure, in recent times has contributed to destruction of these centuries old inscriptions.

Tax Free Offerings to this temple
In the late 12th Century and early 13th Century AD, Sadaya Varma Kulasekara Pandyan contributed in no small measure to the development of this temple. During that period, this temple was referred to as Ayiara Thenma Vinnagara Azhvaar Temple at the eastern hamlet of Cheran Maha Devi Chaturvedi Mangalam. Vikrama Pandya too contributed to the improvements at this temple.

On the Eastern Wall is an inscription dating to the rule of Kulasekara I that registers an assurance that 6 Ma of land in Cheran Maha Devi Chaturvedi Mangalam might be made tax free for daily offering of Ayiratenna Vinnagara Azhavaar temple.

In 1198AD, tax free temple lands were donated to this temple by the Cheran Maha Devi Province.

Lighting of lamps
During the rule of Pandya Kings including Kulasekara Pandya, oil was gifted for lighting a perpetual lamp at the Kariya Manikkam Perumal temple here at Pathamadai. This temple was specially protected by the army force of Pathamadai.

On the South Wall of the central shrine, an inscription dating back to 1193AD to the rule of Jatavarma Kulasekara Deva registers a gift of income from an oil mill for burning perpetual lamp, by the king while he was seated in the throne called Kalinga Rayan in his palace at Madurai.

On the Eastern Wall of the mandapa in front of the central shrine is an inscription that registers a gift of one achchu for a twilight lamp to the Lord by Sri Vallabha Sri Vasudevan, one of the Arya Bhattars of the temple.

A brahmana lady gifted one achchu for a twilight lamp as seen from another inscription on the eastern wall.

A Unique Transaction!!!
A 1296 AD inscription on the North Wall relates to the rule of Mayavarma Vikrama Pandya III.  This inscription states that the assembly of Cheran Maha Devi Chaturvedi Mangalam assigned a portion of a land already in the enjoyment of the temple in lieu of another which they had granted to the temple on the occasion of its foundation, the latter being disputed to have been the gift of another Vishnu temple in the same village called Sri Vallabha Vinnagaram.

In consideration of this new transaction and exchange, the assembly gave some money to the temple and declared that the land now given was to be a devadhaana of the temple.

On a slap in front of the temple is an inscription that refers to a gift that the temple is placed under the protection of Munrukaiyar. Below this inscription are sculptures of two lamp stands.

Status of the Bhattars in the 20th Century
A temple that had such rich contribution 8-9centuries ago was in a dilapidated state in the middle of last century so much so that the bhattar clan who were taking care of this temple literally had to beg the residents for the daily food for the lord as well as the conduct of the centuries old Utsavams.

A Saivite temple north of the Kariya Manikkam Perumal temple dedicated to Bilva Vanaatha Swamy was also the recipient of huge grants by the Pandya Kings including Sadaya Varma Kulasekaran, Maravarma Sundara Pandyan and Maravarma Kulasekara Pandyan in the 12th-14th Century period. There was also a big renovation of this temple in 1203AD according to an inscription at the Bilva Vanaatha Swamy temple with special festive poojas performed on a grand scale on Panguni Uthiram.

Women had a special status here at Pathamadai during the rule of the Pandyas. During the rule of Veera Pandyan, women used to anchor and present mythological dramas inside the temple that were witnessed by a huge crowd.

Inscriptions also indicate that this was a place that had a huge growth of sacred flowers and that special ‘palagais’ were erected inside the temple to collect and place the flowers that was then presented to the Lord during pooja time.

Ancient Idols
Centuries old idols of Perumal, Thaayar and Hayagriva belonging to the Perumal Temple are lying in a dilapidated condition in the North Eastern corner of the temple with a head chopped off from one of the idols.
Pandya Kings including Jatavarma Pandya and Kulasekaran had also contributed significantly to the Ramaswamy and Appan Venkatachalapathy temples in Cheran Maha Devi, one kilometre west of this temple

Procession around the four Mada Streets on Vaikasi Uttaradam
Margazhi Saturday Procession

Quick Facts
Moolavar : Kariya Manikkam Perumal in an East Facing Standing Posture
Utsavar    : Kept under security at Krishnan Koil, Ambai
Time        : 8am-10am and 5pm-7pm
Contact    : S Rajagopalan Bhattar @ 04634 261612 / 89038 61612

How to reach
Pathamadai is 1km east of Cheran Maha Devi on the Tirunelveli – Ambai/Papanasam Highway. From Pathamadai bus stand, the temple is walking distance at just under ½ km north. Buses ply every 15 minutes between Tirunelveli and Cheran Maha Devi.

Car from Tirunelveli and back will cost Rs. 400. Contact Ganesh Cabs @ 94436 71632

When here, also visit Chakkarath Azhvaar Temple at Karusulntha Mangalam (2kms north of this temple) on the banks of Tamarai Barani.

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