Sunday, March 6, 2016

Athalanallur Gajendra Varadaraja Perumal

Temple associated with the Gajendra Moksham episode
Special Initiatives taken 1000 years ago to maintain a beautiful Nandavanam to ensure the presentation of Flower Garlands for the Lord every day
Even Gardeners were provided for at the temple and their interests taken care of 
Located 10kms North East of Ambasamudram and about 25kms from Tirunelveli amidst green fields on the Eastern Banks of  over flowing Tamaraibarani is the ancient Gajendra Varadaraja Perumal temple in Athalanallur, one whose legend dates back to the Gajendra Moksham episode. As per inscriptions inside the temple that date back a 1000years, this place was referred to as Athaani Nallur ( Athaani = Elephant), yet another indication for the elephant episode connection to this temple. 

Lost in thoughts of Lord Vishnu a disciple of Sage Agastya ignored his Guru’s presence prompting the Sage to curse him to turn into an elephant. One day when the elephant went to the river to bring water for Abhisheka, he found the lotus flower and plucked it only to be caught in the grasp of the crocodile. Crying for help, he called out for Aathi Moolam. The Lord came on his Garuda Vahana and provided Moksham to both the animals by hurling his chakra at the Crocodile.

A rock inside the temple tank referred to as the Elephant Rock, reference to the Gajendra Moksham episode having taken place in the foot of the Pothigai hills and the presence of Sage Agastya inside the moolavar sannidhi are believed to be indications of this temple’s association with the legendary event.

Inscriptions
There are several inscriptions inside the temple that date back a 1000 years. During the rule of Kulotunga I (1100AD) a portion of fields of Athalanallur was separated and granted as a tax free Devadana land. During that period, Athalanallur was referred to as a hamlet of Cheran Maha Devi and the Gajendra Varadar temple was referred to as ‘Moymam Pooumbolil’ Azhvaar temple.

During the rule of Jatavarama Srivallabha Pandya there was a gift of land for conduct of worship on Puratadhi day at Athalanallur. The queen of the place has been mentioned as Uagamuludu Mudaiyaal.

There were five sacred offerings to the Lord each day as organised by the assembly of Cheran Maha Devi during the rule of Maravarma Pandya. One of the inscriptions refers to the land originally held by the temple for this purpose as lying waste due to petty quarrels. There is also a record of gift of one achchu by Emberumanar Ammai for providing offering to the God and providing from that prasadam to the servants and worshippers of Emberumanar in the temple. The Vaishnavas in the temple received the achchu and agreed to maintain the charity. There was a grant of prasadam to a certain Ramanuja Jeer for a quarter Annai achchu which the vaishnavas had received from him.

Flower Gardens at Athalanallur Temple
Nandanavam seems to have been given great importance during ancient times at this temple as seen from the different flower gardens referred in the inscriptions, the appointment of gardeners to maintain the garden and initiatives to take care of them.

There was a gift of tax free land for flower garden called Tambikku Nallan Thiru Nandavanam during the rule of Vira Pandyadeva Pandya.  On the north wall of the temple is an inscription dating to the rule of Jatavarma Pandya that refers to gift of land to the temple by a big army with 10 commands for maintaining the garden. There is also a record of a sale of garden lands.

Gardeners at the Nandavanam
There was a gift of prasadam to two gardeners for rearing the flower garden called Ramanuja Thiru Nandavanam during the rule of Kulasekara Pandya. They were exempted from tax and they were to grow flowers, pick them and string them together into garlands. There was a gift of Kadamai on certain lands by the temple for providing maintenance of gardeners of the Iladaraiyan flower gardens.

There was also a gift of one kalam of food by the temple for feeding the men in charge of Ramanuja flower garden.
Festivals
Garuda Sevai on Vaikasi Uthiradam, Aani Swathi, Puratasi Thiruvonam, Thai Poosam
Muthangi Sevai on Vaikunta Ekadasi and Chandra Prabha / Ssha Vahana procession
On the morning of Vaikunta Ekadasi, there will be a Special Sayana Sevai

Till 1970, festivals were celebrated round the year but since then many of the festivals have been stopped.
Quick Facts
Moolavar         : Aathi Moolam standing posture
Thaayar           : Andal
Utsavar            : Gajendra Varadar
Time                : 7am-1030am and 430pm-730pm
(On last Sat of every month, temple will be open between 530am -1pm and 4pm-8pm)
Contact  : Raman Bhattar @ 04634 287295 / 99659 20369

How to reach
The temple is 4 kms from Veeravanallur. An auto from Veeravanallur will cost Rs. 70. Contact auto@ 94427 14547

Buses infrequent between Veeravanallur and Athlanallur.From Athalanallur, one can cross the Tamaraibarani by foot to reach Ranga Samudram Venkatachalapathy temple. 

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