Monday, May 30, 2016

Ariyakudi Thiru Venkatamudayan Temple Renovation

Renovation will begin next month at the 17th Century AD Thiru Venkatamudayan temple in Ariyakudi after a gap of 17 years at an estimate cost of around Rs. 3crores. This will be just the 2nd renovation in over 100 years at the temple that has connection with three Divya Desams.  The 7 Tier 120 feet high Rajagopuram is the tallest for a Vishnu Temple in the Chettinad Region.
With severe monkey menace, a number of beautifully crafted and sculpted idols atop the Rishi Gopuram, the 2nd Gopuram just behind the Raja Gopuram, have come off. In some, the heads are missing, while in Brahmma’s idol, his hand has been knocked off.  The palm of the hand of the 10 headed Ravana too is missing. In most, the paintings have peeled off and are wearing a faded look.  Each of these will be restored to its original colour and beauty with Pancha Varna painting.
There are also leakages in both the Gopurams and the plan is to have complete civil works undertaken to fix the leakages with long term solutions.

Mooligai Paintings
On the side and upper walls of the huge Ekadasi Mandapa are exquisite and rare four centuries old mooligai paintings showcasing Lord Vishnu in his different incarnations as well as the different postures (standing, sitting and sleeping). This is a special feature and one of the big highlights at this temple. This mandapa is opened only once a year on the occasion of Vaikunta Ekadasi and thus the devotees have an opportunity to explore these paintings only on that day. The colour has come off a few of these paintings and the plan is to bring these back to its natural features.

Another challenge is the rain water flowing through the gaps into the Ekadasi Mandapa flooding the place putting the paintings at risk. The plan is to construct a shed at the entrance to prevent water entering the mandapa.
Multiple Stapathis will be used during the year long renovation activity with each being assigned a specific set of tasks. Chemical wash will be performed on the walls and pillars at the temple to restore it to its original form.

Vahanas – Repair work
Repair work will be carried out to the Golden Garuda Vahana on which the Lord goes out on a Procession on the opening day of Chitrai every year. The popular Chariot Festival and Theppotsavam take place in Vaikasi as part of the grand 15 day Brahmotsavam.

While 1000s of devotees visit the temple during the annual Vaikasi festival, as well as on each of the Saturdays in Puratasi, the temple complex lacks basic amenities such as bathroom and toilet facilities. It is hoped that HR & CE will immediately look into this and make available some of the basic facilities for the devotees including rooms to stay.

All the shops opposite the temple are being brought down and re-built. The staff quarters are being refurbished.

Connection with three Divya Desams
The story goes that Sevukan Chettiyar used to walk to Tirupathi with a group of devotees to have darshan of Srinivasa Perumal on the Thiruvonam day in Puratasi. On one such trip, when ill health disrupted his trip, he heard an invisible voice state that He, the Lord  himself would provide darshan at the devotee’s place rather than the devotee coming all the way here.

He was directed to Srirangam to collect the idol, one which was the Abhisheka Murthy of Ramanuja. He came back here to this dense forest area of Ariyakudi and installed the utsava idol of Srinivasa Perumal and built the first prakara. In memory of the construction by Sevukan Chettiyar, his idol is seen on one of the pillars in front of the sanctum.

Subsequently, the 7tiered Raja Gopuram was built along with a separate Sannidhi for Alarmel Mangai Thayar.

The speciality at this temple is that the utsava idol is from Srirangam, the Shatari from Tirupathi and Agni (the sacred fire) from Thiru Maiyam. In centuries gone by, during the Thiruvonam festival in Puratasi, devotees had the honour of being blessed by the Lords from three Divya Desams (the Abhisheka idol, the Shatari and the sacred fire that would be brought from Thirumayam – about 20 kms away - for the Karpoora Aradhana) at the Dasavathara mandapa.

Every month on the Swathi star day, a special Thirumanjana, with 108 sacred Kudams, is performed for Garuda. The belief is that this helps liberate one from doshams.

Ramanuja Iyengar and Ariyakudi Temple
The 20th century Carnatic Music Legend Ramanuja Iyengar lived here for many years in the Sannidhi Street, 100 yards away from the temple. An archival record dating back to 1937 features a kutcheri presentation by him here at Ariyakudi. Well over 70 years ago, Varadaraja Bhattar would seek Ramanuja Iyengar’s endorsement of the special alankarams each day during the 15 day Vaikasi Brahmotsavam. So devoted was Ramanuja Iyengar towards Lord Srinivasa that he would identify and point out even minor errors in the alankaram that would then be corrected by the Bhattar before the screen was opened for the devotees’ darshan.

On the 4th day of the Brahmotsavam, when the Lord came out on the Golden Garuda Vahana, led by an elephant (with a photo of Thyagaraja placed on its top), Ramanuja Iyengar used to present Pancha Ratna Keerthanais.

The temple is open between 730am-1230pm and 430pm-8pm. Those interested in supporting the renovation efforts may contact: 89397 91779 / 94866 34228

How to reach
Ariyakudi is 4kms from Karaikudi.  Daily express trains ply from Chennai to Karaikudi. Auto from Karaikudi Station will cost Rs. 75.

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