Monday, December 23, 2019

Thillai Vilagam Kothandarama

One of the Pancha Rama Temples
The Hereditary Priest Kothandarama Bhattar has not participated in a single event outside of the temple in three decades having committed himself fully to Veera Kothandarama at Thillai Vilagam

48 year Kothandarama Bhattar decided even as a young boy that he would dedicate his entire life to the service of Veera Kothandarama at the Dhandakaranya Kshetram of Thillai Vilagam, one whose legend dates back to the Ramayana. After defeating Ravana, and on his way back to Ayodhya, Rama stayed here in the ashram of Baradwaja Rishi. The five feet tall Moolavar Rama at Thillai Vilagam is seen in a majestic posture sporting a handsome smile. To his right is Sita seen in a Kalyana Kolam.  Kothandarama provides a ‘Tribangi’ Sevai at Thillai Vilagam. The neck has one kind of a curve, the hip a different curve and the leg another curve but all three are in a straight line, a truly unique posture.
Devotional Commitment of Bhattar
Kothandarama Bhattar was initiated into the agamas by the renowned Kizhayur Sowmya Narayanan Bhattar and Koneri Raja Puram Srinivasa Bhattar. He came into the temple as a young teenager in the 1980s and has been here for three decades. Earlier, his father had performed service at the temple for several decades. He has not performed a single samprokshanam or participated in a homam outside of the temple. Even when a wedding takes place inside the temple, he does not participate though there has been an opportunity to make money out of the event. His devotional commitment and attachment is only to Lord Rama and hence does not associate with anything other than service to the Lord. He also doubles up as the cook at the temple to present Thaligai every day to the Lord. Number of devotees do not make a difference to him for he performs aradhana to the Lord irrespective of the presence of devotees engaged in a one on one interaction with the Lord.

During the days of Kothandarama Bhattar’s childhood in the 1970s, there was a long agraharam on the South Street with at least 20 traditional families residing in big numbers. Today there are just three – One Bhattar Family, one Gurukal Family and a Purohit. Unmindful of the exodus of the traditionalists, Kothandarama Bhattar stuck to the Lord and has never left Thillai Vilagam for a Samprokshanam or a Homam in search of financial glory. As a hereditary archaka, he is not paid salary for the daily service. Over the last three decades, Thattu Kaasu, if any, has been the only source of income to him for his temple Kainkaryam. 

Grand Panguni Brahmotsavam
Brahmotsavam is celebrated in a grand way at the temple with experienced priests from Divya Desams anchoring the decoration of the Lord. Staying here through the 11 days of the Utsaavam, Raman Bhattar from Nathan Koil has been conducting the Brahmotsavam festivities over the last many years while Kalyanarama Bhattar of Senkalipuram had managed the annual utsavam in the decades gone by. The Villagers from in and around Thillai Vilagam come together during the Brahmotsavam to take care of the entire expenses with each village managing a day’s Utsavam. The Brahmotsavam also sees the villagers organizing traditional events including Bommalattam, folk dances as well as debates on epics. The Vahana Procession starts every evening after 10pm and goes on till midnight. 

On the 10th day of the utsavam, Rama Pattabhibhisekam is performed with the Lord seen with a special crown. The Deer Vahana Procession on the 11th day of the Brahmotsavam is a speciality at the temple.

Distinctive Features of Rama
The Moolavar idol of Kothandarama is believed to be at least a 1000years old. Rama is holding the bow in his left hand. On a close look at his hands, one is able to see the nerves, the ring and his sharp nails. One is also able to see the sharp distinctive fingers on each hand just like a human hand. On his right hand, Rama is seen holding the arrow that contains the writing ‘Rama Saram’, the only one of its kind in a Rama temple. These writings refer to his philosophy of life – Oru Sol (Rama would not go back on the word he has given), Oru Il (Only one wife – he would not look at another woman) and Oru Vil (The special bow). 
Another interesting feature of the moolvar Rama is the distinctive marks. One is able to also see clearly the nerves and moles on the legs of Lord Rama. Also, one is able to see the knee cap on both the legs of the lord.  On his left leg, one finds the Raksha bandhan tied by mother Kausalya when Rama was young to protect him from evil forces.

Anjaneya’s Dasa Posture
Anjaneya is seen in a Dasa Posture with his right hand close to his mouth in a whispering posture. Belief is that presenting curd rice to Anjaneya at this temple would liberate the devotee from problem associated with marriage and navagriha dosham.
In recent years, the devotee crowd has increased with around 25 devotees visiting the temple on Saturday to perform archanai. Aadi Amavasai and Thai Amavasai days are sacred at this temple. Couples who bathe in the tank West of the temple on either of these two days are believed to be blessed with children. Once a month, devotees, mostly those from nearby villages, perform Thirumanjanam on their birthdays/wedding days.

Hereditary Trustees
The Pancha Loka idols of the Thillai Vilagam Rama temple were found buried in the ground to the west of the temple in the early 19th century by Velu Thevar. The temple in its current form was built subsequent to that by Velu Thevar, whose clan are now the hereditary trustees of the temple. 

Chidambareswarar Temple
Just adjacent to the Kothandarama temple is the Chidambareswarar Umayambigai temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, where one also finds the idol of Nataraja. The two temples of Shiva and Rama are seen next to each other almost in the same complex with an entrance on the Northern side of the Rama temple into the Shiva temple similar to the Chidambaram Temple ( It is in this context that the place came to be referred to as ‘Thillai’ Vilagam. Renovation works have been pending for almost 25 years at the Shiva temple but is expected to begin early in 2020.

Pancha Rama Temples
Veera Kothandarama at Thillai Vilagam is similar in facial posture to the ones at Baalya Rama, Mudikondan (, Hathambavur Rama at Sri Vanjiyam, Eri Kaatha Rama at Madurantakam ( and Saligrama Rama at Punnai Nallur (
The temple is open from 830am-1230pm and 5pm-8pm Contact Kothandarama Bhattar @ 80568 56894.

How to reach
Thillai Vilagam is 30kms South of Mannaragudi Rajagopalaswamy Temple off the Tiruvarur / Thiruthuraipoondi Muthupet highway 19 kms East of Thiruthuraipoondi and 6kms West of Muthupet. Buses ply every 30minutes from Thiruthuraipoondi to Muthupet. One should get down at Gopala Samudram. Mini bus will take one to the temple (2kms).  From Tiruvarur, cab to the temple and back will cost Rs. 1250. One can also reach the temple from Pattukottai (35kms) or Vedaranyam (40kms).

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