Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mannargudi RajaGopalaswamy Temple

Mannargudi Rajagopalaswamy- Dakshina(South) Dwaraka
Unparalleled beauty and most alluring Lord RajaGopalaswamy
One wonders why such a beautiful temple did not find itself in the ‘good books’ of the Azhvaars

Housed on a huge 33acre area, the RajaGopalan temple at Mannargudi (till a few centuries ago, this was called MannarKoil), is all what a Vaishnavite temple should be. Except that the Azhvaars did not perform Mangalasaasanam here, something that one finds difficult to come to terms with. Hence this is not a Divya Desam and remains only an ‘Abhimaana’ Sthalam.

Its quite a mystery actually that the Azhvaars who visited and sang praise of the Lord(and performed Mangalasaasanam) at ThiruKannapuram (50kms North East), ThiruKannangudi(50kms East), Thirucherrai, Nachiyar Koil, Thiruvinnagar-Oppiliappan, Kumbakonam Sarangapani(around 35kms North) and Thanjai Maa Mani (35kms West) missed the towering presence of RajaGopalan.

Temple Tower – 154 ft high
The huge temple tower, at a height of 154 ft. is fourth tallest among vishnu temples and can be seen from 5-10 kms away as one drives into Mannargudi. This place is also called Dakshina Dwaraka (South Dwaraka).

As one enters the temple, a vast open garden in the outer most prakaram with greenery all around serves as a warm welcome for the devotees. With nice benches, this makes it a nice evening sit out for one to admire this remarkable temple.

And then one walks through a long path alongside huge pillars and mandapams to reach the RajaGopalan Sannidhi.

Temple History
The temple is believed to have been built by the Chola rulers, Kulathunga Chola I and II, during the period 1072 - 1150AD. And later developed and improved by the Nayak kings in the 16th and 17th century AD. This place is also known as Champakaaranya Kshetram.

It is said that the Lord here gave darshan to Brahmma in Kritha Yugam, to Brugu Rishi and Goddess Mahalakshmi in Tretha Yugam, to Agni, Gopila and Gopralaya Rishi(children of Rishi Vahnimugar) in Dwaapara Yugam and to King Rajasekhar in Kali Yugam.

Remarkable Temple
7 prakarams, 16 temple towers, 18 Vimaanams, 24 Sannidhis, temple housed in 33 acre area with an equal area(33 acres) for the temple tank, festivals throughout the year just like Srirangam, a most handsome and majestic looking Vasudevan and a beautiful and alluring RajaGopalaswamy, with dangling Kundalam in one ear and an earring(Gopiyar’s) in the other ear- a sight to behold make it a terrific Vaishnavite temple. With such a towering presence, one has to wonder as to how the Azhvaars did not fall in love with this Lord. What is it that they saw (or did not see) that made the Azhvaars stay away from this temple.
It is said that ThiruMangai Azhvaar did visit this place. He came up to the entrance of the temple, lifted the DwajasThambam(Flag Post) at the entrance of the temple that was lying on the floor and went away.

All poojas in traditional Vaishnavite way
The daily temple poojas are performed in a very systematic and traditional manner right from Vishroopam at 5am, with the temple elephant and the cow showing their devotion to the Lord. One is a witness to the temple elephant going down on its knees to pray before Lord RajaGopalan and then lifting its trunk to shower water on the Lord- a beautiful sight to watch so early in the morning. And this is possibly the only Vaishnavite temple in Tamil Nadu that opens at 5am and has the Vishroopa Darshan in a formal way like it once used to be in all the temples.

Significance of the place- Staying here for a Night
In the Mahabharata, Pulastya tells Bheeshma that anyone staying for a night at MannarKoil earns the merit of having gifted a 1000 cows, such is the significance of this place.

South Dwaraka
Gopila and Gopralaya Rishi (children of Rishi Vahnimugar) wanted Moksham and prayed to Lord Narayana, who asked them to go to Dwaraka to seek the blessings of Lord Krishna(Kannan). By the time they reached Dwaraka, Krishna Avataaram had ended. Narada asked these two rishis to go to ‘South Dwaraka’ and they came here to Mannarkoil.

Here they asked Lord Narayana to give them darshan as Krishna and to show them all the playful things that Krishna had done at Dwaraka. Answering their prayers, Lord Narayana appeared before them as Krishna and enacted, on the banks of Harithra river, all that Kannan had played on the banks of Yamuna river in Dwaraka.

The Lord and his beautiful posture
The Lord here is seen in a single vastram(garment) just like a cowboy, with his right hand yielding a golden rod with a whip that has 3 dents and his left hand slightly leaning on the cow just behind him. One can also see 2 beautiful calves (in silver) in front of him on either side. The Lord is also called RajaMannar and Gopalan.

The moolavar Para Vasudevan can be seen with a conch, maze and discus in a majestic standing posture facing the East with a complete set of silver ornaments all over his body.

The story of two different ear rings 
Once, Krishna and Gopiyars had an argument/bet as to who would bathe the quickest. In his eagerness to win, Krishna ran back and in a hurry, wore his kundalam in one ear and Gopiyar’s ear ring in the other.

To this day, we can see this rather unusual display of RajaGopalan at this temple- that of two different ear rings- one ear with his Kundalam and the other where he adorns Gopiyar’s ear ring.

32 Photographs around the Main Sannidhi
It is believed that the Lord gave darshan in 32 different forms to the 2 Rishis here. The first of that was ParaVasudevan(Moolavar here) and the last was RajaGopalan(Utsavar). These 32 forms are displayed in a colourful form around the main Sannidhi at this temple.

Temple Elephant and the 10km walk every morning
The temple elephant Shengamalam takes a 10km walk every day to keep herself fit. With 32 villages around this temple, the elephant walks to one village every day. Interestingly, Shenbagammal does not eat plantains like other temple elephants. She has a special liking for biscuits.

Near the Utsava Moorthy, one also finds SanthaanaGopalan. It is believed that those who pray to the SanthaanaGopalan will be blessed with a child, a case in point is a SriLankan couple who prayed to the Lord here and were blessed with a child immediately.

Deaf and Dumb Priests
There are a couple of deaf and dumb men(from birth) at this temple. Thanks to the initiative of the temple authorities, these men have been given rights to perform pooja at a couple of sannidhis, thus boosting their confidence. These priests are enthusiastic, perform their duty with sincerity and take extra efforts in serving the devotees- quite a moving experience. Pooja Details Vishwaroopam 6am, Thiruvananthal 7am, Kaalai Santhi Poojai-9am, Uchi Kalam-12noon Thirumalai Purapadu- 6pm, SayaRakshai-7pm, Irandam Kalam Poojai-8pm, Artha Jamam-830pm Thaligai details Milk/Fruits/Pongal for Vishwaroopam Dudhyonam(Curd Rice)- 7am pooja Tamarind rice - 9am pooja Thenkuzhal - 11am pooja Curd Rice- 7pm Samba Rice-8pm pooja Chakkarai Pongal, Mothagam- 9pm pooja Archanai on Special occasions Poosam -Thirumanjanam for Shengamala Thaayar Sravanam- Thirumanjanam for Perumal Utsavar Every Friday-Thirumanjanam for Utsavar Thaayar Every month- Pancha Parvatham- Perumal Utsavar and Shengamala Thaayar Purapadu Thiruvadi Thirumanjanam for Perumal Utsavar is done on special request. For bookings, call : 94423 99820 or 04367 225738

Quick Facts:
Deity : ParaVasudevan (Moolavar)– East Facing, Standing Posture
Utsavar : Rajagopalan
Goddess : Shengamala Thaayar

Temple timing : 5am –12.30pm and 430pm-9pm
Priest : Prasanna Dikshithar @ 94433 43363 / Jagan Dikshithar @ 88700 24437 

Mahalingam, Manager on 94423 99820 /04367 222276

Festivals-Right through the year

18 day Panguni Brahmmotsavam - 10 day Float Festival in Aani - 20 day Adyaana Festival in Margazhi- The Garuda Seva at Mannargudi is specially famous

Location : 27Kms South West of Thiruvarur, 30kms SouthEast of Thanjavur and about 30kms South of Kumbakonam

Bus : Well connected from Thiruvarur, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur and Pattukottai

Place to Stay : Poorna Lodge (1/2 km from the temple)- Rs. 300 for Non AC double room and Rs. 600 for an AC room -Tel No. 04367 251695

Thiru Koodalur Jagathrakshagan

Aaduturai Perumal Koil
JagathRakshagan- One who protects the World

Located 15kms East of Thiruvayaru on the Kumbakonam Highway and 5kms West of Kapisthalam Divya Desam is the Jagathrakshagan Perumal Divya Desam in Aadturai, where the Lord Vaiyam (Ulagam)Kaatha Perumal is seen in an East facing standing posture.

The Story

The Devas came together at this place invoking the blessings of Lord Vishnu requesting him to kill Asura Hiranyaksha. Legend has it that Vishnu cut open the earth, killed the Asura and reappeared, with Goddess Lakshmi, as Varaaha Moorthy (one of the 10 Avathaarams of Maha Vishnu) at Srimushnam.

As all of them came together at this place and prayed to the Lord requesting for protection, this place has come to be called Koodalur (where people come together). The Lord who protected the village from the Asura has come to called Jagath Rakshagan - One who protects the World

Another story goes that Raja Ambarishi was so pious  that he even let go his kingdom to continue his penance.

Sage Durvasa, renowned for anger, once visited Ambarishi. With the king in deep penance, Durvasa, in his typical style, lost patience and cursed Ambarishi to lose the power of his penance.

The staunch devotee that Ambarishi was, he continued to be lost in thoughts of the Lord. Coming to the aid of his devotee, Vishnu threw his Chakra at Sage Durvasa, who immediately begged the Lord for forgiveness. Hence, one can find the Utsavar at this temple-JagathRakshagan- with the Chakra in his hand.

Pleased with Ambarishi’s penance, it is here that Vishnu gave him Darshan in his full Divine form. Delighted at  having seen the Lord in his divine form, Ambarishi built this temple. It is believed that this temple was washed away later with floods in the Cauvery. The temple that exists now in its current form was built later by Rani Mangammal of Madurai.

A third story has it that River Cauvery displayed her grief to the Lord that all the impurity/sins was being washed at the river and that she was feeling that the river here was becoming impure and unclean. Answering her prayers, it is believed that Cauvery regained all her glory at this place.

Thirumangai Azhvaar starts his 10 verses of the Koodalur Lord thus:

தாம்  தன் பெருமை அறியார், தூது
வேந்தற்கு ஆய வந்தார்  ஊர்போல்
காந்தள் விரல் மென் கலை நல மடவார்
கூந்தல் கமழும் - கூடலூரே

Quick Facts

Moolavar    : Vaiyam (Ulagam)Kaatha Perumal
Goddess     : Padmaasini(Pushpavalli)
Utsavar      : Jagathrakshagan

Time          : 730am-1230pm and 430pm-830pm
Priest         : Kasturi Rangan Bhattachar @ 96598 80628

Address     : Aduthurai Perumal Koil
                   Ullikadai Post, Papanasam Taluk Thanjavur Dist 614 202

How to reach
Buses ply every 10 minutes from Kumbakonam to Thiruvayaru (narrow road along the banks of Cauvery)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Kapisthalam Gajendra Varadar

Pancha Krishna Kshetram
Only Divya Desam that provides Moksham to two animals
Located about 15 kms from Kumbakonam on the Thiruvayaru road (about 5 kms East of Koodalur Divya Desam) is the Gajendra Varadhan temple at Kapisthalam where the Lord is seen in a reclining posture facing the East.

The temple is currently in a terrible condition- Quite a bad sight for devotees. At a time when several Divya Desams are being renovated in Tamil Nadu,( For eg. TVS Group has transformed the Nava Tirupathi temples near Tirunelveli) why this temple cannot be renovated is a question every devotee visiting this divya desam is asking today.

The priest gets a Salary of Rs. 16 per month!!!!

The Legend

Raja Indirajimnan, a staunch devotee of Vishnu was so immersed in his prayers that he would forget the world around him. Once he incurred the wrath of Sage Durvasa known for his instant anger by continuing to be in his prayers and making the Sage wait outside. He was cursed thus- “The fact that you are a great devotee has made you arrogant and you have disrespected a Sage, who has come to meet you. May you turn into a mad elephant.”

Realising his folly, Indrajimnan begged for forgiveness. The Sage who is also know for showing sympathy agreed to reduce the impact of the curse stating that he would continue to be devoted to the Lord as ‘Elephant Gajendra’ and that he would one day be relieved of his curse by Vishnu himself.

Another story goes that Asura Guhu once playfully pulled the legs of Sage Agastyar while he was having bath. Angered at this act, the Sage cursed him instantly turning the Asura into a Crocodile.
Vishnu, on his Garuda Vahana rescued Elephant (King) Gajendra from the clutches of the Crocodile (the Asura) on the banks of the river by hurling his Chakra at the crocodile and killing it. Thus the king was rid of his curse and attained Moksham. This Gajendra Moksham episode is enacted here every year in Panguni (March-April). This is the only Divya Desam where the Lord provides Darshan to two animals.

It is a Praarthana Sthalam for Rahu.

Thiru Mazhisai Azhvaar’s only Paasuram:

கூற்றமும் சாரா கொடுவினையும் சாரா 
தீ மாற்றமும் சாரா 
வகை அறிந்தேன் 

ஆற்றங்கரை கிடக்கும் கண்ணன்
கடல் கிடக்கும் மாயன் 
உரை கிடக்கும் உள்ளது எனக்கு 

This is one of the ‘Pancha Krishna Kshetrams’.
(the other four are – Thiru Kannapuram, Thiru Kannamangai, Thiruvazhandur and ThiruKannangudi)

The temple is open between 630am - 12noon and 5pm - 730pm.
Contact: O.S. Seshadri Bhattar- 04374 225434/95850 85619/81487 76727

Buses every 15 minutes between Kumbakonam and Thiruvayaru. Papanasam Railway Station is 2 kms South of Kapisthalam

Thiru Pullani Darbha Sayana Rama

A Sacred Place for absolute Surrender to the Lord
Lord Raama prayed to the Sea Lord to seek solution for his cross over to Lanka
10kms South East of Ramanathapuram on the Keelakarai Road is Thirupullani located on the banks of river Sethu (Sethu Karai). This temple dates back to a time before Rama Avatar. Rama came here in his search for Sita. Rama is believed to have invoked the blessings of Adhi Jagannathan at this temple before he departed for Lanka.

Sacred Place for Surrender to the Lord
It was here that Vibheeshana, the brother of Ravana, came for refuge and surrendered to Lord Rama asking him for help. While the entire Vaanara army looked at Vibheeshana with suspicion- one who has come with a plot to attack the Lord, it was Hanuman, who with folded hands, expressed his opinion that the Lord should accept Vibheeshana. Hanuman can be seen here, at this temple, in a posture indicating Vibheeshana’s surrender to Raama and to protect him from his brother(Raavana).

It was also here that Rama preached the doctrine of ‘Surrender’ that is applicable even today.

In Valmeeki’s account of this ‘Surrender to Lord episode’, Raama says, ‘I cannot reject anyone who comes to me for protection. This is my dharma. If Raavana himself came to me I would not reject him. How then can I reject his brother who has done me no wrong.’

In the Vaishnava Sampradaya, this episode of ‘Surrender to the Lord’ is held just as important as the Bhagavad Gita (Mahabharata). It is a doctrine that Lord accepts all who, in absolute surrender, seek shelter at his feet. Their sins are burnt out by the mere act of surrender.

This is a message of hope to erring humanity. There is hope for the worst of us if only we surrender ourselves to the Lord. This divine assurance is the life and light that a world filled with sin and darkness, needs.

Out of all the Divya Desams, this is said to be the most sacred for those devotees who are seeking ‘absolute surrender to Lord’.

Darbha Sayana Raamar

Having accepted Vibheeshana, it was here that Lord Raama along with the Vaanara (monkey ) army deliberated ways to cross the sea and orchestrated the way forward plan to Lanka to defeat Ravana.

Spreading Darbha grass (sacred grass used for religious rites) on the banks of River Sethu, Raama undertook a fast addressing Varuna(Sea Lord) and looked to him for a solution to cross the sea. Varuna asked him to build a bridge across the sea with boulders and trees and also promised him to show the best route to build the bridge.
Being the one who undertook a fast, lying on the Darbha grass, Raama here is called Darbha Sayana Raama.

Thondaradipodi Azhwar in his Thiru Maalai verse makes a reference to the role of the Squirrel in the construction of the bridge across the Sethu “குரங்குகள் மலையை தூக்கக்  குளித்துத் தாம் புரண்டிட்டு ஓடித்……”. He says that the squirrels which on seeing the monkeys helping Lord Rama, too wanted to help out the Lord. Being small in nature, they could not carry the trees and boulders. Hence, they did something innovative. The squirrels rolled on the sand and then ran back to the Sethu Bridge and dropped off the sand that had stuck to their body.

So impressed was Lord Rama that he rubbed the squirrels with warmth, a mark that remains to this day on the body of every squirrel. Squirrels have 3(vertical) lines on their body believed to be Rama’s own finger prints.

Having defeated the Lankan king, Lord Raama is said to have come back here and performed Pattabhishekham (crowning ceremony). Hence, he is here called ‘PattabhiRaamar’.

Childless Couple
Raama’s father King Dasharatha is believed to have performed a Yagna here and is believed to have had his four children after this yagna. Hence it is the belief that childless couple who bathe at the Sethu river and pray to the Lord here will be blessed with a child.

Sethu Bridge
The Sethu bridge has submerged under the sea but if you do request the fisherman on the banks of the Sethu sea shore, they may take you across the sea to show you the place that once was the Sethu Bridge.

Quick Facts
Moolavar  : Adhi Jagannathan – East Facing, Sitting Posture
Thaayar    : Kalyanavalli, Padmasini
Time         : 8am –12.30pm and 3.30pm-8pm
Priest        :  Jayaraman Bhattar @ 94439 20136
                    Seshadri Peshkar @ 98429 48390/ 99428 89763/ 04567 254 527                                                   
How to reach:
Thiru Pullani is around 10Kms South East of Ramanathapuram, Muffosil buses every 15minutes from Ramanathapuram Bus Stand. Town Bus  1A,1B, 5,5A,5B, 10 and 17 from Ramnad
Auto : Auto will charge Rs. 150-200 for a one way drop from Ramanathapuram to Thirupullani

Places to visit nearby : Dhanushkodi, Pamban Bridge, Rameswaram

Thiru Meiyam

Sathiya Moorthy Kshetram
Located on the Pudukottai-Karaikudi/Tirupattur highway, 7th Century AD Divya Desam Thiru Meiyam, referred to as Sathiya Giri and Sathiya Kshetram, is surrounded by a huge fort like structure. The Lord here is bigger than Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam. On the wall just above the deity one finds images of Brahmma and several Devas.

Adiseshan is believed to be protecting this place. The story goes that when the Asuras tried to kidnap the Lord, Adiseshan let open poisonous air to kill the asuras. As a reference to this incident, one can see Adiseshan being depicted in the same form here at this temple- letting out poisonous air- a unique feature at this Divya Desam.

Lord Vishnu’s guard (at this fort) incurred the wrath of Sage Durvasa, who cursed him to turn into a snake and was finally relieved of his curse here at ThiruMeiyam.

On the Chitra Pournami day, Sathiya Moorthy Perumal is taken out on a 40 mile procession to Kadaya Kudi.

Pallava rulers contributed to improvements at the temple.

Quick Facts

Moolavar       : Meiyappan Standing Posture, East Facing
Thaayar         : Ujjevana Thaayaar
Temple time   : 8am –12noon and 330pm-8pm
Contact         : Krishnamurthy Bhattar @ 89034 94019 / 04333 274043

Location : 18kms South of Pudukottai, 25 kms North of Karaikudi
Bus : One can take the Pudukottai-Karikudi or Pudukottai-Tirupattur bus to reach here
Place to Stay : Best to stay in Pudukottai or Karaikudi

Daily Trains from Madras to Pudukottai.

Thiruvellarai Pundarikakshan Divya Desam

One of the three Divya Desams with first rights to Thaayar
Visit Thiruvellarai for Moksham
Birth Place of Uyyakondan and Engal Azhvaan
On first looks, one could easily mistake this Divya Desam for an old fort. The front gopuram (temple tower) reflects a Hoysala style architecture that is so untypical of a Vaishnavite temple. The structure looks half finished and this is attributed to a war which is believed to have stopped half way during the construction.This temple dates back to a time much before Srirangam (temple) as the legend relates to Sibhi, the forefather of Rama.

Located about 20 kms North of Trichy, on the way to Thuraiyur, Thiruvellari temple is housed on a 14 acre property. Inscriptions and the architecture at this temple point to the fact that Pallava, Hoysala and Vijayanagara kings have contributed significantly to this temple.

The story
Scene 1: Markandeya was destined to die at 16. When Yama came to take him, he clutched on to the Shiva Lingam at ThiruKadaiyur. Pleased with this, Lord Shiva blessed him that he will remain there forever as 16. After enjoying life to the full, Markandeya once again prayed to Lord Shiva asking for Moksham. He is guided by Shiva to go to ThiruVellarai to invoke the blessing of Vishnu.

Scene 2: King Sibhi (Rama’s forefather) came here with a big army with the intention of killing the Lankan King Ravana. While here, he encountered a white pig which gave the army a fight. Angered at this, Sibhi chased the white pig. After stopping at 5 places, the pig disappeared into a pit. Markandeya Rishi who was performing penance here asked Sibhi to pray to Lord Vishnu.

Scene 3: It was Goddess Lakshmi’s wish that she be granted the leading rights at some temple, as she felt that the Lord gets priority over her in all the temples.
Answering Sibhi’s prayers was an invisible voice (Lord Vishnu) which asked him not to pursue his quest to defeat Ravana and that he go back to his kingdom as time had not come for Ravana to be defeated yet and that he himself will be born later to defeat Ravana. A disappointed King Sibhi pleads with the Lord that he could not possibly go back empty handed, without fulfilling the purpose for which he had come.The Lord asks Sibhi to fulfill the wishes of Goddess Lakshmi by building a temple here that would give her the first rights at all festivities. It is also here that Lord Vishnu gives Darshan (and Moksham) to Markandeya.

First rights to Thaayar
Only in three Divya Desams does the Goddess get the first rights over the Lord - Nachiyar temple in Thiru Naraiyur, Andal in Srivilliputhur and here at Thiruvellarai.

The belief is that Sibhi brought 3700 Vaishnavites to this temple. Later, about 50 of them left from here for Melkote (Karnataka), several went to Kongu Nadu and many others went to other temples to perform daily poojas there. Legend has it that all the Vaishnavas who perform daily poojas in temples were originally from Thiruvellarai.
Belief is that Buddhists were in equal strength here at Thiruvellarai along with Vaishnavites. Another belief is that no Vaishnavite can get Moksham without visiting Thiruvellarai. Hence, there is this tradition at the temple to call ‘Thiruvellarai Kandeero- Thiruvellarai Kanden Aiyya’ (the devotees informing the Lord that they have seen Thiruvellarai and that they are now ready/eligible for Moksham), a voice that is said to echo to the Lord up there.

The big festival takes place on the third day of Panguni (March-April) every year when the Lord and Goddess are taken on a procession to the Coloroon river.

Azhvaar Praise
Periyaazhvaar and Thirumangai Azhvaar have each composed 10 paasurams in praise of the Lord here.

 இந்திரனோடு பிரமன் ஈசன் இமையவர் எல்லாம்
மந்திர மா மலர் கொண்டு
மறைந்து உவராய் வந்து நின்றார்

சந்திரன் மாளிகை சேரும் சதுரர்கள் வெள்ளரை நின்றாய்
அந்தியம் போது இது ஆகும்
அழகனே காபிட வாராய் - Periyaazhvaar's Kaapidal

One can see the Srirangam temple from here, though it is 15 kms away.
This is the birth place of Uyyakondan and Engal Azhvaan

Quick Facts
Moolavar     : Pundarikaashan East Facing standing posture
Goddess       : Shenbagavalli Thaayar ( Separate Sannidhi)
Temple Time : 8am-1pm and 3.45pm- 745pm
Contact        : Achuthan Bhattar @ 95978 57231 /Vinodh Bhattar @ 98941 42111

How to reach Thiruvellari:
A number of moffusil buses ply between Trichy and Thuraiyur. This place can also be reached from Samayapuram. Auto from Srirangam and back will cost Rs. 400. Contact: 97917 56869/ 92624 05704.

Uraiyur Kamalavalli Nachiyar

Nanda Chozha built the temple to celebrate the home coming of Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam
Thirupaan Azhvaar's birth place 
Only Divya Desam where Thaayar is seen facing North
Located 6kms South of Srirangam Ranganthaswamy Divya Desam is the Kamalavalli Nachiyar temple in Uraiyur, a divya desam whose legend relates to the love story of Kamalavalli Nachiyar and her wedlock with the handsome young lad Ranganatha of Srirangam. Uraiyur was the first capital of the Chozhas.

The story
The Chozha king Nanda Chozhan had been childless. Pleased with his prayers, Lord Ranganatha asked Goddess Lakshmi to be born as the King’s daughter at Uraiyur. Being born out of the Lotus, the Goddess here is called Kamalavalli Nachiyar [Kamala means Lotus]. As years went by, Kamalavalli grew into a beautiful young girl. One day while she was out with her friends, her eyes fell on a handsome young man and instantly she fell in love with him. The man was none other than Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam.

King Nanda Chozhan was in a fix as his daughter had fallen in love with the man, who had blessed the king with the child. Once again, the Lord accepted the king’s prayers and accepted her as his bride. Delighted at this, Nanda Chozhan built a temple at Uraiyur to celebrate the (home) coming of Lord Ranganatha to Uraiyur to take the hand of his daughter.

Panguni visit of Lord Ranganatha
Every year in the month of Panguni, a significant event takes place at the Uraiyur temple. Lord Ranganatha, in all his splendour, leaves the Srirangam temple at 4am to take the 6 km journey across the Cauvery in a golden palanquin to meet his beloved Kamalavalli Naachiyar for the ‘Kalyana Utsavam’(marriage festivities). On this auspicious day in the month of Panguni, the entire marriage formalities between Lord Ranganatha and Kamalavalli Nachiyar is enacted at the Uraiyur Temple. Lord Ranganatha takes the trip back to Srirangam across the Cauvery that same night.

At the Uraiyur temple, Kamalavalli Nachiyar is seen in a grand sitting posture, all set to get married. Being the handsome man in wedding attire, Lord Ranganatha here is called ‘Azhagiya Mana Vaalan’.

North Facing Thaayar
A speciality of this temple is that this is the only Divya Desam (out of the 108) where the Goddess is facing the Northern direction, in this case in the direction of the Srirangam Ranganatha temple.

Birth Place of Thirupaan Azhvaar
Uraiyur is also the birth place of Thiruppaan Azhvaar ( http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2009/03/thirupaanazhvaar.html). There is a separate sannadhi for Tiruppaan Azhvaar at the Uraiyur temple. The Tiruppanaazhvaar festival is celebrated in a grand way at this temple in Karthigai (Nov-Dec).

Thirumangai Azhvaar's reference to Kozhiyur
There’s a belief that an Elephant of a Chozha king, which entered this place, was beaten back by a valiant Hen and had to retreat. Hence, this place is also called Kozhiyoor (Kozhi means Hen in Tamil).

In his praise of Uraiyur Lord, Thirumangai Azhvaar refers to this place as Kozhiyur and the Lord as being truly handsome.

கோழியும் கடலும் கோயில் கொண்ட கோவலரே யொப்பர் குன்றமன்ன 
பாழியும் டோழுமொரே நான் குடையார் 
பண்டிவர் தம்மயாம் கண்டறி யோம் 

வாழிய ரோ விவர் வண்ண மென்னில் 
மாகடல் போன்றுளர் கையில் வெய்ய 
அழியோன் றேந்தியோர் சங்கு பற்றி 
அச்சோ ஒருவர் அழகிய வா 

In centuries gone by, devotees used to first visit the Uraiyur Divya Desam, walk across the Cauvery to the Srirangam Ranganatha temple and then across the Coloroon to Uthmar Koil and finally to Thiru Vellarai, thus covering four divya desams in one go.

Quick Facts
Moolavar: Azhagiya Manavalan North facing standing posture
Thaayar  : Kamalavalli Nachiyar
Time       : 630am -12noon & 4pm - 8pm
Contact  : SK Rangaraja Bhattar @ 94433 07605 / 0431 2437605

How to reach the temple
A number of town buses ply between Trichy (Trichirappalli) Junction/ Srirangam and Uraiyur. The temple is about 4 kms from Trichy Junction.

Thiru Karambanur Uthamar Koil

Only Divya Desam dedicated to Tri- Murthies
Brahmma provides darshan facing South
One of the two Divya Desams where Azhvaars praise the Lord as Uthamar
Located just under 10kms North West of Trichy on the banks of Coloroon off the Trichy-Salem highway, Uthamar Koil is the only Divya Desam with ‘Tri Murthies’ - Brahmma, Vishnu and Shiva providing darshan.

The Story
Once upon a time, both Shiva and Brahmma had 5 heads. One day Parvati (Shiva’s wife) coming out of her pooja mistook Brahmma (because of his 5 heads) for her husband and began serving him by washing his legs. Shiva was furious when he saw this.

He thought that all this confusion arose because Brahmma too had 5 heads and that Brahmma had become arrogant. In a fit of anger, Shiva took off the middle head of Brahmma with his hand. Unfortunately for Shiva, the 5th head of Brahmma stuck to his hand.

To find salvation from the curse, Shiva went around the world on a pilgrimage begging for food, with Brahmma’s skull as the begging vessel. Every time someone filled the vessel with food, it vanished immediately, to Shiva’s horror. At Uthamar Koil, Goddess Lakshmi filled the vessel with food, thus ending Shiva’s hunger. However, to Shiva’s dismay, Brahmma’s skull still lay fixed on his hand.

Shiva invoked the blessings of Purushottam asking for liberation from Brahmma's curse. He was directed to Kandiyur where he finally got salvation from Lord Kamalanathan.

As Shiva came to Uthamar Koil with a begging bowl searching for liberation from Brahmma's curse, this place is called Pichandar (Bikshandar) Koil. Shiva can be seen here as ’ Bikshandar Murthy’. 

Brahmma is seen facing South, a unique feature at any divya desam.

Blend of Vaishnavism and Saivism
While as per Vaishnavism legend, Shiva came as a beggar to get liberated from his curse, as per the Saivaite belief , Shiva was born here as a beggar to get rid of the arrogance of the rishis(Shiva has 63 avataars).

Azhvaar refers to this Divya Desam Lord as 'Uthaman'
பேரானை குருங்குடி எம் பெருமானை,
திருத்தங்கள் ஊரானை 
கரம்பனூர் உத்தமனை 

முத்திலங்கு தின் கடல் ஏழும் மலை ஏழ் 
இவ் உலகு ஏழ் உண்டு 
ஆறாது என்று இருந்தாளைக் கண்டது 
தென் அரங்கதே
Thirumangai Azhvaar refers to the Lord of this Divya Desam as ‘Uthamar’ and hence the name ‘Uthamar Koil’. Among the Azhvaars, only Tirumangai Azhvaar and Andal have referred to the Lord as ‘Uthamar’. (Andal in Tiruppavai says ஓங்கி உலகளந்த உத்தமன் பேர் பாடி).

Thirumangai Azhvaar stayed at this place and renovated the Srirangam temple. Thirumangai Azhvaar in his verse says that he could see the Uthamar from Srirangam.

During the month of Karthigai, Lord Vishnu and Shiva are taken on a street procession together.
Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam comes here once a year and that’s a special event at this temple.
Chithirai- Perumal Chariot Festival
Vaikasi- Shiva Chariot Festival

Childless couple who pray here will be blessed with children. Dasharatha himself performed a yagna here before Rama was born. Legend has it that Vishnu ordered Brahmma not to refuse anything to devotees who come here and offer their sincere prayers.

4 Divya Desams in one go
In centuries gone by, Uthamar Koil formed part of ‘Foursome Divya Desam’ wherein devotees used to first visit the Uraiyur (in Trichy), walk across the Cauvery to the Ranganatha temple in Srirangam and then cross the Coloroon to Uthamar Koil and then to Thiruvellarai, thus covering four divya desams in one go.

Quick Facts
Moolavar : Purushottamar in an East Facing Standing Posture
Goddess : Poornavalli Thaayar
Paasuram : Thirumangai Azhvaar – 1 (Periya Thirumozhi)
Time        : 6am – 12.30pm and 4pm – 830pm

Contact: S. Varadharaja Bhattar 0431 2591 351, 99424 62145 / 94891 66288
Address : Uthamar Koil, Manachanallur Taluk, Pichandar Koil, Trichy 621 216

How to reach Uthamar Koil:
Number of buses from Chathiram Bus stand in Trichy
One can also come by bus to Toll Gate (Just after the old Coloroon road bridge) and walk about 5-10 minutes West to reach the temple

The temple is just adjacent to the Uthamar Koil railway station.

One can combine a visit to this Divya Desam with Thiruvellarai, another Divya Desam, which is about 10 kms North of here on route to Thuraiyur.