Thursday, July 30, 2009

Parikkal Lakshmi Narasimha

Ancient temple built by Vasantharaja of Vriddachalam is one of the four Narasimha temples in the Villupuram region
Prarthana Sthalam- Debts, Enemies and Diseases are said to go away if one offers prayers at this temple

Located around 25kms South West of Villupuram and 3kms west of the Kedilam Cross Road off the Chennai-Trichi National Highway is the1800 year old Lakshmi Narasimha temple in Parikkal.

This is one of the four Narasimha temples in this region. The others being Anthili (near Thiru Kovilur), Poovarasan Kuppam (15kms North of Panruti) and Singiri (12kms South of Pondicherry).

Also, there is the Sayana Narasimha in Thiru Vathigai in Panruti.

The Story

Vasantharaja ruled this place with his capital at Vriddachalam and wanted to build a temple for Lord Narasimha. Constantly troubled by Parakalasura (said to be a relative of Hiranyakashipu), Vasantharaja undertook a penance here as directed by his Guru. Answering his prayers, Lord Narasimha is said to have appeared here and killed the Asura.

Having only seen the destructive mood of an angry Narasimha, Vasantharaja invoked the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi to provide darshan with the Lord displaying his softer form.

Kanakavalli Thaayar is said to have sat on his lap, cooled him down and provided darshan to Vasantharaja, the Devas and the Rishis at this place.

Delighted at the darshan of Lord Narasimha in this form, Vasantharaja requested that this place be named after the asura who provided the king with the opportunity to have a darshan of the Lord.

Hence, this place was referred to as ‘Parikala’puram, which in course of time became ‘Parikkal’.

While the original temple was built by Vasantharaja using red bricks, lime and wood, it is believed to have been destroyed during the Mughal invasion. The temple that one sees today is said to have been built by Veera Narasimha of Karnataka using granites. Parikkal Lord Narasimha is said to be the Kula Deivam for the Madhwas of Karnataka.

Presence of two Anjaneya idols
An interesting feature at this temple is the presence of two Anjaneya idols in the same Sannidhi. Unlike other temples, Anjaneya gets the 2nd right of Thirumanjanam after Lord Narasimha (in other temples, Thaayar is the one who gets the Thirumanjanam after the Lord).

Prarthana Sthalam
This is a Prarthana Sthalam – Three kinds of worries for human beings- Debts, Enemies and Diseases - are said to go away if one offers prayers at the Parikkal Narasimha temple.

Inscriptions on the temple walls
Confirming the rich history behind this temples are the several inscriptions found on the outside walls of the temple dating back several hundred years, prominent among them include the fish shaped inscriptions. This leads one to two inferences: One, the Pandya kings, whose symbol was a ‘Fish’, may have contributed to this temple in a big way. The other is the story relating to Vasantharaja, who one night saw in his dreams fishes near this place…an indication of impending victory in his battle against the asura.

Some of the other prominent inscriptions:

13th Century AD inscription indicating contribution by Pallava king Koperichingan

14th Century AD inscription that describes the contribution of Thiru Bhuvanam Chakravarthy Konerinmai Kondaan

Another inscription shares light on the tax exemption in nearby villages -Thiruvennai Nallur, Aanathur and Sithanthur and using these funds for the improvement and maintenance of this temple

Raja Raja Chozhan I is said to have constructed the temple tank

Renovation of the temple by Pallava and Nayak kings

There are festivals round the year at this temple.

On the 5th day of Thai, Lord Narasimha goes on a procession to Pennai River and stays there the night.

On Maasi Magam - full moon day- the Lord goes on a 10km procession to the Kedila River.

On Panguni Uthiram, the Lord is taken on a procession to Orathur Village.

Every month on Swathi Nakshatram, there is a special Thirumanjanam in the evening and a Sannidhi procession inside the temple.

It is believed to be good to visit the temple on Puratasi Saturday

Quick Facts
Moolavar : Lakshmi Narasimha East Facing Sitting Posture
Thaayar : Komalavalli Thaayar
Temple Time : 6am-1pm and 4pm- 8pm
Priest Contact: Krishnamurthy Bhattar @ 96004 55395

How to reach the temple:
Take the Madras- Villupuram-Ulundurpet- Trichy GST National Highway
21kms after Villupuram, Get down at Kedilam Junction

There are 30 share autos plying between Parikkal and Kedilam Junction- Rs.5 per head.
Auto will charge Rs.30-40/- from Kedilam Junction.

If travelling by car from Madras/ Villupuram, take a right(towards West) just before Kedilam Cross Road, cross the railway line to reach the temple (about 2kms from the railway line).

By Train
Passenger train from Villupuram and Vriddachalam stop at Parikkal railway station.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thiru Vathigai Sara Narayanan

Lord Narasimha is in a Sayana Kolam not seen in any Divya Desam / temple
Thiru Kovilur Divya Desam Lord Ulagalanda Perumal comes here once a year, on Maasi Magam to meet Thiru Vathigai Sara Narayanan

Located 3kms East of Panruti, off the Cuddalore highway, is the Sara Narayanan temple in Thiru Vathigai, a temple whose history dates back thousands of years. There is a reference to Thiru Pura Vathigai in the 4th part of Brahmmanda Puranam, under Sri Sara Narayana Mahatmiyam. Brahmma is said to have shared, with Sage Narada, the greatness of Lord Sara Narayanan of Thiru Vathigai.

The Name - Sara Narayanan
For Thiru Pura Samhaaram, Lord Vishnu is said to have handed over the Saram(bow) to Shiva. Hence, the Lord is referred to here, at the Thiru Vathigai temple, as ‘Sara’ Narayanan.

Just like in Oppiliappan Koil, the Moolavarhere is seen with only one Thaayar and in a Kalyana Thirukolam. Markandeya Rishi, the Father in law of the Lord is seen along side Sara Narayanan and the Thaayar

Arjuna’s praise of Thiruvathigai Lord
Arjuna is said to have visited this temple at the end of the Mahabaratha war. Sage Veda Vyasa in his narration refers to Arjuna's announcement ‘Thiruvathigai Kanden’.

Lord Narasimha in Sayana Kolam

Lord Narasimha is seen in a Sleeping Posture facing south. It is believed that Lord Narasimha came here tired after a battle with Vakrasuran and killing him, and is said to have taken rest. Hence he is seen in a Sayana Kolam. Reference to this can be seen in Narasinga Puranam.

This is the only temple where Narasimha is seen in a sleeping posture.

Thiru Kovilur Lord visits Thiru Vathigai

Another big event at Thiru Vathigai is the annual visit of Lord Ulagalanda Perumal of Thiru Kovilur Divya Desam who comes here once a year on the Maasi Magam day and stays the night at this temple

Andaal’s Thirupaavai and Thiru Vathigai

In the 23rd Paasuram of her Thirupaavai, Andal says

“Maari Malai Muzhainjil, Manni Kidanthu Urangum
Seeriya Singa
Marivutruth Theevizhithu……….”

‘Urangum Seeriya Singam’ is said to be a reference of Lord Narasimha at Thiru Vathigai.

Special Festive Occasions

Swathi Nakshatram/ Prathosham- There are special Thirumanjanam at this temple and a Paanagam(sacred water made out of Jaggery) Aarathanai.

Puratasi Festivities- A Big Highlight
One of the big highlights at the Thiru Vathigai Sara Narayanan temple is the celebrations in the Tamil calendar month of Puratasi. During this month of 30 days, there is a Ghee lamp Utsavam( all electrical lamps are switched off at this temple) and Saara Narayanan provides darshan just like Srinivasa Perumal of Tirupathi.

Also, a one day Brahmotsavam in Puratasi (6am-8pm) is an event to experience at this temple.

The alankarams for the Lord during the Puratasi festival is a great spectacle.

Other festivals at this temple include Panguni Uthiram Serthi, Margazhi Adhyana Utsavam and Ratha Sapthami.

Kannadi Arai

A newly constructed Kannadi Arai is another attraction at this temple

Pallava Period renovation

Several culverts, seen at this temple, point to renovation of this temple during the Pallava rule.

The commitment, passion and interest shown by the father and son priests in organising the festivals as well as keeping the temple in good shape is highly commendable.

Quick Facts

Moolavar : Sara Narayanan East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar : Hemambhuja Valli
Other Sannidhis: Lord Narasimha in a Sayana Kolam

Temple Time : 630am-11am and 530pm-830pm

Priest Contact : Sriraman Bhattar/ Sridhar Bhattar @ 94437 87186

How to reach Thiru Vathigai

The temple is 3kms from the Panruti bus stand off the Cuddalore highway.

One can take Bus No.16 from the bus stand to reach the temple.

Auto from the bus stand/railway station will cost Rs.25/-.
(the broad gauge railway line from Villupuram to Mayavaram via Panruti
will become operational shortly)

Share autos also available

From Chennai, one can reach Panruti in 3-3 1/2 hours via

1. Tindivanam-Vikravandi - about 170kms


2. Pondicherry-Cuddalore- about 190kms(via ECR)

When in Panruti, do not miss buying cashews

Thiru Vahindrapuram Divya Desam is about 15kms from Thiru Vathigai.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kaattu Azhagiya Singar Srirangam

Namperumal makes his annual trip to this temple on Vijayadasami evening

Located 200 yards east of the Srirangam Railway Station is the Kaattu Azhagiya Singa Perumal temple in Srirangam. This temple dates back to a period prior to the Srirangam Ranganatha temple when this Kshetram was referred to as Velli Thirumutham. Only much later, after the construction of the Ranganatha temple, this place came to be called Thiruvarangam.

Lord Narasimha is seen in a seated posture facing the West (towards Srirangam Ranganatha temple) with Lakshmi to his left.

The Story

This Kshetram was a forest thousands of years ago, surrounded by the two rivers- Cauvery in the South and Coloroon in the North, and inhabited only by the rishis and their families. Time and again, wild animals would attack the families of the rishis and consume them for a meal.

While the rishis had the power to burn the animals just by their looks, they would not forego the fruits of their penance by killing these wild animals. Instead they undertook a more severe form of penance invoking the blessings of Lord Narasimha.

Pleased with their prayers, Lord Narasimha appeared here providing darshan to these rishis. As per their request, he stayed here with Goddess Lakshmi protecting the lives of all those who offer their sincere prayers at this place.

The idol of Lakshmi Narasimha here is a Svayambu moorthy and the temple was built and renovated at later periods of time. No inscriptions are found relating to the period of construction of the outer walls.

The Name

As the Lord appeared here in the middle of a forest and stayed back to protect the devotees, he came to be called ‘Kaattu’ Azhagiya Singar.

Utsava deity at the Ranganatha Temple

Centuries ago, with this temple being in the midst of a forest and with minimal human existence, it was considered unsafe and hence the utsava deity was placed inside the Koorathaazhvan Sannidhi at the Srirangam Ranganatha temple.

That tradition has come to stay and today one finds the Utsava idol of Lord Narasimha not at the Kaattazhagivya Singa Perumal Koil but at the Srirangam Ranganatha temple.

Old time residents say that this place was very much like a forest till the early 1970s. It is only in the last 3 decades that there has been development around the Kaatazhagiya Singar temple.

Namperumal’s visit to Kaattazhagiya Singar temple

Once a year, on the evening of Vijayadasami day, Namperumal, the Utsava deity of Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam, comes on a street procession to this temple in a palanquin. Goddess is believed to have undertaken penance at this place and handed Nam Perumal a bow and an arrow at the end of the 10th day of the Navarathri festival.

After Thirumanjam, the event of Lord Namperumal on a Horse Vaahanam, striking an arrow on the Vanni tree to signify the destruction of evil forces and protection of the devotees, is enacted every year on the Vijayadasami evening at this temple.

Special Occasions at the temple

There are special poojas and Thirumanjanam organised every month on the Swathi Nakshatram and Prathosham days. Also, Saturday is an auspicious day to visit this temple.

Quick Facts

Moolavar : Lakshmi Narasimha Perumal West Facing Sitting Posture

Time : 6.15am- 8am, 9am-12noon and 5pm-8pm

Priest : Narasimha Bhattar @ 94434 90879 or 0431 2430879

How to reach the temple

It’s a 1 minute walk from the Srirangam Railway Station on the Eastern side.

Auto from Srirangam Ranganatha temple (South/North Entrance) would charge about

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Adhi Thiruvarangam Ranganatha

One of the oldest temples for Lord Ranganatha dating back to Kretha Yugam
Gigantic Ranganatha is bigger than the Lord at Srirangam

Located about 60kms South West of Villupuram on the banks of the now completely dry South Pennai river is Adhi Thiruvarangam, an almost unknown and yet, one of the oldest temples for Lord Ranganatha. This temple dates back to the first Yugam (Kretha Yugam) and the first Avathaaram (Matsya Avathaaram). Hence, this Kshetram is referred to as ‘Adhi’ Rangam.

Lord Ranganatha is seen in a gigantic east facing sleeping posture and measures over 15 feet, not seen in any Divya Desam.

Historical reference
Reference to this temple is found in Skaantha Puranam Uthara Kaandam - 301-306 athyayam under Uthara Ranga Mahatmiyam.

The story
There are three stories that describe the significance of this temple.

1. The Devas, who lost the Vedic scriptures after being defeated by Asura Shomugan, approached Brahmma who in turn sought the help of Lord Narayana.

Finding out the hide-out of the Asura under the sea, Lord Narayana took the form of Matsya and defeated the Asura and handed back the Vedic scriptures to Brahmma. It is believed that the Lord initiated the Vedic lessons to Brahmma in this Kshetram. One sees the Lord with his left thumb folded towards his fingers in a posture indicating this.

Acceding to the prayers of the Devas, Lord Narayana is said to have directed his sculptor Vishwakarma to create an image of his similar to the one in Thiru Paarkadal.

2. In Kretha Yugam, a king by name Suratha Keerthi lived a prosperous life but he had one unfulfilled wish. He did not have a child. As suggested by Sage Narada, he came, with his wife, to the place where Lord Ranganatha was sleeping under Adhiseshan and undertook penance. Answering his prayers, he was blessed with four children.

3. Chandran, who showed love to only one of his 27 wives, was cursed by his other wives to lose his handsome looks. He came to Uthara Rangam, undertook penance in the temple tank to the South East of the temple and was liberated from his curse. Hence, the pushkarni here is called Chandran Pushkarani.

Lord in a South – North Sleeping Posture
Lying in a sleeping posture from South to North, Lord Ranganatha has his head on the lap of Sri Devi-on his left, while his left leg is stretched towards Bhoo Devi seen at his feet. To his right is Garuda ever ready to be of service to the Lord.

Prarthana Sthalam
This is a Prarthana Sthalam for:

Good Education (as the Lord initiated Brahmma with the Vedic lessons)
Progeny(as the Lord granted the wishes of the King who prayed here) and
One’s overall well being as Lord Ranganatha himself directed that an image of his be created at this place

Quick Facts
Moolavar : Ranganatha in a sleeping posture facing the East
Thayar     : Ranganayaki Thayar(separate sannidhi)
Time        : 6am-8pm (does not close for lunch)

Priest      : Ranganatha Bhattar @ 94446 91885 or 04153 293677/ S. Raja Bhattar @ 94429 83479
Address : Adhi Rangam, Via Kadambur, Sankarapuram Taluk
               Villupuram Dist. 605 802

Ranganatha Bhattar, who has been here for 15 years,stays (and sleeps) at the temple. His commitment and devotion to the Lord is highly commendable. Vishwaroopam takes place at 6 am every morning.

How to reach Adhi Thiruvarangam
Chennai- Villupuram- 160kms, Villupuram – Thiru kovilur- 40kms (Frequent buses from 330am from Villupuram new bus stand), Thiru Kovilur- Manalurpet - 15kms (Government and Private bus every half hour),  Manalurpet- Adhirangam-5kms (mini buses- local buses ply here every half hour-

One can reach the Northern banks of the temple and cross the Pennai river to reach the temple. There are also buses that reach the Southern side of the temple, in which case there will be no need for one to cross the river)

One can also take Chennai-Tindivanam-Tiruvannamalai- Manalurpet route (about 225kms)