Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mayiladuthurai Villupuram rail track not safe for express trains

Callous attitude of railways puts passenger lives at risk


If the four long years in the conversion to broad gauge of the 122km Mayiladuthurai-Villupuram section was not bad enough for the rail passengers, there is now more bad news for passengers looking to travel on the Villupuram Mayavaram rail route.

The consumer protection council (Tamil Nadu) has come up with a revelation that is sure to send shock waves to passengers who have booked tickets for the next two months (summer vacation) to travel on this newly re-opened section.(Incidentally, it looks like the this tickets have been completely booked till end of May on this route on the express trains- Kamban Express/ Madurai Express...)

The council reveals that the safety norms, which are an important pre-requisite for running of trains, has not been followed on this 122km section that was re-opened for traffic last Friday evening.

Different Officers for Preliminary and Final Inspections
It has been reliably learnt that for the first time in the Railway history the preliminary inspection (which was conducted on this track in the 2nd week of February this year) was done by one officer and the final inspection was carried out by another officer, who just did not take cognizance of the strong warning provided in the first report.

The report of Shri. KJS. Naidu Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS) who is from the ministry of civil aviation, had condemned almost in every sentence of his report, the shoddy work done on this track compromising safety norms.

Sources claim that even more shocking was the fact that CCRS (Chief Commissioner Railway Safety) Shri Sudhir Kumar ( in the final certification) had certified the track as safe and recommended the operation of trains on this track albeit at a slower pace. This final report, the sources say, did not make a single reference to the report of CRS and the defects mentioned there in and the pending rectification. This callous attitude had put the lives of passengers at huge risk.

Embankment Pit- Not suitable for Broad Gauge

In the report submitted by CRS earlier, as many as 21 points had been reported for rectification including the fact that the embankment pit which was suitable only for meter gauge had been retained and not widened to suit the requirement of broad gauge operations .

This had created a huge length of embankment which had no cess and as such the prevention of stones or blue metal from sliding and spreading can never be averted. This will therefore cause the ballast (a layer of stones under the rails) to roll down causing safety concern.

Poor Soil Treatment on the track

The consumer protection further claims that the soil treatment on the track had not been properly done. The Soil is believed to have a lot of boulder like lumps that has been dumped on the sides of the old embankment without any compaction. The likely impact of this is that the rails may not be able to withstand the weight of the coaches twice heavier than the Meter Gauge coaches and that this could lead to derailing.

Cracks on Track
Also, in several locations across this stretch, lengthwise cracks had also been notified by Mr. Naidu.

Issues with Bridges

Many NEORPRENE BEARINGS were bulged and cracked. The Bridge inspection had spotted as many as 22 such Bearings. The Girder surface was quite uneven. Ballast profile was not as per specifications and in many locations in-shoulder ballast deficiencies were notified. Also, kinky rail, kinky welds were seen throughout the length and rectification had not been done at all.

Even in major bridges, large number of deficiencies had been observed. The results of pile load test and working pile load test were not provided at all despite the fact that it was demanded to be carried out.

Letter to the Railways
The consumer protection council had detailed all these salient features and had addressed written pleas to the Shri. SS Khurana, the Railway Board Chairman, Rakesh Chopra ( part time chairman of RVNL- Railway Vidyut Nigam Ltd- which executed the gauge conversion work), GM- Southern Railway and Commissioner of Railway Safety- Southern Circle Bangalore.

It is believed that the consumer protection council had met with Shri. E. Ahmed, the minister of state-railways at Chennai recently and had handed over the plea, which he is said to have forwarded to the Member Board-Engineering.

Sources say that with the intention of reducing the burden on the contractor (late delivery charges), the Railway Board had in a haste passed the approval by deploying an alternate member from the safety authorities.

Meeting with GM-Southern Railways on 30th April

It is learnt that the Consumer Protection Council would be meeting the GM- SR later this week. They say that if a positive response was not received, the council may resort to filing a Public Interest Litigation in the court in the interest of the travelling public.

Lack of Amenities
When I travelled over the weekend by the Kamban Express (Chennai Nagore), Railway officials in that train stated that there were as many as 17 caution points including signal issues on the Villupuram-Mayiladuthurai Section and hence the train will go at a slow speed on this stretch.

It was also noted during this trip that several of the stations remained in very partial completion stage as far as passenger amenities and platform up-gradation including in stations like Chidambaram, Sirkazhi.

At an important tourist station like Kumbakonam, the railway official there indicated that there were currently no retiring rooms at the station and this was unlikely to come up in the foreseeable future. There are just 6 dormitories at the station.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lakshmi Narasimha Pon Vilaintha Kalathur

The Narasimha Utsavar Deity of Thiru Kadal Mallai Divya Desam was installed here about 900years ago
Following Vedantha Desigar’s stay here, the entire paddy field had turned into gold

Located 15kms South of Chengalpet is the Lakshmi Narasimha temple in Pon Vilaintha Kalathur(PV Kalathur) whose story has a close connection with the Sthala Sayana Perumal Divya Desam at Thiru Kadal Mallai (Mamallapuram).

An interesting story
Several idols at Thiru Kadal Mallai Divya Desams (there was more than the one temple that we are seeing today) were on the verge of being washed away by the floods. Fearing the loss of the Narasimha idol, it is believed that utsava deity was taken away to a safer place from Thiru Kadal Mallai.

Garuda was given the task of identifying the place where the Lakshmi Narasimha Utsava deity was to be installed. It is said that almost 900 years ago, Garuda came above this temple and circled the vimanam thrice.

Taking this as the endorsement by Garuda as the right place to install, it is said that the Lakshmi Narasimha utsava deity was installed here at Pon Vilaintha Kalathur (PV Kalathur) and the temple whose moolavar deity is Vaikunta Vaasa Perumal actually came to be called by the name of the Utsava deity itself.

While this is not a Divya Desam, the fact that the Utsava deity relating to Thiru Kadal Mallai Divya Desam was installed here makes this a significant and historic temple.

Vedantha Desigar Visits Kalathur

Vedantha Desigar is said to have stayed here for a day on his way from Kanchipuram to Thiru Vahindrapuram. On the evening of his stay, Desigar wanted to feed his favourite Lord, Hayagriva of Thiru Vahindrapuram and went around the village seeking alms. However, with the night having set in and the lights having been lit, the people in the village refused to pass on the food.

Given this scenario, Vedantha Desigar performed the evening pooja with the sacred water (Theertham) and put his favourite Lord to sleep (Sayanam).

It is believed that that night a white horse went around destroying the fields much to the anger of the villagers, who brought this to the notice of Desigar the next morning.

Hearing this, Desigar came out onto the field to witness what had happened. To the surprise of everyone, they found that the field where the horse had placed its feet had turned into gold. Desigar knew it was the work of his favourity deity Hayagriva (who the villagers had allowed to sleep in hunger the previous night!!!)

Hence this place came to be called Pon Vilaintha Kalathur.

Parikara Sthalam

This is believed to be a parikara sthalam for unmarried people and to cure health related problems. There are utsavams round the year for Lakshmi Narasimha at this temple.


Panguni Brahmotsavam
Sudarshana Homam on January 26 every year
Narasimha Utsavam -300 days a year
Davana Utsavam 2nd Sunday of March every year

Quick Facts

Moolavar : Vaikunta Vaasa Perumal
Goddess : Ahobila Valli Thaayar
Utsavar : Lakshmi Narasimha
Temple Time : 8am-11am and 5pm-730pm
Priest : Babu Bhattar @ 044 27441142

How to reach

From Chengalpet, take the Old GST Road, turn left (1km before the Madras- Trichy National Highway Bye Pass.) into the road leading to Thirukazhakunram via Pon Vilaintha Kalathur (PV Kalathur).

About 6kms into this road, one should cross the Ottivakkam railway station gate to reach Pon Vilaintha Kalathur.

There are local buses every half hour (during morning and evening) running between Chengalpet and Pon Vilaintha Kalathur.

One can take a passenger train between Chennai Egmore/Tambaram and Villupuram and get down at Ottivakkam. From Ottivakkam, one can walk to the Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Pon Vilaintha Kalathur (PV Kalathur).

Auto or a Taxi from Chengalpet is another option.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chathurbhuja Rama Pon Pathar Koodam

One of the few temples in India where Rama is seen displaying his Chaturbhuja Form
An interesting feature is that one sees Sharp nails on Rama’s fingers, the life line on the palm of his hand, his knee cap and veins on his leg

Located about 70kms South of Madras off the Great Southern Trunk (GST) Road and under 15kms off Chengalpet (near Ottivakkam Railway Station) amidst the green paddy fields is the over 600 year old Chaturbhuja Kothandarama temple at Pon Pathar Koodam near Pon Vilaintha Kalathur.

(Within 2kms of each other, one finds an ancient Lakshmi Narasimha temple, a Kothandarama temple, a Darbha Sayana Rama temple and the Chathurbhuja Rama temple at this place)

Chathurbhuja Rama

Since Rama is seen to play the role of a perfect human being (in the Rama Avataar), one does not normally get see to the divine form of Vishnu in Rama’s temples and he is usually seen in a standing posture with a bow and arrow at most temples.

Pon Pathar Koodam is one of the very few temples in India with Rama in a grand sitting Chathurbhuja Posture. (The most prominent of the Chathurbhuja Rama is in Dhandakaranya Kshetram of Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh)

The Story

This was originally a Lakshmi Narayana Sannidhi in the middle of a big forest. Later, Devaraja Rishi, who undertook penance and performed pooja here, is said to have had darshan of Rama in his Chathurbhuja form.

In the entire Ramayana, Rama is said to have displayed his full form with Conch and Chakra only to his mother Kausalya just before he left on his exile to the forest, to Anjaneya when they met for the first time, to Thrijadai (in whose dream the all conquering Rama is said to have appeared), to Ravana’s sister Mandothari in Lanka and to Ravana at the end of the Ramayana battle.

It is in this full divine and not often seen form that one finds Rama at Pon Pathar Koodam- with a conch and chakra with the other two hands in the posture of blessing and protecting the devotees. Also, he is seen in a seated posture with his left leg folded and his right leg placed on the ground. Moolavar Anjaneya is seen standing opposite Rama in a standing posture with folded hands.

Unique Utsava Deity
The Kothandarama utsava deity is also seen in a Chaturbhuja form with Sita to his right and Lakshmana to his left. An interesting featuring of this several centuries old idol is that one finds sharp nails on his fingers, the life line on the palm of his hand, his knee cap and veins on his leg. One is also able to clearly see the individual fingers on his hand. Rama is also seen wearing a ring on his finger.

Yet another interesting feature here is that the Utsava deity’s left leg is a little in front of his right leg, with the bow placed on his left leg almost in a posture of being ready to break the bow and seeking Sita’s hand.


Panguni Brahmotsavam
10day Rama Navami
Sudarshana Homam on February 21

Quick Facts

Moolavar : Chathur Bhuja Rama East Facing Sitting Posture
Utsavar : Kothandarama with Sita, Lakshmana and Anjaneya
Temple Time : 730am-830am and 5pm-6pm
Contact : Kasturi Rangan Bhattar @ 94437 06842

How to reach Pon Pathar Koodam

From Chengalpet (Old GST Road), take a left into the road leading to Thirukazhakunram via Pon Vilaintha Kalathur. This is 1km before the Madras- Trichy National Highway Bye Pass.

About 6kms into this road, one should cross the Ottivakkam railway station gate to reach Pon Vilaintha Kalathur. 2kms east of Pon Vilaintha Kalathur is the Chathurbhuja Rama temple at Pon Pathar Koodam.

There are local buses every half hour (during morning and evening) running between Chengalpet and Pon Vilaintha Kalathur.

One can take a passenger train between Chennai Egmore/Tambaram and Villupuram and get down at Ottivakkam. From Ottivakkam, one can walk to the Kothandaramar/ Darbha Sayana Ramar and Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Pon Vilaintha Kalathur and then visit the Chathurbhuja Rama temple (about 2kms from the above mentioned temples)

One can take an auto/car from Chengalpet bus stand/railway station to reach this temple within 20-30minutes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mayiladuthurai Villupuram rail route to re-open today

Chozhan Express to run on this route before end of April
One other passenger train to run between Thanjavur and Chennai Egmore


After four long years of wait, the 122 kms rail route between Villupuram and Mayiladuthurai will re-open this evening(23rd April 2010) with a passenger train that will leave Villupuram Junction at 620pm. The train will reach Mayliduthurai at 10.10pm tonight.

I had written in December 2009 that the rail route was unlikely to resume before Summer 2010, even though there were widespread reports that the rail route will become operational by Pongal 2010.

Two way services between Mayiladuthurai and Villupuram are likely to commence tomorrow morning.

Contrary to reports in leading Tamil daily Dinamalar(which has incidentally played a stellar role in showcasing, over the last 2-3years, the need for the fast completion of the broad gauge conversion) that featured this morning, the passenger train that was scheduled to start at 6am this morning has not taken off.

High Court DirectionAfter several lame excuses, this last minute effort by the railways is in line with the Madras High Court order last month (March 23,2010) which directed the railways to start operations on the Mayavaram-Villupuram rail route within a month. The deadline ends today and hence the plan to run the passenger train today.

Highly placed sources in the railways confirmed that 2 other trains including one Express train are likely to run on this route before the end of this month.

Chozhan ExpressThe once popular Chozhan Express between Chennai Egmore and Tiruchirapalli Junction and another popular passenger train between Thanjavur and Chennai Egmore is likely to become operational within the next 10days,bringing the much needed relief to passengers in the Mayiladuthurai, Seerkazhi and Chidambaram.

As mentioned earlier in this blog, there are a number of temples in the Mayiladuthurai/Seerkazhi belt as well as an important Sea Port in Cuddalore and an Educational Institution in Chidambaram.

Seerkazhi Station
The re-opening of day train and a night express on the Villupuram- Mayiladuthurai route will be welcome relief for travellers on this route especially during this summer vacation where the crowd is expected to jump many-fold.

Southern Railway has this evening announced that Chennai-Nagore Night Exp and Chennai-Trichy Day Exp(both daily trains) will become operational from tomorrow 24th April.

Also, Chennai-Madurai bi weekly express will start operating from this weekend while Varanasi Rameswaram weekly express will start operating from the next weekend (2nd May).

This is likely to greatly facilitate travel between Chennai -Mayavaram/Kumbakonam/Thanjavur.

It remains to be seen if Rockfort express will be brought back to its original route Chennai-Trichy(for the last few years, the train has been running upto Kumbakonam). There are differing views on whether it should continue to run up to Kumbakonam. One will have to wait and watch Southern Railway's action on this front.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pullam Bhoothangudi Valvil Rama Divya Desam

Jatayu Moksham
Rama performs the last rites for Eagle King Jatayu at Pullabhoothangudi

Located 10kms West of Kumbakonam and 3kms off Swami Malai on the Thiruvaikavur road between Cauvery and Coloroon rivers is the Valvil Rama temple in Pullam Bhoothangudi, a Divya Desam whose legendary tale dates back to Ramayana and praised in 10 verses by Thiru Mangai Azhvaar in his Periya Thirumozhi verse. This is the only Divya Desam where Rama is seen with conch and chakra in a Bala Sayanam Posture.

வெற்பால் மாறி பழுது ஆக்கி
விறல் வாள் அரக்கர் தலைவன் தன்
வற்பு ஆர் திரள் தோல் ஐந் நான்கும்
துனித்த வல் வில் ராமன் இடம்

கற்பு ஆர் புரிசை செய் குன்றம்
கவின் ஆர் கூடம் மாளிகைகள்
பொற்பு ஆர் மாடம் எழில் ஆறும்
புள்ள பூதங்குடி தானே
- Thiru Mangai Azhvaar

Rama’s presence at Pullam Bhoothangudi
The story goes that Rama, in search of Sita, arrives in Pullabhoothangudi to the cries of the Eagle King Jataayu, who was in his last breath. The Eagle King, an old friend of King Dasharatha (father of Rama) had fought a valiant battle trying to rescue Sita from Raavana, before the Lankan king finally cut off both the wings of the fighting bird. Lying in pain and unable to fly any further, the bird breathed its last uttering the words “ Rama Rama” and informing him that Sita had been taken away by Raavana.

Pithru Saabha Nivarthi
Legend has it that Rama, who had not been able to perform the last rites for his father as he was away in the forest, derived some consolation by performing Jatayu's obsequies and giving moksham to the Bird. In the Ramayana, this episode is referred to as the death of the second father. It is believed that those who failed to perform last rites for their father (parents) will get liberation from their ‘parental curse’ (Pithru Saabham Nivarthi) if they visit this temple.

While performing the last rites, Raama felt the absence of Sita. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi came out of the Golden Lotus temple tank to stand by his side while he performed the last rites for the bird. Hence, Thaayar at this temple is called Potraamaraiyaal.

Thiru Mangai Azhvaar misses Rama's presence
Thirumangai, who passed this way, found a person relaxing in a sleeping posture under the tree , and walked away mistaking him for a Kshatriya. On turning back, he found Raama in his ‘Full Divine Form’- with Conch- Disc and four hands.

Thirumangai refers to this episode in his Periya Thiru Mozhi Pasuram on Pullam Bhoothangudi:
அறிவதறியான் அணைத்து உலகும் உடையான் 
என்னை யாழ் உடையான்
குரிய மானி யாருவாய,
கூத்தன் மன்னி யமிருமிடம்

நறிய மலர்மேல் சுரும் பார்க்க
எழிலார் மஞ் னஞ நடமாட
பொறிகொள் சிறை வண்டிசை பாடும்
புள்ளம் பூதங்குடி தானே

This is the only temple where Raama is in a reclining posture with all his ornaments and 4 hands. Sita is not seen with the Moolavar deity as this temple relates to the time when Raama is separated from her.

Prarthana Sthalam
Many devotees are believed to have got employment after visiting Yoga Narasimha Sannidhi at this temple, so much so that the devotees have named it the Udyoga Narasimha. This is a Parikara Sthalam dedicated to Buthan (Mercury)

The temple is administered by Ahobila Mutt.

Quick Facts
Moolavar :Valvil Rama East Facing Bhujanga Sayanam
Goddess :Potramaraiyaal
Azhvaar :Thiru Mangai Azhvaar – 10 Paasurams in Periya Thirumozhi

The temple is open from 730am-1230pm and 4pm-730pm. Contact Gopalan Bhattachar @ 94435 25365

How to reach
Local Bus Nos. 12 and 30 ply from Kumbakonam to Pullam Bhoothangudi (via Swami Malai) on way to Thiruvaikavoor. Thiru Athanur Divya Desam is under a km East of this temple.

Where to stay
Staying facilities available at Ahobila Mutt Guest House next to the temple. A number of economical and deluxe hotels are available in Kumbakonam

Gopalan Bhattar and his father have been performing aradhana at the Divya Desam for the last 75 years (

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Athanur Divya Desam

Aandalakkum Aiyan is seen in a handsome Anantha Sayanam posture with a wooden measuring bowl, a writing pad made of leaf and a pen

Located about 10kms from Kumbakonam off Swami Malai on the Thiru Vaikavur Road are two ancient Divya Desams next to each other – Pullam Bhoothangudi that dates back to Ramayana - Jatayu Moksham episode and Thiru Athanur that is said to pre-date Srirangam Ranganatha temple and one that finds a reference in the Brahmanda Purana.

Thirumangai Azhvaar's Trip to Athanur
The story goes that Thirumangai Azhvar was short on materials and funds to complete the construction of the big walls at the Srirangam temple. He was directed to Thiru Athanur for help. Once here, he found a business man coming towards him with an empty Marakkal (a measuring bowl) in his hand.

When asked why he was carrying an empty measuring bowl with him, the business man answered that he was a messenger of Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam and that he would get what he wanted if he held the empty bowl in his hand and recited thrice the name of his favourite Lord.

Thirumangai Azhvaar agreed and asked for wages for all those working here. The business man laid a condition. For all those who worked sincerely here, the sand would turn to Gold. For those who were lazy and insincere, the sand would remain as is.

To Thirumangai Azhvaar's shock, a majority of the sand that was measured with the empty bowl remained sand and did not turn to gold. Wondering who this person was, he gave him a chase (as the man had begun to leave). After a long chase, he found in front of him his very Lord providing him darshan with the Marakkal.

Lord Aandalakkum Aiyan is seen in an Anantha Sayanam posture with Marakkal on his right side, a writing pad made of leaf on his left and with a writing pen. Along side him are Brighu Rishi, Agni (Lord of Fire) and Kamadhenu

Brighu Rishi and Athanur Temple
Brighu Rishi, who made a trip to Vaikuntam, was given a flower garland by Goddess Lakshmi.Taking this to the abode of Indra, he handed it to him, who gave this to his elephant Iravathan.

Much to the Rishi’s ire, he found that the elephant crushed the garland under his feet. An angry rishi cursed Indra to lose all his wealth. Repenting for his unreasonable act and seeking liberation from the Rishi’s curse, Indra undertook penance at Aadanur. Indra was liberated from the curse when Goddess Lakshmi, who was born here as Bhargavi, Brighu Rishi’s daughter, married Lord Vishnu and provided darshan to him.
Brighu Rishi is believed to have installed the idol.

Another story goes that Shiva, who had Brahmahathi Dosham, looked up to Agni to liberate him from the curse. However, he only managed to pass on this Dosham to Agni too who then undertook penance here and invoked the blessing of Vishnu to get liberated from this.

Kamadhenu’s penance- Special position inside the sanctum
Seeking presence in Vaikuntam, Kamadhenu undertook penance here at Aadhanur. Hence, one finds the idols of Kamadhenu and daughter Nandini at this Divya Desam.

Thirumangai Azhvaar’s Paasuram
In the Periya Thirumadal, Thirumangai Azhvaar refers to the Lord of Thiru Moozhikalam along side Aandalukku Aiyan.

என்னை மனம்கவர்ந்த ஈசனை , வானவர்தம்
முன்னவனை மூழிகளது விளக்கினை
அன்னவனை ஆதனூர் ஆண்டாளுக்கு ஐயனை …

Special Pillars
Thiru Athanur is one of the only two divya desams (the other being Srirangam) where one finds the special Thirumana Pillar on either side of the Lord inside the sanctum.

Ahobila Mutt

The temple is under the administration of Ahobila Mutt.

10 day Brahmotsavam in Vaikasi
3 day Pavitrotsavam in Avani
Aadi Pooram- Andal Perumal Procession
Aadi and Thai Friday- Ranganayaki Thaayar procession

Quick Facts
Moolavar : Aandalakkum Aiyan East Facing Anantha Sayanam
Thayar     : Kamalasini (Ranganayaki/Bhargavi) Thaayar
Utsavar : Ranganatha (Azhagiya Manavalan)
Azhvaar : Thiru Mangai Azhvaar (1Paasuram)

The temple is open from 730am-1230pm and 530pm-830pm. Contact Seshadri Bhattachar @ 0435-2455165 / Mei Kavalar @ 96592 38838

Address :Adhanur Divya Desam
Via Pullabhoothangudi , Papanasam Taluk 612 301

How to reach Adhanur
Auto from Sarangapani Koil and back to Kumbakonam will cost Rs.400/-. Buses ply every half hour from Kumbakonam and Swami Malai to Thiruvaikavur.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Vanamamalai Thothadri Nathan Nanguneri

Oil at this Divya Desam is as special and sacred as the Laddu at Tirupathi
This is the headquarters of the 600 year old Vanamamalai Mutt

Located about 30kms South of Tirunelveli, off the Nagercoil Highway and about 10kms from Thiru Kurungudi Divya Desam is Vaanamaalai Thothadri Nathan Divya Desam at Nanguneri.

Direction to the temple

In centuries gone by, this place was identified as being 1 yojana South of Tamaraibarani, 2 yojanas North of Bay of Bengal and 3 yojanas West of Indian Ocean and Half a yojana East of the Mahendra Hills.

Puranic reference
The story relating to Thothadri finds reference in Brahmanda Puranam, Skanda Puranam and Narasimha Puranam.It is said that Lord Shiva narrated the story and the significance and greatness of Thothadri and Varamangai to Sage Narada, who having heard the story is believed to gone to Vaikuntam and heaped praised on Narayana.

The Name

Adisesha undertook penance here and hence this place came to be called ‘Naaganai’ Cheri. As the huge lake around the temple was split into 4 canals, this place was referred to as ‘Nangu’ ‘Eri’.

Goddess Lakshmi grew up at Thothadri as Varamangai and later met and married the Lord here. Hence, this place is also referred to as SriVaramangai. In Azhvaar’s praise of the Lord here, he refers to him as the Lord of Varamangai Nagar.

One of the Eight Swayam Vyatha Kshetram

This is one of the eight sacred Swayam Vyaktha Vishnu Sthalams, the others being Srirangam, Srimushnam, Tirupathi, Saligramam, Naimi Saranyam, Pushkaram and Badrinath.

The Story

A Sindhu king on a hunting expedition consumed food from the ashram of Gusasana Rishi while he was away. An angered rishi cursed him to turn to a dog. A man trained the dog to provide acrobatic displays to onlookers and thus earned his livelihood. After going all over the place, the dog was finally relieved from the curse after a bath at the sacred water (Chethruththamarai Theertham) at Thothadri. He regained his princely form. Hence, it is believed that a bath at this Theertham will relieve from all curses.

Speciality at this Divya Desam- Oil Abhishekam
Kaarya Maharaja didn’t have a child. He went to Lord Nambi at Thirukurungudi who asked him to undertake pooja of the Lord who is present beneath the earth at Nanguneri. The king who dug up the earth here was shocked to find blood oozing out of the Lord’s head.

The Lord asked him to perform an Oil Abhishekam and to throw the oil into the open well found at this place. Having performed this, he is said to have had children. The temple is believed to have been built by Kaarya Maharaja.

The tradition of Oil Abhishekam has come to stay. Hence, the speciality of this Divya Desam is the daily oil pooja for the main deity and depositing the oil in the 25 feet open well inside the temple. The oil has been hailed by Sage Agastya as ‘Sarva Roha Nivarani’ and is said to have medicinal values helping cure both internal and external illness including ulcer and skin diseases.

The oil at this temple is just as special as the ‘laddu’ of Tirupathi temple.

Garuda’s presence in front of Lord Vishnu
The story goes that Kasiyap, who had two wives- Kathru and Vinathai, remained childless. Invoking the blessings of a rishi, the two wives were given the option of choosing between several children and just the two.

Kathru had several children including Adisesha, the Serpent King, on whom Lord Vishnu rests himself. Vinathai had two children- Arunan (Charioteer of Surya) and Garuda (Charioteer of Vishnu).

With Lord Vishnu resting himself all the time on Adisesha, an upset Garuda undertook penance at Thothadri. When the Lord appeared before Garuda, he expressed his disappointment at not accorded the same status as Adisesha.

It was then that Lord Narayana asked him to come with him to Vaikuntam and accorded him the status of standing in front of him (facing him) ready all the time to take his Lord on a trip. Thus it came to be that when the Lord leaves Adisesha, he gets on to Garuda.

Goddess Earth felt impure after blood and bones of asuras Madhu and Kaitapa fell on Earth after being killed by Lord Vishnu. She undertook penance at Thothadri near Mahendra Hills. Lord appeared in front of her and relieved her from the impurities by showering the nectar on her. As per her wishes, he remained seated under the Vaikunta Vimanam and provided darshan to all devotees.

Liberation from re-birth

The two beautiful damsels Urvasi and Thilothama undertook penance at Thothadri seeking liberation from re-birth and with the single minded devotion of serving the Lord.

Narayana, who appeared before them, expressed surprise at these two beautiful ladies undertaking severe penance at Thothadri instead of enjoying their lives. The two replied that they had now realised that serving him was the ultimate achievement for any one. As desired by them, Lord allowed them a place next to him. Hence, they are seen here at this temple next to the Lord in a gesture of fanning him (white Chamaras) and keeping him always cool.

Azhvaar on the Shataari

Nam Azhvaar is seen on the Lord’s Shataari, a gesture that is said to be equivalent to the Azhvaar himself blessing the devotees.

Azhvaar pleads for liberation

புள்ளின் வாய் பிளந்தாய்
மருது இடை போயினாய்
எருது ஏழ் அடர்த்த என் கள்ள மாயவனே
கருமாணிக்கச் சுடரே

தெள்ளியார் திரு நான்மறைகள் வல்லார்
மலி தண்  சிரீவர மங்கை
உள் இருந்த எந்தாய், அருளாய்  உய்யுமாறு எனக்கே - Thiruvoimozhi (5-7)

NamAzhvaar in his praise of the Lord here refers to Him as the one who ripped the bird's beak, the one who entered the Marudu trees and killed the seven bulls. Nam Azhvaar says that many great seers, who were all well versed in all the vedas, resided here at Vanamamalai. Referring to the Lord who lives in Sri Varamangai Nagar amidst these great seers, Nam Azhvaar pleads with the Lord to show him and the devotees the path to Liberation.

600 year old Vanamaamalai Mutt

The 600 years old Vaanamaamalai Mutt (Jeers) are the hereditary trustees of this Divya Desam. Many of the main festivals at this temple are celebrated in a unique way, not found in any other Divya Desam. Srivaramangai Thaayar is considered as the affectionate daughter of the first pontiff of the Mutt Sri Ponnadikal Jeer Swamy. Deivanayakan is considered as the Son-in-Law of the mutt. During the Brahmotsavam and other festivals, the two are given a warm welcome at the mutt and the entire pooja festivities are performed only at the mutt.

All the worship patterns here are according to the Vaikanasa Agamamam.

Quick Facts

Moolavar : Thothadri Nathan(Vaanamaamalai Perumal) East Facing Sitting Posture
Thaayar   : Srivaramangai Thaayar
Utsavar   : Deiva Nayakan
Azhvaar  :Nam Azhvaar -Thiruvoimozhi ( 5-7)
Time       : 8am-12noon and 5pm-9pm
Priest      : Nambi Srinivasa Bhattar @ 04635 250537 or 99942 76118
Temple Office Number : 04635 250119

2 Brahmotsavams – one in Panguni and one in Chitrai

How to reach
Buses every 10minutes between Tirunelveli and Nagercoil
(Nanguneri can be reached within 45 minutes from Tirunelveli bus stand)
Kanyakumari Exp and Ananthapuri Express from Chennai stop at Nanguneri station.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Vada Madurai Adi Kesava Perumal Koil

The 1000 year old Rajendra Chozha period temple near Periya Palayam has interesting Ramayana and Narasimha Sculptures

40kms North West of Madras off the Calcutta National Highway N0.5 is the 1000 year old Adi Kesava Perumal temple in Vada Madurai, Periya Palayam. While largely unknown, the Vada Madurai temple has inscriptions dating back to the period of the Great Chozha King- Rajendra I and Rajendra Chozha II as well as several sculptures relating to the Ramayana.

Ancient Rama Idol
One of the highlights of the temple is the ancient 1000 year old image of Rama and Baratha made in copper. Inscriptions indicate that Rajendra I (Gangai Konda Chozhan) donated 50acres of land for betel leaves & nuts cultivation to be dedicated to Lord Rama as a wedding gift to the Lord. One finds the entire story of Ramayana in beautiful little artistic sculptures inside the Mandapam.

3 Tier Garuda

The 3 Tier Garuda Sannidhi found at the Vada Madurai is a special feature.

Raja Simha Stones at the temple entrance

While there are not many inscriptions relating to the Pallava connection to the temple, at the entrance one finds 5 RajaSimha stone Sculptures welcoming the devotees.

Artistic Sculptures
Some of the interesting ones are the fight between Rama/Lakshmana and Lava-Kucha, Rama and the 10 headed Ravana depicting the very end of the battle in Lanka.

No Gopuram

The entrance does not have the typical temple tower indicative of a Vishnu temple and is only a ‘Mottai Gopuram’


Rama Navami Kalyana Utsavam
Sri Jayanthi

Puratasi Saturday are special here

Quick Facts

Moolavar: Adi Kesava Perumal, East Facing Standing Posture with Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi

Goddess : Adi Lakshmi Thaayar (Separate Sannidhi)

Utsavar: Ancient Rama alongside Baratha (New idols of Lakshmana and Sita are more recent additions)

Temple Time : 630am-12noon and 5pm-8pm

Priest : R. Balaji Bhattar @ 97887 81862

Address: Adi Kesava Perumal Koil, Vada Madurai Village
Othukottai Taluk, Tiruvallur District 601 102

How to Reach

Vada Madurai is 40kms North West of Madras.
One can take the Madras-Madhavaram-Red Hills Road (Nellore-Calcutta NH 5), drive about 27kms and take a left towards Periyapalayam (13kms).

1km before Periyapalayam take a left (Vengal-Tiruvallur Road) to reach Vada Madurai (1km from this junction)

One can also reach Vada Madurai via Thiru Ninravur ( 21kms from the Divya Desam)