Friday, November 29, 2013

Varaha Perumal Mahabalipuram

A rock cut cave temple dating back to the Pallava Period
15kms Secret tunnel to Nithya Kalyana Perumal in Thiru Vidanthai
Located one km south of the Sthala Sayana Perumal Divya Desam on the way to the light house is a lesser known but an ancient Pallava period rock cut cave temple dedicated to Varaha Perumal.

This temple pre dates the Kadal Mallai Divya Desam in Maamallapuram and is one of the two Vishnu temples that have survived ravages of the sea over the last 10centuries.

The Story
A Pallava King made a daily trip to the Varaha Perumal temple at Thiru Vidanthai (15kms north of here on the East Coast Road). He would have his morning food only after this darshan. Also, it was his practice to feed a 1000people each day after coming back from Thiru Vidanthai.

Lord Vishnu decided to put his devotion to test. One morning he appeared before the king as a hungry Brahmin carrying along with a child (Goddess in disguise).

The king requested if he could first make his daily trip to Thiru Vidanthai and then offer them food as that was his practice. The Lord in disguise rejected this suggestion stating that he was dying of hunger and that it may be too late for the child by the time the king returned.

Invoking the blessings of Varaha Perumal of Thiru Vidanthai, the king decided that feeding a hungry child was more important than his trip. Pleased with the king’s true devotion, the disguised Lord provided darshan to the king at the same place as Varaha Perumal with Agilavalli Thaayar on his right side ( at Thiru Vidanthai, Goddess is seen to the left of the Lord).

At this cave temple, the moolavar Varna Kala idol Aadhi Varaha Perumal is sculpted on the rock with his left leg placed on a Naga King and Queen and with his left hand on Thaayar’s lap.

Pallava King Simha Vishnu is believed to have built this cave temple. In memory of his contribution, one finds stone idols of Simha Vishnu along with his son Mahendra Varma Pallava.

There are also exquisite stone idols of Rudra, Brahmma, Goddess Lakshmi and Durga inside this cave temple.

Secret Tunnel
An interesting feature at the temple is the entrance to a secret 15km long tunnel (now shut) that was once an underground route to the Nithya Kalyana Perumal temple in Thiru Vidanthai. One also finds such a secret passage at Parameswara Vinnagaram (Vaikunta Perumal) Divya Desam in Kanchipuram which once led to Maamallapuram almost 70kms east.

On the full moon day in Maasi every year, the utsava deity, Gnanapiran, goes on a procession to the sea shore on a Garuda Vahana.  
Quick Facts
Moolavar: Aadhi Varaha Perumal West Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar  : Agilavalli Thaayar
Utsavar   : Gnana Piran
Time        : 8am-12noon and 3pm-5pm
Contact    : Gopalakrishnan (Gopu) Bhattar @ 98404 08755

Auto from Sthala Sayana Perumal temple will cost Rs. 40.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ashtabhuja Venugopalaswamy Belur

A temple that will help you liberate from Kama
Located 5kms North of Vazhapadi off the Salem- Attur highway is the centuries old Ashtabhuja Venugopalaswamy in Belur on the Northern banks of the Vellai River. The temple’s legend is believed to date back to Arjuna and the Mahabaratha.

The story goes that Arjuna who was to perform a pooja invoking the blessings of Lord Shiva to repent for his killings came to this place. Looking for sacred water, he was directed by Lord Krishna to strike an arrow towards the North. Upon his strike, flowed clean water from the Aran Ootru Malai, that was said to be as white as milk. He performed an abhisheka for Lord Shiva at the temple opposite the Ashtabhuja Venugopalan temple.

Another story goes that Sage Vashista performed a yagna at this place, which then became a mount. The mount where the yagna took place is now referred to as  Kottai Medu. Vellai Aaru has also come to be known as Vashista River after the Sage's Yagna here.

Interesting feature
An interesting feature at this temple is that Lord Venugopalan is seen holding a sugarcane in his left hand said to be a symbol of Manmada’s arrow. Belief is that those who visit this temple and offer sincere prayers will be liberated from Kama. 

A lot of the ancient idols at this temple including that of Lord Vinayaka are believed to date back to the period of the successful Karnataka rulers.

Garuda slightly away
Garuda is seen standing away and not directly in line with the Moolavar deity. The idol of Anjaneya who is seen in an Abhaya Hastha Posture is said to date back to the Vijaya Varma Period.
Margazhi 30days Thirumanjanam
Satyanarayana Pooja every Full Moon Day
Thirumanjanam every Rohini
Vaikunta Ekadesi
Puratasi Saturdays attract big devotee crowd

When here, also visit Lakshmi Gopalan temple at Ethapur just under 10kms East

Quick Facts

Moolavar: Ashtabhuja Venugopalaswamy East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar   : Maragadavalli Thaayar
Time        : 7am-12noon and 430pm-730pm
Contact   : Srinivasa Bhattar @ 98946 89629 / Sekar Bhattar @ 96775 54839

How to reach

Share Auto every 5minutes from Vazhapadi railway station
All Karmandurai bound buses stop in front of the Belur temple
Auto from Vazhapadi will cost Rs. 70.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Vedanta Desigar Srirangam Temple

Desigar praises Srirangam temple as one where all our unsolved problems will be put behind and a happiness achieved beyond our expectations 

ஆராத அருள் அமுதம் பொதிந்த கோயில்
அம்புயத் தோன்  அயோத்தி மன்னர்க்கு அளித்த கோயில்
தோலாத தனி வீரன் தொழுத கோயில்
துணையான வீடண ற்குத் துனையாம் கோயில்

சேராத பயன் எல்லாம் சேர்க்கும்  கோயில்
செழு மறையின் முதல் எழுத்துச் சேர்ந்த கோயில்
தீராத வினை அனைத்தும்  தீர்க்கும் கோயில்
திருவரங்கம் எனத் திகழும் கோயில் தானே

Vedanta Desigar, who stayed in Srirangam for several years, showers a heap of praise on Lord Ranganatha temple in Srirangam in his 'Athikaara Sangramam' verse.

Referring to the temple as one dedicated to the King of Ayodhya, Desigar says that just a visit to the temple and offering sincere prayers there will immediately secure the Lord's blessings. With this, one is sure to achieve a state of mind that is full of peace and happiness that is beyond one's expectations.

Desigar instills a lot of confidence in the devotee's mind stating that a sheer presence at the Srirangam temple and spending time with utmost devotion, will help put behind all our unsolved problems and that we will be given a fresh lease of life, one that we can look forward to. 

Such is the greatness of the Lord of Srirangam that he forgives our past sins and gives us a 2nd chance to come back and lead a positive life.

Kothandarama Temple Ariyalur

The handsome Bronze Idol of Rama dates back to the Pallava Period
Exquisite 6 feet tall Dasavaratha idols are a special feature
Located in the heart of Ariyalur 1km west of the bus stand is the Kothandarama Temple, where the bronze idol of the handsome South Facing Rama is believed to date back over 1000years to the Pallava period with later renovation during the Chozha rule. The East facing Venkatesa Perumal, a later creation, is now the main Moolavar deity at this temple.

However, to this day, the temple continues to be known after the original deity as the Kothandarama Temple of Ariyalur. Rama is seen along with Sita and Lakshmana in a single peedam. 

An interesting feature at the temple is the exquisite over 6 feet tall Dasavaratha idols on either side of the Dasavathara Mandapa, one that was constructed by Vijaya Oppila Mazhava Raya. In recognition of this, one finds his idol at the entrance of the mandapa.
North Facing Lord Narasimha is seen in four forms inside the Dasavathara Mandapa- Lakshmi Narasimha, Yoga Narasimha, Hiranyavatha Narasimha and Prahalada Narasimha. One finds Lord Narasimha with sharp finger nails that tore apart the Asura, while his foot is placed on the slain Asura King Hiranyakashipu whose son Prahalada is seen in a calm, devoted standing posture.

The Name
Ariyalur also bears its name from the presence of Lord Vishnu here. ‘Hari Iruntha Oor’, the place where Lord Vishnu resides, in course of time became ‘Ari’ yalur.

Vaikunta Ekadesi with Swarga Vaasal opening
Rama Navami  
Garuda Sevai Procession on Vaikasi Visakam day is a big highlight at the temple
Plans are to revive the Brahmotsavam and Theppotsavam
Chariot Festival on Shravanam Vaikasi

Quick Facts
Moolavar: Venkatesa Perumal East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar  : Alarmel Mangai Thaayar (Separate Sannidhi)
Time      : 730am-1030am and 5pm-830pm
Contact  :  Krishna Kumar Bhattar @ 97501 31328

How to reach Ariyalur
Ariyalur is on the Chennai- Tiruchirapalli rail route. Auto from Ariyalur Railway Station to the temple will cost Rs. 40/-.

When here, also visit Kaliyuga Varadaraja Perumal temple at Kallankurichi, 6kms East of this temple. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lakshmi Gopalan Temple Ethapur

Located 15kms West of Attur and just over 30kms East of Salem is a small temple for Lakshmi Gopalan in Ethapur.  Vasishta river flows just South of the temple.

Centuries ago, a Mysore King who was ruling here, directed a temple for Shiva be built here. While the tank was being constructed, the idol of Lord Gopalan was found.

The minister Seshaiyer took his own call to build a temple for Lord Vishnu West of the location where the Shiva temple was being planned. Not wanting to face the fury of the king whose permission he did not seek to build the Vishnu temple, the minister stayed in a small hut West of this place.

To this day, that place where Seshaiyer stayed is called Sesha Saavadi.

Learning about this, the king called for his minister and asked him to perform the Kumbabishekam of the Shiva temple after the Vishnu temple.

Sesha Vahana is still seen inside the temple and procession takes place on this vahana during the annual festivals.
Quick Facts

Moolavar  : Lakshmi Gopalan East Facing Standing Posture
Time          : 7am-12noon, 5pm-9pm
Contact     : Gnana Skanda Gurukal @ 04282 270210

The Utsava deity is currently kept inside the Samba Murtheeswarar temple at Ethapur.

How to reach
Chennai Egmore- Salem Express stops at Ethapur station (515am arrival). From there an auto will cost Rs. 50 to the temple (6kms North) off the Attur-Salem highway.

From Salem, one can take the Attur bound bus and get down at Puthira Goundan Palayam. And take a town bus/auto from there (10mts).

When here, also visit Ashta Bhuja Perumal at Belur, 6kms West of here.