Sunday, September 28, 2014

Chinna Tirupathi Prasanna Venkatachalapathy temple

Pallava Period temple that was constructed in the current form and structure by the Pandyas
A Hill Temple whose legend back to the fight between Adiseshan and Vayu

Located about 25kms from Salem off the Salem-Dharmapuri NH on a small hill is the Pallava Period Prasanna Venkatachalapathy temple in Karuvalli near Omalur where Moolavar Lord Venkatachalapathy is flanked by Sri and Bhoo Devi. One has to climb 300 steps to reach the hill temple. There is a huge Gopuram at the Eastern Entrance that is seen from a fair distance away.

The story
Once, Vayu (the God of Wind) came to Vaikuntam to meet Lord Vishnu. With Adiseshan stopping Vayu, an argument arose as to who was mightier of the two. Adideshan went and wound himself around the Anantha Mountain (Meru’s son). With Vayu blowing in full force, devas became worried. Answering their request, Adiseshan slightly moved one of his heads. Vayu’s speed hit the mountain with such force that one piece flew and fell here at Chinna Tirupathi.

Another story goes that Vishnu came here searching for Goddess Lakshmi who had left him angered at him for not punishing Brigu rishi who had kicked him in the chest. Finding Adiseshan sleeping in the pit here in the mountain, Vishnu entered the pit. Coming to know of this, Shiva and Brahmma disguised themselves as a cow and a calf.

As this region was full of cows, it was referred to as ‘Pasupatti’.

Malai Kandaan and his descendents
The cow would come here every morning and fill the pit with milk leaving her master in a shocked state as he was not able to get even a litre of milk. Trying to understand the reason behind the cow going dry, he followed her one morning to this pit on the new mountain that had formed here. As he found the new mountain, he came to be called ‘Malai Kandaan’. To this day, the descendents of Malai Kandaan continue to perform service here at this temple.

As he narrated this story to the villagers, they came here to find out the truth. Inside the pit, they had darshan of Venkatachalapathy. A Pandya king, who was a devotee of Lord Vishnu, constructed this temple in its current form and structure installing the Swamyambu idol. In memory of this event, the sculptures of the Pandya King, his queen and mother are seen here on the south side of the Artha mandapam. The Pandya king is believed to have provided grants to the temple. There are fish symbols atop the wall on the Artha mandapa.
Granting of villages in the 15th Century
With the muslim invasion, the temple had been closed. With no poojas offered to the Lord, this region had become a drought prone place. The Paalaya King who was ruling this region including Omalur in the 15th Century AD once made a visit to Karuvalli on his horse. He found ‘Thirumalai Kannikakodi Thathachariyar’ invoking the Lord’s blessings on his way to Kasi.

He told the Paalaya King that performing a Varuna Jabam in a sincere way would bring rains back to this region.  On his way back from Kasi, Thathachariyar performed the Jabam which instantly brought rains. A pleased king presented three villages to Thathachariyar, who then brought 60families from Tirumalai to this region. One of the villages came to be called Thathaiyengar Pettai, near Namakkal.

Another village came to be called Thathayam Patti and is found near Omalur.  The descendents who were prolific in reciting Vedas were given the first rights at this temple for several centuries.

Contribution of Mysore kings
The Mysore Kings constructed the huge temple tank at the foot of the hill. Float Festival is celebrated in a grand manner in Puratasi. Near the tank is a shandy market that is seen in full buzz every Saturday.

Brahmotsavam in Puratasi
Vaikasi Vasanthotsavam
Sri Jayanthi Utsavam – The descendents of Malai Kandaan participate as part of the Uriyadi Utsavam
Street Procession on the full moon day in Chitrai

Quick Facts
Moolavar: Prasanna Venkatachalapathy with Sri and Bhoo Devi Thaayar
Thaayar  : Alarmel Mangai Thaayar / Padmavathi Thaayar ( Separate Sannidhi)
Utsavar   : Srinivasa Perumal
Time       : 6am-130pm and 330pm-630pm  
Contact: Rajagopalan Bhattar @ 94422 20607

How to reach
Bangalore bound morning train at 520am at Salem Junction will take you to Karuvalli station by 6am. The temple is walking distance from the station.

By bus, one can get down at Omalur from Salem (on the Dharmapuri / Mettur highway). From Omalur, take the Mookanur/Vellaru bus to reach Chinna Tirupathi/Karuvalli (about 13kms)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Thuvar Kothandarama Temple

A 17th Century village where Prabhandham and Vedic Chants was a regular feature
A long 60house agraharam was built and donated by Pudukottai Samasthanam to Dwara Bashyas
Located just under 30kms North East of Pudukottai is the Kothandarama temple in Thuvar, a traditional village whose history dates back to the 17th Century AD. The story goes that disciples of Kausika Muni (who was a disciple of Koorathazhvaan) travelled across to the Pudukottai Samasthanam from Tirupathi and adjoining areas to take up positions as vedic scholars under the Pudukottai king.

These disciples of Koorathazhwaan (who had helped Ramanuja in the compilation of Sri Bashyam) were referred to as Dwara Bashyas. To this day, many of the scholars belonging to this village suffix Bashyas to their names. This place where the Dwara Bashyas stayed came to be referred to as Dwara Bashyakara Puram, which in course of time became ‘Thuvar’.

The story goes that the Thanjavur king bought out this village from the Pudukottai Samasthanam. As an acknowledge of the great services rendered by these scholars to promote the Vedas and divya prabhandham, this serene village was donated to them and a long row of houses was built on either side of the street where they could stay and chant the Vedas and Divya Prabhandham.

In centuries gone by, the village had a beautiful long agraharam with 30 traditional houses on either side east of the temple. Vedic Chants and Divya Prabhandham was a distinguishing feature of this village with many Sanskrit scholars residing here. It is believed that Pongal Thaligai to Lord Kothandarama along with the recital of Divya Prabhandham and the Vedic Chants along the banks of the lake brought rain to the Thuvar Village.

These ancient idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were found in a pit near the huge lake South of the temple during a cleaning operation. These centuries’ old idols were installed in a Mutt on the banks of the lake. Later, these idols were moved to and installed at the temple that we currently find west of the then existing agraharam. The acharya at Poundarikapuram Ashram in Srirangam directed an Anjaneya idol from Trichy to be installed at the North Eastern corner at the Thuvar temple and thus the Anjaneya idol became a later period addition to the temple as were the Utsava Idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana.

The temple now has a single prakara with a guest house at the Eastern entrance for visiting devotees to stay. Shri. Ranganathan has been taking care of the poojas at the temple for the last four decades. He comes in early in the morning at around 530am and is there till at least 9am. And he comes back again in the evening for a couple of hours. It is this kind of dedicated service to the Lord that has helped revive the temple.

As one enters the village through the big arch off the Pudukottai- Mazhaiyur- Pattukottai Highway, one can see the Rama temple from a distance. One is also able to visualise the agraharam along the long street from east to west leading to the temple.
 Over 50years ago, this village which has had such a rich history was slowly beginning to get cut off from the bigger towns of Pudukottai and Thanjavur. No power supply, road transport services, educational institutions meant that youngsters began to migrate from here to Mazhaiyur and Pudukottai and later to other bigger cities in Tamil Nadu. The good news though is that the previous residents of Thuvar who are now living in different parts of the world have come together in an effort to bring back the village and the temple to life. The temple now wears a fresh new look.

Over time, the once beautiful agraharam has become non-existent as has become the scene with many other traditional temple towns in Tamil Nadu.

It is also believed that the Utsava idols of Rama temple in Gandharvakottai were actually found here in Thuvar village.

Rama Navami Utsavam in Chitrai
Thirumanjanam during Navarathri
Moolavar Thirumanjanam on No Moon Day
Punar Poosam Thirumanjanam

Pavitrotsavam is being planned at the temple

Quick Facts
Moolavar: Kothandarama flanked by Sita and Lakshmana in an east facing standing posture
Time      : 6am-10am
Contact  : Thamarai Kannan Bhattar / Ranganathan @ 97865 06471 / 96553 16576

How to reach
Thuvar is just under 20kms from Gandharvakottai via Kollampatti and Karupatti patti.
From Pudukottai, Thuvar is just under 30kms on the Mazhaiyur – Karambagudi route. Buses every 30minutes from Pudukottai. Infrequent buses from Gandharvakottai.

Auto from Gandharvakottai and back will cost Rs. 500.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thillai Sthanam Srinivasa Perumal Temple

Abhimana Sthalam of Koviladi Appakudathan

Located 2kms West of Thiruvayaru on the Kallanai Highway is the beautiful 400 year old 17th century AD Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Thillai Sthanam with a long centuries old agraharam on the eastern side.

The temple is the Abhimana Sthalam of Appakudathan Perumal of Koviladi Divya Desam. In centuries gone by, it is believed that Lord Appakudathan used to make a 15km procession from Koviladi (west of Thiru Kaattupalli) to Thillai Sthanam along the Northern banks of the Cauvery. Being Appakudathan’s Abhimana Sthalam, his sacred Moolavar Shatari has been installed here in this temple here at Thillai Sthanam as a gesture of Appakudathan’s happiness.

NammAzhvaar who composed his verses of praise on Lord Appakudathan of Thiruper Nagar ( Koviladi) compares the Lord of Thiruper to Thirumaliruncholai.

திருபேர் நகரான் திருமாலிருன்சோலை 
பொறுப்பேன் உறைகின்ற பிரான் இன்று வந்து 

 இருப்பேன் என்று என் நெஞ்சு நிறைய புகுந்தான் 
இருப்பே பெற்று அமுது உண்டு களிதேனே 

Aipasi Theerthavari Utsavam to the Cauvery (Full moon day)
Chitrai Chariot Festival on Shravanam
Avani Thiru Kalyanam

Quick Facts
Moolavar: Srinivasa Perumal East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar  : Alarmel Mangai Thaayar
Time      : 730am-930am and 530pm-830pm
Contact  : Narayanan Bhattar @ 99656 05526

When here also visit Perumpuliyur Sundararaja Perumal temple 
 visited by Thirumazhisai Azhvaar on his way from Srirangam to Kumbakonam

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Navaneetha Krishnan temple Arasalur

A calm, peaceful temple 2kms South of Thottiyam 
It is a beautiful long road south of Thottiyam off the Namakkal / Salem Highway with greenery on both sides of the 2km route to Arasalur. It is ancient and it’s calm and there is a sense of peace as one enters the place.

Just a km north of the Veda Narayana Perumal temple in Thiru Narayanapuram is the 400year old Navaneetha Krishnan temple in Arasalur where the handsome looking Navaneetha Krishnan is seen with a butter ball in his right hand and providing a friendly welcoming gesture with his left. His right leg is seen placed on Lotus petals. Navaneetha Krishnan is seen flanked by Rukmini and Satyabhama.

Namm Azhvaar, Ramanuja and Swami Desigan are all seen together in a Sannidhi next to each other.

It is heartening to note that the Bhattar quit his job at ICICI Bank to continue the selfless service at the temple.

The historical name of the temple was Ashwatha Raja Puram which in course of time became Arasalur. In centuries gone by, this was a place where Vedic chants were heard through the day.
The Aasuri clan form Karnataka stayed here on the way to Srirangam. It is believed that they built the temple that one sees in the current form and structure. Salt was sold in large quantities and the sale proceeds were used for the maintenance of the temple in centuries gone by.

Chandran and Suryan are seen on the upper wall of the sanctum offering their prayers to Lord Navaneetha Krishnan. Also, on the upper wall of maha mandapa are ancient carvings.

Prarthana Sthalam
This is a Prarthana Sthalam for the unmarried and the childless. Belief is also that one will be able to cross all hurdles and overcome any obstacles by performing an archanai here on the start birth day.

Chitra Pournami
Margazhi 30day Utsavam
Panguni Uthiram- Kalyana Utsavam

Quick Facts
Moolavar: Srinivasa Perumal East Facing Standing Posture
Utsavar  : Navaneetha Krishnan with a butter in his left hand
Time     : 730am-8pm
Contact : Bhoo Varaha Bhattar @ 70104 13600

How to reach
From Trichy, one can take Salem bound express bus to get down at Thottiyam Police Station (50kms). Auto from here to the temple will cost Rs. 50.

By train, one can get down at Kulithalai ( Mangalore Express from Chennai Egmore) stops here at 6am. From Kulithalai, one can take a bus to Thottiyam via Musiri across the Cauvery bridge.

Devotees can refresh / have bath in the house opposite the temple.

When here, also visit Veda Narayana Perumal temple in Thiru Narayanapuram