Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Kaattu Azhagiya Singar Srirangam

Bhattars and Parijarakars lived amidst Snakes and Skeletons at this temple till the 1970s   
Will the Srirangam temple authorities run a shuttle service everyday to this temple?
Period in the 1970s and 80s was a dangerous one at ‘Kaattu’ Azhagiya Singar Koil, the temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha, east of the Srirangam Railway Station. It was a dense forest. No one dared to go there.

Venkatesa Iyengar has been the cook at the Madapalli for the last 35 years. He is also the Manian 
(Time Keeper) at the temple. 

His father late Srinivasa Iyengar had been performing similar service at the temple for several decades since the early 1940s.  Each day, he would walk all the way from Therku Vaasal in Srirangam (from near the Ranga Ranga Gopuram) to Kaattu Azhagiya Singar temple crossing the then old fashioned Srirangam Railway Station. Past the railway line it was a small muddy one way path with big thick bushes on either side.
Snakes and Reptiles and Skeletons too!!!
In addition to housing Lord Azhagiya Singar, the temple played home to venomous snakes, Udumbu and deadly big Scorpions. Similar to the twin temples of Erettai Tirupathi in Nava Tirupathi (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2017/02/erettai-tirupathi-transformation.html), the prakara here too was filled with bushes and one could hear the hissing snakes.  

Rarely would a devotee visit the temple in those days.  The moment they informed about leaving for a darshan of the Lord at Kaattu Azhagiya Singar temple, the residents of Srirangam would caution them and the trip would usually end up being cancelled. Only the real brave ones and the die-hard Narasimha devotees and those that had serious problems to contend with in life dared to venture into this area.

There were no utsavams at the temple. Up till the 1970s, there were no houses in the area. The temple was flanked by a burial ground in the North and green fields in the East and South. There were no lights anywhere in the vicinity of the temple. The only noise came from the Steam engines that passed through the Srirangam station. There were even skeletons seen around this ancient temple that pre dates the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam.

Between the two rivers
In ancient times, 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.

Surrounded by the two rivers on either side, Cauvery to the South and Coloroon to the North, and inhabited only by the rishis and their families, 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. As the Lord appeared here in the middle of a forest and stayed back to protect the devotees, the Lord came to be called ‘Kaattu’ Azhagiya Singar.

Namperumal’s Annual trip on Vijayadasami
The big day in the year was on Vijayadasami when Lord Namperumal made his annual trip to this temple. Ahead of his visit, a hereditary community near the burial ground would clean the path and clear the bushes to make way for the Lord. There would be a few devotees who would come along with the Lord on this day from Srirangam.

A Financially Difficult Life
As the Manian, in charge of the temple service and poojas, Venkatesan was not able to give even 25paise a day to the archakas for their service ‘We would literally beg for a small quantity of Ghee to light the lamp at the temple. It was also a difficult task to secure even 50gms of Manjal - Such was the state of the temple till the 80s!!!’ 

'I would walk around the temple complex to the fields to sell the prasadam as lunch to the farmers in the afternoon to make some money for our daily survival.' 

Despite the financially stressed life, Srinivasa Iyengar’s consistent message to his son throughout his childhood was to give positive messages to devotees who came to the Lord with problems and to create the belief that the Lord would take care of them if they invoked his blessings with sincere devotion ‘It is our duty to make them happy when they are here at the temple.’

Infrastructure Improvement from the 80s
Things began improving from the late 80s. A Tar Road was created east of the railway station. Street Lights were installed. A few houses were built.

Into this century, with increased ‘devotion’, this entire region has been transformed. As with the modern flats on the Melur Road, West of Srirangam, this location East of Srirangam too has seen a number of new constructions. The green fields have been replaced by modern apartments.  There are no sign of bushes anymore.

For the new gen, it would be difficult to believe that this entire region around the temple was a forest area and the domain of animals just a few decades ago. 

Bus Service from Srirangam?
The devotee crowd is much better but constraints remain. Not all those who visit Srirangam come to this ancient temple.  There are no bus facilities to the temple. The authorities at the Ranganathaswamy temple could run an hourly shuttle service between these two temples. In fact, the authorities could also look to run at least a weekend service from Srirangam to all the nearby Divya Desams covering Thiruvellarai, Uthamar Koil, Anbil, Koviladi and Uraiyur.

It still remains a difficult task to visit all these Divya Desams in one go given the lack of public transport facilities connecting each of these temples. It is hoped that the authorities will take action to facilitate this for the devotees visiting Srirangam.

The temple is open between 6.15am and 12noon and between 5pm and 8pm. 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.

Contact Manian and Madapalli Chief Venkatesan @ 81447 21248

No comments: