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The Temples of Tamilnadu

Temples In And Around Thiruvanamalai
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Thiruvanamalai

 The official website of Annamalaiyar temple is here:
http://www.omarunachala.com/index.asp

There are enormous temples and ashrams in the Girivala route and the most important ones are:

  • Ashta (eight) lingams at the eight directions with each one being associated with one or more birth raasi.
  • Sri Ramana maharishi Ashram – the official website is here
  • Sri Seshadhri Swamigal Ashram
  • Yogi Ram Surathkumar Ashram
  • Plenty of places/ caves connected with Sri Ramana Maharishi

Thiruvannamalai is very much associated with Sri Ramana Maharsihsi, Sri Seshdhri Maharishi and Yogi Ram Surathkumar. The book ‘Arunachala Mahimai’ by Bharanidharan is the book to know about these saints and Thiruvannamalai.

In and Around Vandavasi

Swayambu Jalakandeswarar, Ranganatha Perumal and Kottai Baktha Anjaneyar temples at Vandavasi Fort

All the temples are located within the Vandavasi Fort in Vandavasi town and are being maintained by Archeological Survey of India (ASI). There are stone inscriptions in LIPI language here.

Venguneswarar Temple at Vengundram

Just a km from Thennangur enroute to Vandavasi this Shiva temple at the top of a big and steep hill can be seen from the road itself. It’s a tough hill to climb most part of it don’t have proper steps. It will really be a thrilling and adventures trip for anyone to go there. Make sure to go in a group or atleast minimum of 2 people and avoid children and aged people. Nobody and nothing is available at the top. It seems there is no priest for the temple but a person comes to do pooja once in a month. It is an open temple with a Shiva lingam, Murugan, Vinayagar and some other deities. You can do pooja yourself. The ideal time to visit is in the early morning.

Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar and Lord Venkateshwarar Twin Temple at Avaniyapuram (also called Nava Narasimhar temple and Dakshina Ahobilam)

Located at Avaniyapuram 25 km from Vandavasi, en route Arani and Cheyyar Dam, this is a hill abode of two deities. One has to climb 70 steps to reach the first deity, Lord Narasimha found in a small cave (kudavarai koil), and ascend another 114 to have a dharshan of Lord Venkateswara. The unique feature in this temple is that along with Narasimhar, the Mahalakshmi Thayar also has the face of a lion(ess). There are totally nine Narasimha deities in this temple and so called Nava Narasimhar temple and Dakshina Ahobilam (the main one in Andhra Pradesh with nine Narasimhars).

The abode of Lord Venkateswara is at the top. There is a separate cave like enclosure in the prahara where we see Lord Varadaraja and Perundevi Thayar. Lord Ranganatha is seen on His serpentine bed with Ranganayaki Thayar. Sholingar Yoga Narasimha is in a sitting position along with Amirdavalli Thayar. Thus we see all the main pancha divya desa moorthies – Kanchi, Srirangam, Sholingur, Tirumala and Ahobilam. Avani means lion and the Lord is said to have obliged Brigu Maharishi by appearing before him in the forms of five divya desa deities. The temple is believed to have been built during the Pallava regime. It is heartening to note that all the shrines in the hill temple are well maintained.

Vandavasi – Chetput – Polur

Injimedu

Location: This is located at 3 kms from Peranamallur; 21 kms from Arani and 33 kms from Vandavasi in the Vandavasi to Arani route. This can also be reached through Vandavasi-Chetput (Polur-Thiruvannamalai) route wherein  one has to travel for 23 kms from Vandavasi towards Chetput and then turn right towards Peranamallur/ Arani and travel further for 10 kms to reach Injimedu.

Injimedu has a good connection with Ahobila mutt. Sri Sashta Parankusha swamy, the sixth Jeeyar of the Ahobila mutt had constructed and helped almost 60 temples and had put in lots of great scholars who were well versed in vedams to maintain those temples. One such place is ‘Yagnamedu’ which later became ‘Injimedu’. This place was also called ‘Yagna vedhikai’, as lots of yagnams / Homams are performed here. Sri Injimedu Azhagiyasingar is the 42nd Jeeyar.

Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple

Srimath Azhagiya Singar 45th Jeeyar had a great affinity towards Kanchi Sri Varadhar. So, as per his wish, Sri Varadhar and Sri Perundevi thaayar are installed in this temple.

Sri Yaga Samrakshana Ramar

From the time of Sri Sashta Parankusha Yatheendra Maha Desikan, it is said that Sri Ramar of this sthalam has found lots of Yagams and Vedams. Sri Ramar is said to be found almost 1500 years back and it is said that he emerged from a yagam, so he is called as “Sri Yaga Samrakshana Ramar”. Problem in marriage, Puthra Bhagyam, etc., are said to vanish if we visit this sthalam and get the dharshan of this Sri Ramar. Specifically, if people born in Moola, Aayilyam stars have any problem in getting married, they can visit this sthalam, to get their problems get solved.

Sri Thirumanicherai Udayar Temple at Perumalai

Temple: This small 200ft high hillock top temple has about 51 covered steps. So rain or sun will not affect the devotees. This is a 2500 years old temple which got ransacked about 700 years ago by various invasions. The Thirumanicherai Shiva lingam which was left alone without any pooja/ worship for nearly 700 years, finally got a facelift and the Kumbabhisheham took place in 1999. Sanghu theertham is present in the hill in the shape of Sanghu. It is said that there is a spacious cave here where Pampatti Chithar is living in the form of a snake.

Legend: Agasthiar worshipped here. Once on an ego battle between Brahma and Vishnu, they set off to reach the top and bottom of Shiva as a competition. During that time Thazamboo gave a false witness to Shiva that Brahma had reached the top of Shiva. Knowing this, Shiva cursed Thazampoo that it should not be used in any Shiva pooja. In order to get rid of the curse, it stands here as the Sthala Vruksham. Nandhi’s footsteps are seen here.

More details in Vikatan publication’s ‘Punya Yathirai‘ book

Nedungunam

Yoga Ramar Temple

This temple is located at 28 km from Arani and 27 km from Vandavasi (4 km before Chetput) in the Vandavasi – Chetput- Polur (Thiruvannamalai) route.

Significances:

* One of the biggest temples for Lord Rama
* The biggest Vaishnav temple of Vellore and Thiruvannamalai districts
* Lord Rama is seen in a rare posture as Yoga Ramar in a sitting meditative posture without His usual Kothandam

Legend says that after the Vibhishana Pattabhishekam in Sri Lanka, when Rama was returning to Ayodhya, He notices on the banks of the Kaliyar, Sukha Brahmar, a saint in the form of a parrot, offering prayers to Him. The Lord alights from His chariot and just stands before the saint whose joy knows no bounds. The place where Sri Rama blessed the saint came to be known as Nedungunam, meaning noble quality. Although He was in a hurry to go to Ayodhya to save Bharata, Rama did not fail to pay heed to the prayers of a devotee.

The Kaliyar river starts from here through the waters of the nearby Dheerkachala hill and ends at the Maduranthaham lake near Chenglepat which was protected by Eri Katha Ramar. So both the temples are connected by legend.

Contact: Badhri Bhattachar 94452 15776

Dheerkachala Hill

The nearby hill called Dheerkachala Hill is in the form of Parrot face and it is said that the hill is nothing but the form of Sage Sukha Brahmar. On top of the hill, the feet of Ramar is present in stone in open without any shrine and can be worshipped at any time of the day.

Dheerkachaleswarar Temple

The Dheerkachaleswar temple is situated at the Esanya corner of Nedungunam village near the Ramar temple.

Yoga ramar temple at Raghunatha Samudhram

This small Yoga Ramar temple is present at 5 kms from Nedungunam

Arulmigu Periyanayagi Amman and Kanagagreeswarar Temples at Devikapuram

Location: This twin temple is located at 40 km from Vandavasi, 40 km from Thiruvannamalai, 37 km from Arani in the Vandavasi – Chetput- Polur (Thiruvannamalai) route.

Significances:
* The 2nd biggest temple of Thiruvannamalai district, next only to Thiruvannamalai temple
* One of the few exclusive (big) temples of Amman like Kanchi Kamakshi and Madurai Meenakshi
* An exquisite artistic marvel with excellent sculptures, edicts and mandapams

Temple: The Kanagagreeswarar Temple is located on top of a small hill called Kanagachalam or Ponnmalai and the Periyanayagi amman temple, the more popular one is located at the base of the hill in the center of the town. These temples date back to 15th Century Vijayanagara Period.

The Periyanayahi Amman temple is filled with excellent highly skilled sculptures with big mandapams, huge walls and a big Rajagopuram. There is a stone chariot fully sculpted in a single stone in such a way that it drags a mandapam with couple of horses.

In the Kanagagreeswarar temple there are three lingams in the sanctum sanctorum. One is a Swayambu lingam called Kanagagreeswarar and another one is an ancient Kasi Viswanathar lingam worshipped by Periyanayahi amman. Since there should not be two lingams, another lingam made of Rudraksha has also been installed in the wall behind the Kanagagreeswarar.

Arunagirinathar sang verses on Lord Muruga of Kanagagreeswarar temple

Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple at Polur

The hill is called Sampathgiri and the main deity is the Swayambu Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy facing south towards Thiruvannamalai along with Kanagavalli Thayar. Sage Pulathia Brahma worshipped here. Achutha Thasar, Sri Gnanananda Swamigal and Siddhar Vittoba had meditated in caves here. 2 water streams (sunais) are present. There is an Anjaneyar shrine at the base of the hill and there are 840 steps to climb.

Parvathamalai

Parvathamalai is located at Thenmahadevamangalam village which is about 20 kms off Polur. Polur is about 35 kms north of Thiruvannamalai. There’s a very powerful Lord Shiva temple at the top of the Parvathamalai hill. Numerous Siddhars and spiritual beings from the celestial worlds worship here every night. Reaching the hill is somewhat difficult. Hence it is better to start early in the morning and return as early as possible. During the Full moon day, this hill attracts a lot of devotees. This is a place vested with a lot of spiritual power.

For more information http://parvathamalai.com/

Thirukkovilur – Manalurpet – Thiruvannamalai

Sri Ranganathar Temple Aadhirangam

Location: 16 km from Thirukkovilur and 28 kms from Thiruvannamalai in the Thirukkovilur -Thiruvannamalai route via Manalurpet and near Jambai.

Significances:

* considered more ancient than Srirangam
* the biggest Perumal in Tamilnadu

Temple: The temple, on the banks of river Thenpennai, is called Uthira rangam and is more ancient than Srirangam. The main deity Sri Ranganathar in reclining posture is a suthai chirpam and is the biggest Perumal in Tamilnadu. A music sculpture here is very famous. If you strike the sculpture at different places, different swarams come out. This temple is not part of the 108 divya desams but many say that there are inscriptions that this place has been done mangalasasanam by Thirumangaiyashwar in 10 pasurams.

More details in Vikatan publication’s ‘Arul mazhai pozhiyum Arputha Aalayangal‘ book

Manalurpet

Manalurpet is 25 kms from Tiruvannamalai and 15kms from Thirukkovilur. Manalurpet is famous for the River Festival which is being happening every year in the month of January, second day from Kanum pongal (Fifth day of Tamil month Thai). During the festival Lord Annamalaiyar will come from Tiruvannamalai.

Also this town has many temples like

  • Agastheeswara Temple
  • Perumal Temple
  • Sani Bhagavan Temple and
  • Around 40 feet Anjaneyar Temple

Villupuram-Thirukkovilur

Paranur

This place is connected with Sri Krishna Premi Swamigal or Sri Sri Anna as he is affectionately called. The official site http://www.srisrianna.org/srisri_paranoor1.html talks a lot about various spiritual activities. It seems Sri Krishna Premi Swamigal comes here on every Ekadhasi day and does Unjavridhi and the bhajans. I understand the place will be brimming with activities when he is present but otherwise is deserted as I saw during my visit. Better call up and go.

Sri Idaiyatru Nathar temple at Thiru Idaiyaru

The temple is located between South Pennai and Malattaru, on the banks of South Pennai and the main deity is the Idaiyatru Nathar as a Swayambu lingam. On a Swathi star day, Shiva gave dharshan to Sukha Brahma rishi and taught Jothidam to him here.

Sukha Brahma Rishi is an expert in changing forms and once he changed into a parrot. He flew to Kailayam where he saw Lord Shiva was preaching ‘Shiva secrets’ to Parvathi devi and Sukhar wanted to know the secret. So he was flying around between Lord Shiva and Parvathi Devi. Parvathi Devi got angry and cursed him to be in the Parrot form itself. Sukhar then pleaded pardon and Shiva gave some relief to be in human form but with Parrot face. Sukhar penanced here Sukha Brahma Rishi is a devotee of Lord Rama.as well and he got Ramar’s dharshan at the Yoga ramar temple at Nedungunam

Sri Lakshmi Narayana Perumal Temple at Kappur

Located in a beautiful location Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal Temple at Perumbakkam

This 400 years old temple is at Perumbakkam, 7 km from Villupuram on the Villupuram-Thirukovilur Highway. The temple is associated with several Jeeyars of the Ahobila Mutt. Sri Injimedu Azhagiyasingar, the 42nd Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt, has proclaimed this village as the ‘Dakshina Ahobilam’.

According to legend, Lord Varadaraja appeared in the dream of a Vedic scholar and directed him to retrieve the idols buried in his land called `Thoramaniam’ and build a temple for Him and His Consorts. Accordingly, the idols of Venkata Varadaraja Perumal with Sridevi and Bhoodevi were retrieved and the temple was built. As per the inscriptions found in the temple, the main shrine of Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal with His Consorts was built with special granite brought from `Kalpattu’, with ardhamandapam, mahamandapam, etc., in the year 1605 A.D., and other shrines for Perundevi Thayar, Andal, Bashyakarar, Nammazhwar, Vedantha Desikar, Adivann Satakopa Yathindra Maha Desikan, the founder and the first Jeeyar of Sri Ahobila Mutt and the front mandapam were all added later.

Perumbakkam has the unique distinction and honour of being the venue for choosing Sri U. V. Gopalacharya Swami as the 37th Peetathipathi of Sri Ahobila Math, by convening a sadas when the 36th Jeeyar, Srivann Satakopa Sri Srinivasa Yathindra Mahadesikan passed away without nominating a successor in 1898 when he camped here for nearly an year and performed Mangalasasanam to Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal. Sri U. V. Gopalacharya Swami assumed the thirunamam, Srivann Satakopa Sri Veeraraghava Satakopa Yathindra Maha Desikan. A staunch devotee of Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal, he adored Him as the replica of Kanchi Sri Varadaraja, on whom he has composed several slokas. Even though this Jeeyar adorned the peetam for only 11 months, he stayed in the village and worshipped Sri Venkata Varadaraja Perumal.

Temples In And Around Thiruvanamalai[contd]

Temples In And Around Vellore[contd]

            Exploring the Rich Temple Heritage of Tamil Nadu