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The Temples of Tamilnadu

Temples In And Around Thiruvanamalai[contd]
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In and Around Thirukkovilur

Athulyanadheswarar temple at Arakandanallur

Location: The temple is located at about 3 km from Thirukkovilur towards Villupuram. The temple is located in a beautiful location on a hillock adjacent to the South Pennai river and is visible from a distance across the river. There are two entrances, one through the main road and the other through the river which is very scenic.

Significance:

* One of the 275 Shiva temples glorified by the Thevara hymns

Legend:

* Ramanar has meditated in this temple when he was a young boy.
* It is believed that the Pandavas visited Arankandanallur and that the temple tank close to the cave in which they stayed was created with Bhima’s mace. There are two sunais (water streams) on the hillock which are said to have been used by Pandavas and Draupadi.
* There is an imprint of Thirugnana Sambandar’s feet here. Sambandar is said to have miraculously moved a huge rock that had been placed to block the shrine. Thirugnana Sambandhar worshipped Thiruvannamalai from this hillock top.
* Worshipped by Prasanda rishi

The Temple: The 160 feet high Gopuram in this shrine (dating back to the 7th century) with three prakarams Rich in inscriptions, it received Royal patronage from local chieftains, the later Cholas and the later Pandyas. This is the south most rock-cut cave temple of Pallavas, with the solitary exception of Tiruchirapalli. Thiruvannamalai is visible from this hill. There is an idol of Ramanar as a young boy in a meditative posture and the temple is visited by many Ramana Maharsishi followers.

Anthili

Anthili is a village about 2 kms south of Arakanda Nallur on the banks of the river South Pennai.

Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple at Anthili

Legend: Lord Maha Vishnu in the form of Narasimha came out of a granite pillar to kill Hiranyakasibu, the father and the tormentor of Prahalad. In this avtar, the Lord rushed to help
Prahalad without calling his vahanam, Garuda. So also in Gajendra Moksha. These caused much anxiety to Garuda who felt extremely depressed on being left out. He left Vaikuntam and was doing penance at Anthili. The severe penance of Garuda pleased the Lord and He gave dharshan as Lord Narasimha with Mahalakshmi seated on His lap. Due to Garuda’s penance, Anthili thus became a sacred spot for all pilgrims.
The Madhwa seer Sri Vyasarajar visited Anthili and had dharshan of the Lord on top of a small hillock that looked liked Garuda to him. The same Vyasarajar became Sri Raghavendra in his next birth.

Temple: Subsequently, due to continuous raids by infidels, the temple lost its glory and importance. Paranur Sri Krishna Premi Swamigal renovated the temple and the kumbhabhishekam took place in 2004. At the temple, the Lord is with Mahalakshmi on his lap. The idol is small but the Lord’s glory is great.
Conatct: Baktha Jana Sabha at 04153-254098

Veera Anjaneyar temple

The Madhwa seer Sri Vyasarajar consecrated this temple during the glorious reign of the Vijayanagar Emperors.

Thirukkovilur

This is situated in the Cuddalore – Chittoor trunk road, 37 km from Villupuram and about the same distance from Thiruvannamalai. This town has two parts Kizhur and Melur. While Ulagalandha Perumal temple, one of the 108 Divya desams is located in Melur, the Veeratteswarar Temple, one of the 275 sacred Thevara temples is located in Kizhur. This is the birth place of Rajaraja chola. Meiporul Nayanar ruled this place.

Ulagalanda Perumal temple

Significance:

  • One of the 108 Divya desams
  • Vamana Trivikrama Avathara Sthalam
  • One of the five Krisharanya Kshetras.
  • It was here that the three Mudal Azhwars (Poigai Azhwar, Bhoodathazhwar and Peyazhwar) met one night in a small room.

Temple: The presiding deities of the Temple are 21 feet Thiruvikrama Swami and Pushpavalli Thayar. The Moolavar is in Nindra, Nadantha (Ulagalantha) kolam facing East direction with his right leg lifted up towards the sky. Mahabali’s pride bit the dust in this kshetra. Unusually, the Sangu and Chakrams of the moolavar have changed places and is seen with Sangu on the right hand and the Chakkaram on the left hand.

The temple was built about 2000 years ago in stages. Among the four towers that adorn the temple, the biggest one is in the eastern side that scales 195 feet and is the third highest structure found in Southern India. The courtyards in the temple are very large and present an exquisite feast to the eyes. The broad mandapam in front of the Thayar Shrine, especially, throws a challenge to the modern architecture, which is built in the cantilever system and affords a surprising sight. There are several sacred theerthams in the temple.

Sri Vishnu Durga: Worshiping “Goddess Durga” in a vaishnavite temple is unique. Usually, the Durga’s sanctum will be present as Koshta God in most Shiva temples. But here, the sanctum is right in front of the sanctum of Lord Vishnu. After the Thiruvikrama Avataram, Goddess Durga sought permission from Vishnu to go back to Vindhya Mountain but Lord Vishnu advised her to stay here and bless the devotees. It was said that the Goddess is guarding the Lord Thriuvikrama shrine

Azhwars: During a dark and stormy night, the three azhwars Poigai Azhwar, Bhoodathazhwar and Peyazhwar reached Tirukkovilur separately by different routes. They found all houses shut, all choultries locked up except a narrow passage in the front portion of an ashram belonging to Mrigandu Maharshi. The first to reach was Poigaiazhwar, prepared to spend the night lay down. Sometime later, Bhoodathazhwar too discovered the same place. The space which was just enough for one to lie down is now just enough for two to sit. Later the third Azhwar, Peyazhwar also arrived in seeking shelter and now the three could at least stand comfortably. The famous phrase ‘Oruvar padukka, Iruvar amara and Moover nirka’ refers to this incident.

All of a sudden, they felt rather tight pressed. Where they were standing comfortably earlier, they now felt that the available space had diminished, as if a fourth person had entered the narrow passage and was crowding them. Apparently, someone had sneaked into the already constricted space without announcement and was standing as one with them. Later they found that it was none other than the Paramatma Sriman Narayana with Sri Mahalakshmi adorning his broad chest.

The three azhwars, inspired by the grand spectacle of Emperuman’s glorious form in their midst, poured out their devotion in a hundred beautiful verses each, brimming over with bhakthi. These are the Pasurams which served as forerunners of the “Four thousand nectarine verses” that were to be composed by the other azhwars.

The official site of the Ulagalandha Perumal temple is here: http://www.thirukovalur.org/

Veeratteswarar Temple

Significance:

  • One of the 8 Veeratta Stalams of Shiva
  • One of the 275 sacred temples glorified by the Thevara hymns

Location: The temple is located in a place called Kizhur or Kizhaiyur.

Legend: The eight Veeratta Sthalams are where Lord Shiva vanquished various demons. Here He vanquished Andakasuran. The Periyanai Ganapathi shrine here had been worshipped by Poet Avvaiyar. Since it was getting late for the Poet to go to Kailayam, this Vinayagar is said to have lifted her up and placed ahead of Sundarar en route Kailayam.
The Temple: The moolavar here is a big Swayambu lingam. During the Kumbabhisheha work, when the area around the lingam was dug up, the base of the lingam was going well below 25 feet and so it was left untouched further. Although much in need of repair, frescos on ceilings are of interest. The Rajagopuram is about 70 ft in height and the temple has 2 praharams. Inscriptions from the Pallava, Vijayalaya I and Paranthaka Chola I periods are found here.

Durgai koshta God is here is very special since Her eyes appear with white eyeballs as real eyes though the idol has been sculptured in black granite stone. It’s a wonder indeed! The Ambal temple is located separately.

Kabilar Kundru

This place, being maintained by the state Archaeological Department, is near the Veeratteswarar temple and is situated in the middle of the river Pennayar. After the death of Pari, the King who is said to have given his chariot to a jasmine creeper for its support to grow, his daughters Angavai and Sangavai (names seem to have been heard somewhere? remember the daughters of Soloman Pappayya in the movie Sivaji?) had suffered a lot. The saint poet Kabilar, a good friend of Pari and the caretaker of the girls could not bear the pain of the sufferings of the girls had immolated himself on this rock.

Gnananandha Thapovanam

The history of the Matam, takes us back to the times of Adhi Shankara. Adhi Shankara established four Peetams of which Jyotir Matam is one, with Thotakacharya as the main functionary [Thotakacharya was Sankara’s disciple]. In this lineage the Fifth Peetathipathi was Sri Sivaratna Giri Swamiji. Sri Gnanananda Giri Swami was his principal disciple viz. Sixth Peetathipathi.

When His Guru attained Samadhi on a Chitra Pournami day, Sri Gnanananda Giri Swami was unable to bear the separation of his Guru and so left the Peetam and went to Manasarour, handing over the charge to his disciple. At Manasarovar, he practised vigorous penance for a number of years and travelled by foot to a number of places in India, Malaya [now Malaysia], Burma [now Myanmar] and Sri Lanka, and interacted and blessed his devotees. At last he reached Thirukkovilur and established the Ashram at the Thapovanam. He is a Siddha Purusha, transcending time and space.

Rahothama Brindhavan

The Samadhi of Swami Ragothama, worshipped by the followers of Madhwas and others is situated on the bank of the river South Pennai.

Other places:

  • Kugai Namachivayar Samadhi in the North street
  • Aadhi Madalayam near the Veerateswarar temple

Vishnu Durgai Temple at Seerpananthal

This temple is located at 4kms north of Odiyanthal, in the Thirukkoyilur – Sankarapuram highways. Normally you can see Goddess Durgai only as a koshta god in the outer walls of the sanctum sanctorum but this temple is exclusive for Vishnu durgai. She is seen with six hands trampling the demon Mahishasuran’s head by her feet. The temple was visited by Kanchi Maha Periyavar in 1930s. Legend says that the seven Kannigas started from their place separately and decided to stay at wherever they are during dawn. As per that, the second Kanniga Vishnu Durga stayed here.

Around Gingee

Singavaram

Located at 4 km from Gingee, this temple of Lord Ranganatha, the tutelary god of Raja Desingh is on a hill top with about 150 steps. It is a good specimen of South Indian type of rock cut shrine. The idol of Lord Ranganatha, in a reclining posture, measures 24 ft. in length which together with the inner sanctorum, is carved out of a single rock. It is said to be bigger than that of the idol in Srirangam. Like Thiruvananthapuram Ananthapadmanatha Swamy, the head, chest and leg portions of this Perumal have to be worshipped through 3 separate entrances. Mangalasasanam was done by Sri Ramanujar.

Sri Angala Parameswari Temple at Melmalayanur

Located at 20 kms from Gingee and 30 kms from Thiruvannamalai, the temple of Angala Parameswari is situated here. In the inner sanctum there is a snake pit which is being worshipped. Vinayaka is present in a standing posture. There is a congregation of devotees on every new moon day.

Twenty four Theerthangarargal

It is 2 km north of Gingee town. The hillock on the western side of the road has two Jaina caverns and a huge boulder containing sculptures of all the 24 Theerthankaras in the 9th Century style. It is only place where all the 24 Theerthankaras are shown in a single large composition. An open rock nearby was the place where monk Chandranandi observed 57 days of fasting and died [5th- 6th century A.D].

Mel Chittamur

Mel Chittamur is 20 km west of Tindivanam and 10 km east of Gingee. Head quarters of Digambara sect in Tamilnadu with the Jinakanchi Matha presided over by the Pontiff. Two temples, one dedicated to Parsvanatha and other known as ‘Mailanatha’ temple was originally a boulder containing rock cut images of Bahubali, Parsvanatha, Adinatha, Mahavira and Ambika yakshi carved in the 9th century AD. Rebuilt in the 16th century and renovated in the present century.

Mandagapattu

A famous Archeological Temple site is 20 kms from Villupuram and 17 kms from Gingee in the Villupuram – Gingee road. It is a 100 ft hillock, where the Mahendraverma [I)]of Pallava king, [580-630 AD] made a cave temple.

Shatru Malleswaralayam Rock cut temple at Thalavanur

This is located at 16 km from Gingee in Viluppuram District and was built by the Pallava King Mahendra varman [B.C.580 to 630]. Sculptures and Tamil and sanskrit inscriptions are found here.

Thiruvaamathoor

This is an ancient Chola temple dedicated to Lord Sri Abiramaeshwarar. This temple is 1500 years old and seems to have changed many hands between Rajaraja Chola I [AD 985-1012] and seerangadeva Maharayar [1584 AD]. The amman is named Muththambigai.

Temples In And Around Thiruvanamalai

The Temples of Tamilnadu

            Exploring the Rich Temple Heritage of Tamil Nadu