Friday, May 02, 2008


Its a sort of a deja vu, a semi-repeat of what I had experienced about two years ago. It was a hot and sultry May morning in Madras and I was on Koodal express towards Madurai. Then I had met my uncle, with grace I could make one of the most unforgettable visit to SriVilliputtur.

Now its again summer, hot and sultry evening and I was on Rock Fort Express to attend the wedding of my friend's sister in the Holy Sri Rangam. Its been over ten years since I met my friend. So, that was exciting in itself! As I already expected, all I could do was watch him run hither and thither taking care of the proceedings, as his sister kept smiling broadly throughout! The wedding went well and I took my leave after savoring the unique trichy wedding meals. Mission accomplished! :)

Earlier, as I was preparing for this journey, all I had in my mind was to accommodate the visit of Sri Rangam temple in my tight schedule (after Trichy, I visited Coimnbatore, all in a span of two days!). But my mom introduced me to uRaiyoor Nacciar Koil and said that it is a must-see for temple enthusiasts (like me!)! So, off I went to uRaiyoor!

Moolavar: Azhagiya Manavaalan
Thaayar: Kamal valli Nacciyaar

Temple architecture:
It was not more than a 10-15 minute bus travel from the Chatram Bus stand. At first sight Nacciyaar koil was a disappointment. The main Pagoda (gopuram), with just 5 storeys, was puny in comparison to the imposing Raja Gopuram of Sri Rangam (11 storeys). But upon close examination, it seemed to have some exquisite artforms so far not witnessed by me in other temples. For example, to one side of the gopuram, was the young Krishna flirting with gopikas. There was also Vishnu sitting on Adi Seshan flanked probably by a Chola king, with his sword and shield on his hips. On the other side of the Gopuram was a grand wedding ceremony of Lord Vishnu marrying Sri Devi. That is probably Azhagiya Manavaalan marrying Kamala valli Thayar!

I entered the Gopuram into the temple compound. If one were to have a top-view at the temple compound she would find the temple building at the center, a mid-sized pushkarni (the temple tank) occupying top-left, Swarga vaasal (entrance to the Heaven) towards the center-right. Towards the bottom-right would be a small mandapam. The entire area left for circumambulation is covered by the stone roof extended from the temple building and supported by stone-pillars with beautiful carvings, few of which depict a mythological instance. Towards the top-right side of the top-view, were two pillars, one depicted a couple of monkeys, the other humans, indulged in sexual intercourse. Now, I find that such depictions are more common in temples than one may think. I have found such depictions in Chenna Keshava temple, Chennai and in Govindaraja Perumal temple, Tirupati. It would be interesting to find out the underlying motive behind such depictions.

Inside the temple building, and facing the sanctum sa
nctorum is Garudar (The Eagle, who is the personal transportation for Lord Vishnu). Here He is called Amrutha Kalasa Garudar, as he is seen carrying a vessel of elixir (amruth). One pillar in this area carries a statue of Lord Anchaneyar (Hanuman) right along the height of the pillar. This temple has some fondness to Lord Hanuman for unknown reasons as his images are found on various pillars around the temple.

As I walk towards the sanctum sanctorum, I find the image of Gaja Lakshmi (with two elephants garlanding her from both sides) on top of the inner entrance.

Significance of the Moolavar and the Stalam:
Just as I was about to worship the Moolavar, it was time to close the temple for preparation for Tirumanjanam. During a quick Dharshan, I noticed that the frontal view of the Cakram (the disc) was not visible as is the case in all the other Vishnu stalams. However, only the side-view was visible. As the sanctum sanctorum was closed down, I came out of the main entrance to find the high priest of the temple walking around yelling orders at his disciples. Prima facie he seemed to be a rude person who doesn't entertain unsolicited enquiries about the temple. However, I felt that this could be a great chance to extract the temple history from the horse's mouth. So, I approached him rehearsing my almost forgotten Iyengar accent hoping that it would mitigate his wrath a bit. But when I asked for the "sthala purnam", he seemed to have taken aback by the phrase. Probably because he didn't expect a modern dude like me to even know about such a thing. He said, "I may have time to talk about the Moolavar, but I think it may take too long to answer your questions on the statues on the gopuram. Why don't we sit down?" (Yoohoooo! The Iyengar accent worked afterall!)

  • This is the second of the 108 divya desams of Vishnu
  • Moolavar, Azhagiaya Manavalan presents Himself along with Kamal valli Thayar (in a sitting posture) after marrying her!
  • He is the exact replica of the Utsava murthy of Sri Rangam since Sri Ranganathar of Sri Rangam came here to marry Kamala Valli Thayar. Hence there is no Utsavar here.
  • The Moolavar presents Himself in the posture of using this Cakram against the demons, a unique selling point of the Stalam
  • The Stalam is devoted to Kamala valli thayar, since she is born to the Chola King Dharma Varman who ruled over this place.
  • This place is also the birth place of Tiruppaan Azhwar.
Stala puranam:
Kamala valli Thayar took birth as a human due to the curse of Brihu muni. So, naturally, once the curse is over Lord Ranganathar has to come back for Her. Now it seems Lord Ranganathar had been a little too busy with taking care of people since he arrived here at uRaiyoor as an elderly person. As Kamala valli thayar was fetching water from the river, He promptly proposed to her (!!!) Shell-shocked by his proposal, Kamala Valli thayar dropped the pot (kudam) which rolled into the river. This only worsen her anxiety. Seizing the opportunity, Lord Ranganathar stuck a deal. He said, "If I get the pot for you, you should marry me!". Kamala valli thayar, told herself "There is no way this old man could do that, it is the easiest way to beat his appoaches". She promptly said "Sure!" with out knowing that this old man is The Lord Himself.

The Lord went into the river and came back a handsome young man holding her pot. Understandably, Kamala Valli Thayar sense something fishy about this and said, "now how is that possible!". He said in response, "Sure! it is possible becaaauseeeeeee..." and grew in size and showed is "Viswa Roopam". After this, Kamala Valli Thayar was comprehensively beaten and she was only too happy to marry him. Just as in any other love story, they live happily ever after right here in uRaiyoor! :)

By the way, the river is called Kudamurutti river (Kudam = river, urutti = to roll) after its vital role in the turning point of the love story!

After this I visited Uttamar koil, which has some powerful USP's
  • A one-stop-temple to worship Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Saraswati (ASTOUNDING combo!)
  • Probably the only place where Lord Brahma has a sannidhi (not verified!)
  • Purushottaman, the name of Lord Vishnu here, who presents Himself at the request of Manavaala muni
After this I visited Coimbatore where I visited Marudamalai. My first ever visit to a Murga temple. It was on an auspicious day and had a good darshan of Him along with a good Tamil slokam recitation (nothing like a sloka that you can actually understand!)


KK said...

Good work, just to answer your question on chakram, unlike other vishnu temples, azhagiya manavalan has a "prayoga" chakram, thats why you could only see the side of the chakram. You will see this in Srirangam, Urayur, Thiruvellarai, Thirukanapuram and Namakal. Other significant aspect is "Urayur Serthi" (picture on the blog), perumal comes from Srirangam to Urayur to marry Nachiyar in the month of Panguni. Upon his return to see Sriranga Nachiyar on Panguni Uthram, Ranga Nachiyar finds out that perumal has spent a day in Urayur and stops him entering the temple, alwar then convinces thayar and they join together which is known as "Serthi" in Srirangam. This event happens even today at Srirangam.

KK said...

Brahma has a temple in Pushkar and there are few other places where Brahma has a sannidhi, eg Kandiuyr where he was punished by shiva for lying

Priya Venkatakrishnan said...

very nice post..i just enjoyed it like anything!!

Priya Venkatakrishnan said...

i have been to uthamar kovil many times..its such a nice temple.. the saraswathi over there is powerful..Personally, whaever you want reg. education or arts, you will get it!!

Badhri said...

Thanks for the appreciation! Good to know you enjoyed it! :)