PRASANNA VENKATARAMANA SWAMI TEMPLE, PANDAMANGALAM
The Tamil month of Purataasi is devoted to the worship of Lord Vishnu. Saturdays in this month are days of fasting and worship. The Tamil word for Saturdays is Sani-Kizhamai, and the third Saturday in Purataasi is believed to be the holiest. Visits to Perumal ( Vishnu) temples are important and a part of the worship in this sacred month.
Tucked away in a lovely Tamil-nadu village,surrounded by sugarcane fields,a canal flowing on one side is a beautiful temple to Lord Vishnu.The picturesque village is Pandamangalam in Namakkal district of Tamil-nadu and the Vishnu temple is the Prasanna Venkataramana Swami Temple.
As the name suggests,the village dates back to the Mahabaratha period in history. The Shiva, Vishnu and Mariamman temples are all situated close together. On the day of my visit, a few days after Vinayaka Chaturthi, The Vinayakar in Pandamangalam was getting ready to be taken for immersion in a water body. A few pics.of Ganesha outside the temple.
It is believed that during the Vanavaasam (years in exile) of the Pandavas ,they came to Pandamangalam. They built an Ashram and lived here for some time.
Prasanna Venkataramana Swami appeared to them, and the Pandavas worshipped the Lord and received His blessings. He is the Lord we see today. The village was named after the Pandavas,and Pandavar mangalam became Pandamangalam with the passage of time. During their stay in Pandamangalam they were saved from an evil spirit, Vedalam, by Lord Krishna whose temple is near the Varaha Theertham.
Hundreds of years later it was part of the Pandya Kingdom and was known as Pandiyamangalam. The Pandya Queen suffered from a skin disease. The King and Queen prayed to Prasanna Venkataramana Swami. Again the Lord appeared to them and cured the Queen of her ailment.
The third instance when the Lord was Pratyaksham (appeared before the people) happened in a more recent time-frame, when this region was under the rule of the Kings of Mysore. Once the Raja of Mysore suffered from an incurable stomach-ache. He was advised to come to Pandamangalam and pray to Venkataramana Swami who cured people of all illness. The Raja worshipped God as instructed by the priests and took the prasad of holy tulsi (holy basil) leaves as medicine. He was completely cured of his stomach pain. Returning to Mysore, he told the queen of the miraculous cure. Both the Raja and the Queen came to Pandamangalam and renovated the temple.
So we find that the temple has been extended from the main shrine or garpa griham of the Mahabaratha period to the other shrines and inner and outer corridors built by the Pandya Kings and later by the Raja of Mysore. Of course the Bhoo Varahar temple and the Varaha theertham are even older.
For hundreds of years, the region around Pandamangalam has been famous for betel-leaf cultivation. Even today, the betel-leaves (vetrilai) grown in Pandamangalam and surrounding areas are among the best. To this day, it is the busy hub of a thriving trade in green betel leaves which are plucked from the vines, packed in layers in dried banana leaves and sent to markets all over Tamil-nadu. In fact, it is one of the first scenes that greet your eyes on the way to the temple.
Once there was a severe draught and the betel vines dried up. The Raja of Mysore had a canal dug that brought water from the lake at Jeddarpalayam, 10kms from here, and irrigated hundreds of acres of land. It is called Raja Vaaikal after the Raja of Mysore. It brings water to the fields throughout the year. For ten days in February – March the water flow is blocked for maintenance of the canal. There is a bridge across the canal that leads to the temple.
The temple is built in such a way that Prasanna Venkataramana Swami is clearly visible from the entrance. We have to climb down some steps to enter the temple.
The first worship is to Kshetra Balagar who is the Kaaval Deivam or guardian deity of the Gopura Vaasal (entrance through the Gopuram or temple tower). Behind this is the Dwajastambam or flag post (Kodi Maram in Tamil) and the Bali peetam.
In the inner corridor, the sannadhi( shrine) of Prasanna Venkataramana Swami occupies centre stage.
The Battar (Priest) tells us about the temple and the Lord.
- This temple is a Varaha Kshetram.
- It is a Prarthana Sthalam. Prarthana means prayer. This is a temple where the Lord answers our prayers without fail. The prayers may be for getting a job, cure for illness or any other reasonable prayer. The Lord grants them all.
- There is no mangalasaasanam for this temple.
- Usually the idols of Venkataramana Swami in temples are quite big(Aajaanubaagu) but in this temple, He is in Kuzhandai Roopam,(meaning -like a small child) and hence very adorable, making us want to visit Him again and yet again just to gaze on the beauty of the small Perumal with Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi.
Back again in the inner corridor,there are sannidhis to Dhanvantri, Chakarathalwar, Thayar, Andal and Lakshmi Hayagreevar. The name of Thayar is Alarmel Mangai Thayar .There are idols of Narasimhar, Venugopalan with SathyaBama and Rukmini and Lakshmi Narasimhar.The sheer beauty of the idols steals your heart.Another surprise is the Navagraha shrine in this Vishnu temple.
Dhanvantri and Hayagreeva are recent installations of a couple of hundred years. All the rest date back to an ancient time.
The priest very kindly sent a local devotee to show us the Varaha Theertham. The outer corridor leads to an ancient door set in the temple wall (mathil). Through this door and the Varaha Theetham lies just beyond. The Theertham is a sight to behold!Small elephant sculptures grace the steps of this ancient temple pond.
Here is the small temple to Bhoo Varaha Swami which is older even than the Venkataramana Swami sannadhi. There is another shrine to Sri Krishna.
Three kaala pujas are performed everyday.
In this temple the Brahmotsavam starts on the day of Thai Aswathy nakshatra in honour of the Raja whose birth star was Thai Aswathy.
WHERE IT IS LOCATED
Pandamangalam temple is 29 Kms. from Namakkal via NH 7
Distance from Salem is 84 Kms.
Distance from Karur is 27 Kms. via NH 7
7.00a.m.to 12.00 p.m.
5.00 p.m to 8.00 p.m.
Prasanna Venkataramana Swami Tirukoil,
Pandamangalam, P.Velur, Namakkal District, Tamil-nadu,South India