Close to Rasipuram in Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu is the village of Singalandhapuram, one of many beautiful villages beneath the Kolli hills. The people here are mostly engaged in weaving and farming.
The village is believed to be named after Chola Emperor Rajaraja who ruled between 985 and 1015 C.E. Singalandhagan was a honorific title given to Rajaraja after his subjugation of the northern part of Sri Lanka.
Thiruveswarar Temple – A temple in the land of Valvil Ori
The Thiruveswarar temple is the Siva temple in this village. It is easy to locate as the Rasipuram – Sendhamangalam- Namakkal road passes beside the temple.
The temple is ancient and is believed to have existed during the Sangam Age 2000 years ago. It is one of the six temples in the region where legendary King Valvil Ori worshipped Lord Siva. A granite statue of the king is seen in front of the mandapam of Nandi emperumaan (Nandi).There is another stone plaque next to it that depicts King Ori and his queen. A similar plaque is seen in the Palaniappar temple in Belukkurichi, a few kilometres from here.
The temple has a high madhil or outer wall and there is no entrance gopuram tower. The entrance is a simple building with a tiled roof and a thinnai much like the entrance to traditional village homes seen in Tamilnadu.
Inside the temple there is a vast spacious open courtyard with the main shrine in the centre and smaller shrines built around the courtyard. Surya and Chandra are seen on either side inside the entrance. The Surya idol is ancient.
Past the Deepasthamban and Balipeetam is the small, charming Nandi Mandapam with a beautiful nandi. Across the courtyard is the temple of Thiruveswarar. The name of the lord Siva is Veerataanam Udaya Naayanaar which is the name inscribed in the kal vettu – stone inscription on the outer prakaram of the Sivan sannidhi. The present name of Thiruveswarar is probably derived from it.
The shrine of goddess Pankajavalli Thaayar is a separate temple next to the shrine of Thiruveswarar. A small nandi is seen in front of the goddess.
Adjacent to the shrine of Pankajavalli Thaayar is the shrine of lord Murugan as Subramanyaswami. He is depicted seated on a peacock with Valli and Deivanai standing on either side. Both the Pankajavalli Thaayar shrine and the Murugan shrine share a common mandapam. The construction of this mandapam is recorded in the epigraphic details of the inscription seen on the outer wall of Thiruveswarar shrine.
The temple of Bhadrakali
To the left of the Nandi mandapam, in the temple courtyard cum circumambulatory path, the first shrine is a separate temple of goddess Bhadrakali. A temple for Bhadrakali within a Siva temple is very unusual and therefore unique. It has an exceptionally beautiful idol of goddess Bhadrakali. The goddess faces due north and is believed to be extremely powerful.
The people of Naadar community in the village have a separate temple for Bhadrakali amman a short distance from the Thiruveswarar temple. The rituals for Bhadrakali worship include Kundam and thee midhi rituals as well as sacrificial rites. These rituals are unique to Bhadrakali and Mariamman temples and differ from the rituals followed in Siva temples. Therefore, during festivals the people of the village come to the Tiruveswarar temple, offer prayers at the Bhadrakali shrine and having obtained the blessings of the goddess, observe the rituals in the other temple.
The other shrines are ones that are usually seen in Siva temples.
The Ayyappan shrine is a relatively new addition along with the Arubathu moovar sannidhi. The shrine of Veerabadrar, is again an ancient structure and has a beautifully carved idol of the deity.There is a Vinayaka shrine which is a raised open mandapam. Dakshinamurthy, Lingothbavar and Durgai are seen in alcoves in the goshtam- outer wall of Thiruveswarar shrine. There is a small shrine for Chandikeswarar, and individual shrines for Jyeshta devi and Kalabairavar.
Rare Features of the temple
- The Murugan shrine faces due south which is very rarely seen in temples. Villagers say that this is a powerful deity. It is a popular venue for marriages in the village. Most importantly villagers vouch for the fact that weddings conducted before this Murugan never end in divorce. There may be minor differences of opinion between married couples but these are always resolved. Most families here prefer to have marriage ceremonies solemnized in the Thiruveswarar temple and book a mandapam (wedding hall) for the marriage reception afterwards.
- The north facing Bhadrakali shrine is also something that is rarely seen in Siva temples.
There is one stone inscription in the prakaram, on the outer wall of Thiruveswarar sannidhi.
Visit to the temple
Our visit to the temple was on a Friday evening in May. It was raining intermittently with the onset of an early south-west monsoon. An unexpected abhishekam for goddess Pankajavalli was under way. A middle aged woman and her son had asked for the abhishekam as a vaendudhal (request to the goddess) for divine grace to secure a good job for the son. The evening abhishekam happened because the archagar had been engaged for other ceremonies in the village that morning, it being a shuba muhurtham day (auspicious day), which turned out to our advantage. After the abhishekam and puja we had darshan in the Thiruveswarar shrine.
The temple has the ambience and beauty of very old places of worship and the people of the village have taken pride in maintaining its antiquity. It is a very popular temple for marriages.The pradosha puja in this temple is attended by a large number of people from nearby villages. At this time food is prepared for hundreds pf people and served on plantain leaves.
The temple is open from 5.30 to 7.30 a.m. in the morning and from 5 to 7.30 or 8 p.m. in the evening. The archagar’s house is next to the temple and outstation visitors may contact him over phone.
Archagar Singalandhapuram Maadhu
Mobile no: 94883 20080
Sri Karpoora Narayana Perumal Temple, Singalandhapuram
At the Thiruveswarar temple we learnt from the archagar that there was a Perumal (Vishnu) temple close to the Siva temple and that both temples were constructed in the same time period.
We visited the temple on a Saturday as the aged Bhattar kept the temple open only on Saturdays and on Tiruvonam days when the village folk would be sure to visit. It was an arrangement that was convenient for both considering the fact that the Bhattar lived a good 5 kms away.
The temple is close to the Thiruveswarar temple further up the highway. But houses obscure the view from the road and it’s easy to miss the small lane that leads to the temple.
The temple looks impressive from the outside with a big ground in front with a massive peepal tree and a neem tree and beneath them the ubiquitous Arasamarathu Pillayar, as old as the temple itself. If these holy vrikshas could speak, the tales of a thousand of years would be told, as they stand silent witnesses to happenings over eons.
This is the temple of Sridevi Bhudevi samedha Karpoora Narayana Perumal. Like the Tiruveswarar temple it is an ancient temple believed to be 2000 yrs old. There is a garuda sthambam with a small mandapam before the temple gopuram (gateway tower).A madhil encloses the temple on all sides. On entering we find that a large part of the temple is modern construction taken up with the blessings of His Holiness, Srirangam Jeer Swamigal.
The deities in the garbagriha, Sridevi, Bhudevi and Karpoora Narayana Perumal are very beautiful. There are inscriptions in Tamil-Brahmi on the base of the outer walls of the Garbagriham. The Bhattar says that it refers to a Chola king with the title of Thirubhuvana Chakravarthi. Perumal faces south which is something that is rare in Vishnu temples. The power of Karpoora Narayanan is tremendous and all prayers are answered.
A modern concrete hall has taken the place of the mahamandapa. The dwara-palakas and idols of Anjaneya and Vishvaksena are kept here.
The Saturaday puja in this small village temple was something to remember. There was a small gathering of people from the village who waited while the Bhattar made preparations for the neivedyam and pooja. There was a recital of Divya Prabhandam and Thirupaavai by two young women and a priest. The girls strung together strings of jasmine and thulasi after the recital. The heartfelt puja was very nice. The Bhattar stood in front of the garba griha and handed out the prasadam of sarkarai pongal as the gathering formed a line and received the prasad from him in small paper cups. The piping hot sweet pongal was the tastiest prasad I have ever had.
The temple is open on Saturdays from 7 am until noon.
Archagar Gunaseela Iyengar
Mobile no: 94429 66983
Singalandhapuram is a large village in Rasipuram taluk of Namakkal district It is 8.5 kms from Rasipuram on SH 95 (Rasipuram- Sendhamangalam- Namakkal – Mohanur road) and 5 kms from Belukkurichi.
Note: Singalandhapuram is also the name of another village in Thuraiyur near Tiruchi and this village too is believed to be named after Rajaraja Chola.