Sendhamangalam Someswarar

Sendhamangalam is much like Rasipuram in many ways. It has ancient narrow streets with closely built houses and a scattering of tiny street-end shrines painted brightly with the traditional ochre and white stripes.

Although comparatively quiet today when compared to Rasipuram, it was an important town and administrative headquarters of the kings who ruled over the region even in ancient times.

A brief account of its history from the 13th century A.D. to the 17th century A.D can be found in Wikipedia.

Between CE. 1216 and 1279 CE, Sendamangalam was the capital of the Kadava kings Kopperunchinga I & Kopperunchinga II, who converted it into a military stronghold and fought successfully against Kulothunga Chola III and Rajaraja Chola III, against successive Hoysala kings, and against Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan. The Kadavas remained friendly with the Magadai/Aragalur chief ‘Magadan Rajarajadevan pon parappinan Magadaipprumal’ and the Tirukoilur chief Malayaman. Their kingdom was eradicated by the campaigns of Maaravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I. After the fall of Hoysalas, Vijayanagar EmpireMadurai Nayak ruled this part by Poligar Ramachandra Nayakar.

Temples in Sendhamangalam, Nammakal district

The most famous temple in Sendhamangalam  is the Datthagiri Murugan temple.

The 17th century Lakshmi Narayanan temple is popular among the local people and in the surrounding villages. Built by King Govindappa Nayak and located in the centre of the town, it has a towering Raja Gopuram and is an amazing example of the uniqueness and beauty of  Nayak architecture.

The Someswarar temple is a lesser known Siva temple and the oldest of the three temples in Sendhamangalam.

Legend of Someswarar Temple

Almost as old as the Rasipuram Kailasanathar temple, the sthala purana (literally the history of a sthala or holy place) of the Someswarar  temple says that it was built by Somapuri Raja and that Sendhamangalam was known by different names in different yugas. In the Kritha yugam it was called as Somapuram.  In the Thretha yuga its name was Chandrapattanam.  In the Dwapara yuga it was called Krishnapuram and in the present Kali yuga as Sendhamangalam.

It is believed that Hanuman worshipped the lingam in this temple before going to Lanka.

For this reason, Sri Rama and Sita while returning to Ayodhya after successfully vanquishing Ravana, stopped here to worship lord Someswara with whose blessings Hanuman was successful in his mission to Lanka and which later led to the rescue of Sita.

It is believed that Serndha-mangalam later became Sendhamangalam, The Tamil word Serndha means that which is joined or united and alludes to the story that Rama and Sita came to the temple as a reunited couple.

Although it is not mentioned in the sthala purana, it is a local legend that this was one of the temples which the king of Kolli malai, Valvil Ori regularly visited and that the great king has done thirupani (renovation) in his time (2nd century A.D).

The Temple

The Someswara temple is situated about ½ a km from SH 95 which is also the main road in this small town. With no signboards showing the way to the temple, it is the local people who guide you to the ‘Sivan Kovil’. There are houses and farmlands all around.  From the outside it looks like any other village temple, but after many temple visits I have learnt that there are unique features and surprises in every temple. So it was in this unassuming village temple which had beautiful architecture and the shrines though small were exceptional.

The temple faces east and all the shrines face due east barring a few like the Dakshinamurthy and Kaala Bhairavar  shrines which always are south facing ones.

Past the Kodimaram and the Nandi mandapam, the Someswarar shrine has a pillared mahamandapam, an arthamandapam and garba griham.

Someswarar Nkl (23)

After praying before Lord Someswarar, to the left of the garbagriham, in the artha mandapam, we see the idols of Lord Chandra, and Lord Surya with Lord Sani seated between them. They are beautiful deities depicted as being seated together on a raised peedam. The idol of Sani is small in size when compared to that of Chandra and Surya deva, almost like a small boy sitting between the two devas. As in Thirunallaru, a temple famous for the worship of Lord Sani, the Sani Bagawan here faces east. Since Saneeswara is seen with Chandra and Surya it is believed that those who suffer from planetary afflictions will find relief if they worship here.

Opposite these deities is the navagraha peedam with the nine planet gods. Lord Saneeswara deities in both the navagraha peedam and in the raised peedam with Chandra and Surya, are facing each other, an arrangement of deities seen only in this temple. Therefore it is believed that worshipping here gives relief from the adverse effects of Sani dosha and Navagraha dosha.

In the pradakshina path, the Dakshinamurthy shrine is large and has its own open pillared mandapam, very much like the one in Rasipuram Kailasanathar temple. He is depicted as Yoga Dakshinamurthi.

Someswarar Nkl (11)

Kanni moola Mahaganapathi is the sthala Vinayakar, The Subramanya shrine is more elaborate with a pillared outer mandapam. Here, within the same shrine are two beautiful depictions of Lord Murugan – one as Sri Bala Dhandayudhapaani and the other as Sri Subramanya with Valli and Devyani.

Someswarar Nkl (9)

The name of Ambal is Soundharavalli ambal. The separate temple of the goddess is next to the shrine of Lord Someswarar.

Someswarar Nkl (13)

Another unique feature of the temple is the Arubathu moovar sannidhi. It is in very few temples that we can see the 63 nayanmar saints of South Indian Shaivism together with the 9 Thogai adiyaargal who are also revered in southern Shaiva siddhantha.Someswarar Nkl (32)

This temple is a must visit temple when you are in Namakkal as Sendhamangalam  is barely 11 kms from Namakkal. It is a very popular venue for weddings for the people living in Sendhamangalam and also in nearby villages. There is a modern marriage hall adjoining the temple.

Highlights

A temple where Lord Rama worshipped Lord Siva

A temple where Hanuman performed puja to the lingam

Goddess Soundharavalli bestows people with all prosperity.

Goddess Swarna Durgai removes obstacles and gives victory. People pray to her for success in studies, in business, for marriages for the unmarried, and for the boon of children for the childless.

Lord Murugan blesses devotees as Sri Bala Dhandayadhapani and also as Sri Subhramanya with Valli and Devyani, in the same shrine.

As in Thirunallaru, in this temple Sani Bhagawan faces east. Another Sani Bhagawan is seen facing the first idol. Besides, Sani takes his place with Surya and Chandra to remove Sani dosha and Nava graha dosha .

In this temple, the Nayanmars are 72 in number. This includes the 63 nayanmars and the 9 Thogai Adiyaargal.

Someswarar Nkl (20)

Someswarar Nkl (16)

Someswarar Nkl (18) 1

The Theppakulam which is in a very dilapidated condition is located a short distance from the temple. You can just make out the padi thurai – the steps built at a strategic place on the outer perimeter of the tank and the fallen remnants of the Neerazhi mandapam in the middle of the now barren holy tank. The tank was built with a view of the Kolli hills in the background and one can’t help thinking what a lovely sight it would be if the tank was restored and filled with water!

Someswarar Nkl (6)

Someswarar Nkl (7)
The fallen remnants of the mandapam in the middle of the tank

How to reach Sendhamangalam

Sendhamangalam is 11 km from Namakkal, the district headquarters.  It can be reached by taking SH 95 which is the Mohanur- Namakkal- Sendhamangalam- Rasipuram highway. It is on the way to Kalappanaickenpatti, where you take the road leading to the Kolli Hills.

From Rasipuram it is at a distance of 26km on SH 95.

Both Namakkal and Rasipuram have good hotels where you can stay and visit nearby temples.

Timings

9.30 a.m to 12.30p.m

Timings are extended on special days and festivals.

Someswarar Nkl (37)

Contact Details

Gurukkal T.M. Rajkumar

Mobile no:  94423  09413

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KalKurichi Karpooranatheswara

Close to the village of Belukurichi, famous for its ancient temple and weekly market is Kalkurichi, a picturesque village near the Kolli hills.

The Karpoora natheswarar temple is the small ancient Siva temple located in this peaceful village. There are neat farmlands all around. The village road passes by the temple and it faces the beautiful Kolli Malai hills.

Karpura natheswarar koil (10)

Karpura natheswarar koil (7)The importance of the temple lies mainly in the fact that this was one of the temples patronized by legendary King Valvil Ori of the Kolli hills, who ruled from Kolli malai around the 2nd century A.D. The temple we see today was built much later.

Related post: The Kingdom of Ori

The history of the temple is based on oral tradition. In the absence of Sthala purana or other historical records, oral tradition and local beliefs are valuable and reliable sources of information because they have been handed down from generation to generation in the families which have always lived there.

Karpura natheswarar koil (13)The Temple

A small temple with one pradakshina path enclosed by an outer wall, there is nothing pretentious about it.The open mandapa in front is a concrete structure and has a Nandi facing the sanctum and goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswathi on either side of the entrance where normally Dwarabalakas are seen. This placement of the goddesses is rather unique to this temple.The archagar Sendhilkumar remembers that many years ago,the temple used to have a Nandi mandapa and a mandapa over the idols of goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati. These were so dilapidated that the pillared structures were replaced with a large concrete roof. He had come from Koovaimali Palaniappar temple to open the temple for us.

Karpura natheswarar koil (6)

Karpura natheswarar koil (3) 300

Inside the sanctum sanctorum in the light of the oil lamp Lord Karpooranatheswara has a powerful presence that can be felt when one stands before the Sivalingam. The shrine of goddess Karunai Kadaatchi is a small shrine to the right of the Karpooranatheswarar shrine. The entrance to this shrine is through the enclosed mahamandapam which is common to both shrines. When Deeparadhanai is performed, in the light of the ghee lamp, one can see the beautiful eyes of the goddess, eyes that are filled with compassion, true to her name. The word karunai means compassion and Karunai Kadatchi means one whose glance is full of compassion.

The pradhakshina paadhai or circumambulatory path has smaller shrines that are typical of a Siva temple.

The vimana or roofs of these shrines have beautiful architecture. The Ganapathi shrine has its own small open mandapam.

Karpura natheswarar koil (2)Behind the Ganapathi shrine is a small shrine for Mahavishnu. Almost an alcove in the corner on the far left, it has idols of Vishnu holding a conch and chakra and Sridevi and Bhudevi on either side. There is even a tiny Garudalwar inside. The villagers have installed a Hanuman idol facing the alcove and like to worship the deity as Ramachandra murthy, a name for Lord Rama!

Karpura natheswarar koil (8)The goshtam are shrines in alcoves in the outer wall of the main shrine and have some unusual deities. There is Narthana Ganapathy (a form of Ganesha in dancing posture), Lingothbavar ,Dakshinamurthi and goddess Durga and a small shrine for Chandikeswarar. There is a separate shrine for lord Sani near the Kala bhairavar shrine.

Karpura natheswarar koil (17) 300

Karpura natheswarar koil (19)

Karpuranathaewara

The Murugan shrine is more elaborate with a bigger open pillared mandapa and a peacock idol, the peacock being the vahana of Karthikeya.Karpura natheswarar koil (21)

The Navagraha shrine is an ancient one while the Arubathumoovar  shrine is new.

Karpura natheswarar koil (5)There is a Kal Vettu in the temple. It is a vertical granite slab 3 ft high with inscriptions in Grantha script, according to the archagar. Epigraphists have visited the temple but could not decipher the writing mostly because it is covered in lime and mortar. This is one for the experts. When the lime has been removed what interesting information is recorded remains to be seen.

Karpura natheswarar koil (12)The temple has been renovated by the local villagers and is well maintained. Pradosham and Ashtami pujas are held regularly.

The archagar Sendhil Kumar in charge of this temple is also in charge of the famous Koovaimalai Palaniappar temple near BeluKurichi a few kilometres from here. He opens the KalKurichi temple once every day for puja.

Both the temples can be visited together and the archagar is happy to open the Kalkurichi temple for visitors if they desire to see it. Besides, the archagar’s house is on Koovaimalai and you can call on him and ask him to take you to Kalkurichi temple which is what we did.

Contact details:

Archagar Sri Sendhilkumar

Mobile no. 95244 49931

Lakshmi Narayanan Temple, Sendhamangalam

Sometime during the 16th century CE Salem and its surrounding areas which include Namakkal, Dharmapuri, and Attur, came under the rule of Madurai Nayakar kings. The kingdom of the Madurai Nayakar kings consisted of 72 smaller administrative regions called palayams headed by local chieftains who were called Palayakarars. Salem under the Madurai Nayakars rule came under the Palayakarars known as Gatti Mudali and Nayaks. Besides collecting taxes, they ably administered the regions they ruled, maintained armies, built forts and built or extended temples. The temples they built and those that were extended by them are architectural gems, showcasing their keen interest in art and architecture.

NAYAK TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE

sendhamangalamtemple carving
A beautiful damsel and her parrot.Beautiful sculpture in a temple doorway

Nayak temple architecture had a distinct style. It was characterized by enormous multi-storied gateway towers called gopuram, richly decorated with brightly painted stucco figures of gods, goddesses demons and animals both real and mythical, and pillared mandapas. The large courtyards surrounding the central shrine of these temples were designed to accommodate the crowds who would gather to view temple rituals and processions of gods. The temple grounds were enclosed by high fort like outer walls called madhil – always useful in case of invasion from rival chiefs and invaders.

LAKSHMI NARAYANAN TEMPLE

sendhamangalam lakshmi narayanan temple

Lakshmi Narayanan temple in Sendhamangalam, 11kms from Namakkal in Tamil Nadu, is one such impressive structure.

Sendhamangalam today is a sleepy village taluk in the Nainamalai foothills in Namakkal district and very near the Kolli hills. But it was an major town in ancient Tamilagam and in the 17th century, an important administrative center  of the Nayakar kings.

HISTORY

The temple of Lakshmi Narayana Perumal was built in the 17th century by king Govindappa Nayakkar. According to the local people it has been there since paattan,mupaattan kaalam’,a colloquial Tamil phrase is used often in rural Tamilnadu and is a charming way to state that something has been there or was done for along time. Pattan is tamil for grandfather and mupaatan denotes their fathers – three generations removed before them.

sendhamangalam (3)
Rajagopuram, Sendhamangalam Lakshmi Narayanan temple

In a tranquil rural setting, the towering multi-storeyed Rajagopuram and high surrounding walls of Lakshmi Narayanan temple are so unexpected that they take you by surprise. This could easily have been a temple in Kumbakonam where such huge gopurams are the norm. On entering, the massive doorway opens on a spacious open courtyard. The large pillared mandapam has ornately carved pillars showing mounted warriors in combat and mythical incidents.

King Govindappa Nayakar
King Govindappa Nayakar

Here we find a larger than life statue of King Govindappa Naicker on a stone pedestal. The statue depicts an authoritative king. The upward slant of the face, the hair knotted on top in a style known as a kondai that was typical of the age, an outstretched hand with a forefinger pointing in a commanding manner, the folds of the clothes and impressive jewelry all combine to create a regal and slightly fearsome personality.

This outer mandapam also has idols of other gods and a shrine for navagrahas.

Venugopala swamy, Sendhamangalam
Venugopala swamy, Sendhamangalam
Dwarapalakas
Dwarapalakas

A narrow passage leads to the sanctum through an inner mandapam.

In the sanctum the 6 feet high idol of a seated Lakshmi Narayanan with Thayaar on his lap is extremely beautiful.

Lakshmi Narayana permal
Lakshmi Narayana Perumal
Nainamalai Varadaraja perumal in sendhamangalm temple
Nainamalai Varadaraja Perumal in Sendhamangalm temple

Nainamalai is the hill that lies two kilometres from Sendhamangalam where the famous hill temple of Varadharaja Perumal is at the very top of the 2600 feet high hill. Believed to have existed since four yugas – which time period spans millions of years, the present temple was built during the Pallava period.Until recently ancient stone steps going all the way to the top were the only way to reach the temple.There are more than 3000 steps and climbing them is no mean feat.  To this day, it is an important pilgrimage destination and kula deivam (family deity) temple and thousands make the difficult ascent to the top every year, particularly in the sacred Tamil month of Purataasi.

The two temples are intrinsically connected. In the mandapam leading to the sanctum sanctorum of Lakshmi Narayana Perumal are kept the idols of Nainamalai Varadharaja Perumal,Sridevi and Bhudevi. All those who are not able to visit the hill temple and the old and infirm can worship here. There is also a sealed and locked doorway which is believed to be the entrance to a secret passage way that goes all the way up to the Nainamalai temple. Mysterious and intriguing, isn’t it? The passage way was probably used as an escape route by local kings in times of war. Similar secret pathways are also believed to have existed in the Rasipuram Kailasanathar temple and the Kaala Bhairavar temple in Dharmapuri.

THAAYAR SANNIDHI

The Thaayar sannidhi is a small separate temple next to the main temple. Perundevi thaayar is as beautiful as her name suggests and a picture of compassion and grace.

Thaayar, Sendhamangalam
Perundevi Thaayar,Sendhamangalam

A WALK AROUND THE TEMPLE

sendhamangalam 3

sendhamangalam 2

Ganapathy near the main doorway
Ganapathy near the main doorway
Intricate Patterns on a temple doorway
Intricate Patterns on the temple doorway
gomukam
Gomukam

lakshminarayanan temple 2

Lakshmi Narayanan temple

It is a temple to be seen and admired at a leisurely pace because it is full of surprises. My visit was a hurried one and I hope I can visit again to admire and be awed all over again.

LOCATION

The temple is next to the Sendhamangalam bus station.

Distance from Namakkal – 11 kms.

Distance from Rasipuram – 26 kms

Distance from Salem  – 53 kms

Updated on 2nd August 2018

The temple is being renovated for kumbabhishekam after a gap of 32 years.

ELUR KAILASANATHAR TEMPLE

Kailasanathar Elur, namakkal

Sri Kailasanathar temple in Elur near Namakkal in Tamil Nadu is a Thevara Vaippu Sthalam. It is also called as Theneeswarar Temple.

Visiting the temple which is located around 20 kms from Namakkal, one has to take a detour from the main National highway NH 44.

The Temple

Kailasanathar temple Elur,namakkal
Sri Kailasanathar temple Elur,namakkal

The temple is a small village temple. At the entrance there is no kodimaram or flagstaff but a stone vilakku sthambam –deepasthambam, which is unique to the temples of Kongu nadu is seen.

There is an idol of Nandi in the outer courtyard. On entering the temple there is a pillared mandapam. Directly in front is the Sivalingam of lord Kailasanathar – Theneeswarar and to the right is the shrine of Ambigai Visalakshi – Thenukambigai.

Sri Kailasnathar ,Elur
Sri Kailasnathar ,Elur

It is a very large and beautiful sivalingam. A Suyambu lingam, at five feet in height with a large Aavudai measuring 9 feet in length it takes your breath away!

The Sivalingam of Lord Kailasanathar can only be described as the gurukkal said, as “Brahmandam”. The Garba griha is suitably big to house such a large Sivalingam.

In many temples visitors get to worship the Sivalingam in the sanctum from the mahamandapam, but in this temple you can see the lingam up close. The Gurukkal patiently performed morning abishekam and alangaram and deeparadhanai.

Sri Kailasanathar -Elur,namakkal dt
Sri Kailasanathar -Elur,namakkal dt

The shrine of Visalakshi is small and the idol of ambigai is small and beautiful.

Sri Visalakshi, Kailasanathar temple,Nkl,TN
Sri Visalakshi@ Thenukambigai, Elur
Sri Visalakshi aka Thenkambigai, Elur, namakkal dt
Sri Visalakshi @ Thenukambigai, Elur, namakkal dt

There are sannadhis for Suryan, Chandran, Vinayagar, Panchalingam, Balamurugan, Durgai,dakshinamurthy, chandikeswarar, navagrahas, and Kala bhairavar.

Elur Kailasanathar temple 2

Elur Kailasanathar temple (2)

History

Elur as the village is called today was known as Ezhur (ஏழூர்) in the past. It was the head of seven nadus or counties in ancient Kongu nadu region of Tamil Nadu. The seven nadus were Perumpaalapatty, Perumaakoundanpatty, Vandipalayam,Veppampatty, Pudupatty, Kannanpatty,and Ezhur.

The temple is mentioned in the pathigam of Tirunavukkarasar (Appar), in the 6th Tirumurai (ஆறாம் திருமுறை)

6.70 க்ஷேத்திரக்கோவை – திருத்தாண்டகம்

        ( ஆறாம் திருமுறை)

705 கொடுங் கோளூர்  அஞ்சைக்களம் செங்குன்றூர்

       கொங்கணம்  குன்றியூர்  குரக்குக் காவும்

       நெடுங்களம் நன்னிலம் நெல்லிக் காவும்

       நின்றியூர் நீடூர் நியம நல்லூர்

       இடும்பாவனம் எழுமூர்  ஏழூர்  தோழூர்

       எறும்பியூர்  ஏராரும்  ஏமகூடம்

       கடம்பை  இளங்கோயில்  தன்னினுள்ளும்

       கயிலாய  நாதனையே  காணலாமே.          6.70.5

Saint Arunagirinathar has composed a Tirupugazh hymn on the Murugan of this sthalam.

The temple has only one kalvettu (Stone inscription).

stone inscription Elur temple,namakkal dt.
Stone inscription Elur Kailasanathar temple,namakkal dt.

The temple was destroyed and probably looted when Tamil nadu was under the rule of the Nawabs. Only the imposing Sivalingam of Kailasanathar aka Theneeswarar, the idol of ambal Visalakshi and the idol of pancha naaga devadhai remained. A sanyasin continued the puja and worship of the deities.

Pancha naga devadhai, Elur Kailasanathar temple
Pancha naga devadhai, Elur Kailasanathar temple

The foundation stone of the present temple was laid by Thiru Muruga Kripaananda Vaariar on 13. 4.1981, and the temple was built by the villagers after which kumbabishekam was performed in 1990.

How to reach

Since we were travelling from Salem on NH 44, at Puduchatram on the Salem –Namakkal stretch, we left the four-way and took the service road into Puduchatram and then turned on to Elur road. A lovely drive along the village road for 8.6 kms and we had arrived at the temple which was right beside the main road.

The temple is open throughout the day. The gurukkal’s house is just outside the temple and outstation visitors can call on him if necessary.

There are no shops near the temple selling puja articles. You can buy flower garlands and puja offerings in Rasipuram or Namakkal.

Contact

Soundararaja gurukkal

Mobile number : 98650 13481

Address

Arulmigu Kailasanathar Koil,

Main road, Elur,

via Puduchatram

Namakkal district,

Elur – 637 018

Note: Google maps refers to the Elur Siva temple as Theneeswarar temple.

 

Tholur Choleeswarar Temple

A Vaippu Sthalam awaiting restoration/renovation

Introduction

Thevaaram hymns are the first seven volumes of Saiva Tirumurai, Tamil devotional poetry on Lord Siva. They were composed by the first three among the Nayanmars, the Tamil Saivite saints,

1.Tirugnana sambandar               

Moovar
Tevara Moovar

2.Tirunavukkarasar and

3.Sundaramoorthy Nayanar

about 1200 years ago, from the 7th century to the 9th century AD. Sambandar, Appar and Sundarar, as they are generally called, form the Tevara Moovar or Tevaram trio.

Independently they undertook long pilgrimages, visiting Siva temples, often accompanied by a group of devotees. At each of the temples they visited they composed and sang hymns glorifying Siva. These hymns were handed down by word of mouth and contain a wealth of information on the places (sthalam) where the temples were located and the glory of Siva in these sthalams and the benefits to be gained from recitals of the hymns. (Sthalam is the Tamil word for a holy place, or a place of pilgrimage.) Appar went a step further and set about cleaning of the temples he visited along with fellow devotees. Such service is called as Uzhavara pani.

Each hymn is called a Pathigam in Tamil and comprises a set of 10 verses or more.

Each hymn is set to a specific Pann, the Tamil equivalent of Ragas, and is unique to Tamil musical tradition. Singing of these hymns at worship services in Sivan temples by the Oduvars is an age old tradition which began when in the 10th to 11th century AD the hymns were compiled, codified and set to music by Nambiandar Nambi at the behest of King Raja Raja Cholan, though it is traditionally acknowledged that Lord Siva himself set the tune. They are exceptionally sweet and melodious to listen to and in Tamil Nadu we are familiar with the traditional rendition of these songs in temples everyday by the Oduvars. They are considered equal to the Sanskrit mantras and as powerful.

Paadal Petra Sthalam

Paadal petra sthalams (பாடல் பெற்ற ஸ்தலம்) are 275 Sivan temples which bear one or more pathigams composed on them.

Vaippu Sthalam

249 other temples are referred to in the Tevaram. These temples do not bear a pathigam and are called as Tevara Vaippu Sthalam(தேவார வைப்பு ஸ்தலம்). Considering the historical fact that only a part of the Tevaram hymns were recovered in the 10th century by King Raja Raja Cholan, the rest having been destroyed by termites, it is possible that the Vaippu sthalams(வைப்பு ஸ்தலம்) might have had pathigams too which were among those that were destroyed.

We shall never know as these are some of the best kept secrets of history.

Tholur Choleeswarar Temple

Choleeswarar, Tholur, Tamil Nadu
Choleeswarar, Tholur, Tamil Nadu

The Choleeswara temple at Tholur near Namakkal is a Tevara Vaippu Sthalam.

The temple is mentioned in the pathigams of Tirunavukkarasar (Appar), in the 6th Tirumurai (ஆறாம் திருமுறை)

6.70 க்ஷேத்திரக்கோவை – திருத்தாண்டகம்

        ( ஆறாம் திருமுறை)

705 கொடுங் கோளூர்  அஞ்சைக்களம் செங்குன்றூர்

      கொங்கணம்  குன்றியூர்  குரக்குக் காவும்

      நெடுங்களம் நன்னிலம் நெல்லிக் காவும்

      நின்றியூர் நீடூர் நியம நல்லூர்

      இடும்பாவனம் எழுமூர்  ஏழூர்  தோழூர்

      எறும்பியூர்  ஏராரும்  ஏமகூடம்

      கடம்பை  இளங்கோயில்  தன்னினுள்ளும்

      கயிலாய  நாதனையே  காணலாமே.          6.70.5

6.71 திருஅடைவு – திருத்தாண்டகம்

          (ஆறாம் திருமுறை)

715         பிறையூரும் சடைமுடி எம்பெருமான் ஆருர்

     பெரும்பற்றப் புலியூரும் பேராவூரும்

     நறையூரும் நல்லூரும் நல்லாற்றூரும்

     நாலூரும் சேற்றூரும் நாரையூரும்

     உறையூரும் ஓத்தூரும் ஊற்றத்தூரும்

     அளப்பூர் ஒமாம்புலியூர் ஒற்றியூரும்

     துறையூரும் துவையூரும் தோழூர் தானும்

      துடையூரும் தொழ இடர்கள் தொடரா அன்றே 6.71.4

Visit to the temple

For a long time I have wanted to visit this temple so close to Namakkal. The only detail available on the internet was that it was a Vaippu sthalam near Namakkal. Google maps wasn’t very helpful. So we set out early one morning in July to search for this temple by the best way possible- asking people about it! At Namakkal we stopped for breakfast at hotel Adyar Ananda bhavan. I asked for the route to Tholur Sivan temple. The hotel staff were not sure but promised to ask around. By the time we finished breakfast the lady supervisor gave me the details-

“Take the Namakkal-Mohanur road. At a place called Aniyapuram turn right to travel for 4 kms to reach Tholur. The temple is right on the main road.”

Delighted, I thanked her and we set out once more on the Namakkal- Mohanur road. Aniyapuram turned out to be a fairly large village 9 kms from Namakkal. A right turn here and driving along a scenic village road for 4 kms, soon we came to Tholur.

The charming village of Tholur, Namakkal dt.
The charming village of Tholur, Namakkal dt.

On the right was a board that said Arulmigu Sri Visalakshi udanurai Sri Choleewarar Aalayam, Tholur. But there was no temple, only a large grassy vacant plot, enclosed by an ancient stone wall. In the distance was a small stone Nandi in front of a one room asbestos roofed structure which was locked. Beyond lay a vast heap of weathered ancient pink and yellow stone slabs, numbered in red.

The entrance to theCholeeswarar temple, Tholur
The entrance to the Choleeswarar temple, Tholur
The present temporary shrine of Choleeswarar, Namakkal dt, Tamil Nadu
The present temporary shrine of Choleeswarar, Namakkal dt, Tamil Nadu
Tholur (4)TN
Temple stones, Choleeswarar temple, Tamil Nadu
Temple stones of Choleeswarar temple,Namakkal dt, Tamil Nadu
Temple stones of Choleeswarar temple,Namakkal dt, Tamil Nadu

I was unprepared for this- no temple where there should have been one. The family who lived in the farmhouse next door very kindly fetched the gurukkal (priest) who opened the temporary shrine so that we might worship.

Inside were the Sivalingam and the temple deities in Palalayam on a cement platform. That first glance of Choleeswarar cannot be described in words, it was overwhelming. The Sivalingam is medium sized but the powerful prescence of the Lord is very palpable.

  Next to Choleeswarar is the idol of Ambigai Visalakshi. The beautiful goddess stands smiling. Her image and the tiruvaasi are carved of a single granite stone, a unique feature in this temple.

Visalakshi ambal, Tholur, Tamil Nadu
Visalakshi ambal, Tholur, Tamil Nadu

Next to her is the image of Chandikeswarar. The idol of Ganapathi is on left of Choleeswarar.

Chandikeswarar, Tholur, TN
Chandikeswarar, Tholur, TN
Ganapathy, Choleeswarar temple, Tholur, Tn
Ganapathy, Choleeswarar temple, Tholur, Tn

All the idols are in palalayam until consecration after the temple is restored. An oil-lamp burns steadily in this little shrine. Nandi and the bali peetam are kept outside.

Tholur Choleeswarar temple deities- A legacy to cherish
Tholur Choleeswarar temple deities- A legacy to cherish

Palanisami Gurukkal does archanai and gives prasad of vibhuthi and kumkum. Afterwards we sit down before Choleeswarar as he explains about the temple which is more than 1200 years old and about the fact that Tirunavukkarasar has spoken of the Iraivan of this stalam in the hymns composed by him, probably when he visited one of the 7 Kongu Naatu Paadal Petra stalams. He tells us about the stone inscription on a pillar within the temple that speaks of a grant of cotton and oil to the temple. It is a fact, he says, that difficulties of any magnitude are wiped away by the grace of Choleeswara when we pray to him. Prayers to Ambal and performing kalyana utsava facilitate marriages for unmarried girls. It is also a temple for relief from the planetary afflictions of Ragu and Kethu.

Thiru Palanisami Gurukkal is the parambarai archakar of this temple. His father and his grandfather before him have been the archakars here. He recalls the days when he single-handedly cleaned the temple and conducted nityapuja every day. Today his son who has studied in a veda padasala is also involved in the care of the temple.

The 1200 years old temple was dilapidated and roughly a year ago, the archaeological department inspected it and gave a report.Following this the temple was dismantled about six months ago. It is now awaiting reconstruction and renovation using the original ancient stone slabs of the old temple.

Beautiful stone carving of a Naagar at the Choleeswarar temple,Tholur,Namakkal
Beautiful stone carving of a Naagar at the Choleeswarar temple,Tholur,Namakkal
Inscription on a stone pillar in the Choleeswarar temple,Tholur Namakkal dt.
Inscription on a stone pillar in the Choleeswarar temple,Tholur Namakkal dt.

Excerpts from the report given on the Choleeswarar temple by the Archaeological Survey of India:

  • The Siva temple known as Arulmigu Choleeswarar temple…….is situated in a small village called Tholur, 4 kms off Aniyapuram in the Namakkal – Mohanur road.
  • The east facing temple consists of a garbagriha, an ardha mandapa, antarala and a mukha mandapa and a separate south facing amman shrine. Sub-shrines for Ganesha and Chandikesa are seen.
  • Lord Siva of this temple has been sung by Appar in one of his hymns.

      Architecture

  • While analyzing the architectural features of the temple, the specific designs in architectural members and the style, evidently proves that it should have been constructed by a local chieftain of that region.
  • The only available stone inscription of 16th century Tamil characters is on one of the pillar in the ardha mandapa. This records the grant of oil and cotton to the temple to light lamps.

      Present condition of the temple

  •  It is a living temple. The temple has a dry masonry compound with an entrance on the southern side.
  • Near the entrance in the prakara Naga stones are installed in a raised mud platform.

       …

  • At the eastern side is a small four pillared Nandi mandapa and behind that is the stone deepastampa.

      …

  • The stucco figures in the upper structure on the vimana are damaged.
  • Identifying the figures is difficult by now.

      …

  • The outer wall veneering stones of the main shrine are disturbed and dislocated all around due to the strong solid roots of trees grown on the terrace.

       …

       Archaeological Recommendation

  • The temple must be given proper conservation care immediately. It needs attention from the foundation up to the super structure.
  • The foundation should be checked as the walls are out of plumb and cracked in many places. Reconstruction is inevitable.

       …

  • Very few stones are seen damaged and broken. The temple can be reset with most of the old stones which are in good condition. The reusing of old stones will help in preserving the ancient value of the temple.

       …

  • It is recommended to avoid much of cement and to make use of combination of mortar, lime mortar and lime paste etc. while reconstructing the temple as it is our traditional method.
  • Our temples (in any form) are not only just places of worship but also have a strong binding with our tradition, heritage and culture and these places have remained as places of learning for many centuries. It is our responsibility to carry forward these to the next generation as our elders and ancestors did. This temple which was constructed by our ancestors has stood all these years as a symbol of our heritage, tradition and culture. Every individual should realize and co-operate in safe guarding this priceless contribution of our ancestors.

Tholur (2) - CopyTHolur (3) - Copy

Tholur - Copy

Puja

There is one kala puja everyday between 6am and 10 am. And the temple lamp is lit every evening. Special pujas are performed on Pradosham and other auspicious days. On request abhishegam is performed for swamy and ambigai.

With Ishwara’s grace, hopefully the work on the temple should start soon.

Location

Tholur is 4km from Aniyapuram on the Namakkal- Mohanur road.

Contact:

 Palanisami Gurukkal – 91595 64006

 Shanmuga Gurukkal –  98656 17121

NAMAKKAL ANJANEYAR

 

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HANUMAN TEMPLE, NAMAKKAL

Namakkal is a well known pilgrimage town. People come here from all over to visit the famous Hanuman temple.It is also called as Anjaneyar Koil.

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The temple is more than 1500 years old and it is unique in many ways.

The idol of Hanuman is 18 feet tall and carved out of a single rock.

There is no roof over the idol.Come rain or shine, Hanuman stands  worshiping Lord Narasimha some 250 feet away in the cave temple, across the ages, the very picture of piety.

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Hanuman in this Viswaroopa stands tall and majestic, a japa-maala in his folded hands.

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Here, Time stands still.

For example, it was not until 1996 that the mandapam and surrounding buildings were built.

Untill then, there was just this large and lovely idol of the greatest Bhakta of God and four stone pillars to make a mantapam without a roof, for the statue of Hanuman rises above the pillars. He stands on a large beautifully carved lotus flower peedam.

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A story is told of how Lord Narasimha told Hanuman that he may come to Namakkal and remain here after his duties to Sri Rama were done. Accordingly, it is said, at the very end of the Ramayana story, when Lord Rama and his entourage including Sugreeva ascended to Sri Vaikuntam , Hanuman with Sri Rama’s permission chose to stay back. He came to Namakkal Kshetra and was immersed in worship of Lord Narasimha.

Click here to see the earlier post on Narasimha Swamy temple

Hanuman was a great scholar, well versed in the Vedas, a skilled musician and shrewd diplomat. In Kishkinda he was King Sugreeva’s minister. After Sri Rama’s return to Ayodhya, Hanuman chose to stay on in Ayodhya in the service of Rama.

SUNDARAN

Hanuman has many names, Maruthi, Anjaneya, Vayuputra and so on.

Sage Valmiki named the fifth book of the Ramayana, the Sundara Kandam, after Hanuman. Hanuman is the only character in the epic to have a book named after him. Why? Because he is Sundaran, which means one who is beautiful. It was the name given to Him by his mother Anjanai. It is this name that Sage Valmiki chose over others and it is a name that suits him best!

The Sundara kandam begins with Hanuman’s flight to Sri Lanka where he searches for and meets Sita. It ends with his return to India bringing the message of Sita to Rama .The Sundara Kandam is important because Hanuman brought hope and promise to an unhappy Sita who was on the brink of committing suicide. And the news that Sita was alive was enough to motivate Rama and the vaanaras to build a bridge that spanned the ocean to reach Lanka and rescue Sita.

Even today Sundara Kandam readings are an important practice in Hinduism. The readings whether by individuals or by groups are called as paarayana and give benefits to the readers.

In India, we love to decorate our gods and Namakkal Hanuman is no exception!!

The Alangarams of Hanuman are many and varied, according to the desires of the Bhaktas and the art and ingenuity of the priests. There is the special Thanga- kavasam, (Thangam is the Tamil word for gold) when the whole idol is covered in gold sheets moulded to the form of the statue, and the silver or velli kavasam. Photos of this alangaram are available on the internet.

Besides these, there are the various kaapu –

=Santana kaapu using sandal paste, Vennai kaapu using butter and so on.

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I have even seen Hanuman wearing a sherwani – North Indian style, complete with turban and pointed ornamental shoes!! Mind you, all this was made of butter, craft paper and lengths of zari, and silk cloth!

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The crowds wait patiently, sometimes for more than 2 hours, just to see these alangarams, which are mostly sponsored by individual devotees.

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Much as Hanuman looks beautiful in the alangarams, it is during the Abhishekam that the true beauty of His form can be seen and admired.

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You can see the big eyes, the ornaments called kundalam worn in the ears, the startling life like nostrils, the folded hands with a japa-mala, the ornaments worn on the fore-arms, the holy thread across the chest, the dress worn at the waist and the thandai worn on ankles. You can even see a small dagger at the waist.

If possible try to plan your visit around 11 a.m. in the morning which is the approximate time of the daily abhishekam.

The priests anoint the idol with oil followed by the ritual pouring of milk, sandal, turmeric, curd, honey. Sometimes when a small basket of pomegranate pearls are showered on Him it looks as though rubies are showered on Him! Simply beautiful!

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View of Narasimha Swamy temple from outside the Hanuman temple
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Figurines made out of the root of Vellerruku plant on sale outside the temple

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NAMAKKAL TEMPLES -A LEGACY OF THE ADIYAMAAN DYNASTY – III

SRI RANGANATHAR TEMPLE, NAMAKKAL

 

Namakkal temples

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A visit to Namakkal Kshetram is not complete without visiting a temple located behind the Narasimhaswamy temple.While the Narasihaswamy temple and Namakkal Anjaneyar temple are the most popular The Ranganathar temple is a cave temple on the eastern face of the Naamgiri rock. The temple is about midway up the rock and you have to climb 100 steps to reach it.

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Two pillared mantapams lead to the main cave shrine.

To reach it you have to climb another 10 steps. These steps and the scaffolding at the top completely obscure the original stone steps leading to the sanctum.

There are three doors to the sanctum in the manner of the Padmanabha Swamy temple in Tiruvananthapuram. Only the central door is opened daily for devotees to enter the artha mandapam. However, on Vaikunta Ekadasi, the central door is closed. On this day, bhaktas enter the sanctum through the first door and leave after having darshan through the third door.

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Lord Vishnu here is in Kaarkotaka sayanam. Usually in Vishnu temples where lord Vishnu is depicted in Sayana kolam ( reclining form) we find that he is reclining on the serpent god Aadhisesha. This is the only temple where He can be seen reclining on the serpent Kaarkotaka accepting the request of the serpent king.

During the Deeparadhanai, the Battar will point out to you the five faces of the serpent king Karkotaka. Each face is that of a roaring lion or Yali, and not the usual face of a snake. He will tell you that the very breath of the snake king was highly poisonous. The Lord granted the prayer of this highly venomous serpent king which was that He should recline on him in this Kshetra. He will also point out two large Asuras standing near the foot of the Lord, one of them holding a bundle in his hand and tell you a charming tale of the Asuras whose names are Madhu and Kaidapa .

THE STORY OF MADHU -KAIDAPA

They came here to steal the jewels of the Lord. Thinking that the Lord was asleep, they steal all the jewels. Just as they are about to leave with the bundle of jewels they accidentally touch the foot of the Lord and are immediately absolved of all sins. As realization of the true nature of the Divine hits them they pray for and are granted the privilege of being in the service of the Lord. The lesson to be learned is that the smallest contact with the Divine is enough to awaken souls to the greater Truth which is the Lord and in the process , the sins of generations are washed away.

There is a lovely carving of  Ulagalandha Permal in a stone panel to the left of the artha mandapam and a unique carving of Sankara Narayana to the right. Another carving shows Bala Narasimhar.

When you climb down from the shrine you can see a carving of the divine architect, Visvakarma who is thought to have built these cave temples.

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Visvakarma -The Divine Architect

The Bhattar shows us the stone roof of the cave outside the sanctum which is carved to resemble a roof made of bamboo poles. Truly awe- inspiring!

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A Roof of the cave entrance sculpted to look like a roof made of Moongil or Bamboo!

The name of Thaayar is Ranganayaki. There is a separate shrine for her outside the main temple.She is as beautiful as Naamagiri Thaayaar.

At this altitude it is surprising to see a small pond next to the temple. The priest says it is only the rain water that has collected there. It is full of fish and a few snakes.DSC00955

 

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In The Sevice of the Lord

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The temple is on the other side of Namakkal hill and it can be easily seen when you go around the holy hill.

TEMPLE TIMINGS

8.30 A.M to 12 NOON

5.30 P.M. TO 7.30P.M.