THE TEMPLES OF SINGALANDHAPURAM

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.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (6)

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

thiruveswarar sglpm

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.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (3)
A thinnai is an important part of the architecture of Tamilnadu houses and is an open raised verandah with pillars on either side of the entrance. It reflects the slow pace of life in the villages and has multiple uses. Among others it is a place for a meeting, a place to rest for the weary traveller, a place where you could just sit and watch the world go by.

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.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (12)

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.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (13)

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (11)

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram TN

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (8)

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.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (9)1

Tiruveswarar koil

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.

DSC05333 2

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.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (7)

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.

Other Shrines

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (5)

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.

Inscription

There is one stone inscription in the prakaram, on the outer wall of Thiruveswarar sannidhi.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (4)

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. 

Timings

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.

Contact details:

Archagar Singalandhapuram Maadhu

Mobile no: 94883 20080

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil Singalandhapuram

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.

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil Singalandhapuram (4)

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.

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil Singalandhapuram

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.

Karpura Narayana Perumal Singalandhapuram nkl

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil Singalandhapuram (1)

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil Singalandhapuram (6)

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil Singalandhapuram (2)Inscriptions

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil Singalandhapuram (7)

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.

Contact details

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.

 

Advertisements

Sevvantheeswarar Temple-Seerapalli

A Temple under Renovation

At 8.30 a.m. on this December morning mist covers the countryside as we drive through NH 44. We are travelling to Seerapalli, a village near Rasipuram in Namakkal district, where there is an ancient  Siva temple that is believed to be more than a 1000 years old. The route as always beautiful, takes us through the ancient town of Rasipuram and on to SH 79 which is the Rasipuram – Attur –Erode road.

Ten kilometers  from Rasipuram and we have arrived. There are no name-boards and I ask for directions to the Sevvantheeswarar temple. It turns out that that the temple is quite close to the main road, down a small village street, and it is open!

A typical village temple built in a large open area. The village almost ends near the temple and beyond it vast green fields stretch into the distance. It looks lovely.

Until recently there used to be an ancient mud and stone outer wall which was almost crumbling down. It has been taken down and work has been started on a new outer wall. With no outer entrance we walk past the Suryan and Chandran shrines on either side , past a small bali peedam, and a tall weathered wood post which was the kodi maram (flagstaff) in more prosperous times. There is a small nandi mandapam. Beyond this five steps lead up to the main temple which consists of a spacious pillared mahamandapam, artha mandapam and garbagraham of Sevvantheeswarar. A little shrine of goddess Sugandha Kundalambigai leads off the mahamandapam. The vimanam of both shrines are very old.

Sri Sevvantheeswarar Seerapalli,Nkl dt.

Sugandha kundalambigai SeeraapalliAn aged priest does deeparadhana and gives vibhuti and kumkum as prasad. Then he says quietly, “Valvil Ori vazhi patta koil”.Translating from Tamil it means that King Valvil Ori worshipped lord Siva in this temple.

The region of the Kolli hills, its foothills, Rasipuram and its surrounding regions  up to Athanur were once part of the kingdom of King Valvil Ori who ruled from Kolli hills around the 2nd century AD.in the Sangam era. 

The temple is believed to be built by kuru nila mannargal, the kings who ruled over small regions in Tamilnadu.

Legend

In a distant past the place where the temple now exists used to be a forest of thorny sangu-mul plants. People rarely came here except for cow-herds who brought their cows to graze. One day a cow-herd noticed a cow shed all its milk in a particular spot. This happened every day and the cow-herd told the villagers about the cow’s strange behavior. The villagers set forth to clear the area of thorny bushes as they searched for the reason behind the cow’s unusual behavior. Someone’s axe or sickle hit something hard and blood spurted all over the place. The frightened people discovered a suyambu lingam in the undergrowth, named it as Sevvantheeswarar because it was red with blood and started worshipping it.

Another story goes that once a man was travelling with his pregnant wife in the region when his wife went into labour. The couple cried out for help. Lord Siva appeared as a woman and helped to deliver the child and from then Sevvantheeswarar was also called as Mathru Bhoodheshwarar.

Similarities with Thayumanavar  temple, Trichirapalli

Mathrubhoodeshwarar is also the name of Lord Siva in the famous Thayumanavar temple in rock-fort(malai-kottai), Trichy.

Incidentally, Thayumanavar was also called as Sevvanthinathar because  sage Saaramamunivar worshipped Him with Sevvanthi flowers.

In both temples, ambal has the name of Sughandha Kundhalambigai in Sanskrit and Matuvar kuzhal ammai in Tamil.

Even the name Seerappalli is reminiscent of Sirapalli, the ancient name of Tiruchirapalli.

Arubathu moovar

A special feature of the temple is that the idols of Arubathu-moovar, the sixty three saints of the Saivite tradition and also of Naalvar,the holy four of Thevaram hymns – are ancient ones.They can be seen in a long mandapam with a thatched roof to the left of the main shrine.Further along the circum-ambulatory path are the shrines of Niruthi Vinayakar and separate shrines for Panchalingam representing the five elements.

Sri Sevantheeswarar koil, Seeraapalli 1
Naalvar
Sri Sevantheeswarar koil, Seeraapalli (2)
Arubathumoovar sannidhi
Sri Sevantheeswarar koil, Seerapalli (4)
Niruthi Ganapathy
Sri Sevantheeswarar koil, Seerapalli (5)
Panchalingam sannidhis

The shrine of Kalyana Subramanyar is old with its own vimanam, outer mandapam and a tiny mandapam for the peacock.Kalyana Subramanyar is seated as Aarumugam on a peacock  with Valli and Devasena on either side.In the small inner mandapam of this shrine there is another idol. This is an idol of Palaniappar , holding a spear in one hand and wearing his hair in a kondai(knot) on his head.This idol looks very similar to the image of Palaniappar in Belukurichi temple in Pallipatti in the Kolli foothills which is about 12 kms from Seerappalli.The idol of Palaniappar was the one which was originally in the sanctum, but was later replaced with the idol of Kalyana Subramanyar.

Click here to read about Palaniappar temple in Belukurichi

Sri Aarumuga peruman Seerapalli
Kalyana Subramanya swamy,Seerapalli

Palaniappar Sevantheeswarar koil , Seerapalli

There is a shrine for Sri Durgai in the outer wall of the main sanctum and separate shrines for Chandikeswarar, Kaalabhairavar  Suryan, Chandran and for Sani bhagavan.

Sri Durgai, Seerapalli Sevantheeswarar koil
Sri Durgai,Seerapalli

More pics from the temple

Vinayagar,Seerapalli
This charming Ganapati is seen just outside the Sevvantheeswarar temple

Sevantheeswarar koil,Seeraapalli (12)

fish symbol on temple wall Seerapalli
Fish symbol is seen in many places in the temple
fish symbol sevantheeswarar koil Seerapalli
Fishes in many sizes adorn the ceiling of the Sevvantheeswarar temple mahamandapam
different views of Subramanya shrine in Seerapalli
Different views of Subramanya shrine Restoration is much needed.
Sri Sevantheeswarar koil, Seeraapalli (13)
Carving on the base of the vilakku sthambam
Sri Sevantheeswarar koil, Seeraapalli (10)
Rustic charm – Mandapam of Arubathu moovar sannidhi

Temple lands

The temple has vast agricultural lands belonging to it which indicates that it received the patronage of kings who donated lands for the upkeep of the temple. The temple is traditionally managed by the people of gounder community who also till the temple lands.It is also under the care of the Aranilaya thurai of the Tamilnadu government.

A story is told about how the Sevvantheeswarar temple and the vast lands belonging to it came to be administered by the gounder community.In any village the agraharam was and still is the area where the brahmins  lived. Once, when caste discrimination was being rigidly followed, a cow unfortunately died in the agraharam and the austere brahmins had to seek the help of the gounders who were a farming community, to remove the carcass. The gounders agreed to help on the condition that the Sevvantheeswarar  temple be handed over to them.The agraharam residents agreed as they had no choice and relinquished their rights over the temple. Having lost their right over the temple they then handed over the temple lands also. With the passage of time they left the village. The present gurukkal comes from a family that has cared for the temple for the past ninety years and says that only one family from the agraharam families who left the village long ago visit the temple occasionally.

Renovation

Renovation work has been started in the temple. Besides a new outer wall, the old well has been dug and made bigger. Many parts of the temple are to be rebuilt. All who would like to take part in this momentous work in any manner are welcome to do so.

Address and contact number of gurukkal of Sevvantheeswarar temple:

K.S. Sivaraja Gurukkal

Seerapalli P.O,Rasipuram Tk.

Namakkal district.TN

Phone no: 89732 75242

A subject for discussion

Although there is no conclusive proof there is a possibility that this temple might be a thevara vaippu sthalam that is mentioned in the Kshetra Kovai hymn of Thirugnana sambandhar. The related stanza of thevaram is given below.

திருஞானசம்பந்த சுவாமிகள் அருளிச்செய்த
பொது தேவாரத் திருப்பதிகம்
(இரண்டாம் திருமுறை 39வது திருப்பதிகம்)

(இரண்டாம் திருமுறை 39வது திருப்பதிகம்)
2.039 பொது – திருக்ஷேத்திரக்கோவை
அறப்பள்ளி அகத்தியான் பள்ளி வெள்ளைப்
பொடிபூசி யாறணி வானமர் காட்டுப்பள்ளி
சிறப்பள்ளி சிராப்பள்ளி செம்பொன்பள்ளி
திருநனி பள்ளிசீர் மகேந் திரத்துப்
பிறப்பில் லவன்பள்ளி வெள்ளச் சடையான்
விரும்பும் மிடைப்பள்ளி வண்சக்கரம்மால்
உறைப்பாலடி போற்றக் கொடுத்த பள்ளி
உணராய்மடநெஞ்ச மேயுன்னி நின்றே. 2.39.4

Arapalli agathiyan palli vellai

Podipoosi yaarani vaanamar kaatupalli

Sirappalli siraapalli semponpalli

Thirunani palliseer magendirathu

Pirappil lavanpalli vella sadaiyan

Virumbum midaipalli vannchakkaram mal

Uraippaladi potra kodutha palli

Unnaraai madanenjame unni ninrae.

If you know more about this please share your views in the comments section.