Today I was blessed to visit this 1000 year old temple on the Chennai Bangalore highway near Vellore. It is a padal petra sthalam sung by Appayya Dikshithar, Thirumoolar, Pattinathar, Arunagiri nadhar and many others. It is the birth place of Shri Appayya dikshitar a renowned scholar of the 16 century( Click here to know more about this great scholar)
How to Reach:
On the Chennai Bangalore Highway after you cross Vellore after about 14 kms you will see a service road leading to Sethuvalai take this road and turn right under the highway . This road leads to Virinjipuram in 1 km and the temple is just off the road on the left..The 7 tiered 110 feet tall Gopuram beckons you
Legends and facts connected to the temple:
Brahma was cursed to be born as a human Siva sharma in this town as he had falsely stated he had seen the top of Shiva in the lingothbhava form at Tiruvannamalai. (That is why he does not have many temples dedicated to him). At a young age his father the priest died and Siva Sharma as a boy had to shoulder the responsibility of doing the daily poojas. He first had his upanayanam the thread ceremony by Vishnu here at the selva vinayagar sannidhi in the first praharam and came to the sanctum. Since the lord was too tall for the small child to do abhishekam the merciful lord bent to show the child his head in a north east direction (EEshana)this act where Shiva showed brahma his head released Brahma from his curse. The place is famous for young Brahmins to have their thread ceremony in the months of November Dec .
Virinji is another name for Brahma hence the place is called Virinjipuram
A merchant Dhanapalan who was a carrying pepper was looted by dacoits here.On Dhanapalan’s prayer the lord accompanied him as a soldier on horseback and helped retrieve the pepper and also travelled with him for protection on the way hence he is called Margha=way Bandhu=Friend
Appayya dikshidhar was once set upon by enemies who poisoned him and set upon him with black magic. Dikshidhar prayed here to be relieved of these menaces and was saved here. Hence it is a place where protection against black magic is assured by the lord
Sri Adishankara consecreted the pond called Simha theertham here after bheejakshara mantra prathishtai here. It is believed that a bath in the Palar river followed by Brahma theertham and later simha theertham in the temple precinct with prayer to Lord Shiva ensures good progeny
The temple was originally built by Cholas and later by the Hoysalas hence it is full of exquisite stone sculptures.
The Sun rays fall on the shivalingam directly in the sanctum in the month of Panguni (March to April)
The Kala bhairavar sannidhi is seen behind the nandi in the outer praharam
The outer praharam has the Simha theertham and Brahma theertham already alluded to Next to the Brahma theertham is the mani kal (Time Stone) which tells the time with a shadow . I was there at 9 AM and this was the shadow seen then .
There are many splendid multi pillared halls in the outer praharam which are truly stunning for the array of sculptures and are very bewitching. It will take a whole day to appreciate each hall and there are 3-4 halls I could count!!
The middle praharam houses the Selva vinayagar , Bhairavar, Murugan sannidhis and also the Maragadhambikai sannidhi in the north side
Swarna vinayagar seen below
Entrance to the main sannidhi and inner praharam
Bhikshandar sannidhi in the second praharam look at the wonderful art work
Entrance to Amman sannidhi
The sthala vruksham palm tree in the second praharam
The acoustics are so well engineered here that the deep resonant archanai by the kurukkal had a resounding vibration and it was electrifying in the morning same was felt in the ambal sannidhi too.
The Maragadhambikai is about 3 feet tall very dainty and we can get very close to the idol during archanai. The resounding voice of the kurukkal with the ohm of the pooja namas echoing from behind and the ambience was a really good morning experience in spirituality. There is a tunnel which the priest said runs up to the Jalakanteshwara temple in the Vellore fort about 15 kms away . Only about 5 kms have been explored so far. . After receiving kumkum in the sannidhi I slipped into the mouth of the covered tunnel and that is when the kurukal enlightened me about the existence of this tunnel which was used by royalty and the shilpis who would run around protecting the main vigrahas by transporting jewels and vigrahas during alien invasions!!
The margabandhu shlokam composed by Appayya dikshithar
The temple legends and history as displayed in the temple