Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sri Margabandheeshwarar temple at Virinjipuram near Vellore

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 youIMG_0001

The temple is famous for its compound wall which is exquisite in having minute stone carvings all around which is no mean feat!!IMG_0060 IMG_0062IMG_0061

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

Simhatheertham in the outer praharamIMG_0041

Brahma theertham


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)

Entrance via the eastern facing main Raja gopuramIMG_0002

The Selva vinayagar behind the nandi and dwaja sthambam in the entrance to the second praharam IMG_0005IMG_0006

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 . IMG_0053

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!!IMG_0042 IMG_0043 IMG_0044 IMG_0045 IMG_0048 IMG_0052


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



Murugan sannidhi


Entrance to Amman sannidhi


The sthala vruksham palm tree in the second praharam


The inner praharam houses the Majestic  resplendent Shiva lingam tall and you can get really close to the main Shiva lingamIMG_0023

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 Kosta vigrahas are Ganapathy,Dakshinamurthy, Vaasudeva perumal in the back with Brahma and Vishnu durgai. IMG_0015 IMG_0016

The Gajaprushti vimanam is easily seen hereIMG_0019 IMG_0020 IMG_0021 IMG_0022There are also statues of the 63 Nayanmars and also the sapthakannikasIMG_0017

A rare sight Lakshmi saraswathy and SundareshwararIMG_0018

The ambal sannidhi is a self contained structure with its own dwaja sthambam and Balipeetam IMG_0038 IMG_0037

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

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The temple legends and history  as displayed in the temple


Monday, June 23, 2014

Adhishtanam of the 12 th Kanchi acharya Shri Sivanandendra Chidghanendra Saraswati at Vriddhachalam

Adhishtanam of  the 12 th Kanchi acharya Shri Shivanandendra Chidghanendra Saraswathi has recently been discovered in the premises of the  Vriddhagireeshwarar temple at Vriddhachalam (click here to see my blog on this temple) as per details in the Kanchi mutt calendar 2014. The Annamalaiyar lingam in the northwest corner next to the Kamakshi sannidhi  situated in the Second praharam of the Shiva temple complex is where this acharya attained Jeeva samadhi.This lingam alone has a gopuram among a host of other lingams here like kasi Vishweshwarar and Chandramoulishwarar. The Sanctum has enough space for pradakshinam on the outside and is certainly an important structure. The local priests were not aware of the adhishtanam when I enquired with them . The mutt calender says this acharyas Jayanthi will be celebrated grandly in Feb 2015.

 (Below are details from the Kamakoti peetam website acharya parampara)

Sri Sivanandendra Chidghanendra Saraswati : He was a Karnataka Brahmin and the son of one Ujjvala Bhatta. His poorvasrama name was Iswara Vatu. His predilections were towards Sivaadvaita. He attained mukti at Vrjddhachala on Sukla Dasami in the month of Jyestha of the cyclic year Virodhikrit (172 AD).

The pic below is a carving from one of the pillars which I believe depicts the acharya . (Please pardon the shaky pic)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sri Visha Mangaleshwarar Mangalambikai temple – A Vaipu sthalam

I stumbled on this temple late in the evening on 17.5.14 . This temple has a very unique U S P in that there  are very unique idols here, the sculptures are exquisite, The temple is associated with a Lingam called Vadamunishwarar  situated about 500 mtrs away which the archeologists say is a medicinal stone and the oil from this Shiva's abhishekam sells like hot cakes. This place has a Kalyana utsavam for Brahma and Saraswathy  a very unique festival.

How to each:

The temple is about 1 km further towards salem from the Thiruvasi temple. It is on the left of the road on a bit of land which is between the Kaveri and the left bank canal.20140517_184250

The temple has sannidhi for Shivan and Mangalambikai.

The unique vigrahas are 6 couples

Surya with his wife,

Lakshmi Narayana,

Kalyana Sundareswarar with Kathyayini. The lord has embraced kathyayini and has also stepped on her toe a marvelous sculpture20140517_184059

Subramanya with Valli Devasena,

Brahma and Saraswathi. The saraswathy here is in Dhyana posture with no veena she is housed as Kosta vigraha instead of a Vinayaka

Durga is Vishnu Durgai on lotus peetam with agni in hand.

The  Dakshina moorthy idol is with veena known as Digichandana in his hand.. This is supposedly good for optic nerve problems, The strings of the veena are supposedly strands of optic nerve which can be strummed only by Shiva!!

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Surya and Chandra are seen on top of Dakshinamoothy to either side with chamaram.The usual sanatkumaras are missing and there is a female bell clapper instead
Surya is seen with his consort and behind there is Lakshmi narasimha also

The speciality is abhishekam to Dakshinamurthy and saraswathy with honey which is sold in the temple. The honey is to be consumed early morning for success in studies.

The ambal sannidhi is small and has a tall ambal Mangalambikai blessing us facing south

There is a huge snake pit outside 20140517_182755

The ride to the temple is on a narrow mud bank and is adventurous but motor able. The sculptures are unique and a beauty to behold. Well worth the trouble of travel20140517_182812

Sri Sameevaneswarar (Mattrurai Varadeswarar) sametha Balambikai temple at Tiruvasi- A padal petra sthalam

On the Trichy to Salem road very near to Mannachanallur road is this ancient temple on the banks of the Kaveri.The temple has been connected with the miracles of Saint Thirugnanasambandar and Sundarar.It is a big temple which is in daily worship with a very energetic Priest who was patiently doing the sayam kala pooja when I visited.

How to Reach:

From Trichy toll gate take the musuri, salem road and in about 20 Kms after crossing Bhikshandar koil, Mannachanallur road you will come to the village of Tiruvasi. A right turn here leads to the temple inside the village20140517_173804

Legends of the temple:

The temple has been associated with Sundarar who cane here after visiting tiruvanaikaval. He asked the lord for some money. Shiva pretended to be a poor fellow and after Sundarar sung 10 songs was obliged to give sundarar a lump of mud? poor quality gold. Sundarar was no happy and he called on two men around who confirmed it was gold. These men were Shiva and Vishnu. The same is depicted in the temple gopuram in the entrance to the Shivan praharam20140517_181219


The king of this place had left his daughter inside the temples she  had a bad back problem almost crippling her. Sri Thirugnanasambandar came here and sung songs an Shiva who converted the dosha of the princess into the form of the demon Mugilan and danced on him with his hair tied up. The princess was cured and the same is depicted here in the figurines. The natarajar here is shown dancing on the sarpa (Snake) and not on the Mugilan as usual.20140517_181219


As you enter the main gopuram you see the kodimaram and Nandi in front and the amman sannidhi on the left facing the west20140517_181316

There are directions to do pradakshinam and the history  board

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The next praharam leads to the main sannidhi of Shivan at an elevated place 20140517_173929 

The shivan is a medium sized lingam and the Natarajan in the outer sanctum

The Outer wall has the various Kosta vigrahas  like Ganesha, Dakshinamurthy. Vishnu and Lakshmi in the west  20140517_174008 20140517_174018 20140517_17445220140517_174206 

The ambal sannidhi is facing the Shivan sannidhi and the ambal is standing about 5 feet. The dwarapaalikas very important and the devotees tie their requests to their hands to be given to the devi.

There is a nice walking path outside the main praharam and there is a selva vinayagar in front of the Amman .20140517_175005

The hall with the nandi has pillars with Thirugnana sambandar, Sundarar and the Mazhavan Raja and also a ball inside the pillar carved from a single stone  20140517_181209 20140517_181213  20140517_181240