Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sri Panakatteshwarar Puravammal Temple Panayapuram

By coincidence I happened to visit this temple today enroute to a camp in Vizhupuram ,The temple was in the news yesterday as the Highways department has earmarked this for demolition! to widen the nearby vikravandi tanjore highway.
The temple is a padal petra sthlam and thirugnanasambandar has sung about the temple in many places..The lord here is Panankaatesswarar referring to the palymra forests that once existed here. the ambal here is also known as Paravai/Sathyambigai/ Puravammai. Legend has it that Lord Surya worshipped Shiva here to regain his brightness and a rare feature here is in the months of april –may tamil month Chithirai the suns rays fall directly on the lord as well as the ambal bathing them from top to botom as he transits from morning to evening So  all sannidhis of the temple face east!
When i visited the temple a spirited group of volunteers were busy cleaning the temple and planning to petition the Chief minister against the destruction of this templeDSC_4823
How to each:
On the NH45  from Chennai to trichy after the  Vikravandi  Toll plaza the road takes a left turn towards Tanjore, Kumbakonam. Proceed for 2 kms  on this road and take the second left turn you will come along side the templeDSC_4825
Legends Of the temple:
I shall quote verbatim from “The Hindu” in the words of Shri Nagaswamy  a venerated state archeologist now retired .
R. Nagaswamy, former Director, Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department, said that the 1,300-year old temple was visited by the Tamil Savite saint Tirugnana Sambandar, who lived in the seventh century CE, and had sung verses celebrating the deity, a Sivalinga. The Sivalinga is called Panankateesvarar because the area abounds with palmyra trees.
The temple has a number of inscriptions belonging to Rajendra Chola I (regnal years 1012 CE to 1043 CE), his son, Rajendra Chola II, Adhi Rajendra, Kulotunga I, Jatavarman Sundara Pandya I and Vikrama Pandya among others.
Rajendra Chola's inscription called the deity Nethrodharaka Swami (meaning, the main deity will cure eye ailments). The inscription recorded the gift of land and money for worship and making offerings in the temple. It spoke about Rajendra Chola's conquest of Kadaram. (The present-day Kedda in Malaysia was called Kadaram and it belonged to Sri Vijaya kingdom). It revealed that the Chola emperor rebuilt the main temple between 1025 CE and 1040 CE, pointed out Dr. Nagaswamy.
“Another important aspect of the village is that it is also named Paravaipuram,” he said. Paravai was the consort of Tamil Saivite saint Sundarar, who lived in the eighth century CE. Paravai belonged to a family of dancing girls and she is worshipped even today, along with Sundarar, in Siva temples. Rajendra Chola I also had a personal assistant called Paravai, who was an ‘anukki.' This Paravai was named after Sundarar's consort. (Female personal assistants, who were trusted by the kings, were called anukki and anukkan were their male counterparts). Paravai built the Thyagaraja temple at Tiruvarur in Tamil Nadu and covered the vimana with gold, said Dr. Nagaswamy .
To honour her, Rajendra Chola I made her sit next to him in his royal chariot and drove her in a procession on the four main streets around the Thyagaraja temple. The Chola emperor made two bronze images resembling her and placed them before the deity in the Tiruvarur temple's sanctum and worshipped them. “This is recorded in a long inscription in the Tiruvarur temple,” said Dr. Nagaswamy, a scholar in epigraphy. Rajendra Chola I re-built the Panaiyapuram temple in Paravai's honour, when she was alive and the town around the temple was named after her.
The temple has two inscriptions of Rajendra Chola II (regnal years 1052 to 1064 CE), both datable to 1058 CE. One of the inscriptions mentions his gift of paddy to “Paravai Easwaramudaiyar Mahadeva in the town of Paravaipuram in Panaiyur Nadu”, falling under the larger division called “Rajendra Chola Valanadu.”
The temple has an inscription of Adhi Rajendra, who ruled from 1068 to 1071 CE. This inscription, dated 1070 CE, records the gift of tax-free land to the temple by a merchants' guild of Paravaipuram to feed the pilgrims. There is a record of Kulotunga Chola I (regnal years 1070-1122 CE) on the gift of gold coins by a chieftain named Ponnambala Kizhan of Arumbakkam, near present-day Chennai, for lighting a perpetual lamp.
“An interesting point about the Panaiyapuram temple”, said Dr. Nagaswamy, “is that on the first day of the Tamil month of Chithirai every year, the sun rays fall on the Sivalinga enshrined in the sanctum and the idol of Satyambikai. The temple's orientation is so perfect that this happens and special pujas are offered.”
Hindu report on proposed  temple destruction
view of the outer praharam  and dwajasthambam from the Gopuram gate
The gate in front of the dwajasthambam leads to a hall which in turn leads to the main praharam. You can see the ambal sannidhi on the right side of the photo above
The entrance to the main praharam with the dwarapalakas
The inner praharam has a garbhagruha with the sivalingam
The inner praharam has many vigrahas of the nayanmars, ganapathy,shiva etc., the volunteers group were busy in cleaning this praharam as you can see in the photos below

The kosta vigrahas are Bhikshandar, Dakshinamurthy, Lingodhbhavar ,Brahma, Durga and Chandikeshwarar as in all siva temples
mandurai,anbil,tirumangalam 011
( Lingothbhavar)
( Kala bhairava)
(Temple history)
The outer praharam has a Vinayaga, Murugan and Ambal sannithi all facing the east with the Sthalavruksham between the Shivan and ambal sanithiDSC_4801
( Vinayakar sannidhi)
(Murugan sannithi )
(Sthala vriksham Panaya maram)
Ambal sannithi on the right of the Shivan sannidhi The amman is standing up and about 5 feet tall
View of the Gopuram from the amman sannidhi There is a navagraha sannidhi seen on the can also see old stone pillars lying down probably the result of some old renovation.
A peculiar Vallabha  sametha ganapathy from the gopuram of the murugan sannidhi with 8 arms
A ganapathy in relief work with the thevara paadal near the main entrance
Volunteers clearing debris and preparing to white wash the temple
mandurai,anbil,tirumangalam 017 mandurai,anbil,tirumangalam 018
( Markings made on either side of the Amman sannidhi up to  where NHAI is planning to Demolish the temple.
I re visited the temple in four  days time and the Gurukkal said theyhad represented to the NHAI office in Chennai and were told that New Delhi will take the final call.
I had visited the temple two more times since this last visit . Only today the news was confirmed about the NHAI sparing the temple. For more info click the link to THE HINDU below