Thursday, December 24, 2009

Temple Visit – Kundrathur

I recently visited two temples at Kundrathur which is about 28 kms from Chennai located in the middle of Pallavaram, Poonamalee and Porur. The Nageswarar temple is the one dedicated to Lord Shiva and the other one is the famous temple for Lord Subramanya or Muruga. The Murugan temple is on the hillock with all serenity and you will get fresh Oxygen here without the city pollutions and can recharge your soul. You will be surprised to know that this town is also the birth place of Saint Poet Sekkizhar who is the author of the famous “Periya Puranam” which is considered as an important epic in Tamil literature. The poem narrates the life of the 63 Nayanmars or Saivite devotees of Lord Shiva. If there has to be a temple shot in films, filmmakers head to Kundrathur for its multi step entrance and its mountainous view. Films like Vijay’s 'Nenjinilae', Simbu’s 'Kadhal Azhivathilai', the latest 'Azhagar Malai' and TV serial 'Kolangal' and 'Velan' have been shot here. Finds interesting?!! please read on to know more about the temples of Kundrathur.

Nageswarar Temple

The Nageswarar temple is more than 800 years old. The Lord is known as Nageswarar since he is being worshipped by Adi Sesha the foremost and king of all snakes and his consort is known as Kamakshi. This temple is believed to be built by Sekkizhar. This is considered the Raagu sthalam of the Navagraha Temples around Chennai. The temple and its tank are clean and well maintained. This place is also called as “Vada Thirunageswaram” i.e. temple similar to the Tirunageswarm temple near Kumbakonam.

The Thondai Nadu was divided into 24 sections and it was in the division known as “Puliyur Kottam” - Kundrathur - that Sekkizhar Swamikal was born. He was known as Arul Mozhith Thevar. Kulothunga II was ruling the Chola dynasty at that time. He had heard the adage “Thondai vala nadu sandror udaithu”. The plentiful land of Thondai Nadu abounds with scholars. He wanted to test the validity of this statement and also to identify the best of scholars living there. He therefore sent a Palmyra leaf to the land, containing three questions, for the scholars to answer.

The three questions were:

Which is loftier than the hills?
Which is vast than the ocean?
Which is greater than the world?

These questions did their rounds among the scholars and they found it difficult to answer. Finally when it came to Sekkizhar, he answered all the three of them, from the great work, Tirukkural.

The Kural that answered the first question, is “More lofty than a mountain will be the greatness of that man, who without swerving form his proper state, controls himself.” (Kural 124).Sekkizhar quoted the answer from Tirukkural for the second one also “If we weigh the excellence of a benefit which is conferred without weighing the return, it is larger than the sea.” (Kural 103) For the third question, ‘Which is greater than the world,’ he gave the answer, “A favour conferred in the time of need, though it be small is much larger than the world.” (Kural 102)

The questions could not have been answered more appropriately. This incident is mentioned by Kamban, the poet of poets, in his ‘Erezhubadhu.’ “Mannil, Kadalil, Malayil peridhena enni ezhudhik koduththa etrrakai” he says. The hand that wrote the thoughtful answers of which is greater than the world, the hills and the ocean. Kulothunga II realised the greatness of Sekkizhar and honoured him with the title ‘Uthama Chola Pallavan.’ Sekkizhar became the minister of the King. He worshipped Lord Shiva in Then Thiru Nageswaram, near Kumbakonam. The temple tank is known as Surya Pushkarani since it has the distinction of Sun having his holy dip in it. The Champaka tree became the sthala vrksha, since Parvathi did her penance under the tree for uniting with her Lord in the ‘Ardhanareeswara’ form. Sekkizhar installed a Lingam in Kundrathur and consecrated a temple there, in all respects similar to the one in Then Thiru Nageswaram - with a temple tank called Surya Pushkarani and the Champaka tree as the sthala vrksha. Therefore, the temple, which in all respects is a replica of the original temple, is called Vada Nageswaram. The direct rays of Sun fall on the presiding deity in the month of Masi, on 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22.

Festivals

The wedding festival of the Lord and Devi is celebrated on the full moon day of the month Chithrai followed by Brahmotsavam for 10 days. In the following month, Vaikasi, birthday of Sekkizhar is celebrated on the star Pusam. The temple underwent many changes and additions during the coming years. The 24-stone mantapa, the massive wall around the prakara were later additions. In the year 1944, the Raja gopuram and also the gopuram on the sanctum sanctorum were constructed. The Rajagopuram, Vimanam over the sanctum sanctorum of Lord and Devi, dwaja stambam, the temple kitchen, the compound wall, etc., were renovated in 1972. There are 46 stone inscriptions in the temple. Significant among them are the ones of Kulothunga Chola III (1178-1218 AD), Rajendra Chola III (1246-1271 AD), Sundara Pandiyan (1251-1271 AD) Maravarman Kulasekara Pandiyan I (1268-1311 AD), Harihara Rayar I (1509-1592 AD) Sriranga Devarayar (1582-1592 AD) etc., covering a period of more than 500 years.

Kundrathur Murugan Temple

Kundrathur as the name implies this is a small village surrounded by hills. The Murugan temple is situated at the top of a small hill and 75+ steps leads to the temple. On climbing the steps “Valansuzhi Vinayagar” sannidhi stands first and having a dharshan of vinayagar in just a few steps one can enter the murugar shrine. Another Vinayagar Sannidhi can be seen here under a villva tree. This is a small hill temple for Lord Subramanya or Muruga with His two consorts built by King Klothunga Chola - II. Legend has it that Lord Muruga stayed in the hill on an auspicious day during His travel from Thirupporur to Thiruthani.

This place is also known as South Thanigai since Lord Subramaniar is sitting in the direction of north facing Thanigai and this is the only Murugan temple in Tamilnadu where the God is facing north. In the moolasthanam subramanyar stays with his consorts valli and devayani. The other specialty being that Lord Subramaniar can be seen with only one Goddess at a time though He is present with both of His consorts. The Saint Poet ‘Arunagirinathar” has visited this temple and has sung “Thiripugazh” on the Kunrathur murugan. The temple celebrate karthigai deepam in a grand manner and deepam will be lit on the hill temple. Kartikai asterism each month is considered sacred here. Skanda sashti in the month of Aippasi and “Padi Utsavam” in the month of Vaikasi are the main festivals celebrated here. In the inner praharam Shivan, Amman, and Vinayagar can be seen. In the outer praharam bhairavar, navagrahas, nagalingam under a peepal tree,dhaksinamurthy and durgai have separate sannidhis.

In addition to the above two temples there is a temple for Vishnu known as “Thiru Ooraga perumal” and a temple dedicated to the Saint “Sekkizhar”.

You will definitely like to visit next once more after having darshan at Kundrathur.

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