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Deities in rare forms

The Pallikondeswara temple in Surutapalli, near Chennai, is unique because it is only at this place that Lord Siva is seen resting His head on the lap of Goddess Parvathi. GAYATREE MOHAN narrates the legend behind it.



Dampathi (Gowri) sametha Dakshinamurthy.

ABOUT 56 KM from Chennai, on the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border, is a small village called Surutapalli, which houses the only "Sayana Sivan" (sleeping Siva) called Pallikondeswarar. The temple has an interesting Sthala Puranam. Sage Valmiki prayed to Lord Rama and the Lord gave him darshan. After defeating Ravana, and before reaching Ayodhya, Rama stayed at this place. So the two together prayed to Lord Siva. The Lingam, which Valmiki prayed to, is called Valmikeshwarar and the one Rama prayed to is Ramalingeshwarar. At present these two Lingams face each other. Harihara Bhugga, a king of the Vijayanagar dynasty, built this temple. There are 276 Saiva Sthalams, which have received the Thirumurais of Appar, Sundarar, Manikkavachagar and Thirugnanasambhandar. Their time was before the 10th century. Since this temple was built much later, it did not receive the Thirumurai.

Once Indra lost his kingdom and found that only if he consumed the Divine Nectar he could rule. So there was a tug of war between the devas and asuras to obtain this nectar. As they were churning the ocean, before the nectar came the poison. So there was complete pandemonium. Lord Siva then swallowed the poison and came to be called Nilakandan. A stunned Parvathi quickly stopped the poison at the throat. Siva then became drowsy and selected Surutapalli, where he is seen sleeping on the lap of Parvathi.

Narada, meanwhile, passed on the message and down came the Devas, Brahma, Vishnu and the Saptarishis, to have darshan. They were promptly stopped by Nandi who asked them all to come after some time, as Shiva was resting. All of them waited. Siva, when he woke up, was filled with extreme happiness and danced ("Ananda Thandavam"). This day, when the Devas, Brahma, Vishnu, Narada and Saptarishis had Siva darshan was a Krishnapaksha Trayodasi (Stiravaram, Saturday). This is the Mahapradosham day. Pradhosham, generally, is a significant occasion observed with great piety at all Siva temples. This temple was one of the favourites of the Paramacharya, who stayed here for 10 days, and in whose memory a Dhyana Manadapam is to be constructed. Pallikondeswarar's Sannidhi is seen in Kasi (Hanuman Ghat) and the Sage of Kanchi wished that devotees visiting Kasi would follow Pallikondeswarar to Surutapalli.

Sri Jayendra Saraswati and Vijayendra Saraswati performed the Kumbabhishekam of the temple on June 23, 2002. Along with it started the temple renovation. All the deities here are crowded together at one place. So plans are on to create separate shrines for Ganesha, Muruga, Saptamata, Navagraha, etc., The three-tier Rajagopuram will be made a five-tier one.

Goddess Maragadambikai, with Sanganidhi and Padmanidhi as dwarapalakas, greets one at the entrance. The Ambal shrine is at a slightly more elevated level than the Pallikondeswarar Sannidhi to highlight that it was She who saved the Lord. Denoting prosperity are Kamadhenu and Kalpakavriksha in front of the goddess. Outside are her sons, Saligrama Ganapathi and Subramanya. On the left wall of the Ambal shrine is Raja Rajeswari in a standing posture after destroying Bhandasura. Behind is Mahalakshmi and on the right wall is Saraswathi. There are number of other deities and rishis — all beautiful sculptures.

The Ambal shrine is surrounded by Appar, Sundarar and Sambhandar together, apart from Sage Valmiki, Ekapada Trimurthi (one foot and three forms) of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva with their Divine vehicles, the Swan, Garuda and Nandi, and Purna Pushkala Sametha Sastha. Intricate carving is a highlight of all the deities and mounts.



The three-tier gopuram that awaits renovation.

On the left wall of the Valmikeshwarar shrine is Dakshinamurthy, in a form entirely different from the usual image. Here he is Dampathi (Gowri) Sametha Dakshinamurthy. Incidentally, the Lord is often erroneously referred to as Dampadya Dakshinamurthy. Clearly seen are sages, Patanjali and Vyagrapthar. The Lord, mounted on His bull mount is in a seated posture with one foot on Apasmasura and the other leg folded on a Yoga Pattai and embracing his Consort Gowri on a Rishaba Vahana.

Behind Valmikeshwarar is Lingothbhavar, again an intricately carved. Siva is standing inside a Lingam. Below is Varaha and on the left is the swan indicating Brahma. To the right is Thazhambu. Both depicting the well-known legend. On the wall on the right side is Brahma, away from whom are Sapta Mata (seven mothers) namely, Bhavani, Maageshwari, Koumari, Vaishnavi, Vaarahi, Indrani and Chamundi.

Standing next to them are Visalakshi and Kasi Viswanathar. Beyond is Venugopala, Adigara Nandhi and footprints of Lava-Kusha (Sons of Rama) just outside Ramalingeshwarar.

Inside the sanctum of Ramalingeshwar is Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, Shatrughna and Anjaneya.

The shrine of Pallikondeswarar is situated on the right. The huge reclining figure of the Lord is awesome.



Where the Paramacharya stayed for 10 days... a dhyana mandapam is to be built at the spot.

The Lord is in the Bhoga Sayana on the lap of Sarvamangala with all the Devas, Saptarishis, Brahma, Vishnu and Indra waiting. So he is called Vishapaharanar (one who swallowed poison) or Sarvamangala Sametha Sri Pallikondeswarar.

Contributions for the renovation work of the temple may be made to:

Mr. K. S. Venkararama Raju, Chairman, Trust Board, Sri Pallikondeswara Swamy Devasthanam, Surutapalli, Dasukuppam Post, Nagalapuram M.D., Chittoor District Pin-517 588 (A.P.)

* * *



Sri Sarvamangala Sametha Pallikondeswarar at Surutapalli.

This village is on the Chennai-Tirupati route and can be reached easily from Puthur which is about 8 km. (Some of the APSRTC buses stop just outside the temple. A person travelling from Chennai has to cross Poondi and Uthukottai. Surutapalli is midway between Uthukotai and Nagalapuram.)

The Postal Address is: Sri Pallikondeswara Swamy Devastanam, Surutapalli. Dasukuppam Post, Nagalapuram M.D., Chittoor (Dist), PIN-517 588 (A.P.)

Darshan Time: 6.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.

4.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.

Pradosham days morning 6.00 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. Sani Pradosham is especially important when about 15,000 devotees throng this temple. On the occasion of Maha Sivaratri well over 30,000 devotees wait for the darshan of Pallikondeswarar.

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