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Rich in history and architecture

R. SURYANARAYANAN

Sri Patteeswaraswamy temple near Coimbatore attracts devotees with its old world charm and exquisite sculptures.



Cool view: The temple tank with the gopuram in the background.

Six km. from the modern industrial city of Coimbatore is the ancient temple of Sri Patteeswara Swamy where the divine cow Kamadhenu and its calf Patti worshipped the Lord, as the legend goes.



FINE SAMPLE: Beautifully embellished ceiling and pillars.— PHOTOS: S. Siva Saravanan.

Perur is also known as Dhenupuram. Similar is the legend with the other two famous Siva temples — Sri Patteeswaraswamy temple at Dharasuram near Kumbakonam and Sri Dhenupureeswarar at Madambakkam near Chennai.



AUSPICIOUS: Nritha Ganapathi.

According to the sthalapuranam, the temple existed in Kruthayuga, Threthayuga and Dwaparayuga under different names, and was worshipped by Kamadhenu, Vyasa, Viswamitra and Lord Yama. Here, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu took the forms of the two sages Gomuni and Pattimuni and did penance for many years. They were blessed with the darshan of Lord Nataraja and His consort Sivakamasundari, and Perur came to be called Melai Chidambaram. Sri Patteeswarar and Sri Maragathambigai (Pachainayagi in Tamil) are believed to grant the highest boon of ending the cycle of birth and death (`Piravaneri'). `Piravapuli' (birth-less tamarind) and `Iravapanai' (deathless palm tree) make this temple special. The seed of the tamarind does not sprout when sowed. The palm tree is said to be more than a millennium old.



AWESOME: Urthuvaa Thandavar.

Records have it that Sundaramurthi Swamigal visited this temple (eighth century A.D.) and worshipped the Lord who directed him to a Chera king, Cheraman Perumal, to get funds to go to Mount Kailash.

Monolithic structures

"Periya Puranam" (Ayarkone Kalikamar), Perur Puranam and Mummani Kovai sing the glory of the temple.



THE GODDESS: Alankaattu Kaliamman.

The pillar adorned by the lion in seated and the lying postures and the mandapam opposite the Kanakasabai with monolithic structures carved out of single stones were built during sixth century A. D. by the Pallava ruler Narasinga Potharanya II, also called Rajasimha Varman. The fourteen pillars in this mandapam are richly carved with the images of the Lord, each six feet high. There is a shrine for Sri Varadaraja Perumal abutting the Ambal shrine inside the temple complex.



FULL FORM: Subramanyan.

According to the "Velvikkudi" inscription, a big temple had been built for Lord Vishnu in Perur by Nedunchadayan, Pandya king, between 740 and 770 A.D.



FEROCIOUS: Agora Veerabhadrar.

There are 24 epigraphical inscriptions dating back to Karikala Chola, Vikrama Chola, Rajaraja Chola II and Veera Pandya throwing light on the donations for pujas in the temple, grant of land and other assets. The Thevaram hymns on Sri Patteeswaram are not available, although references to this deity are made in many hymns. Sri Sundaramurthy Swamigal had darshan of the cosmic dance of Lord Nataraja before he proceeded to Thiruvanjaikalam (now in Kerala,) where another temple dedicated to Lord Siva was located. In and around the Perur temple, 32 tanks besides the Kanchi river and two lakes existed. What remains today is the river. This place, it is believed, was visited by the Pandavas during their exile in Viratanagaram.

Communal harmony

On the banks of the temple tank, a small temple dedicated to Lord Madheswara was built by Mannadiga kings and Hoysalas about which inscriptions are available on the walls of the tank.



RARE IMAGE: Yanaiyuri Portha Moorthy.

Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali Khan also patronised this temple, indicating religious harmony between Hindus and Muslims. Even today, a ritual called "Dheevatti Salaam" is conducted in the evenings and is believed to be the mode of obeisance of the Muslim rulers. People from all over the State throng the temple during Thiruvadirai, Panguni Uthiram. On the banks of the Noyyal (Kanchi), people, especially those from Kerala, perform obsequies for the dead.

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