Cluster of temples in dilapidated state
The Utsavar idol of Lord Nataraja at the temple.
LONG YEARS of neglect by the authorities combined with indifference on the part of the public have led to the decay of a cluster temples in Pulipparakkoil, about two kilometres from the Patalam railway station, near Chengalpattu. Said to belong to the reign of Sadaiyavarman Sundara Pandya and Rajanarayana Sambuvarayan, the temples in the area one each of Vishnu, Siva, Subramanya and Thiruvothamman had been in existence for well over 700 years and if the present state of neglect continues, they might pass into the pages of history very soon.
Originally known as "Vada Ponnambalam" to differentiate it from "Ponnambalam" or "Kanagasabai" as Chidambaram is referred to, it was held in equal veneration in the past.
According to legend, born in his previous birth as Sage Gautama and in his next birth as the son of Sage Madhyanthar, Vyagrapadar, who prayed to the Lord to give him tiger's legs so that he could leap and pluck the flowers from plants before they were touched by honey bees in the early hours every day for performing Siva pooja, stayed and worshipped in Pulipparakkoil, and hence the Lord there came to be known as Vyagrapadeswarar. He also prayed to the Lord to give him darshan as Nataraja and the Lord obliged him and appeared as Hemasabesan as He did in Chidambaram. While the Moolavar idol of Sivalingam is known as Vyagrapadeswarar, the Utsava idol is that of Nataraja. The goddess is known as Balakuchalambikai.
Facing east, the temple, if it can be called so, as there is only a single Mandapam left intact in front of the elephant-shaped sanctum sanctorum known as "Thoonganai Madakkoil" where the Siva Lingam is enshrined, seems to be an ancient structure. The Lingam actually stands amidst ruins without even a pedestal. The Mandapam's pillars have many fine sculptures, including the Lord's appearance as "Gajari", or the one who killed Gajasuran and covered Himself with the skin of the demon, and Bhikshadanar. The Sivalingam is said to be a "Suyambumurthi" and unlike other Sivalingams its top portion is small and white in colour.
The Swayambu linga form of Sri Vyagrapadeswarar at the Pulippara temple near Chengalpattu.
The deities enshrined in the outer portion of the sanctum sanctorum and Dakshinamurthi, Vishnu, Brahma, Vishnu Durgai, Umamaheswarar and Bhairavar. The Goddess, housed in a separate shrine in the past, is now kept in the far corner of the sanctum sanctorum, as the shrine got dilapidated.
The inscriptions in the temple, give details about the existence of a big mandapam with Vijayanagar architecture, a separate shrine for the Utsavar idol, Nataraja. They also speak about the improvements carried out by Sundara Pandya, who visited the temple after worshipping Lord Nataraja in Chidambaram.
Another inscription says that Rajanarayana Sambuvarayan presented to the temple a portion of the income he got from what is known as "Madavalagam" tax. Yet another inscription narrates the privileges extended to the temple staff by the rulers. It is learnt that a local ruler, who was hailed as "Annadada" for his charitable disposition, gifted an entire village known as Sethirayanallur to the temple. Palar river, which takes a turn towards the south and flows near the temple as "Dakshina Pravahini", is the holy water source and the "Sthala Vriksham" is "Vilvam".
One of the images in the temple is claimed by the villages to be that of Adi Sankaracharya, installed in commemoration of his visit to the temple.
Just one-and-a-half km away is the temple dedicated to Lord Varadaraja in the place known as Arasarkoil. It is said to be older than the Kancheepuram Varadaraja temple. It was built by a king known as "Raja" and hence came to be known as Arasarkoil. The "Sthalavriksham" is the peepul tree. According to legend, Brahma did penance sitting under the tree and praying to Lord Narayana to appear before him. The Lord did so along with His Consorts, Sridevi and Bhoodevi. According to another legend when Brahma collected holy earth from the Palar to set up the Yagakunda in Kancheepuram, the idols of Lord Varadaraja and His Consorts were unearthed and he kept them in the temple built by the divine sculptor and worshipped them. Hence this temple, it is claimed, is more ancient than the Kancheepuram temple.
The Goddess here, as in Kancheepuram, is known as Perundevi Thayar. The Mukhamandapam in the Thayar shrine is an architectural marvel as the pillars contain no images in the upper portion and granite slabs on which flowers and creepers are engraved, link them. One of the pillars contains a small hole and a stick inserted comes out divided into four and eight pieces on the other side. There are also musical pillars nearby, but they have been damaged. This temple also has many inscriptions, which give details about the events that took place during Sundara Pandya's reign like his visit to Srirangam, his war with the rulers of Kancheepuram, his getting many titles and the gifts made by him to the temple.
Another inscription of the Vijayanagar rulers gives details about the tax exemptions granted to the villagers by an official known as Vadamalaiyar for blessing the rulers. The inscription of Rajanarayana Sambuvarayan says that the temple was repaired during his rule and lands were gifted for conducting daily poojas. Both the Moolavar and the Utsavar idols are known by the same name of Varadaraja and the Vimanam is known as Pralavakosha Vimanam or Kamala Vimanam or Amala Sikara Vimanam. Poojas are conducted according to Vaikhanasa Agama and the temple is under the control of the HR and CE Department. There are separate idols of Perundevi Thayar, Andal, Chakkarathazhwar and a small idol of Lakshmi Narasimhar. These might have been housed in separate shrines in the past, but are now kept along with those of the presiding deity in the sanctum sanctorum.
The side walls of Sri Varadaraja Perumal temple at Arasarkoil ... need for renovation.
The idol of Varadaraja has "Prayoga Chakram" in His right hand. There are two other small temples dedicated to Kandaswami (Subrahmanya) and Thiruvothamman in the village, which are also in dilapidated condition and need repairs.
It has been estimated that over Rs. 30 lakhs are needed to repair the Siva temple, Rs. 52 lakhs for the Varadaraja temple, Rs. 4.5 lakhs for the Kandaswami temple and Rs. 2.5 lakhs for the Thiruvothamman temple.
The budget was discussed at a meeting, held on November 26, 2002, attended by Sri Jayendra Saraswathi of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, the Thondaimandalam Adheenam, and HR and CE officials. The Kanchi Acharya assured them that he would extend all help for renovating the temples.
T. A. SRINIVASAN
Send this article to Friends by