Sculptures steal the show here
Known as Tiruperunthurai in ancient times, Avudaiyar Koil, situated in Pudukottai, is unique in two aspects. This temple for Lord Siva does not have a Nandhi and Dwajasthambam.
READY TO TAKE OFF: Perfect chiselling brings the horse and the warrior alive. PHOTOS: Rupa Gopal
Known as Tiruperunthurai in ancient times, Avudayar Koil is known for the temple for Lord Siva who is also hailed as Atmanathar.
This temple is 45 km from Pudukottai and 14 km from Aranthangi, the nearest rail-head.
Legend has it that the original shrine here was established by saint Manickavasagar during the Pandya rule in the 8th century AD.
Many additions have been made to the temple by patrons, over the centuries, leading to its present impressive magnificence.
Avudayar Koil is unique in concept. It has no Lingam in the sanctum. Instead it only has the base, (Avudayar), which has a metal cover placed on it. This represents formlessness, the absolute ultimate.
INTRICATE DESIGN: Delicate workmanship highlights lovely details like the face of the rudraksham worn by Saivite saints.
Brahma was taught the Gayatri Mantra here by Atmanathar, when all the four Vedas appeared before Him. Hence, this place is also called `Chaturvedapuram.'
Unlike other Siva temples, this temple does not have a Nandhi and Dwajasthambam. The sanctum faces south, leading to the deity, also being referred to as Dakshinamurthy.
The temple has a tank called the `Deva Theertham.' Valmiki is believed to have taken a holy dip here.
`Agni Theertham' is said to have been created by the Lord, with a well in the East that contains Saligrama stones of Siva.
There is also `Atmakoopam,' the holy well located in front of the Nataraja shrine, and Parvati is said to have used its waters.
SCULPTURESQUE: The statue of Lord Anjaneya
A total of Nine more tanks, said to have been created by the Gods and sages, Brahma, Rudra, Adhi Kesava perumal, Agastya , king Mahabali , Guru, Vayu and two gandharvas, exist here. Fantastic sculptures adorn this huge temple.
Rope-like designs have been chiselled in stone, a most intricate style of work, called `kodungai.' Delicate workmanship has brought to life lovely details like strands of rudraksham worn by Saivite saints. Paintings on the ceilings have all but vanished with time. Huge yali figures have colourful old rasagundus hung in open mouths.
Even the offering to the deity is unique here hot boiled rice, cooked bitter gourd and greens are poured in a big heap on a platform, in front of the sanctum. Only the steam rising from this offering is offered as Naivedyam, continuing the theme of formlessness of the Divine. The temple belongs to the Tiruvavaduthurai aadheenam, the hometown of the legendary nagaswaram player, T. N. Rajaratnam Pillai. The maestro used to play at Avudayar temple twice a year, (during the two annual festivals in Aani (June) and Margazhi (December)), adding his divine musical notes to that of the Supreme's grace.
Not really on the usual pilgrim route, Avudayar Koil has long been a hidden treasure, waiting to be discovered.
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