Sunday, February 22, 2015

Enchanting Eri Katha Rama!

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Thiruninravur Eri Katha Ramar Temple
The mention of Thiruninravur immediately brings to mind the magnificent Bhakthavatsala Perumal temple and the divine Hridayaleeswarar Temple. (The Articles on Bhakthavatsala Perumal Temple and Hridayaleeswarar Temple on Aalayam Kanden can be accessed by clicking the links).

But equally if not more enchanting is the Eri Katha Ramar Temple that is tucked away in a lane opposite to the Bhakthavatsala Perumal Temple. The temple is practically unknown to the tourists who flock the two other temples. But for the locals who show this temple some love and the discerning traveller who takes time out to check for other interesting sites enroute, this temple is practically empty.

There is no signage either outside or in the temple. Also there is no gopuram or large vimanam to draw attention. But when one takes the effort to enter, they are sure to be awestruck in many ways than one.

History of the temple:

This temple is said to be older than the Bhakthavatsala Perumal temple. It is found on the banks of the Thirunindravur Lake (Thiruninravur Eri) originally known as Varuna Pushkarni. It is believed that this lake was flooded in a storm and the bunds were in the verge of breaking when the villagers prayed to Lord Rama. Lord Rama is said to have created a fence of arrows around the lake that prevented it from breaking whereby the village was saved. The villagers showed their gratitude by building a temple on the banks of the lake for Lord Rama.

Varuna Pushkarni at Eri Katha Ramar Temple Thiruninravur
The Purshkarni is right behind the temple and one look at its massive expanse gives an idea of what would have been the damage if the bund had been breached. Even a couple of years ago, they say,that the Pushkarni used to be full of water and the annual Theerthavari used to be conducted on Panguni Sravanam.

The massive expanse of the Varuna Pushkarni
Apart from this, the annual Brahmotsavam and Rama Navami festivals are celebrated with a lot of festivity.

One of the noteworthy episodes connected with the temple is associated with the birth of Mudaliyandan a disciple and associate of Saint Ramanuja. Saint Ramanuja's sister Nachiyarammal and her husband Vathoola Kula Thilaka Sri Anantha Narayana Dikshithar who stayed in the nearby Nazarathpettai were on a pilgrimage to Tirumala to worship Lord Venkateswara to seek the boon of childbirth. As night fell, they rested at the Eri Katha Ramar temple at Thiruninravur.

During the night, Lord Rama is said to have appeared in the dream of Sri Anantha Narayana Dikshithar promising that a son who was an amsam of Lord Rama would be born to them. When the son was born, they named him Dasarathi, after Sri Rama. Dasarathi became a disciple, devotee and associate of his maternal uncle, Sri Ramanuja and since his demeanor was such as Vishwaksena, (Senai Mudhalvar), he came to be known as Mudaliyandan.

The temple:

On entering the temple, the first shrine is that of Anjaneya as usual. Just outside the Anjaneya shrine, is a stone pillar with Sanku Chakra and the image of Anjaneya which seems to be from the original temple.

Hanuman Shrine at the Eri Katha Ramar Temple, Thiruninravur

The stone pillars with images depicting various Avatars of Lord Vishnu have been poorly plastered with concrete.
Kalki Avatar?
In the Artha Mandapa, is a very unique depiction of Lord Anjaneya. Carrying Rama and Lakshmana on his shoulders, with the demoness Lankini under his foot, carrying a mace and shield in his arms, this very unique idol of Sri Anjaneya is said to be found only in Naimisaranyam apart from here.

Lord Hanuman carrying Rama and Lakshmana on his shoulders
with Lankini under his foot
One is able to go around the idol and obtain the darshan of the feet of Lord Rama and Lakshmana too.

Padha Darisanam of Sri Rama and Lakshmana
We are now ready to witness the most awesome of all sights. The more than eight feet tall Kothandarama, with two arms, holding bow and arrow, flanked by the weaponless Lakshmana to his left, whose right hand is held in such a way as if he was holding a horizontal bow, and the gracious Sita Devi holding a Lotus in her hand.

The sanctum Sanctorum - just to give the size of the Lord against humans!
No picture can do justice to the beauty of the Lord within the sanctum sanctorum, let alone a poor mobile phone picture! The beauty of this Rama, has to be seen to be enjoyed! It is also interesting to note that these images are not made of stone, but of stucco, which probably is yet another reason that they look so captivating!


The magnificent Eri Katha Rama at Thiruninravur

At the moment, the temple is in need of patronage, especially rice for aradhanam and oil and ghee for lamps. Monetary support is also most welcome.

How to get here:

Thiruninravur is about 32 kms from Chennai and can be accessed by road, bus or suburban train. The temple is few feet away from the Bhakthavatsala Perumal Temple. 

Temple timings:

Morning - 8.30 - 11.30 am
Evening - 5.30-7 pm
Shri Narayana Bhattar who is the Bhattacharyar at the temple is currently unwell. Therefore, Shri Venugopal Bhattar who is taking care of the Anjaneyar Sannadhi at Bhakthavatsala Perumal temple is also taking care of this temple. So in case you find the temple closed, you may reach out to him at the Anjaneyar sannadhi or at his house on Car street.

Contact Details:
Venugopal Bhattar - 78457 85715/ 98408 37689


If you happen to be in Thiruninravur, please take time to visit the Eri Katha Ramar Temple too!