Monday, November 17, 2014

The Harihara Kshetra of Urukunda!

The Lakshmi Narasimha Veeranna Swamy Temple at Urukunda
Aalayam Kanden has been fortunate in bringing to its readers several lesser known and unique temples near Mantralayam in the past. Check out this link to read about all the other posts about temples near Mantralayam. Yet another to this wonderful list is the very unique Lakshmi Narasimha Veeranna Swamy temple at Urukunda, about 30 kms from Mantralayam.

So what is so special and unique about this temple?

The Sanctum Sanctorum in this temple comprises of a Peepal tree under which are the idols of Veerabadra Swamy and Lakshmi Narasimha and both are worshipped as per Veera Saiva Tradition! The Peepal tree is considered to be the main deity and there is no roof to the temple. Surprised? Let us go back into how this all came into being.

The Sanctum Sanctorum at the Lakshmi Narasimha Veeranna Swamy temple Urukunda
Photo Courtesy: Adoni Places
History of the temple: There was a sage named Hiranya (popularly called as Eranna or Veeranna in these areas) who did penance for many years under a Peepal tree in Urukunda village. All the cows that grazed in the village used to flock around him and he spent a lot of time pampering and talking to them. The villagers brought fruits and food to him and sought his blessings. Sage Eranna helped to cure chronic diseases and ailments of these kind villagers.

One day, Sage Veeranna disappeared from his usual place under the Peepal tree. At about the same time, an idol of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha appeared below the tree. The villagers believed that the sage had appeared before them again as Narasimha Swamy. They placed the idol of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha under the Peepal Tree and started worshipping him.

They also wanted to place an idol of Sage Veeranna alongside the Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy for worship. Since Sage Veeranna had been like a guardian angel of the village, (Kshetrapalaka), they made a silver idol of him represented as  Sri Veerabadra Swamy and installed it next to the idol of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha.

There is also another version of the story, that Sage Eranna used to advocate a lot for Saiva-Vaishnava unity, and after he disappeared two idols of Veerabadra and Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy were found below the Peepal tree and the villagers started worshipping them together within the same Sanctum Sanctorum.

Both Veerabadraswamy and Lakshmi Narasimha are worshipped as per the Veera Saiva tradition to date.

Sri Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy at the Sanctum Santorum of Urukunda temple
Photo Courtesy: Adoni places
Poojas and abhishekam are done to the holy Peepal tree. There is no roof to the Sanctum Sanctorum and one can worship the holy tree from the sides of the temple even if the main temple is closed. The temple draws several thousands of devotees through the year, who come to be rid of mental ailments and physical diseases.

Guru Raghavendra Swamy's visit: Once when Guru Raghavendra Swamy was travelling along the banks of the Tungabadra river, he is said to have told his disciples about the Urukunda temple and brought them there to worship Lord Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy and Veerabadraswamy.

Worshipping at the temple: As mentioned earlier, pilgrims throng the temple on Mondays, Thursdays and New Moon (Amavashya) days. The Telugu month of Sravana is very very special at this temple.

About ten to fifteen lakh pilgrims visit the temple during this time every year. On the third Monday of the month, the devotees make sweet rice on makeshift stoves outside the temple and offer it to Eranna Swamy and the devotees. Every year on this day, it rains very heavily in this area. However, devotees are able to cook the rice on the wet grounds using wet firewood which is considered to be a miracle of Sage Eranna.

On the last Monday of the month, there is a Pallaki Seva wherein the deities are carried to the river Tungabadra, for Abhishekam. During this month, people offer blocks of Vibhuti (holy ash) to Eranna Swamy and take it back to their homes. This vibhuti is then applied to the forehead of the person who is suffering from any ailment and is also taken orally and with the blessings of Eranna Swamy, the patient is cured.

People who stay in and around Adoni, take it upon themselves to visit Urukunda atleast once a year, especially during the month of Sravana, and offer rice, dal and jaggery which is used in the preparation of Prasadam. It is estimated that the temple provides food to a cost of around one crore rupees with the help of these donations during this month.

The Holy Peepal Tree at Urukunda under which Sage Eranna meditated
Marriage ceremonies in these areas usually begin with prayers to Eranna Swamy and once the rituals are completed, the groom and bride are brought back to the temple to seek blessings for a happy married life. They come back again after childbirth to offer the birth hair (tonsure) of the child to the Lord as token of gratitude.

The temple has been recently renovated and there is a large waiting area with shops outside the temple. This area would also serve as a place for people to stay and rest during the Sravana festival. Food is available at the Anna dhana chatra during the day for pilgrims who travel from long distances to visit the temple.

Shrine outside the Urukunda Temple
How to get here:

Urukunda is accessible by road and train from both Adoni and Mantralayam. It is about ten kilometres from Kupgal railway station and 27 kms from Adoni. Local jeep drivers at Mantralayam can help in taking pilgrims to Adoni, Basaladoddi and Budumuladoddi Hanuman temples and Urukunda which can all be visited in about half a day's time if one starts early from Mantralayam. (Articles about all these temples can be found in Aalayam Kanden here.) or one can take any local train and get down at Kupgal or Kosigi stations and take a share auto from there. Nearest place of stay would be Mantralayam or Adoni although there are a few modest cottages that belong to the temple.

Temple timings:

The temple is open throughout the day from 5 am in the morning till 8 pm at night.

Temple Address:

Urukunda Sri  Lakshmi Narasimha Veeranna Swamy Temple,
Urukunda, Kauthalam Mandal,
Kurnool District,
Andhra Pradesh - 518344

For jeep/taxi services from Mantralayam to the temple, you can contact Mr Srinivas at 098850 27919/ 098859 72488

The waiting hall outside the Urukunda temple