|Vedal Vadavamukhagneeswara Temple|
The sun was about to set when we reached Vedal. As our vehicle went down the road from Cheyyur we were seldom prepared to witness the magnificence of this temple. We got down and rushed towards it, like children let loose on a beach. As we got closer, we could see the huge rock with inscriptions to the right of the temple.
Located in a place that was called Jayamkonda Chola Mandalathu Eendhur Kottathu Vedaal Naatu Vedaal and Chola Kerala Chaturvedi Mangalam, this temple dates back before the time of Raja Raja Chola and there are inscriptions from both his and Rajendra I 's time in the temple. The practice of Cholas had been to convert brick temples into stone temples. Surprisingly, this is one of the temples that has been left untouched.
To the left of the temple, one can see a huge Jyesta Devi, half buried in the sand. The presence of Jyesta Devi again shows the ancient nature of this temple.
One can also see a cracked up stone panel depicting the Saptha Kannis again lying in the sand in front of the temple, covered in dust.
After looking longingly at these lovely beauties, we move into the main temple. The temple now has only two shrines, one that belongs to the magnificent Vadavamukhagneeswara and the other small separate shrine, for his consort, Vasanthanayaki.
The shrine of Vadavamukhagneeswara, also called Vadavayilnayagar, which means the guardian of the northern entrance, is simple and still bears the resemblance to its once glorious past. The fallen plaster, and the broken bricks here and there, looks like wrinkles in the face of a queen. The pillars in the mandapa ahead of the sanctum sanctorum also contain inscriptions. The main shrine is flanked by Ganesha and Shanmuga on either side.
It is extremely interesting to note that the trunk of this Ganesha does not rest on any of his arms as it is usually depicted, but is found curled up on his tummy. Instead of the Mooshika, he has an elephant Vahana here!
The Balamurugan on the other side is found with a Japamala in one hand and a Paasa in the other, which is unlike in other temples.
After looking around the front mandapa, we now turn our attention to the Lord.
The magnificent Lord sits facing the East dressed humbly with just a Rudraksha Mala adorning him. What would have been a sanctum sanctorum that saw several festivals and a Lord who would have been adorned in the best of robes and jewellery, he now sits humbly, yet regally, waiting for devotees.
Manikanda Gurukkal, calls us forward, to perform the Harathi and my heart skipped a beat, when I saw the deep crack from the roof going down the back of the temple. If no intervention is done very soon, the temple could, by the elements of weather, easily break down and crumble.
I could not even pray, when I saw this. With a heavy heart, I walked out and around the temple. The Goshta Devathas are equally exquisite.
Cracked plaster exposing bricks, and vegetation underneath is seen all around the temple.
This Dakshinamoorthy, said to date back to the 9th Century, is seen with his right leg placed on his left leg.
As I went around, consciously not taking a picture of the huge crack at the back of the temple, slashing through the Gajabrista, I could see Chandikeswara standing alone in the open air, in his usual position, with no roof over his head.
Based on several requests over phone and email after this post was published, asking about the crack that has developed from the vimana right down the Gajabrishta behind the temple, I share the link of a fellow blogger's site that contains this picture.
Please click here to see that heart-breaking picture.
The stones used as tank bund also seem to have been removed from the temple and contain remains of inscriptions.
Manikanda Gurukkal now takes us into the shrine of Vasantanayaki. What a contrast to Vadavamukhagneeswara! As we entered the shrine, my eyebrows rose when I saw two goddesses, instead of one.
Reading my thoughts, the priest explained, that during the times of Raja Raja I, the Goddess Vasantanayaki's statue had got damaged. Cracks developed on the nose and fingers of the Goddess and scholars recommended that the damaged idol be immediately removed and replaced with a new idol. Arrangements were made to make an identical new idol.
Just before the day the new idol was to be placed in the sanctum sanctorum in place of the old one, the King had a dream. The Goddess came to him in the form of a middle aged woman, and asked him " Will you send your mother away if she became disabled?". The startled king woke up, and at dawn, ordered that the new idol must be placed without removing the old idol. So till date, we have two Vasantanayakis in the same sanctum sanctorum, waiting to calm the nerves of their devotees and offer whatever they come seeking for.
By now it is almost dark and time to leave. With a heavy heart, we bid goodbye to the priest and villagers who had gathered around the temple. With a prayer in our lips, that the temple must soon be restored to its lost glory, we get into our vehicles to head home.
How to reach here:
There are two routes to reach this temple. For those proceeding through Madurantakam, the temple is about 37 kms from Madurantakam and about 10 kms from Choonambedu. For those proceeding through the ECR route, the temple is about 5 kms from Kadappakkam and about 45 kms from Puduchchery.
The temple is opened in the morning for a single Kala pooja. The priest, Manikanda Gurukkal is happy to be contacted over phone prior to visit, so that he is available to open the temple for anyone who wishes to visit this must-see temple.
Manikanda Gurukkal: 94430 74074/ 99443 26789
This temple seeks patronage from all large-hearted people so that the efforts initiated by the villagers to restore this temple to its lost glory may be fulfilled. As true heritage lovers, it is our duty to do whatever we can to support this initiative.
Aalayam Kanden Trust takes pride in being associated with this cause. You may send in your contributions towards the repair of this wonderful temple through cheque/demand draft favoring Aalayam Kanden Trust payable at Chennai Or Via Bank Transfer to Account No.6028000100005596 , Punjab National Bank, West Mambalam Branch, Chennai 600033 IFSC Code: PUNB0602800 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.