Thursday, August 4, 2011

Varadaraja Perumal, Chandramouleeswarar and Vakrakaaliamman Temple, Thiruvakkarai




The tamil month of Aadi is devoted to the worship of "Shakthi" - Amman, Ambal, Devi,  Ambigai, Thaayar, Eswari, Mariyatha, Kaaliyatha whatever be the name we call her by, she encompasses everyone in the warmth of her grace and compassion. The new moon day in the month of Aadi is even more special when ancestors are remembered and prayers and offerings made.

This year, Aadi Amavashya fell on a saturday and we decided to visit an "Amman" shrine and what better choice than the Vakrakaaliamman temple in Thiruvakkarai . Being sensitive to the fact that a large number of devotees may be expected, we left early and reached the temple around 8.30 am.

After purchasing a garland of 108 lemons, pooja items and entrance tickets, we entered the temple. There were about 25 - 30 people in line at the Rs.10 special entrance (this becomes Rs.50 on full moon days) and we quickly joined the queue . A portion of the sanctum sanctorum wall has been broken up to form the special entrance and we waited patiently to move through the narrow passage.

Once we got into the sanctum sanctorum and my eyes adjusted to the dim light inside, the first thing I saw was four women in odd sizes,with tonsured heads, in the place of Dwarapalaka(i)s. While we waited for the coconut to be broken  by the designated person,I asked him about them.He said that those women had been milkmaids who sold milk and  curds adulterated with water for high profit. When the King heard about this, he ordered  their heads to be tonsured, and then chopped off. The women, realising their mistake, ran to the temple and cried at the feet of the Goddess seeking forgiveness. The Goddess appeared before them, forgave their sins and kept them as her Dwarapalakis. What an interesting incident to illustrate the benevolence of the Goddess!

By the time I heard this tale, the crowd in front of me had moved on and I got a full view of the Goddess.   Her appearance is indeed magnificient.

Her head is surrounded by a halo of flames. She wears a skull crown, and the corpse of a new born in her right ear as "Kundalam". Her eight hands carry different weapons like lasso, discus, sword, dagger, damroo, shield, skull cup and her index finger in one left hand points downwards towards the ground. She wears a garland of skulls. She is supposed to have been a fierce Goddess, after destroying a Rakshashi called Dunmukhi. Saint Adi Shankara is said to have calmed her down by installing a "Sri Chakra"under her left foot. She now stands with her eyes looking downwards, her face calm and serene.

How did she come to be called Vakra Kaali amman? Why is everything in this temple contrary to normal manifestation? Long ago, there was a demon called Vakrasura who lived here. He worshipped Shiva by placing the Aathmalingam on his throat .After long penance, Shiva appeared before him. The Asura sought immortality. Lord Shiva said that it was not possible. Therefore, the Asura asked to be killed only by God and that too not by Lord Shiva.

The empowered Asura, started harassing innocent people .Those affected by him sought asylum in Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva sought the assistance of Lord Vishnu to destroy the Asura. Lord Vishnu, took the form of Varadaraja Perumal,  fought with the Asura and killed him with the use of the Chakrayudha.(Discus)

But that was not the end. Vakrasura had a sister called Dhunmukhi. Once her brother was killed,she wanted to take revenge and started tormenting innocent people. Lord Vishnu sought the help of his sister Parvati, to destroy Dhunmukhi. Parvati took the form of Kaali, and fought with Dhunmukhi who was pregnant at that time. As the killing of a child or pregnant woman is against Dharma, the Goddess tore open the stomach of Dhunmukhi, took the foetus out and wore it as an earring. She then killed Dhunmukhi and stood there as Vakrakaaliamman.

The Poojari brought lemon and kumkum as prasadam and we took them, prayed sincerely to the Goddess and moved out of the Sanctum Sanctorum. Just outside the main shrine there is a Shivalingam called Kandalingam. This is the Shivalingam that had been worshipped by Vakrasura. This lingam is said to be cool in summer and in the rainy season, droplets of water are found over it.

Deepa Lakshmi Shrine
Opposite the Sanctum Sanctorum, there is a shrine for Deepalakshmi. Girls seeking marriage alliance, light lamps in lemon peel and tie yellow threads on the goddess. This offering is mainly done on full moon days.   This place is abuzz with activity. There are several families clustered here, tying threads, offering pongal and panchamrutham and lighting lamps. There are several Naga Statues to which people pray to to get rid of Naga Dhosham.

A word of caution: Be sensitive to the transgenders who throng this area. They offer to remove the evil eye for Rs.21 per person. If you humour them, they start demanding money. While not being harsh with them, one can gently ward them away.

There is a beautiful kalyana mandapam with a hundred sculptured pillars opposite to the Deepalakshmi Shrine. Although this remain closed, the important temple festivals are conducted here.

We moved around the Vakrakaliamman shrine where several people were lighting lamps and camphor cubes.The Goddess Vakrakaliamman is said to be the Adhidevatha for both Rahu and Kethu. Because of this, devotees circumambulate five times clockwise and four times anticlockwise around the Sanctum Sanctorum. 

One of the significant features of this temple is the "Jothi Darisanam" at 12 noon on New Moon Day and 12 midnight on full moon days. A stone column stands to the left of the main entrance on which camphor cubes are lit at the set time on both days. Several people visit the temple to witness this Jothi Darisanam. We found that preparations had already started for this ritual being new moon day.

As we completed the circumambulation,we found a Nandi half buried in a small stone pit. Not sure why? There are also  several inscriptions at this temple, which had been built during  907 - 957 AD  by Raja Aditya Chola, son of Paranthaka Chola I and his brother Kandaradhitya Chola.
The Nandi in front of the Atmalingam

We then moved towards the Chandramouleeswarar temple. The Shiva temple is in a seperate complex with its own Nandi and Gopuram. We stood for a few minutes taking in the sight of the magnificient Nandi, towering above the two Ganeshas found on either side of it. The Nandi faces the entrance of the Chandramouleeswara shrine.

However, the Nandi is not in a straight line with the entrance, dwajasthambam and the Shiva shrine. Each one of them slightly away from the other (vakram) which is yet another unique feature of this temple.
The Nandi in front of the Chandramouleeswara
Temple


Although this is a site where Lord Varadaraja Perumal destroyed Vakrasura, and Goddess Vakrakaali destroyed Dhunmukhi, this place has come to be known popularly as the Chandramouleeswarar temple as it is one of the 275 Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams. Thirugnanasambandar, Thirunavukkarasar and Sekkizhar have sung hymns in praise of Sri Chandramouleeswara. We walk into the shrine not anticipating the delight that awaits us.

Usually Lord Shiva is found in the form of Lingam in temples dedicated to him. It is very rare to find Shiva or Lingam with a human face. There are Shivalingams with five faces in Nepal and Kalahasti. Thiruvakkarai is the only place in India and probably in the World where Lord Shiva is seen with three faces. 

The huge lingam with the three faces for Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma respectively, holds you spellbound. The Shiva face is found in direct view. Wearing the Crescent Moon on his head and with Kundalams in his ears, Lord Shiva looks absolutely magnificient. The two faces on either side depicting Vishnu and Brahma respectively can be seen through the mirror while Harathi is performed. The Agora Mugham of Shiva facing the devotees has fangs on either side of the mouth that can be clearly witnessed during Milk Abhishekam.

To the right of Chandramouleeswara, one can find the Nataraja Shrine. This is also unique (vakram) since Nataraja has his right leg lifted up and left leg placed on the ground, contrary to the normal posture. Also his hair is tied up and not flowing, like in other temples.

The circumambulatory path around the Chandramouleeswara temple is a treasure trove of ancient sculptures. The Ganesha under a tree, and another Ganesha with a 2.5 feet Mooshikha in front of him (almost like a Nandi) are enchanting. The Vishnu Durgai found here is half Vishnu and half Durgai, something I have not seen anywhere else.  To the left of the Chandramouleeswara shrine, Goddess Amirthambigai can be worshipped in a seperate shrine.

Kundalini Maharishi Samadhi: 
The Samadhi of Kundalini Maharishi is found to the right of the Chandramouleeswara Shrine. A huge Shivalingam is found above the samadhi and there are several people in the forecourt of the shrine meditating. We too sat there and meditated for some time. The ease of concentration, and the inner peace felt due to the positive fibrations here are worth mentioning.

We then moved towards the Varadaraja Perumal Shrine which is behind the Chandramouleeswara shrine. One could not help, but notice, the difference in patronage and resources between the Vakrakaaliamman temple and the other two temples in the same complex. It was sad to find the Bhattar in the Perumal shrine instructing people to contribute liberally. The Lord was absolutely breathtaking. Over six feet tall, with a prayoga chakram in hand, he stands alone, without the company of Sridevi and Bhoodevi.

Varadaraja Perumal with Prayoga Chakram
On the inner wall opposite Varadaraja Perumal, one can find a unique stone carved "Ramakrishna." Lord Krishna is seen with Bama and Rukmani holding a bow and arrow in his hand!
This shrine has been built by Kochengat Cholan.

After worshipping Lord Varadaraja Perumal, we moved towards the Navagrahas. When every shrine in this temple speaks of something unique (Vakram) can the Navagrahas be far behind?
We see Shani Bhagavan with the crow is turned towards left, contrary to what we find in other shrines.


Thiruvakkarai is a "Graha Vakra Parihara Sthalam". Worshipping Vakrakaali, Vakralingam and Vakra shani on three consecutive full moon days is said to rid one of any problems arising due to retrograde movement of planets as per horoscope. 

Thiruvakkarai is also famous for petrified wood and the Geological Survey of India has created the National Fossil Park here which attracts a large number of visitors to it. The locals believe that these fossils are the bones of Vakrasura that have turned into stone.

How to reach the temple:

Tiruvakkarai (79.65 N, 12.03 E) is about 137 kms from Chennai and about 16 kms from NH 45 (GST Road). While travelling from Chennai,about 2 kms from Tindivanam,there is an intersection at Kooteripattu. Take the left there. This road is called Mailam Road. You will find the Mailam Balasubramaniar Temple, 3 km down this road. Go further down the road. You will find the Vakrakaaliamman temple arch about 10 kms from the Mailam temple.Turn right at this arch. Keep driving and you will reach the temple in about 3 kms.  If you are travelling by Bus, there are several special buses from different parts of Tamilnadu to Thiruvakkarai on New Moon and Full Moon Days. On other days, one can travel upto Tindivanam and then take another bus upto Perumbakkam. There are several share autos that ply from Perumbakkam to the temple and back.(7km one way) If one is coming from Villupuram side, they can come via Thirukkanur - Perumbakkam - Thiruvakkarai . Thiruvakkarai is about 30 kms from Pondicherry.

Temple timings: 
6.00 am to 12.30 pm - 6.00 pm to 8.30 pm. On full moon days the temple closes after midnight.

Contact Information:
Arulmigu Vakrakaaliamman Temple, Thiruvakkarai - 604304
Vanur Taluk, Villupuram District, Tamilnadu
Phone : 0413 - 2688949, 2680870





42 comments:

  1. Lord Varadarajar at the first instance looked to me like Sri Oppilliappan..Nice coverage of the temple..

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  2. Thanks ....I completely agree...he is indeed exquisite and as magnificient as any divya desa deity!

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  3. HI Priya,
    Nice visit and it takes us to that place of worship.
    Keep it up
    Dr V thanumoorthy

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  4. This temple sounds really interesting! I had heard about the temple, though not so many details... and the geological park was a complete surprise! this temple will surely be on my list the next time I am in chennai!

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  5. Hi Anu,Both the temple and the fossil park are must visits. There are still a lot of people here who are not aware of the fossil park. It is a geological treasure that we must be proud it exists in Tamilnadu. Do let me know your thoughts after you visit. Regards Priya

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  6. I am from andaman, I seen the GOD by your way I like and pray the Kali Mama to Bless all who doing good to self and good to other.Very peasful to see her.
    Thanks

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  7. Thank you so much for your feedback Mr. Selvaraj

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    Replies
    1. hi priya, do u know temple of Varadaraja Perumal near tiruvanamalai in villupuram district do u know just inform me the location of the temple

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    2. Yes it is not near Thiruvannamalai it is quite close to Thiruvakkarai..it is the Varadaraja Perumal Temple at Perumbakkam. I will be writing about it at some point on Aalayam Kanden

      Regards
      Priya

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  8. today fullmoonday in tiruvakkarai

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  9. Please could someone give me details about kal maram near thiruvakkarai.

    Hari

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  10. The details are in the blog post itself. The fossil park or the kalmarams are quite close to the vakrakaliamman temple
    Regards
    Priya

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  11. Hi,

    Very detailed write-up. I am visiting this temple tomorrow and I am driving from Coimbatore. Can you tell me exactly, where should I take this route to Thirukanur from NH-45 Highway.

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  12. Dear Mr Balaji,

    Apologies for the delayed response. Thirukanur is on the Pondy Villupuram route and will not fall on NH 45. If you are taking NH 45 turn right at Kooteripattu junction.

    Best wishes for your trip.

    Regards
    Priya

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    Replies
    1. I could not find out the diversion for Thirukanur but I had been to Pondy and from there I went to Panchavatee Hanuman Temple and took a diversion to Thiruvakkarai via Perumbakkam. Thanks for your reply.

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  13. Beautiful write-up. I have visited the temple several times, but did not know about the Fossil park. Thanks for the info.

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  14. Hi, Thanks for the detailed info abt this temple. :-)

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  15. Thanks for your information priya. I visited this temple with my friend family. Friends mother done angapradhaksanam and took milkpot for amman. She started dancing once the pambai music has been started. We are unable to control her until we reach the temple. Once we reach the temple, the priest took the lemon and touched the neck and put it in front of the amman. My friends mother fell unconcious saying loudly "Amman thaye, vatham sei thaye" in front of amman. It is very powerful god. Vakrakali amman saranam.

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    Replies
    1. Good one. Your friend mother is a good and deep devotee of amman. So amman power or sometimes the anti amman power comes and she start dance against amman. As you said in last line, before the amman power, the anti amman power gets killed. that only your friends mother says as "Amman thaye, vatham sei thaye". She is really a good devotee. I bow my head in for her. Please tell her to bless me.

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  16. Hi Priya,

    Million Thanks for such a wonderful Divine information..

    From the bottom of my heart Thank you...

    please do continue educating people like me thru your amazing blog

    Warm Rgds
    Chandra Sekhar

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  17. Hi Priya,
    Its really very good write up. Thanks.
    But you missed to write about the VINAYAGAR TEMPLE located just opposite to the Vakkarakali Amman temple. From there, we can see a Vinayagar statue. First we should visit this temple and then will proceed to Vakkarakali Amma. Its really Good Experience. Please do go everyone and get the benefits with peace of mind. Please add this too Priya. Thanks.

    Shanmuga Sundharam K
    Subject Expert. Biology, West K K Nagar, Chennai - 600078.

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  18. Hi,

    Could please tell us which is the best day to visit these three temple.And also guide how to travel from Bangalore to this place.

    Regards
    Kiran

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    Replies
    1. On Full moon days, New Moon days and Fridays the temple is extremely crowded. You may want to visit on these days, to see the Jothi Darisanam. Otherwise the temple is special on every day of the month. To travel from Bangalore you can take the Bangalore Chennai Hi way upto Tambaram Bypass take right to enter NH 45 and travel upto Kooteripattu. The rest of the instructions are the same as in the post. Alternatively, you could also travel through the Tiruvannamalai route to reach Tindivanam and the rest of the directions would apply.

      Happy trip!

      Regards
      Priya

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  19. Hi,
    I had been to this temple sometime back without any knowledge of the its history nor the details of the deities. But, you have given a very informative and narrative data. Very much impressed with your devotion. Best wishes to you for your continued Seva.

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  20. Good info. about the temple. Your work is extremely well. thanks.

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  21. This is a tip for getting wealth by pleasing lord shiva


    Doing abishekam to lord shiva during pradosham and on other times
    with following items is said to give prosperity and wealth

    ABISHEKA NAME ITS EFFECTS
    PANCHAGAVYAM Removes all sins of mankind(only when sin is removed you can achieve what you want)

    PANCHAMRUTHAM Gives wealth
    GHEE Gives Moksha state
    MILK Gives long life
    CURD Gives Good Children
    HONEY Melodious voice
    RICE POWDER Frees from debts
    SUGAR CANE JUICE Gives good health and removes enmity
    LIME JUICE Removes fear of death
    TENDER COCONUT JUICE Gives enjoyment and full satisfaction in life
    COOCKED RICE (ANNAM) Gives Majestic life
    SANDAL PASTE Gives Lakshmi's Grace
    SUGAR Removes enmity

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  22. Radhe Krsna,

    I visited the temple on 16.05.2013 and was astonished by its magnificent structure.

    Then I came to know that it is Vakra Guru Dosha Nivarthi Kshetram. It is a divine blessing that I went on Thursday and lit 3 lamps in front of Shri Dakshinamoorthy Swamy and was filled with happiness.

    Now my heart ponders to visit the temple once again but with personal prayers.

    Only wish which I had in mind while worshipping is that the temple is not maintained well. Lot of dust, iron rods & rotten lemon fruits and clothes. The committee of the temple should take care of its surroundings.

    Haribol.

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  23. Hi,I work nearby this area and I ve'nt Gone to tat temple until today.. I went to this temple along with My coleagues without much knowledge abt the temple with Open minded.. But at the temple I felt being sanctified and divine vibrations .. SO a curiousity gripped me to learn more about the temple and thanks to You I got it.. Thank you Priya..

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  24. Hai! It's a Good article about the God, had visited the Temple but had not known the History behind it, Your article really helped me a Lot in resolving lot of Question's in mind, Great Effort keep going THANKS

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  25. Hai! Your Article cleared Lot of My doubts,I had been to temple this temple on 8/Jul/13 Thanks a Lot for this History behind the Temple

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  26. Ms Priya, Is there water in the kulam (pond) to bathe ?
    ngratna@gmail.com

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  27. Ms Priya, Is there water in the kulam (pond) to bathe ?
    ngratna@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. No pond is available, you can get room for Rs 250/- u can ask any of the shops near the temple. They rent their houses for stay.

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  28. Thanks for sharing :) Nice to read !!

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  29. Very nice blog. Thanks for sharing :)

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  30. Thanks lot for the information. We are panning to go tomorow.
    Thanks once again and Godess Devi bless you always.

    Pranam
    R Dhasarathan

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  31. Very nice writeup..thanks for sharing this.Let me share some more information about this temple..

    kalimata who resides in this temple is nothing but "Chamundi",one among the Sapta Matas.

    Along with Kali,there are 6 other mothers resides in the karpa-graha of this temple..Although Kali(Sri Chamundi) is the primary goddess here,we should not be ignorant about the other 6 divine mothers - Sri Brahmi,Sri Maheswari,Sri Gowmari,Sri Vaishnavi,Sri Varahi and Sri Indrani.

    Worshipping Srivakrakali along with a bow to other mothers would definitely bless us with healthy and wealthy life.

    Kreem Kalike Swaha !

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  32. Very nice write up of this temple. I had been there on a family friends advice and was asked to do milk abishegam to Chandramouleeswar on Thiruvadirai. I was stunned by the result which I received the same afternoon when I got a placement the same day. Miracles.
    The write up on Vadivambigai also will be useful to this website. Unfortunately this 1000 year old temple is not registered in most of the important websites pertaining to temples of Tamilnadu.

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