Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sithukadu - A holy land of Siddhars


Sri Dhathriswara Temple, Sithukadu
Several months ago, I saw a powerpoint presentation on 27 star temples . The temple mentioned therein for Swathi, my birth star , was Sri Dhathriswara and Sundararaja Perumal Temples at Sithukadu, near Chennai. I was happy to note that it was close to home and therefore easy to visit. At that time I had little realisation that for every plan there has to be His approval for execution. Several attempts and disappointments later, I gave up, telling myself that I will visit some day if destiny so has it.

On October 19th, 2011, I received an email from one Mr. Kumaran. On opening the mail, I sat up in shock. It was an invitation from the Gurukkal to visit the Sri Dhathriswara Temple at Tirumanam, Sithukadu.The time had come true, finally. The Siddhars had heard my prayer. I immediately replied that I would love to do so. We spoke over phone and fixed up the following sunday for the visit.

That morning, we set off early and reached the temple quite easily following Mr.Kumaran's instructions. As we turned into the road to the temple, we could see the magnificient five-tiered Rajagopuram (now covered because renovation work needs to be done) and the huge temple tank (about one acre!) connecting the Dhathriswara and Sundararaja Perumal Temples - a true symbol of Shaiva- Vaishnava harmony.
A View of the Dhathriswara Temple as we turn in from the main road
We got down at the temple and walked down to the magnificent tank. They say the level of water at any given point around the tank is uniform at all times,which is a testimony to the engineering skills of technicians of yore. Unfortunately, the tank is ill-maintained and needs help in cleaning and maintenance.
View of the tank from the Dhathriswara Temple. The two gopurams
seen are the Anjaneya temple on the bank of the tank and the
Sundararaja Perumal Temple in the background
We then went into the temple along with Mr.Kumaran who had joined us from his house across the road. He mentioned that over seventeen generations his family had been performing poojas at the temple and one son from each household in the family committed himself to the task.

Every nook and corner of this temple is a treasure trove. True to the name of Sithukadu, it has images of Siddhars everywhere. Some of them are distinguished and identified while others are not. In fact, even on the borders on walls, which I normally thought had "Dhristi Bommai"s there were images of Siddhars.
Images of Siddhars on borders along the temple walls
We stepped into the five level Rajagopuram, which has evidence of growth of vegetation and needs some repair, renovation and most definitely a fresh coat of colour.
A picture of the Rajagopuram before it was covered
Photo Courtesy Mr.T.N.Kumaran
The Vidhana of the Rajagopuram is exquisite with a beautiful panel of Various Roopas of Lord Shiva. This is just a beginning - a sample of the wonderful works of art that awaits us inside.
Vidhana of Rajagopuram
As we step in there is another gopuram, this without any tiers over it. This gopuram seems to be in bad shape with the shade in one corner having fallen down during the recent rains. There is a "Nandavanam" (garden) too here which needs cleaning and maintenance - it has several overgrown bushes and a lot of weeds which dim its beauty and divinity.
Notice the broken portion on the right side of the mandapam with
vegetation and huge cracks.
We then step into the temple. The main shrines of Goddess Prasunna Kunthalambika and Sri Dhathriswara are closed and Balalayam has been performed. A makeshift shrine has been created in the Yagasala with the moorthis made in "Athi Maram" (Ficus retusa). We watched as the harathi was performed and gave thanks to the Lord for having made the visit possible finally. 

I was a little disappointed to find that the temple that I had longed for so much to visit was closed. Mr. Kumaran mentioned that the Balalayam was done with a hope that all the renovation would be completed in a year or two. He pointed out to the Dwajasthambam which had also fallen out and had been replaced recently through contributions from devotees.
The new Dwajasthambam (Kodimaram) with the closed temple
behind it

He took us to the Nandi in front of the temple and pointed out that it did not have a noose around its nostrils. Sithukadu had been( and continues to be ) a land of Siddhars.Out of the several Siddhars who dwell here,  the two notable saints ( or atleast I must say those who have been identified) are "Padukkai Jadamudi Siddhar" and " Prana Deepika Siddhar". Since the Nandi was in the company of these saints, it was serene and calm and hence there was no need for a noose, says Kumaran. An image of Prana Deepika Siddhar can be found on the pillar next to the Nandi here.

The Nandi without a Noose around his nostrils
and Prana Deepika Siddhar on the pillar to his left
The Padukkai Jadamudi Siddhar (படுக்கை ஜடாமுடி சித்தர்) and Prana Deepika Siddhar (பிராண தீபிகா சித்தர்) while meditating in this region installed a Shiva lingam under an Amla Tree (நெல்லி மரம்) because of which he came to be known as Dhathriswara. They created a beautiful garden ( நந்தவனம்) here which gave sweet smelling flowers for the worship of the Lord because of which this place came to be known as "Thirumanam" (திருமணம்) - Holy Fragrance. The Nandavanam probably created by them, is like this today.
The current state of the Nandavanam

Prana Deepika Siddhar is said to protect people from life threatening ailments and several people with chronic ailments are said to have prayed to him and become better. The Padukkai Jadamudi Sithar can be seen with very long hair on which he is said to lie down in Yoga Nitra and move around saving people and protecting lives then and now.
Jadamudi Siddhar (Photo Courtesy Mr. T N Kumaran)
Mr. Kumaran now takes us to another mandapa to the left of the Nandi where the Vahanas are stored. This too is in a dilapidated state but the pillars are treasure troves showing several images of Siddars in different forms, sizes and postures. There are two more similar mandapas outside the temple with intricately carved pillars.

Mr. Kumaran explaining the Sthalavaralaru in the vahana mandapa
Note the condition of the mandapam behind me
It was interesting to note that the pillars had the Dasavatharams of Vishnu inscribed on them, which again goes to prove the Shaivaite - Vaishnavaite harmony in those days. There were also some pillars where the Rishabaruda was found at the bottom of the pillars and Siddhars above it.


Vamana Avatara
Several Siddhars
Siddhars in different postures
The pictures I share here are just samples of what is found in the pillars of the mandapam. There are several others. I do not know if there is a document anywhere that names all of them. Mr Kumaran mentioned that there were some manuscripts which spoke about the history of the temple and probably the Siddhars. He is trying to have them deciphered to understand the history of the temple better. Mr. Kumaran also mentioned that Sri Adi Shankara had visited the temple and worshipped the God and Goddess and his statue is also found inside the temple. Another notable feature is that Veerabhadraswamy is said to be in meditation here and serves as the guard for the siddhars and his idol is also worshipped with reverence.

Bodo Siddhar: After conversing with Mr Kumaran and promising to spread the word about the need for funds to repair and renovate this wonderful temple, we took leave from him to go to the Sundararaja Perumal Temple. At this time, another gentleman walked in with a sheaf of papers in his hand. One of them, I was happy to note was a blog post from Raju's Temple Visits. In fact Raju Sir was one of the lucky ones to visit the temple before the Balalayam, and he has some lovely pictures from inside the temple on his blog post which I share here for the readers.Raju's Temple Visit - Around Chennai - North

The man also had an extract from a book Sivamayam Kanda Siddhargal  " சிவமயம் கண்ட சித்தர்கள்" which mentions that this place was also an abode of Bodo Siddhar ( போடோ சித்தர்) whose Jeevasamadhi can be found here and he is supposedly the father of "Modern Computer Science"!! By worshipping him, one could be rid of any discomfort experienced due to Ashtama Sani, Ezharai Sani or Jenma Sani.  We tried to identify this siddhar but could not do so. Anyone who has any further information about this siddhar, may share it here for benefit of all of us.

We then moved towards the Sundararaja Perumal temple which is behind the Dhathriswara Temple, connected by the temple tank. There is an Anjaneya Swamy temple near the steps of the tank. The Perumal Temple is relatively well maintained and clean.
Sundararaja Perumal Temple
Period of the temple: 
Both the temples are believed to have been constructed during the times of King Sundara Pandiyan about 800 years ago. The King is said to have found the Goddess Prasunna Kundalambikai's statue in the Nandavanam (Garden) and so he installed it in the Dhatriswara Temple calling her " Poonkuzhali". As the King died in war before the temple construction could be completed, the work is believed to have been completed by a landlord Mr. Nalla Chinnathambi Mudaliyar from this village whose generations till date serve as Dharmakarthas of this temple (Source: Thalavaralaru of the temple)

The Perumal temple has a main shrine for Shri Sundaravalli Samedha Sundararaja Perumal and seperate shrines for Thayar, Garudalwar and Andal. This Garudalwar is said to be worshipped by the Garudakodi Siddhar to enhance his medical capacities.

Garudakodi Siddhar: On one of the pillars in front of Andal shrine, the image of Garudakodi Siddhar can be seen. This Siddhar holds a Kamandalam (Jar) on one hand and a creeper called Garudakodi on the other. He is said to wear Siddha herbs as wings and move around several lokas. This Siddhar is believed to have created a Herb Pandal over Sri Rama during Ramayana days to protect him wherever he went. This Garudakodi Siddhar is worshipped by those with eye ailments for permanent cure. Abhishekam is performed with rose water to the statue of Garudakodi Siddhar and this water is applied on the eyes for relief. Sandalwood paste applied on the siddhar's idol is also applied on the eyes. 
Garudakodi Siddhar
Inscriptions found in this temple refer to it as Thirumandram Hariharanalayanallur (திருமன்றம் ஹரிஹரனாலய நல்லூர் ).

Why is this a temple for those born under Swathi Star?


They say it is because there are 17 different Narasimhas in various postures found in the Andal shrine mandapa. ( The Bhattar did not allow me to photograph them). Moreover, the word Swathi has the Aikkya Shakthis of Shiva and Hari. Days on which the Swathi star falls are ideal for disciplines like Yoga and Telepathy, because of which probably the Siddhars congregated here in the company of Shiva and Vishnu and practised their yogic skills .Worshipping Dhatriswara by performing abhishekam with Amla juice or Sri Sundararaja Perumal by performing thirumanjanam on Swathi days is said to be very beneficial, especially in finalising marriage proposals for those whose marriage is getting delayed for various reasons, because of which also, this place has come to be known as Thirumanam. One other unique feature is that people who seek childbirth perform a marriage of the Amla and Thulasi Trees in front of the Andal Shrine and find their prayers answered.

An Appeal:

The Dhathriswara Temple is currently under Balalayam and seeks funds from noble souls to complete the repair and renovation of its vimanams,and reconstruction of Rajagopuram. An appeal has been put out by the Sivanadiyaargal Bhakta Jana Sabha Trust (SBJST) seeking liberal donations from devotees in supporting this noble cause. Further details on bank account and contact information can be found on the temple website
http://www.sitharkadusivantemple.com/. Further details can also be had from Mr. Kumaran, Heriditary Gurukkal of the temple at tn.kumaran8@gmail.com or 94447 93942. I hope generous contributions from devotees are able to help the trustees complete the work on time and restore the glory and divinity of such a worderful place.

How to get here:

While travelling from Chennai on the Chennai - Poonamallee Bypass. On the left hand side, you will find a brewery and RRB Energy factory. On that signal, turn right. There is a Board which shows the direction towards Pattabhiram before you turn right. Go down that not-so-good route for about 8 kms. You will come across a bridge being constructed and a board which says Chittukadu. Take left there - you would be able to see the Rajagopuram from there itself. You could also go upto Thirumazhisai and turn right at Vellavedu and go down 3 kms to reach here. 

There are buses too upto Pattabhiram from Koyambedu Bus Stand - M153 and from Poonamallee - M 54C which goes via Sithukadu.

Nearest Suburban train station is Pattabhiram from where one can take a share auto.

If you want to find a place to spend a few quiet hours in the company of Siddhars, head towards 
Sri Dhathriswara and Sundararaja Perumal Temples, 
Thirumanam, Vayalanallur Post, Sithukadu, Chennai 600 072

The temple is open between 8 am to 10 am in the mornings and 5.30 to 7.30 pm in the evenings.

22 comments:

  1. Your writing about the temple almost transported us there live. It has planted in me the desire to have darshan at the Temple. Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much for your feedback,

    Regards Priya

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Admin

    Wonderful articles on temples....
    Nice to see those details....
    May my lord Shiva always bless you to continue your service on Temples....

    Regards always
    Swaminatha Sharma

    ReplyDelete
  4. excellent descriptive work. may Lord Shiva bless you. i hope to get similar works on Lord Shiva.
    skcark@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you so much Sharmaji and skcark.

    Regards
    Priya

    ReplyDelete
  6. Really nice place to visit. every post of your blog is awesome. i really like it.



    MBA Placement Colleges

    ReplyDelete
  7. thank you so much for your comments Regards Priya

    ReplyDelete
  8. From Agasthiya vijayam magazine issue (www.agasthiar.org)
    Nandeeswarar in this temple is the one responsible for benevolently offering the breath to the earthly life-forms and after the death the breath is submitted back to him (Its no wonder prana deepika siddhar is present near the Nandi). It is always our duty to visit the nandeeswarar atleast once in the lifetime and thank him for the breath gifted to us. Yogic excercises along with mantra chanting done in this temple is very effective here.

    OHM

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  9. thanks for sharing this valuable information

    Regards
    Priya

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Priya

    can you tell me where i can find this book "sivamayam kanda sidhargal"...any publishers/bookstore?

    Thankyou
    neeraja

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sri Indhu Publications, near T Nagar Bus Stand

    ReplyDelete
  12. Quite a remarkable write up on Sitharkadu and an excellent depiction through your photos. A few months ago, I was informed about this temple by an official of the SBJS trust who referred me to their web site as well. But your blog provides a more comprehensive info, especially about the Siddhars.

    I believe your are from Chennai. If you find time, please visit another lesser known Shiva temple at Manavur, which has a 1200 year old history. You can find more details about this temple at http://thirunandeeswarar.blogspot.in/. The renovation of Thirunandeeswarar temple is progressing at a fast pace and the Kumbabishegam is to be held on 25.03.2012.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Mr. Ganpat. I will definitely visit.

      Best regards, Priya

      Delete
  13. I appreciate the Good Work and may God bless you.

    My son Kartik Rajendran, Age-16, 11th Std. student is missing since 27-Jan-2012. I am K. Rajendran from Ahmedabad, Gujarat and visited this blog to find some solution for my problem. I am looking for some one who can correctly predict the exact location of my missing son. If any of you have any trustworthy contact who can predict correctly, please let me know on my email: krajendran369@indiatimes.com please call me on my mobile: 9998370428.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Dear Mr Rajendran,

    My sincere prayers for your son to come back home soon. I hope some one reading the blog will be able to advice you on this.

    Warm regards Priya

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.facebook.com/murali.ambalam

      Delete
  15. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!









    Computer Repair in Chennai

    ReplyDelete
  16. Dear Mam,There is only selective people,who will involve themselves to bring out the history.
    i like to wish u all the success for your future reseraches.
    we are there to support you in all forms.
    Regards,
    Muthukumar.E
    HP;9940487575

    ReplyDelete
  17. Dear Mam..

    Wonderful articles and that your feedback on temples....

    thanks,
    Ashokkumar

    ReplyDelete
  18. Dear mam

    Wonderful information,while reading your article,i felt as-if im their at this place,i can feel the life in in your article.

    thanks
    Uma

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi iam karthigainathan your blogs articl very nice...thanks

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi can i know how to find the temple for my star and nakshathira ? rishabam and krtithika ?

    ReplyDelete