Friday, July 11, 2014

Shattered Splendour!

Idols in front of the Shenbageswarar Temple at Natham Parameswaramangalam
Natham Parameswaramangalam - The name might ring a bell to history and heritage enthusiasts. Not before long, two temples in this little village along the ECR were in the news. The first, the extremely picturesque Kailasanatha temple, right in the middle of Palar River, and the other the Vaasthu Devapathi Perumal Temple, where bronze icons belonging to the Pallava era where unearthed during renovation.

Both these temples have now been completely renovated and have regained their lost glory and patronage. But there is yet another beautiful gem lying in the dust in the same village - the Shenbageswarar Temple.

The beautiful Kailasanatha Temple in the middle of Palar River
History of the temple:

Goddess Lakshmi chose a "Shenbaga Vana"(a forest of Champak trees) to install a Shivalingam and pray to it. She meditated for several years before the Lord. Pleased with her devotion, Lord Shiva appeared before her. Nandi Deva followed Goddess Lakshmi into the Shenbaga Vana and stood guard to see no harm presented itself to the Goddess or the Lord. Because of this, he is seen till even today, with his back to the Lord.

He blessed her saying the place she chose to worship him would always be special and even Goddess Soundaranayaki would assume the adornments of Goddess Lakshmi by giving up the Paasam and Angusam and holding the Lotus and Nilothpalam in her hands. Moreover, the first honours would always be offered to the Goddess in this Kshetram. Having said this, he left the Shenbaga Vana and moved up a small hillock on the Palar river and manifested himself in the midst of the wilderness.

Goddess Soundaranayaki was distraught that her husband had left her all alone at Natham and went looking for him. He had by then hidden himself in the midst of the wilderness, in the company of a snake that shielded him from the elements and a cow that showered its milk on him.

The Sthalapurana Idol at Kailasanatha Temple
The Goddess in an attempt to convince her Lord to come back to his abode in the Shenbaga Vana is said to have moved up the hillock on her knees, the imprint of which is still found in the circumambulatory path around the Kailasanatha Temple.

Goddess Soundaranayaki's knee impressions on the rock up the Kailasanatha Temple
The temple is said to have been originally built by Nrupathungavarma about 1200 years ago and then subsequently strengthened by Kulothunga Chola I , and then by Maravarman Sundarapandiyan.
Usually we find Shiva temples have five Goshtams featuring Ganesha, Dakshinamurthy, Lingodhbavar or Vishnu, Brahma and Durga. However, this temple has seven Goshtas, each one of them more beautiful than the other - comprising of Bhikshadana, Ganesha, Dhakshinamurthy, Lingodhbhavar, Brahma, Durga and Harihar.

The One-legged Bhikshadana :(
As you can see in the picture, there are inscriptions all along the walls of the temple. These inscriptions bear testimony to the patronage by the glorious kings of yore. King Raja Raja Chola I's queen Sakthi Thanthi Vidangi (Lokamahadevi) has been instrumental in converting the barren lands near the temple into fertile agricultural lands and then donating them to the temple for its upkeep and maintenance. During the rule of Rajendra Chola I in 1015, he has appointed a Sathvanjara Committee to discuss and explore Town planning. During the time of Kulothunga Chola III, a 16 pillared mandapa was built outside the temple.

It is sad to see that this mandapa has been brought down by the natural elements and passage of time, and portions of it have been used to create a mandapa over Nandi. Apart from this there are seven Shivalingams found along the Goshtas around the temple. These are known as Kailsanatha, Shenbageswara, Arunachaleswara, Jagadeeswara, Ekambaranatha, Valmikinatha and Vyagrapatheeswara.

Scattered Shiva lingams around the temple
The temple did not have vimanas for the Swamy and Ambal shrines earlier and it is really sad to see that when a donor came forward new cement vimanas have been built over the heritage structures threatening their stability and sustainability. I truly felt the funds could rather have been diverted to strengthening the weather course and the flooring inside the Artha Mandapa.

The Artha Mandapa 
Each one of the dieties is a beauty in itself. Apart from the majestic Shenbageswarar who sits in the modest sanctum sanctorum which leaks throughout the rainy season, sometimes even putting out the few lamps lit inside, and the magnificient Soundaryanayaki who as her name denotes is a beauty unparalleled, even the other idols in the temple are unique.

Goddess Soundarambigai 
The Subramanya in this temple needs special mention too. With the peacock turned in the opposite side (Asura Mayil) and weapons in all his arms, he is said to have been installed during Rajendra Chola I's time and is a beauty to behold.

Subramanya at Shenbageswara Temple Natham Parameswaramangalam
Apart from this Subramanya there is yet another at the entrance of the Sanctum Sanctorum. He is found with Gendi and Akshara Mala in his hand, in the form of Brahma Sastha.

Lord Muruga as Brahma Sastha
The circumambulatory path around the temple is full of creepers and overgrowth, strewn thorns and broken pieces of stone from the temple. If some Uzhavara Pani Kuzhu helps with the clearing of vegetation around the temple, it might attract more people to go around the temple, and take a look at the shattered beauties.

 The temple definitely requires a donor sensitive to heritage renovation to help with the repairs and strengthening. The walls and overall structure are still good, but will have to be protected before it is too late.

How to get here:

The temple is about 80 kms from Chennai. On the ECR if one proceeds five kilometres from Kalpakkam, you can reach the Vayalur Bridge. About a km from the Vayalur bridge is a junction called Kaathan Kadai. Turn right at this junction and proceed towards Anaicuttu Salai. In Anaicuttu Salai you will see a board which directs you towards Natham Parameswaramangalam. The Vastudevapathi Perumal temple is quite close to this temple and the Kailasanatha Temple on the Palar river is about a km away.

Temple Timings:

As there is absolutely no traffic to this temple, it is only open for poojas in the morning and evening. However, the Gurukkal stays a few houses away from the temple and is happy to open it for anyone who comes along. It is better to call him the previous day to confirm his availability.

Contact Details:
Shri. Sambagesa Gurukkal - 97900 70473

While visiting these temples, one can also visit these beautiful temples:
Vedal Vadavamukhagneeswara Temple
Musical Ganesha at Cheyyur
Cheyyur Kandaswamy Temple with the 27 Star Vedalams

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Chevva Dosham tension!

Narasimhapuram Temple tower
Chevva Dosham, also known as Sevvai Dosham, Guja Dosham and Manglik is the occurence of Mars  in the 2,4,7,8 or 12th house from Lagnam at the time of one's birth. When a person has such a planetary position in his or her horoscope, then the horoscope has to be carefully matched to find a suitable life partner. This process might delay the fixing up of marriage which is why it is a case of great worry to parents. There is an added anxiety as to whether the astrologer they are consulting is trained enough to identify a right and suitable match for their child. Astrology is a science and a good guide for those who take advice from ethical practitioners. A number of parihara sthalams have been identified to overcome the conceived challenges of Sevva Dosham and several people have benefitted from the same.

The Lakshmi Narasimha at Narasimhapuram on the Arakkonam- Thandalam- Perambakkam Road about 21 kms from Arakonam has been granting relief and solace to several devotees with Chevva Dosham.  A number of devotees flock to this lesser known temple about 2 kms away from Thiruvirkolam ( Cooum) Tiripurantaka Swamy Temple.

The renovated Lakshmi NarasimhaTemple at Narasimhapuram
This temple dating back to the Pallava period, and renovated and extended during the Nayaka period was quite dilapidated till recent times but it makes us happy to see it renovated nicely, without losing its original look. There are a number of special features and unique characteristics to this temple.

1. The Hanuman here is found in a separate shrine outside the temple,facing the Lord. He is a varaprasadhi with his tail twirled over his head.

The Hanuman shrine at Narasimhapuram
2. Garudalwar is almost four feet tall and is seen wearing sixteen snakes as ornaments on his body.Worshipping him is said to rid one of Naga Dosham. Childless couples worship this Garudan and are blessed with bonny babies.

Nagabharana Garudalwar at Narasimhapuram
3. The temple has separate shrines for each one of the Ashtalakshmis. This seems to have been the case with  perumal temples in this area constructed around the same period, as we saw in the case of Melvenpakkam Sri Lakshmi Narayana Perumal temple. The article on Melvenpakkam Perumal is available on Aalayam Kanden here.

A part of the Ashtalakshmi shrines that are found along the circumambulatory path
at Narasimhapuram
4.As we go around the temple after worshipping the Hanuman, Dwajasthambam, and the Lakshmis, we find Goddess Maragathavalli Thayar in a separate shrine. The speciality in this temple is that the Goddess sits on the Srichakram. The aged priest in the Thayar shrine told us, if you stood for one minute and looked at the compassionate eyes of the Thaayar, you can offload all your worries and walk away light-hearted. His words are very true. As we stood looking at the Thaayar, so carefully and beautifully decorated, we could feel our weariness lifting away and a sense of peace descending on us.

A view of Goddess Maragathavalli Shrine at the Narasimhapuram temple
5. The Ashtalakshmis are found along the circumambulatory path. After worshipping an equally beautiful Andal, we moved into the main shrine of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha. Words cannot describe the vibration found in the Sanctum Sanctorum. The Lord over seven feet tall, with the Lakshmi on his lap, looks at us with compassion. He is also known as Shanta Narasimhar unlike his Ugara (fierce) form in several other temples.
As the Lord is a Santha Swaroobi, the Goddess is not looking at him to pacify him. Instead, she sits close to her Lord with her hand around his waist, looking at the devotees who have come to visit them. Lord Narasimha unlike in other temples, is also holding his consort close and one can almost see a gentle smile around the corners of his mouth.

Sri Kalyana Lakshmi Narasimha at Narasimhapuram

As the Lord and Mahalakshmi are found in the Anyonya Bhavam, the Lord is also known as Kalyana Lakshmi Narasimhar. Worshipping him rids one of hurdles in marriage and doshams like Kalatra Dosham and Sevvai Dosham.

Procedure for Sevvai Dosha Pariharam:
1. Worshipping the Lakshmi Narasimha for 90 days continuously is said to rid one of all kinds of Doshams.
2. For those who cannot visit for 90 days, worshipping the Lord on nine continuous Swathi nakshatrams, lighting two ghee lamps at his shrine and circumambulating 32 times is equally beneficial.

The Lakshmi Narasimha avatar happened at the twilight zone. Worshipping Narasimha at Sandhya Kaalam, and Pradosham time, on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays brings health and wealth to the worshipper.

The Bhattar spoke about a number of happy families who return to the temple once their prayers have been granted to perform Thirumanjanam.

The temple is quite crowded on Saturdays and Swathi Nakshatram days.

How to get here:
The temple is just 55 kms from Chennai. If proceeding from Chennai, take the right at Empee Distilleries near Sriperumbudur. This road is Arakkonam Road. The road is not very well maintained and hence vehicles can only progress slowly. After crossing the Tiripurandaka Swamy temple the Narasimhapuram temple is on the main road and can be identified quite easily. There are a number of buses plying from both Koyambedu and Poonamallee to the temple.

Google Map Link

Temple Timings:
7.30 am to 12 pm
4.30 pm to 8 pm

Contact Details:
94425 85638/ Bhattar 94871 94649