Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Temples of Karuvazhakarai!

Shahuji I, popularly known as Shaji was the Maratha ruler of Thanjavur during the period 1684-1712. During his reign, there were several unrests and threat to his Kingdom from the Sethupathis of Ramnad and Rani Mangammal, who ruled over Madurai with Trichy as her capital. Shahuji, was constantly strategizing to save his empire from his neighbours who were waiting with drawn swords.
It reached a point when he felt that only divine intervention can strengthen his arm, as the game plan kept changing day after day without a result in his favour.

He consulted with his minister, Lakshmana Pandit, on a solution to reinforce his hold over Thanjavur. Lakshmana Pandit consulted with several astrologers and learned men, and they all came up with a uniform solution - to construct temples for Shiva and Vishnu on the banks of the holy Cauvery river. 

Lakshmana Pandit shared this solution with King Shahuji who immediately tasked him with finding the right location to get the temples constructed. So Lakshmana Pandit set out along the banks of the Cauvery, visiting several temples on its banks and seeking divine intervention in showing him the right place for the construction of the temples. 

He travelled across Kumbakonam, Swamimalai, Thiruvidaimarudhur, Dharmapuram, and Mayiladuthurai and set off on the northern bank of the river towards Poompuhar. It was getting to be dark and Lakshmana Pandit decided to spend a night in a grove of Marudham trees (Arjuna trees) on the outskirts of Poompuhar.

The grove had almost all trees and flowering plants that would be used to worship Lord Shiva and Vishnu and Lakshmana Pandit felt an unusual sense of serenity and calmness when he rested there. By morning, his mind was made. It was there the temples were going to come up.

He felt down on the floor and thanked the Gods for showing him the ideal location and went back to Thanjavur with news for Shahuji. Very soon, the construction of the temples began - Lord Shiva sat right in the middle of the grove and came to be known as Raja Rajeswara and Lord Vishnu in the form of Lakshmi Narayana was installed towards the end of the grove. The place where the Lakshmi Narayana temple was built came to be called Lakshmi Narayana Puram and the village came to be known as Marudhur or Karuvazhakarai.

Six Maratha Brahmins, a Yajur Veda family from Senkalipuram and a Sama Veda family from nearby Kanja nagaram who were experts in the Vedas were brought to the village to take care of the temple, Very soon, the King was able to overcome the problems from his neighbours and was also able to defeat the Moghuls and acquire lands upto Varanasi.

Over time, the land between the temples became habitations and soon were taken over by individuals. The temples lost their glory and became dilapidated. The Shiva temple was granted to a family for maintenance about 200 years ago, through a court deed and the descendants of the family maintain it to date. It is a delight to see a well maintained, albeit poorly patronised temple, right in the middle of a grove, with practically every single tree, fruit or flower that is used to worship Shiva.

Lord Rajarajeswara sits majestically in the sanctum sanctorum while Goddess Devanayaki is waiting patiently in her humble abode for the odd devotee to visit. There is also a Bhairava from the Maratha period in the temple. Another noteworthy feature is the huge Nataraja and Sivakami that is under worship. Shiva looks extremely splendid and regal that you cannot take your eyes off him. His Holiness Maha Periya has visited this temple twice during his life time, and spent several hours in meditation before this Nataraja.

The remains of the Lakshmi Narayana Temple that was once worshipped for victory, beauty and prosperity is today being reconstructed through the efforts of Shri Anandhanarayanan, who is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring the temple is reconstructed. But for the main deity, Sri Lakshmi Narayana, and a few other idols, most of the structure and idols belonging to the original temple have been lost and are now being recreated in Mamallapuram.

The consecration is being planned in July 2016 and every single rupee contributed in completing the work will bestow upon the donor, victory in their endeavor, beauty and prosperity. If you happen to be in this locality, please stop by to visit both the temples at Karuvazhakarai, now popularly known as Marudhur.

You may kindly send your contributions to Sree Lakshmi Narayana Perumal Tirupani Committee, State Bank of India Pallavaram CI, SB Account No. 33737211400

How to get here:

Marudhur is found on the road from Mayiladuthurai to Poompuhar at about 9 kms from Mayiladuthurai. 

For Lakshmi Narayana Temple - Mr Anandhanarayanan - 94440 79673
For Rajarajeswara Temple - Mr Swaminathan - 95974 37157

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