Sunday, July 1, 2018

Dakshina Bhadrachalam

Dakshina Bhadrachalam Sri Kothandarama Temple, West Mambalam
Vankayala Kuppaiah Chetty was restless. His health was failing and he could not comprehend why. Especially that night, he felt as if he was swinging between life and death. It was as if a load was placed over his chest, making it extremely difficult to breathe. "Rama, why am I going through such an ordeal?" he asked his favourite deity. 

For years, he had spent hours in the divine company of Lord Pattabhirama, whom he felt was the guiding source of his life. The Lord was in a small, dilapidating shrine. But his glory, grace and presence were in no way small. 

Adi Narayana Dasa, a descendant of Kancherla Gopanna, popularly known as Bhadrachalam Ramadasu, had installed Lord Rama in a small shrine in Mambalam village in the 19th century. The deity was similar to that of Bhadrachalam. Lord Rama in a pattabhisheka kolam, with Sita Devi on his lap, Lakshmana holding an umbrella to the divine couple, and Hanuman holding Rama's foot. He stayed nearby and worshipped Lord Rama with devotion. Every year, he celebrated Rama Navami, with great pomp and glory.  Over the years, the small temple popularly called Dakshina Bhadrachalam, became dilapidated, desperately needing repairs and renovation. However, the grace of the Lord, continued to draw ardent devotees such as Vankayala Kuppaiah Chetty.

The Kothandaramar Temple, West Mambalam
By now, Kuppaiah Chetty was sweating profusely. He called out to his wife, Andalamma to bring him some water. However, the liquid did not go beyond his throat. It was as if his body was on fire. His wife gently fanned him, as he slipped into semi-consciousness. It was then, that the room was filled with a bright, dazzling light. Kuppaiah Chetty felt he was being transported from his body to stand up straight and peer into the divine light. Lord Rama, his divine companion,stood before him as Kothandarama. His compassionate gaze enveloped Kuppaiah Chetty who burst into tears. He was able to see that he was being slow poisoned by his relatives, who were desirous of usurping the vast properties of the childless couple. The divine gaze seemed to penetrate into the body of Kuppaiah Chetty and remove all the toxins that the poison had created. Just as the light entered the room, it reduced into a spot and disappeared. Kuppaiah Chetty was now breathing normally, and slipped into deep sleep.

A painting depicting how Lord Pattibhirama and Kothandarama are found in the sanctum
Next morning, when he woke, he was feeling fit as a fiddle. It was as if all his ailments over the past few months had disappeared into dewdrops in the sun. He recalled how the Lord had revealed what happened and cured him of his ailment. He ran to the temple to offer thanks to Lord Pattabhirama. As he entered the temple, he saw Denuvagupta Venkatrangayya Haridasar, the manager of the temple sitting with a worried expression. But Kuppaiah Chetty was more eager to seethe Lord and thank him for his mercy. After worshipping him, he came out of the shrine. Now, he was able to see Haridasar better. The worry in his face, drew him towards him. Haridasar started sharing his worry - he had Rs.5000 in hand - Rs.1000 from sale of old things at the temple, and Rs.4000 from donations. But that was hardly enough to renovate the beautiful, yet languishing temple. 

Kuppaiah Chetty knew why the Lord had given him a rebirth. His mission was to renovate the beautiful temple built by Adi Narayana Dasa as Dakshina Bhadrachalam. The mission began on that day in 1926 and within a year, the temple was renovated beautifully. He added another Moolavar, Sri Kothandaramar, as he had appeared before him, as well as Lord Ranganatha, who has installed by the side of the sanctum. After that, the temple came to be known as Kothandaramar temple.

A house in the Mambalam Agraharam
Today, the temple stands in pristine condition in what was originally the agraharam of Mambalam village, remainders of which can still be found around the temple. The house in which Adi Narayana Dasa lived and performed Rama Navami, Harikatha and Bhajans, still stands close to the temple, and the urchava murthis worshipped by him are being worshipped till date.

Hanumad Theertham
The temple tank known as Hanumad Theertham was installed in January 1909 by Tummala Penta Narayana Chetty and his wife Kamakshamma. An inscription to that effect is found on the banks of the tank, with a beautiful Sanskrit verse written in Telugu which mentions the creation of a water body as the holiest among dhaanams (grants). 

Inscription at the Hanumad Theertham
The main deity Pattabhirama as well as the Kothandarama installed by Vankayala Kuppaiah Chetty, are flanked on either side by Sri Ranganatha and Sri Yoga Narasimha. So in one row, one gets to worship the Lord in Kidanthan, Ninran and Irundhan postures.

The goddess Ranganayaki Thaayar and Andal are found in seperate shrines. Across the courtyard, facing Sri Rama is Sanjeevi Parvatha Anjaneya Swamy. A very unique Hanuman with the Sanjeevi Parvatha in his right hand, and his left hand showing Abhaya Hastha, he stands facing North (Kubera Moolai). Devotees throng his shrine to worship him and have their genuine prayers answered.

Sanjeevi Parvatha Hanuman (Photo Courtesy: Sri Kothandaramar Temple)
The vasantha mandapam has also been renovated where the Vasanthotsavam happens every year. An inscription describing the temple as Dakshina Bhadrachalam is found in the Vasantha Mandapam.

The Mahamandapam pillars have images of both Vankayala Kuppaiah Chetty and his wife Andalamma. Peepal tree is the Sthala Vriksham of the temple and the poojas are carried out as per the Vaikhanasa Agama. 

Shri Vankayala Kuppaiah Chetty 
Every month, is a festival month at this temple. Brahmotsavam is celebrated with great glory for ten days in the tamil month of Chithirai, followed by the Vasanthotsavam in Vaikasi, Jyeshtabhishekam and Garuda Sevai in Aani, Gajendra Moksham in Aadi - this is a must watch, when the entire Gajendra Moksham episode is recreated for the benefit of the devotees, Aadi pooram and Andal Kalyanam are also conducted in this month, Krishna Jayanthi in Aavani, Pavithrotsavam in Purattasi, Ten days Manavala Mamunigal Saatrumarai in Aipasi, Karthigai deepam in Karthigai, Vaikunta Ekadesi and Hanumad Jayanthi in Margazhi, Theppothsavam and Laksha Dheepam in Thai, Masi Magam Garuda Sevai, and Sri Rama Navami and Panguni Uthiram Thirukalyanam in Panguni  are the main festivals apart from numerous other events.

How to reach here: The temple is very close to the Madley Road Subway and the Mambalam Bus stand as well as railway station.

Temple timings: 7-10.30 am in the morning, 5-8.30 pm in the evening.

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