Visit to Pallikondeeswarar Temple at Suruttappalli
Suruttappalli can be reached through two routes. Via Redhills, Karanodai, Periyapalayam and Uthukottai, it is about 57 kms from Chennai. In the Chennai – Kolkatta Grand North Trunk (GNT) Road you can go upto Karanodai bridge / Toll Plaza and immediately after that you can take the road on the left that goes via Periyapalayam, Uthukottai, Nagalapuram to Thirupathi. From Uthukottai, the temple is just 2 kms away and is on the main road itself. It is at the end of the Uthukottai town which is the border between Tamilnadu and Andhra states and the temple is in the Andhra state territory.
You can also come via Thiruvallur and Poondy to Uthukottai.
Note: The Krishna Canal enters Tamilnadu at Uthukottai which is called ‘Zero Point’.
Parrys to Karanodai Tollgate – 25 kms
Tollgate to Periyapalayam – 14 km
Periyapalayam to Suruttapalli – 18 km
- Per Legend, Pradhosham started here
- The only place where Lord Shiva is in the reclining pose.
- Goddess is present with Kamadhenu and Karpaha Viruksham on either side
- Lord Dakshinamoorthy is present as Thambadya Dakshinamoorthy along with his consort
- The stone with the foot printings of Lava-Kucha
- Valmikeeswarar lingam in an unusual triangular shape
- Guberans at the entrance instead of Dwarabalahars
- Salakrama Ganapathy in front of the Ambal shrine
- Most of the deities are present with their consort
Till a few years back, this temple built by Vijayanagara emperor Vidhyaranyar was in a dilapidated state but now it has been renovated beautifully. The paintings, floorings, Rajagopuram, Vimanams, front Nandhi – all are looking very nice but even the walls of the inner praharam have undergone modernization with tiles which has completely wiped out the history and heritage. Still some works like compound walling are going on. A beautifully painted Nandhi at an elevated height in the huge open space in the front welcomes all. Car parking is not a problem due to the huge open space.
The name Suruttapalli comes from the fact that Lord Shiva is rested at the lap of Goddess Parvathi feeling little dizzy after consuming poison during the churning of milky ocean – Palli means resting, Surutta means a little dizzy.
As you enter through the small Rajagopuram, the shrine of Valmikeeswarar and Goddess Marahathambihai is on the left side and the shrine of Pallikondeeswarar is on the right side. You have to first enter the shrine of Valmikeeswarar and Goddess Marahathambihai on the left.
Goddess Marahathambihai Shrine:
First you have to worship Goddess Marahathambihai and then Valmikeeswarar. Instead of Dwarabalahars you will see Guberar with his consort Sanganidhi on the left side and with his consort Paduma nidhi on the right. Guberar is the god of wealth and so first get the blessings of them before you enter. On either side of the Goddess Marahathambihai, Kamadhenu, got out of churning the milky ocean and Karpaha viruksham are present. In the front Salakrama Ganapathy is present.
Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar, Valmiki, Varasidhi Vinayahar, Kasi Viswanathar with Vislakshi, Sri Venugopalan, Adhihara Nandhi are all present in the inner praharam. Unusually there is no separate shrine for Ganesha. Subramanyar with his consorts Valli and Theivanai is present facing south, which is the direction of Yama, the king of death. So it is believed that worshipping him will remove one’s death fears. Next to him is present the Rajamathangi shrine and it seems there is an underground passage going to Kalahasthi but is covered completely now without any symptom of it.
The specialty of this temple being that all its deities are present with their consorts. They are: Pallikondeeswarar – Sarva Mangalaambikai; Valmeegishwarar – Maragathambikai; Vinaayakar – Siddhi, Buddhi; Saasthaa – Pooranai, Pushakalai; Kuberan – Sanganidhi and Padumanidhi; Dakshinamoorthy – Taara; Kasi Viswanathar – Vislakshi
While completing the inner prahara round, next to Goddess shrine are the shrines of Ramalingeswarar and Valmikeeswarar facing each other. The outside Nandhi for which pradhosha abhisheham is being done, is facing Valmikeeswarar through the grills in the walls of the Ramalingeswarar shrine. The main deity is Valmikeeswarar in an unusual triangular shaped Swayambu lingam. It appeared when Sage Valmiki was in penance before he started writing his Ramayana and so is the name Valmikeeswarar. In front of the Valmikeeswarar shrine, to the left, is present a stone with many foot prints of kids. When Kanchi Mahaperiyavar camped here for 40 days in 1976, he showed a particular place and asked people to dig it. When they did, they found this stone and Mahaperiyavar disclosed that the footprints are those of Rama’s twins – Lava and Kucha.
Normally Lord Dakshinamoorthy is seen only alone in most of the temples but here he is present with his consort Taara in the outer wall of the Valmikeeswarar shrine. He is sitting in a very stylish pose with his left leg raised and bent with his consort peeping through from behind. This special roopam of ‘Thambadya Dakshinamoorthy’ is very beautiful, powerful and a must-see. By worshipping him on a Thursday, one will be bestowed with all his desires especially marriage wishes, reunion of couples and a happy and peaceful married life.
Apart from here he is seen with his consort as ‘Sakthi Dakshinamoorthy’ in Thirukallil.
After completing the shrine on the left side, we come to the shrine on the right side where Lord Shiva as Pallikondeeswarar is present in the reclining pose at the lap of Goddess Parvathi as Sarva Mangalaambihai. Usually Lord Shiva is seen only in the form of a lingam in the sanctum sanctorum and only the urchava moorthy will be in human form. But here He is seen in human form and that too in the reclining pose. The granite sculpture of the reclining Lord is huge to about 16 feet, as also the image of the seated Parvathi. Sun God and Moon God are present on either side of Goddess Parvathi; Lord Maha Vishnu, Brahma, Lakshmi, Sage Margandeyar, Sage Agasthiar, Sage Valmiki,Indran, Sage Naradhar, Sanagathi Munis, Nandikeshwarar, Lord Subrahmanya with His Consorts, Lord Ganapathy and many devars and rishis are present in the sanctum sanctorum as sculptures. The whole Kailasam has assembled there, a scene which can not be seen in any other temple. Here Viboothi (holy ash) is not given as prasadam like the other Shiva temples, instead holy water is given as prasadam and blessing is done with Chadari like a Vaishnavite temple.
When we stand in front of Pallikondeeswarar, there is a feeling of gratitude that here is the divine resting who has consumed poison for the sake of every living creature, Devars and Demons. He saved all the worlds (not only our earth) from destruction and gave nectar in turn; such is the beauty of His Sacrifice. There is a confidence that when he can even consume poison for the sake of us, will he not take care of us? As Sri Sri Ravishankar of Art of Living used to say frequently “You are not alone”, the feeling that the divine is always with us, within us is filling us. For the sacrifice He has made, what else could be befitting than to worship Him during Pradosham?
In the outer praharam, Sabhdha kannihas are present, and in the southwest corner is present the beautiful and magnificent Sthala vriksha tree. The place next to it is filled with the symbolic homes that people built with the stones nearby to get the boon of a new home. This popular belief is being followed very specially at Siruvarpuri Murugan temple but generally followed in most of the temples in this region till Thirupathi. I have seen it already in Devadanam Perumal temple and Thirupathi apart from Siruvapuri and here.
After completing all the rounds we sat for the Pradhosha abhisheham. Since this is the place where Pradhosham was started we expected a good crowd and so were little anxious whether it is possible to get a good darshan. Fortunately, the Pradhosha Nandhi here is present in a big open mandapam that can withstand a big crowd in a way that everyone can have a clear dharshan. Additionally, if you buy a 50 Rs ticket, one person is allowed in the inner reserved area and for a 250 Rs ticket, 4 persons are allowed and are given the Pradhosha prasadam.
Once Devars and Demons churned the milky ocean with snake Vasuki as the rope to get nectar to increase their longevity. Not withstanding the pressure, the snake spilled the poison. In order to save everyone, at the behest of Lord Shiva, Nandhi and Sundarar brought the poison and Shiva shaped it like a round naval fruit and just swallowed. If he swallows, the whole life on all the worlds (not only our earth) will be gone, if he doesn’t, the Devars and Demons will be gone. So Goddess Parvathi just held his throat gently and the poison stayed there. Because of this, He felt a little dizzy and rested at the laps of Parvathi. On waking up, He found that everyone was happy and feeling relieved since a big disaster was averted. So, happily, He then began His cosmic dance accompanied by Devendran reciting flute, Mahalakshmi singing dance, Brahma playing the jalra, Mahavishnu playing the mridangam in the presence of all the Devars and Rishis This is what is being celebrated as ‘Pradosham’ every fortnight. Since everyone is assembled here during the pradhosha time, it seems screens will be put in the Perumal temples during that time.
- Unknowingly twins Lava kucha fought with his father Rama over the Aswametha yaha horse. To get salvation from this they visited many Shiva temples along with Sage Valmiki. There are many more temples in this region that have the legendary connection with Lava-Kucha and some of them I know are Kutraleeswarar temple at Koyampedu, Siruvarpuri and Thirukkallil.
Pradhosha worship procedure:
- Pradhosha time is between 4:30 PM and 6:30 PM
- All the Gods and Goddesses have assembled during Pradhosham. So Pradhosha worship gives the blessings of all these Gods and Goddesses.
- We should not go in between Shiva lingam and Nandhi in any temple in normal time itself and especially during the pradhosha time, we strictly should not (Unfortunately, I have not seen this being followed in any temple including this).
- We should first worship Nandhi, then Shiva through the gap in between the two corns of the Nandhi
- Since Nandhi is the one who takes one’s prayers to Shiva, we can tell our wishes and prayers to the ears of Nandhi.
- Very sacred to chant Rudram during Pradhosham
- Aruhampul garland and Kapparisi nivedyam to Nandhi are very sacred.
- It is believed that each day of the week has different benefits during Pradhosham:
- Sunday: Subha mangalam
- Monday: Good thinking
- Tuesday: Removal of poverty
- Wednesday: Blessing of child, Knowledge and education
- Thursday: Divine blessings through the Pithrus, all dangers will be eliminated
- Friday: Nullifying Opposition
- Saturday: Promotion, get back the lost wealth
- Pradhosham comes in the Thrayodhasi day every fifteen days
- Maha pradhosham comes yearly during the month of Masi before Maha Sivarathri
- The pradhosham coming on Somavaram (Monday) is called Soma pradhosham. Monday is a special day for Shiva.
- Saturday is the day when Shiva swallowed poison and this is called Sani Pradhosham. It is categorized into three depending upon the month of the Pradhosham:
- Uthama Sani Pradhosham (Maximum power) – The Sani Pradhosham that comes during the tamil month of Chithirai, Vaihasi, Ayppasi and Karthihai during the Growing Lunar Cycle (Valar pirai), i.e., New moon to Full moon period.
- Mathima Sani Pradhosham (Normal power) – The Sani Pradhosham that comes during the tamil month of Chithirai, Vaihasi, Ayppasi and Karthihai during Diminishing Lunar Cycle (Thei pirai), i.e., Full moon to New moon period.
- Athama Sani Pradhosham (Minimum power) – All the other Sani Pradhoshams
- If the Maha pradhosham comes on Saturday, it is called Sani Maha Pradhosham
- According to the duration of Thrayodhasa star Pradhosham is categorized into three:
- Uthama Pradhosham (Maximum power) – If the Thrayodhasi period is present from dawn to the next day dawn
- Mathima Pradhosham (Normal power) – If the Thrayodhasi period is present from dusk to the next day dusk
- Athama Pradhosham (Minimum power) – If the Thrayodhasi period comes after the sunset and goes before 4:30 PM the next day.
- A Pradhosha worship gives the benefit of worshipping a Shiva temple daily throughout the year
- A Sani pradhosha worship gives the benefit of worshipping a Shiva temple daily throughout the year for five years
- Continuous 120 Pradhosha worships give limitless benefits and salvation
- It is believed that seeing a Pradhosham at Kutraleeswarar temple of Koyampedu, will fetch the benefit of seeing 1000 Pradhoshams.
Having said all the significances of the temple and the Pradhosham, we however were quite disheartened during the abhisheham on the following fronts:
1) Our devotion is expressed in the way the priest pours different abhisheha items on the deity. When the abhisheha items like milk, curd, sandal paste etc., slowly flows form the top to bottom covering the entire deity, it would be a scintillating feeling. We can not forget the abhishehams we have seen in Tanjore Brahdeeswarar temple and the Swamimalai Murugan temple, for example. At the Brahadeeswarar temple, when the abhisheha items fell slowly from top to bottom covering the entire huge lingam, it was really something divinely which we had never experienced before and something which we can not forget as well (If you plan a visit, just make sure you be there during the abhisheham). But here we could not see any devotion in the way the abhisheha items were poured (they were simply thrown on the head, not poured) and the back part of the Nandhi did not get wet in any of the abhishehams like Sandhana abhisheham or curd abhisheham except the milk abhisheham as shown in the photos.
Believe me the above photos sandhana abhisheham and curd abhisheham were taken at the end of the respective abhishehams and not in the middle.
Only in the milk abhisheham the Nandhi took the complete bath and that too because the amount of milk poured (thrown) was really enormous. Before the abhisheham was started, Nandhi was given oil rubbing just for his head and face and not even to his neck. Ever since we visited the Thirukkallil in Aug 2007 incidentally on a Pradhosham day, (covered in my very first blog), by God’s grace, we are able to witness every Pradhosham so far and that too mostly in a new temple. In Thirukkallil, two brothers are coming over all the way from Adayar every time and conduct the Pradhosham themselves. After seeing all these devotion at various temples, we were really saddened to see this kind of an abhisheham here (remember this temple is so special that Pradhosham has started here).
2) We had strong reasons to believe that the different abhisheha items that are submitted by the devotees are being siphoned off back door to the shops without the seal being broken. So when you are there, either you yourself open the seal and pour the items in the respective vessels or make sure they are being opened in front of you.
3) The inner area, reserved for ticketed people was filled with many people without ticket through recommendations. I understand that there could be some real VIPs and deserving people who might have played a big roll in the temple renovation and upkeep but the free crowd of friends and families of the political people and the temple employees were far too much.
Date of Visit: 22/11/2007