Visit to Anandhavalli sametha Agastheeswarar Temple at Pancheshti
Travel base: Chennai
Main deity: Agastheeswarar facing east
Goddess: Anandhavalli facing South
Theertham: Agasthia Theertham
Sthala vruksham: Vilvam
Other Shrines: Sidhi Vinayahar, Murugan, Navagrahams and Ishta lingam
Special mention: Sculptural works of the Rajagopuram
Contacts: 94441 46752 / 98413 17500 / 98413 44867 / 99625 70445 / 97898 92925
The temple is located at about 30 kms from Chennai on the right side of the Grand North Trunk (GNT) Road (to Kolkatta) between Karanodai Bridge/ Toll gate and Thachur Cross road (to Ponneri). There is a gap in the Highway to cross to the right side to the temple but it is in a critical location and you have to be careful while crossing there. I receommend a safer way to drive upto Thachur Cross road, take a ‘U’ turn and come back. Just a KM more but is safe.
Padi junction to Thachur Cross road – 26 km
Thachur Cross road to Pancheshti cut road – 1 km
Main road to the temple – 500 meters
Once Sages Vasishtar, Gouthamar and Kanvar went to Lord Brahma to suggest them a suitable place on earth to do tapas. Brahma then made a wheel out of some Dharhai grass and rolled it over. The place where it stopped is Pancheshti. Sage Agasthiar conducted five yagnas (Pancha means five, Ishti means Yagna) and so the name Pancheshti. Since the place is blessed by Agasthar, there is copious ground water and supplies water to Chennai city whenever there is a scarcity. So it is called ‘Pancham theerkum Pancheti’ meaning ‘Starvation solving Pancheshti’.
The temple is in a somewhat busy village at the end of a street with houses. A beautiful Rajagopuram welcomes us and when we come closer we are taken into surprise for the marvelous sculptural works at the outer and inner walls of the Rajagopuram. This is covered in a separate section down below.
In the outer praharam, Sidhi Vinayahar shrine, Balasubramaniar shrine with the deity in ‘Shrushti kolam’ doing the job of Lord Brahma after snatching the job from him and Chandikeswarar shrine are present. Pancheshti gods Vinayahar, Dakshinamoorthy, Brahma, Durgai and Mahavishnu are present in the Koshtam shrines.
A very old Snake pit is present in the northern outside praharam, where people have seen a snake living even now and it is believed to be here protecting some hidden treasures of the temple. Incidentally the Agastheeswarar and Ishta lingams are also present with an umbrella of snake.
Ishti lingam shrine is present in the northern corner of the temple housing a Shivalingam that had been worshipped by the Agasthiar’s sishyar Sage Pulathiar. A tree is standing upright next to the shrine as an umbrella and embracing it. This shrine had been renovated nicely by an individual devotee who got his prayers answered. Worshipping the Ishti lingam is believed to give peace, grant wishes and give success in the court cases.
Outside the eastern praharam is present the temple tank ‘Agasthia Theertham’, created by Agasthiar after drinking the whole sea water and then spitting a little!. It is a sacred tank and people bath in this for various pariharams. Agasthiar, due to his attachment to this place, didn’t want to leave this place to Kailasam after his job was over but Lord Shiva finally convinced him to return to Kailasam. Since then it is believed that Agashiar is returning here on every Vaikasi full moon since the Agasthia Theertham was created on a Vaikasi full moon. So, many people bath on that day every year. Unfortunately such a sacred and special temple tank is in a bad condition needing some attention. Hope it will be refurbished very soon.
Navagraha shrine is present beautifully on a lotus base but unfortunately our people made a mess of the place with many scribbling around the walls. While all the shrines are clean only this Navagraha shrine is made ugly since there is no exclusive place to light the oil deepams.
In the sanctum sanctorum is present both Agastheeswarar and Goddess Anandhavalli in such a way that we can have the dharshan of both of them from the same place. We can go very close to the deities and have a very satisfying dharshan. Agastheeswarar is facing East and Goddess Anandhavalli is facing South. Agastheeswarar is a Swayambu lingam present with an umbrella of the five headed Nagarajan. The Swayambu lingam is believed to have been present before the arrival of Agasthiar itself and got the name Agastheeswarar after his worship. Agastheeswarar is present as Shivasakthi by having the power of Ambal manonmani in his left side.
Goddess Anandhavalli is made of Maragatha (emerald) stone and is present with her left leg in front and with 3 eyes. Her right eye is sun and left eye is moon. It is our custom that when we enter the house we have to put our right leg first and when we go out we have to put our left leg first in order to return successful. Here she has taken a Chathru Samhara form keeping her left leg in front in order to drive away the evil forces and the demons that had come to disturb Agasthiar’s poojas. So it is believed that worshipping her will drive away all the evil forces, obstacles and enemies of her devotees. To calm down Ambal, Agasthiar has installed a Durga Yanthram in a platform in front of her, containing the ‘Sapthasee’ manthram of Devi Mahathmeeyam that includes 700 mantras representing Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Kali. The Gods of this yantra are present in the sculptures in the ceiling of the Rajagopuram. Abirami Bhattar’s Abirami Andhadhi and Aadhi Sankarar’s Soundharya Lahari have many verses glorifying the 3 eyed Anandhavalli.
The temple is a South facing one and Goddess Anandhavalli is facing the entrance directly. Goddess is more special here and the Rajagopuram is present especially for Her. The Navagrahas are present in the Rajagopuram directly facing the Ambal, all facing the same direction (normally each one will face different direction) with Lord Saturn uniquely present with an Eagle vahanam. So worshipping Ambal will remove all the Navagraha dhoshas. Also the Ashtadikpalakars (8 Directional Gods) Indhran – East, Agni (Fire) – SouthEast, Yama – South, Nirthi – SouthWest, Varuna (Rain) -West, Vayu (Air) – Northwest, Gubera – North and Isana – Northeast representing the 8 directions are present in the Rajagopuram directly facing the Goddess. Since the Gods representing the 8 directions are all facing the same direction facing the Goddess here, we will be relieved of all the troubles faced by these Gods. Ambal is so powereful here.
When we went Goddess Anandhavalli was decorated beautifully in a 9 yards saree and with the sincere Gurukkal doing the archanais in a ‘vengala kural’, we got immense satisfaction. We remember having had such a satisfying archanai with a fantastic voice only in Kadambar koil in Kanchipuram-Uthiramerur route which is already covered in my Blog.
In the sanctum sanctorum hall is present Sage Agathiar and the ‘Naalvars’.
- Sukethu’s curse:
Once at Kailasam, when Shiva was teaching the Shiva Philosophy with Parvathi sitting next to him, a yatchan called Sukethu questioned Him whether it is ok to teach the philosophy while Parvathy is sitting along. Shiva just smiled but Murugar got angry since Parvathy is always part of Shiva Himself and so cursed him to become a demon. He then married another demon and gave birth to 3 sons. The 3 sons, knowing the curse of his father, did a penance towards Goddess Parasakthi and got all the powers. With this they disturbed everyone in the Celestial world and so all the Dhevars went to Sage Agasthiar to do something. Agasthiar then prayed to Lord Shiva and He appeared as a Rishba rudar along with Parvathi, Vinayahar, Murugan and Nandhi dhevar and gave the necessary powers to Sage Agasthiar. Meanwhile Sukethu fought with other demons and on becoming tired went and hid himself under the sea. The 3 sons then searched their father in the sea and created a pralayam there. All the lives of sea were affected and so Agsthiar just drank the whole sea and it became completely dry. The Dhevars then requested Agasthiar to bring back the sea and Agasthiar spit a little water at Panchesti and it became the ‘Agasthia Theertham’ and let the remaining water back to the sea itself. In the process, Sukethu and his sons were caught inside the stomach of Agasthiar and they requested pardon. Agasthiar then made them take a dip at the ‘Agasthia Theertham’ and conduct five yagnas – Dheva Yagna, Brahma Yagna, Pithur Yagna, Bootha Yagna and Manuda Yagna. Finally they got their curse cleared off.
- King Mithrathuvasan:
Once King Mithrathuvasan of Kanchipuram was doing regular Pradhosha pooja here. When he was coming for one such pooja, he heard a crying voice for help and when he went he saw a Tiger about to kill a man who was very lean and bony. When the King told the tiger to leave that poor man, the Tiger replied that it is also old and needs food for it and its kids. The King replied to take him instead of the poor man since he is hale and healthy but requested to wait till he comes back after the Pradhosha pooja. The tiger accepted and relieved the poor man. As promised when the King appeared before the tiger after the pooja with sacred ash full of body, rudraksha chain around his neck and Prashoda prasads (vilvam) in his hand, the tiger hesitated. When he compelled the tiger to take him by voluntarily putting his head inside the Tiger’s mouth, it disappeared and Lord Shiva gave dharshan as Rishabaroodar along with Parvathi devi. He realized that it is just the drama of Lord Shiva just to show him and the world the significance and power of Pradhosha pooja. The place where this happened is being called ‘Thiruvilankeswarar’ a few kms from here and a Shiva temple is present there. Since King Mithrathuvasan came forward to sacrifice himself because he did not want even a Tiger at forest to starve, this place is considered an Annadhana Kshetram.
Indhran, Indhrani and Viswaroopan’s curse:
Once Indhran wanted to start a Yagna but since Dheva Guru Brahaspathi who normally is the Guru of all yagnas in Dhevaloham (Brahaspathi) was in tapas towards Lord Shiva, Indhran conducted the yagna with Viswaroopan as Guru. So Brahaspathi cursed both of them to take human births. They had then born as sons of King Mithrathuvasan in the name of Chandhramoulipriyan and Sambupriyan.
In another incident, while Padmini, daughter of Guberan was taking bath, Sage Romar covered with hair all over his body was passing through and Padmini made fun of him and laughed. So Sage Romar cursed her to take human birth and to be a wife for two persons since she laughed at the Sage twice. Thus she took birth as the daughter of King Bhavabanu of Virudhachalam in the name of Ambihai.
When the King arranged Swayamvaram for his daughter, demon Sambasuran participated with a fake identity and took away Ambihai. Chandhramoulipriyan and Sambupriyan who also participated in the Swayamvaram then fought with the demon, won him and both married her.
Later demon Sambupriyan again took her way one day. Chandhramoulipriyan and Sambupriyan searched for her everywhere and finally came to Kalahasthi and prayed to Lord Shiva. They then heard the holy voice that Agasthiar who was in tapas at southeast of Kalahasthi will help. They then came to Pancheshti and fell at the feet of Agasthiar. He then made them to create an ashram here and do the Pradhosha pooja.
On one pradhosham when they were returning to the Ashram after the pooja, they heard a crying female voice and they went and saw their wife Ambigai getting ready to be sacrificed to Goddess Kali by a demon called Sakthiubhasakan who brought her here after killing demon Sambasuran. They both then killed the demon and relieved her. Agasthiar then ended the curse of all the three and they all went to their respective worlds.
This is one temple where one will get immense satisfaction due to the sanctity of the place, sincerity of the priests in his bell metal (vengala) voice archanai, the beauty and grandeur of various sculptures at the Rajagopuram and the worship benefits.
- It was on a Vaikasi full moon that Agasthiar spit a little sea water to create the ‘Agasthia Theertham’. So it is believed that Agasthiar is returning here on that day every year. It is very sacred to take a dip in the ‘Agasthia Theertham’ and worship Agastheeswarar on that day.
- It is one of the special places where Pradhosham is very significant. The curses of Indhran, Indhrani and Viswaroopan got cleared due to the Pradhosha poojas. Also King Mithrathuvasan was doing regular Pradhosha pooja here and Shiva appeared to him and showed the power of pradhosha pooja.
- Since King Mithrathuvasan came forward to give himself as food to a Tiger because he did not want even a Tiger at forest to starve, this place is considered an Annadhana Kshetram. Annadhanam itself was one of the five yagnas Agasthiar conducted here. Doing Annadhanam here will give the benefit of the entire birth (Pirvai perum payan). Lost pride will be restored and more fame and position will come as per the palm leaves of the Agasthia ashram.
- During Tuesday and Friday Ragu kalams, doing an abhisheham to the Yantra, lemon garlanding Ambal and lighting deepams with the lemon covers around the Yantra will remove all the marriage obstacles and drive away all the evil forces.
- Generally, if the Rajagopuram is facing south it is considered a Parihara sthalam. Here the Rajagopuram itself is present for goddess and she has taken the Chathru Samhara kolam with her left leg in front in order to drive away the evil forces and the demons that had come to disturb Agasthiar’s poojas. So worshipping her will drive away all the evil forces, obstacles and enemies.
- Since all the Navagrahas are present in the Rajagopuram directly facing Ambal, worshipping Ambal will remove all the Navagraha dhoshas
- Worshipping the Ishta lingam will give peace, grant wishes and give success in the court cases.
Full moon days; Pradhosham days; Ragu kalams on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays; Pancha parvanhal; Navarathri; Shivrathri; Thiruvathirai; Panguni Uthira Kalyana Uthsavam; Vaikasi Visakam; Thai poosam; Aadi Pooram
The Rajagopuram needs a special mention since it houses plenty of beautiful and intricate sculptures in the outer and inner walls. You need to have enough time while going in or out of the temple to enjoy the beauty. Though this is a Shiva temple, the Rajagopuram has the sculptures of both Shiva and Vaishnava Gods and stands as a symbol of Shiva-Vaishnav unison. Also it houses sculptures of all the yuhas (periods) and almost all the Gods.
Note: These are high resolution pictures and are stitched with multiple photos to appear as single pictures for continuity. So it is worth going into ‘flickr’ page by clicking on the picture and see them in thier original size in order to appreciate the sculptures better.
Details of Sculptures from Left to Right and from Bottom to Top:
Sculpture 1: DwaraBalahi, Yamuna, Saraswathi, Valli Deivanai Sametha Mayura nathar, Poorana Pushkala sametha Sastha (Ayyappan), Dhasavatharam starts with Machavatharam
Sculpture 2: DwaraBalahi, Ganga, Vallaba Ganapathi, Narthana Ganapathi, Chamundeeswari, Rishabharudar, Mooshika Vinayahar, Dakshinamoorthy and Kalatheeswarar.
Sculpture 3: Nandhi, Panchamuha Valampuri Vinayahar, Parvathi Marriage, Pallikondeswarar, Somaskandar, Gaja Samhara Moorthy, Sadhasiva moorthy (Shiva with five faces)
Sculpture 4: Kandharvar, Shanmuhar with six faces, Brahma and Maha Vishnu in an Yagna, Churning the Thirupparkadal with Dhevars on one side and demons on the other side with Snake Vasuki as the rope, Garuda Servai, Boodhevi – Sridhevi sametha Maha Vishnu, Sesha sayanam on Snake, Vishnu, Gandharvas
Sculpture 5 (Shiva Dance):
Dwara Balahi, Thumburu Veena, Brahma Thalam, Maha Vishnu Udukkai, Kali Thandavam Natarajar (Thiruvalankadu), Anandha Thandava Natarajar (Chidambaram), Vinayahar Pooja, Kannappar.
Sanga natham, Kaala Bairavar, Brahma Sarathi, Thiripura Samharam- Thirupuram burning on the left side, Radha-Rukmani sametha Krishnar, Anumantha Seva, ???, Ratha Mariamman
Sculpture 7 :
Left Side: Snga natham, Veera Bhadrar, Getting Ready for Thirupura Samharam, Anantha Padmanatha Swamy (Trivandram), Radha Rukmani Krishnar, Veeraraghavar Sayanam (Thiruvallur), Narasimhar
Right side: Padi Mohini, Saraswathi with Veena, Mahavishnu with Udukkai, Agasthiar with Veena, Nandhi Mathalam, Kali, Shiva in Bitchandaar form, Kanchi Ekambaranathar Linga Alinganam.
If this writeup looks very detailed and complete, it is due to these sincere Gurukkals – Sri P.N.Rajamani and his father Sri Natatrajan. May God bless them long life to serve the divine more and more in the same sincere way.
Update (16th Aug 2012):
While Sri Natarajan passed away a few years back, I am shocked and deeply saddened to hear today that Sri.Rajamani also passed away during Oct/Nov 2011 in a road accident. I pray for both the souls to reach their proper destinations at heaven.