Visit to Yoga Ramar Temple at Nedungunam
Nedungunam is to the West of Vandavasi; to the East of Polur; to the North of Gingee; to the South of Arani and to the North-East of Thiruvannamalai. The temple is located on the Vandavasi-Chetput main road itself.
Chennai (Adayar) to Vandavasi (via Uthiramerur/Thennangur) – 108 km
Vandavasi to Nedungunam – 27 km (4 km before Chetput).
Arani to Chetput – 24 km
Chetput to Nedungunam – 4 km
No 148: Chennai – Polur
No 208: Chennai – Thiruvannamalai via Chetput, Avalurpet (Most of the Chennai – Thiruvannamalai buses are flying in the other route via Tindivanam/ Gingee)
The temple is on the main road itself and so you can get down right at the temple entrance.
Moolavar: Yoga Ramar with Seetha devi
Urchavar: Vijaya Raghava Perumal
Other Shrines: Azhwar, Sri Krishna, Sudharsanar, Lord Venkateswara, Vaikanasar
Theertham: Sukhar Theertham (also called Surya Theertham)
- One of the biggest temples for Lord Rama
- The biggest Vaishnav temple of Vellore and Thiruvannamalai districts
- Lord Rama is seen in a rare posture as Yoga Ramar in a sitting meditative posture without His usual Kothandam
This is the place where Sukha Brahma Rishi, a saint with a Parrot face, was in tapas towards Ramar. While Lord Rama was on His way to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana and completing the Pattabisheham for Vibishanan, He noticed the tapas of Sukha Brahmar on the banks of Kaliyar. The Lord then alighted from His chariot and surprised the Sage by just appearing before him. We could imagine what could be the reaction and feelings of the saint. Ramar stayed here for a day at the request of Sukha Brahmar. Although He was in a hurry to go to Ayodhya to save Bharata, Rama honoured the prayers of His devotee. The most noble qualities of Lord Rama – Sowlabya (simplicity) and Sowseelya (the ability to treat everyone alike) without any discrimination – are conveyed just by this act. The name Nedungunam conveys the noble quality of Rama – Nedum meaning High/ Noble and Gunam meaning Quality/ Personality.
The Kaliyar river starts from here through the waters of the nearby Dheerkachala hill and ends at the Maduranthaham lake near Chenglepat which was protected by Eri Katha Ramar. So both the temples are connected by legend.
Sukha Brahma Rishi is a devotee of Lord Shiva as well. Sukhar is an expert in changing forms and once he changed into a parrot. He flew to Kailayam where he saw Lord Shiva was preaching Shiva secrets to Parvathi devi and Sukhar wanted to know the secret. So he was flying around between Lord Shiva and Parvathi Devi. Parvathi Devi got angry and cursed him to be in the Parrot form itself. Sukhar then pleaded pardon and Shiva gave some relief to be in human form but with Parrot face. Sukhar penanced at a place called Thiru Idaiyaru near Sidhalingamadam near Thirukoyilur and got blessed by Shiva. Sukhar has a separate shrine in this temple. Thus Sukha Brahma Rishi is a devotee of Lord Shiva as well as Lord Rama.
There is a Dheerkachaleswar (the nearby hill is called Dheerkachalam) temple at the Esanya corner near the Ramar temple at Nedungunam.
This ancient and attractive Pallava period temple is quite big with tall temple walls. The five-tier magnificent Rajagopuram welcomes everyone and on entering the temple, another one of nearly the same size surprises us.
In the sanctum sanctorum, we are stunned at the entrance itself by the two huge and beautiful Dwarabalahas, sculptured with artistic excellence. They set the mood for us and covey what is in store inside. They were shining with new clothes since the Bramostava festival was going on. In the sanctum sanctorum, Lord Rama is present with Lakshman and Seetha devi. Lakshman is seen with Kothandam but Ramar is uniquely seen as Yoga Ramar sitting in a meditative posture with chin mudhra without His usual Kothandam, a rare posture indeed. Hanumar is sitting in front of Ramar, visible only when you step inside the inner most of the sanctorum. Hanumar is seen reading out the Dharma Shastras to Sukha Brahma Rishi and Ramar is in a pose of listening and giving explanations.
The inner most praharam around the moolavar is about 10 feet under ground and one has to bend and enter/ exit very carefully signifying that we have to be very humble in the place of the Lord. This is the first of its kind I have seen.
There are two sets of utsava murtis and the reason being that one set of idols was stolen some times back and just when the second set was installed, the first one was got in perfect shape. The Urchava moorthy is called Vijaya Raghava Perumal signifying the Victory of Rama over Ravana. He is seen holding chakra and conch in their upper hands with the lower right hand showing the abhaya mudra. There is a small stone idol of Vijaya Raghava Perumal within the sanctum sanctorum as well.
There is a separate shrine for Thayar Sengamalavalli and She is connected with the Urchava moorthy Vijaya Raghava Perumal. Like the Dwarabalahas of the Ramar shrine, the Dwarabalahis of the Thayar shrine are also stunningly beautiful.
There are separate shrines for Azhwar, Sri Krishna, Sudharsana along with Yoga Narasimhar as an integral part on its back side. There is also a shrine exclusively for Lord Venkateswara. In a separate shrine, Vaikanasa the preceptor of Vaikanasa agama is seen with four disciples in a corner. There are two idols of Anjaneya one of which was found in a nearby hill.
In spite of the temple being connected mainly to Sukha Brahma Rishi, to my surprise, the idol of Sukha Brahma Rishi was not seen anywhere. I was informed that it is so because he is standing as a big hill called Dheerkachala Hill near the temple, visible in a radius of about 5 km. Bhattachar informed that the hill appears exactly as a human with a Parrot face at a particular angle while coming from Chetput to Nedungunam. On top of the hill, the feet of Ramar is present in stone in open without any shrine and can be worshipped at any time of the day.
When I visited, it was the fifth day of the annual 10 days Sri Rama Navami Bramostavam and I was pained to see the temple being deserted with no other visitor, in spite of the festival time. What a rare temple and how little known is this to the devotees!
Note: There are totally 3 temples in this region with Ramar in yoga posture. This being the main temple and apart from this there is a small temple at Raghunatha Samudhram, 5 kms from here and a TVS group maintained temple at Padavedu near here.
The Bhattachars were very kind and explained the temple very well indeed.
Contact: Badhri Bhattacharyar @ 6380947204.