Visit to Padavedu Temples
Padavedu is centrally located among Vellore, Thiruvannamalai and Arani in the Vellore – Polur (Thiruvannamalai) route. While going from Vellore, there is a junction called Santhavasal at 32 km from Vellore town and from this junction you have to turn right (towards west) and travel further for about 6 kms to reach Padavedu.
Note: Normally there is no need to go through Vellore and the shortest would be through Arcot – Arani but since the road is being laid in that route, it is better to go through Vellore now.
Chennai (Adayar) to Vellore Highways junction – 142 km
Vellore Highways junction to Santhavasal – 37 km
Santhavasal to Padavedu Renugambal Temple – 6 km
From other places:
Thiruvannamalai to Padavedu – 55 km
Aarani to Padavedu – 23 km
Renukambal Temple – 04181 248224
- Padavedu is the avatara sthalam of Parasuramar, one of the Dhasavadharams of Mahavishnu
- There are more than 10 ancient temples of 12th century
- Sri Renugambal Temple is one of the important Sakthi Sthalams
- Ramar is seen in a meditative posture with ‘Chin mudhra’ in Sri Yoga Ramachandra moorthy temple
- Sri Varadharaja Perumal temple and Sri Ammayappar temple were once buried under the sand and have been excavated and renovated
- In Subramanya Swamy temple, Lord Subramania is seen standing on his peacock. Legend has it that Lord Subramania was conferred the title “Deva Senapathi” only on this hill top at the behest of Goddess Renugambal.
- Sri Lakshmi Narsimhar temple is having Goddess Laskhmi seated on the right lap of Lord Narasimhar (usually She will be on the left lap)
- Sri Kailasa Vinayagar temple where the Vinayagar is about 5.5 feet high
- Sri Kailasanadhar Temple is where Lord Shiva is seen with Uma devi in human form but unfortunately in a vandalized condition.
- Sri Venugopla Swamy Temple that is on a picturesque hill en route a beautiful forest with a few hanging bridges
- Vel Temple is where ‘Vel’ consecrated by Siddhar Bhogar is present
- Sri Veera Anjaneyar temple is where there is a beautiful 8 feet tall Anjaneyar
The Scenic Village
Padavedu, is a calm and scenic place that consists of 17 villages encircled by the Jawadu hills, river and other water bodies, paddy, coconut and plantain fields. There are more than 10 ancient temples with Renugambal temple as the most popular of them. This is one of the Sakthi sthalams of Thondai mandalam. TVS Group has adopted this village around 20 years back and all the temples are being maintained very cleanly by a Trust owned by them. This is one of the cleanest places I have ever visited and is a definite model for other temples to follow (I understand that the Nava Thirupathis of Thirunelveli are also being maintained by TVS Group but I am yet to see them).
Just imagine this scenario – a temple outer praharam neatly laid with about 2 feet width brick walk-way all around; trees and flower plants in rows at the edges near the compound walls and the entire outer praharam filled with fine river sand absolutely clean without even small stones, single leaf, or any other plant waste! Just relaxing by sitting on the sand with the family by itself is a real pleasure. That’s marvelous and that’s how TVS is maintaining ALL the temples here. I can imagine a private place being maintained so neatly but not a religious place, Hats off to them!
TVS has really shown to the corporate world how they can participate in the social upliftment programs. Many IT companies that were the dream companies when I came out of Engineering college (early 80s) had gone into dust now; you will not know these companies now even by names. One of the reasons for TVS remaining a time-tested group without losing its sheen for so many decades could be their social involvement such as these. I feel that the IT and other companies should not only engage in capitalizing on the real estates at rock bottom prices from the Govt., but should follow this TVS model. After all, temples are not only for worship, they remain as the backbone of village economy, a common social place, an instrument for the unity and peace (sometimes it is the opposite as well), for the good conduct of the villagers instead of falling into alcohol, etc.,
History of the place
During 13th and 14th Centuries, the Sambuvarayar chieftains ruled this region under the patronage of the Pandyas. For a short time they became independent and subsequently came under the rule of Kempagowda. Padavedu was the capital of their empire and so this was a big commercial place during that time. There were two forts – Big fort and Small fort with moats (Agazhi in Tamil). Number of sages performed penance and attained salvation here. It is said that there were 1008 Shiva temples and 108 Vishnu temples here (though it is difficult to believe). Out of these except the Yoga Ramar temple and the Renugambal temple, all other floor temples have disappeared due to the natural disasters. During the 1990s, many temples have been unearthed and renovated. These were built at various points of time, but most of the improvements and decorations appear to have been done when the Sambuvarayar came under the sway of the Vijayanagar Empire. There are many inscriptions from Vijayanagara periods.
Legend of the place
Renuga devi, an incarnation of Parvathi devi, traveled the whole world accompanied by her friends and an army in search of a suitable husband. Finally, she arrived at Kundalipuram, where saint Jamadagini was doing penance. Since Renuga devi camped near the Ashram with her soldiers, the sacred place was named “Padai Veedu” (army encampment). Here, Renuga devi saw Saint Jamadagini, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. At that time a war broke out between the disciples of the Saint Jamadagini and the soldiers of Renuga devi. Durga (Chamundeeswari) who accompanied Renuga devi, effected havoc by producing fire from her third eye. Seeing this, the Saint Jamadagini brought all the Teerthas available in three worlds in his kamandalam (water jug used by ascetics) and dropped it. The water from kamandalam transformed into a huge river and extinguished the fire brought out by Chamundeeswari. This river is known as “Kamandala Nadhi”. Later Renuga devi and Saint Jamadagini married and gave birth to Parasuramar, one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu.
We reached Padavedu by 1PM after the hectic visits to Shenbakkam, Virinchipuram, Singirikoil and Erikuppam. The rooms are available at the Renugambal temple here and normally they will be available but unfortunately they were not during our visit. Sri Vasudeva Bhattacharyar tried his level best to get us some accommodation somewhere but could not. Finally, after taking rest somewhat, we started our temple trips by 4 PM. You may engage a local guy for showing the routes since there are more than 10 temples. Our original plan was to stay at Padavedu but we returned to Chennai on the same night since we could not get the accommodation. Due to this, we could visit only 6 temples and missed out 4 temples in our list. So this is only a pre-amble visit and would definitely like to visit again and spend a whole day here. The place where Renugambal temple is situated is called A.K.Padavedu (Amman Koil Padavedu) and the actual Padavedu is about 2 km from here.
I give below the account of our visit in the order in which we visited.
The complete set of photos are available here.
Sri Kailasa Vinayagar Temple
Our first stop was the Kailasa Vinayagar temple. The Vinayagar is 5.5 feet high and very majestic. This 12th century temple was completely destroyed and is one of the temples that were renovated recently. The archagar was young and did the archana with a full 108 ashtothrams without any hurry. We had a very satisfying dharshan.
Sri Kailasanadhar Temple at Kailasa Parai
This is near the Kailasa Vinayagar Temple and is a totally dilapidated temple. I don’t think there are daily poojas taking place and so this is usually not in the visitors’ list of temples. This is on top of a small hillock called Kailasa parai on the northern border of Padavedu. There are no steps to climb and actually none required since this is a flat rock. Only the sanctum sanctorum in Gajaprashta style remains with big and beautiful idol of Sri Kailasanadhar along with Uma Devi. Sadly, the idols are vandalized and all the four hands of Lord Shiva are broken. As we all know, it is very rare to see Lord Shiva in human form and one such temple in such a dilapidated state is really paining. The ardent devotees of Lord Shiva better not visit this since you will return with a heavy heart.
There is a sunai (water stream) at the hillock top.
But the location of the temple is awesome. From the hiilock top, the entire Padavedu is visible and it is a beautiful sight in the backdrop of Jawadu hills all around.
Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar Temple
This temple is located at Ramanathapuram on the southern side of Sri Ramachandraswamy temple and also on the hill top which is situated on the other side of Kamandala river. Due to the river the villages were disconnected and it was TVS who built a bridge and connected the villages. There is a good cement road going to the hilltop till the temple. Since it was a Sani Pradhosham, there was a good crowd. Only here I understood that Pradhosham is special for Sri Lakshmi Narsimhar also since the demon Iranyan was killed during this time (the meeting time of day and night) only.
This is a small temple with only the main shrine. The significance of Lord Lakshmi Narasimhar here being that Goddess Lakshmi is seated on the right side of the Lord whereas normally She will be seen on the left side (The Lakshmi Narasimhar temple at Singiri Koil near here, which is covered in my earlier Blog, also has the right side seated Goddess). Poojas are performed three times a day. The view from the hilltop is breathtaking. The Abishekam for Narasimhar is being done on Sundays.
Contact: Sri Mukundhan Bhattar – 94435 40660
Sri Yoga Ramachandra Swamy Temple
This temple, constructed before 12th Century AD, is located 1 KM west of Arulmigu Renugambal Temple. Here Lord Rama is uniquely seated in Artha Padmasana with a “Chin Mudra” with Goddess Seetha and Lord Lakshman by his side and without his usual kothandam. Unusually Lord Hanuman is seated in front of Lord Rama reading Palm leaf manuscripts. You can see Lord Hanuman only when you go very near at the sanctum sanctorum. The combination of the clean sanctum sanctorum, the illumination inside and the deities are really marvelous. To top it, a sincere Bhattacharyar makes our visit highly fulfilling.
The Vel temple on top of the nearby hill is visible from here.
Note: Ramar in a meditative posture are seen only in 3 places and all of them are in this region. Apart from this temple, they are Nedungunam (covered in my earlier Blog) and a small temple at Ragunatha Samudhram, 5 kms from Nedungunam.
Legend: After the destruction of Ravana, Lord Rama was requested to destroy the demon, hundred headed Mahi Ravana. On behalf of Lord Rama, Hanuman fought with Mahi Ravana. The intense battle witnessed the fall of his (Hanuman) soldiers at the hands of the demon. In spite of his best efforts, Hanuman could not locate Mahi Ravana. At that time, Seetha Devi informed Hanuman that Mahi Ravana was a staunch devotee of Goddess Renuga Devi and his life force was hidden in a lotus flower of a Pond at Kundalipuram and he had been protected by Goddess Renuga Devi. When Hanuman went to Kundalipuram, Goddess Renuga Devi made the lotus Pond to disappear to safeguard Mahi Ravana. Hanuman got angry and fought with Goddess Renuga Devi but Lord Rama intervened and pacified both. Then Lord Rama and Hanuman prayed Goddess Renuga devi to help them in destroying Mahi Ravana. Pleased by the prayers, Goddess Renuga Devi granted the boon and Mahi Ravana was destroyed.
Sri Ammayappa Eswar temple
It is located 1 KM west of Sri Renugambal Temple. This is a 12th century temple and is the oldest of the lot. Due to sand storms this temple was buried completely and was excavated later and is in good shape now. This was the family deity of Sambuvarayar kings. The amman in this temple is Aparnambigai and the deity is around 5.5 feet high. Right in front of the Amman shrine, there is a place underground from where they discovered the ancient (urchava) idols and ornaments. The place has been properly earmarked with a writing ‘Not a Hundi’ for obvious reason. The excavated urchava idols can be seen in the urchava mandapam.
Sri Veera Anjaneyar Temple
This 3 years old temple is on the way to Ramar temple from Renugambal temple and close to the Draupadhi Mandapam. The beautiful deity, Veera Anjaneyar, is about 8 feet tall. This Anjaneyar was in the main road without any temple and when they wanted to move him for the new temple, they could not. Only after adorning him with a Butter Alankaram made of about 40 kg of butter, he moved.
In Padavedu, you can not see the Navagraha shrine in any of the temples (Navagrha worship came into practice only in later perod) and worshipping Verra Anjaneyar is considered equivalent to Navagraha worship. He appears with his tail rounded up and it is considered that he has contained the Navagrahas in his tail. He is appearing with his foot in a way ready fly to Ayodhya from Lanka with his hands in a posture of blessing the devotees. His foot and tail are considered very significant here.
He is a very powerful Anjaneyar who can fulfill all your wishes. A devotee from Hyderabad, came here and prayed just like that for his son’s U.S trip. Since it got fulfilled without any problem, he offered a big golden Ramar dollar which adorns the Anjaneyar now.
Padavedu is protected by Veera Anjaneyar and Kali on all 8 directions and so you can see Veera Anjaneyar temples in many places around Padavedu. There is one (small shrine) at the back of the Renugambal temple also.
Contact: Mr Vasudeva Bhattar at 91596 32669 / 04181 248303
Sri Renugambal Temple
Temple: This is the most popular temple of Padavedu and we kept this as the last one since it closes last (8PM). Padavedu is one of the most important ‘Sakthi Sthalas’ in Thondainadu. Goddess Renugambal has self-manifested (swayambu) here with her head alone and is present along with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in aroopa form. Full form of Amman in Athi wood is behind the main deity. The existence of Banalingam and Nanakarshna Chakra consecrated by Aadhi Sankarar is the specialty of this place.
Next to the Renugambal shrine, is present Lord Shiva as Somnatha Eswar and Amman as Uma Maheswari in separate shrines. There are separate shrines for Vinayagar and Murugan.
There is a clean and closed temple tank within the temple complex. There are two praharams along with broad Mada streets on all four sides (without much encroachment).
Special significance: Every year during the Tamil month Aani Thirumanjanam, holy ash is collected from the Yagna gundam of Sage Jamdgini, on the banks of Kamandala river nearby and that is what is being given as Prasadam.
Temple Timings: Temple opens from 6 AM to 1:30 PM and from 3 PM to 8:30 PM. On Fridays and Sundays, the temple will be open continuosly without any break.
Legend: Padavedu is the place where Sage Jamadagini, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, lived with his wife Renuga devi, an incarnation of Parvathi and son Parasurama, the avatar of Vishnu. Sage Jamadagini and Sage Vishwamitra grew together. The Sage used to perform Yagna daily to which mother Renuga devi used to bring water in a pot just made that day. One day the Mother saw a Gandharva flying and lost her mind on that due to the maya or the play of the great Shakti. She was late for the yagna and felt ashamed. The Sage, knowing this, asked his sons to chop off mother’s head but none came forward. Only Parasurama, to abide his father, came forward and did it and also cut his hand. Nearby Dobis (cloth washers) came to rescue the mother but Parasurama killed all of them. The sage was pleased and asked Parasurama’s wish and he rightly wanted his mother back. Sage agreed and asked Parasurama to join the head and the body and sprinkle holy water over them. Parasurama did so and his mother came to life and also the dobis who died in the fight. But, alas, his mother’s head was attached to a dobi woman’s body and vice versa while doing it in an anxiety. But then Universal mother might have wanted this way only and She then made that dobi woman, her close maiden. She is also worshipped here. All these happened in Padavedu.
Meanwhile, Kartha Veerya Arjunan demanded the Kamadenu kept by Jamadagini. When he refused, Kartha Veeryan killed Sage Jamadagini and took away the Kamadenu. So Renuga devi tried to immolate herself along with her husband but rain came and aborted her attemt. Renuga devi came out with boils all over the body and dreesed herself with one made of neem leaves. Parasumarar, on seeing this, got angry and vowed to eliminate the entire Kshatriya tribe. On this, Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu all came up and told Parasuramar that this has happened as per fate and so asked him to calm down. Then Shiva gave life to Sage Jamadagini also.
Renuga devi pleaded Lord Shiva that she be worshipped with her head alone and wanted her body to go to heaven along with Jamdgini and it was accepted. That’s how Renuga devi is being worshipped on earth with her head alone.
Sri Venugopala Swamy Temple at Kottaimalai
This temple for Lord Venu Gopala Swamy opens only on Saturdays from 9AM to 4PM and is located on top of the Raja Kambeera Mountain popularly known as Kottaimalai at a height of 2500 feet. The only route available to this temple is a ghat road running through thick and beautiful forest. A breath taking journey to this temple can be performed by a specially made tractor which takes people to the foot of the temple from where there are about 350 steps to climb. En route one has to pass through a few iron bridges constructed around the hill which are engineering marvels. All the pains vanish once people reach the sanctum where beautiful the Lord VenuGopala Swamy is standing in a stylish posture playing flute along with his consorts Rukmini and Satyabhama.
We have visited this temple later during the 2nd visit and an exclusive travelogue is available here
Mr Vasudeva Bhattar at 91596 32669 / 04181 248303
TVS office (04181-248279 or 04173-320444)
Sri Subramanya swamy Temple at Kundalipuram
Sri Subramania Swamy Temple is located on a hill top, on the southern side of Sri Renugambal Temple. The panoramic view of this temple seen from the Renugambal Temple is beautiful. Three hundred well laid stone steps make the journey to this hill top temple less tedious. The finely sculpted idol of Moolavar Lord Subramania with his consorts Goddesses Valli and Deivanai standing on a peacock is quite impressive. Unlike in other places where Lord Subramania is seen seated on his peacock, here the Lord is standing on his peacock. The peacock is also seen not spreading its feathers. It carries a snake in its beaks. This idol is unique and the Lord is known for his boon granting.
Legend has it that Lord Subramania was conferred the title “Deva Senapathi” (Commander of Devas) only on this hill top at the request of Goddess Renugambal.
Chinna Kottai Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple
This is situated in an extremely nice ambience right in the middle of paddy and banana fields at the backdrop of mountains. The walk through the paddy fields and banana trees is an interesting experience with water trickling down on you. A good place to meditate forgetting everything. This is a temple that got buried totally and excavated recently.
Temples not visited yet:
Sri Velmurugan Temple
This temple is located on the way from Ramar temple to Lakshmi Narasimhar temple on a hill top at the southern tanks of Kamandala river which is running on the southern side of Sri Ramachandra Swamy temple. The hill is known as Natchathra Kundru (Star Hill). No idols are found in this temple. A Vel (lance of Lord Muruga) is consecrated and Poojas are performed daily. Legend has it that Bhogar (one of the eighteen Siddhars, who created the medicinal Palani Murugan idol out of nine herbal poisons) came to this place and consecrated the lance.
This temple opens only in the mornings from 7 to 11 AM
Periya Kottai Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple
This is being renovated now and will be ready for dharshan in a year or so.
Sri Ramalinga Sowdambigai Amman Temple
The temple is located just adjacent to the Renugambal temple. The Amman here is the “Kula Theivam” for Telugu speaking Devanga Chettiar weaver community people who used to weave clothes for God in olden days. Even now, it is in practice in many temples that the clothes woven by these community people only will be adorned for the deities before the commencement of any big festivals.
1) Sri Vadudeva Bhattacharyar (Ph: 91596 32669 / 04181 248303), the Bhattacharyar of the Veera Anjaneyar temple and Sri Chinna Kottai Varadharaja Perumal temple is extremely helpful and can help you during your visit.
2) TVS Group has adopted this village about 20 years back and it seems most of the temple details were revealed by Sri Unnikrishna Panickar. For example, the presence of Sri Venugopala Swamy temple and the presence of Ammayappar temple urchava idols etc., were revealed by him by conducting “prasnams”. I was told that Sri Venugopala Swamy temple was identified with a great difficulty.