Lately my relatives also are showing keen interest in temple visits along with me and nowadays we plan frequent temple travels together. It naturally provides a good fun time together apart from the divinity aspect. Especially all the family functions at different places provide us great opportunities to travel together and see the temples on the way. One such was a recent marriage at Villupuram and we planned some temples on the way.
We started by 5:30 AM in two cars and I was late by about 15 minutes to the other car. I didn’t want the other group to wait for me and so I directed them to Arasar koil which was not in our plan. Since I had visited Arasar koil twice already, I thought I can visit Pulippara koil near Arasar koil (last time when I visited Pulipara koil the main shrine was locked) by the time they finish Arasar koil. But, the other group was stranded at the railway gate at Padalam and we also joined them there. So I changed the plan and we went to Arasar koil together. Kannar Bhattar was there and without recognising me, was telling me to visit Raju’s blog to get the complete details! Then I identified myself to his little embarrassment. A couple from Virugambakkam also came there and to my surprise they informed me that they are visiting this temple after seeing it in my blog. In fact, they came very well planned to visit at the Sukra horai, the very auspicious time to visit that temple and with prasadams etc., but we were there without any plan!. They insisted us to wait for some time and get the prasadams and we did so. This is the first time, I am meeting a blog friend at a temple by surprise. It was a pleasure to hear from the bhattar that within 3 days of publishing the travelogue, a person from Adayar had come forward to donate 5 lakhs and another one decided to put shelter for the nearby Shiva lingam on the way. The current status with Arasar koil being that the front mandapam of the Perumal shrine has been completely demolished and the basement for the new mandapam has been put. It seems Govt itself is funding the front mandapam. Only the Mahalakshmi shrine is standing untouched now and it seems Dr.Sathyamoorthy of REACH foundation is keen to rebuild it to its exact original shape by marking and dismantling it stone by stone as they have done it with the Kailasa nathar temple at Uthiramerur in a grand manner.
I was wondering what a grace of Ambal Sundara Mahalakshmi to invite us that day without any plan to visit in a Sukra horai and to make me meet the blog friend and give away the prasads! We would not have visited it if I was not little late or if the other group was not stuck at the railway gate.
Then we visited the Pulippara koil and this time the gurukkal was there and we had a nice dharshan.
We then proceeded to Achirapakkam, the first temple we planned.
Visit to Aatcheeswarar Temple at Achirupakkam
Main deity: Aatcheeswarar/Paakka Pureswarar and Umaiyatcheeswarar facing East
Ambal: Balasukhambal, Sundara Nayaki facing South
Theertham: Deva Theertham
Pathikam : Sambandar
Significance: One of the 275 Thevara Padal Petra Sthalams
Dharshan time: 7 AM to 12 noon and 4 to 9 PM
Contact: Shankar Gurukkal – 98423 09534
Acharapakkam is located on the Chennai-Trichy National Highway, 96 km away from Chennai and 3 km away from the famous temple town Melmaruvathur. There is a railway station also for Achirupakkam.
Uniqueness of the temple:
- There are two main shrines in the temple. One with a Square Avudayar and the other one with a circular Avudayar
- One main shrine is in line with the Rajagopuram and the other main shrine is in line with the Dwajasthambam, Bali peedam and Nandi. So the Rajagopuram and the Dwajasthambam are not in line as we see in the other temples.
- There is a Perumal shrine also and Perumal is standing on an Avudayar.
- Behind the lingam in one of the main shrines, Lord Shiva and Parvathi devi are in human form in Marriage posture as stone sculpture.
- The Nandhi before the lingam is in an unusual meditative posture. Sage Thirinendhrathari, who built the temple, is said to be in jeeva samadhi under the Nandhi.
Name of the place:
This temple is associated with the legend of Thripura samhaaram (related to that at Tiruvatikai Veerattaanam). Legend here has it that the axle of Shiva’s divine chariot broke here when He headed to destroy the three demons Tharahan, Vithmanmali and Kamalakshan at Thripurams since He didn’t meditate upon Lord Ganesha when He set out on His mission. Hence the name of the place is known as Achu Iru Paakkam. When this happened to Lord Shiva Himself, we can infer how important it is to worship Lord Ganesha before setting out for any task.
Thanks to Sri.Sriram for sending the following two links from ‘Deivathin Kural’ by Kanchi Periyavar. It’s really amazing to know the significance of this Vinayagar from Kanchi Periyavar himself:
Also, a Pandya ruler was bringing soil from the river Ganges in carts to construct a temple in his territory. The carts could not move when it crossed this place and when they were pushed forcibly, the axles were broken and the place is called Vandikuppam now located nearby.
Once when a Pandya king was passing through this place en route North for a war, he saw a giant lizard (udumbu) running through the jasmine bushes and disappeared at the base of a Kondrai tree. The king ordered to cut the tree and while doing so, blood oozed out from it and they saw a beautiful Shiva linga there. The king was very disturbed during the night due to his act and Lord Shiva appeared in his dream and told to build a temple at that place. The king arranged all the materials for constructing the temple to a Sage Thirinendhrathari – sage with three eyes (thiri – three, nendhra –eyes) – and asked him to build the temple and continued his journey. On return he was surprised to see two main shrines and when he enquired, the sage replied that “one is Umaiyatcheeswarar who engrossed you whereas the other one is the Aatcheeswarar who engrossed me”. The scar that was produced when the King cut the tree is present at the back of the Aatcheeswarar. Sage Thirinendhrathari did penance here for long time after completing the temple and under the kondrai tree here, got the dharshan of Lord Shiva alighting from the divine chariot during the Thiripura samharam. This is being celebrated every year now as “Kondraiyadi Seva” during the seventh day evening of the Chithrai festival.
The scene of Lord Shiva and Parvathi devi giving dharshan to Sage Thirunendhrathari under the Sthala vruksham – Kondrai tree
Worshipped by Kannuva muni, Gouthama Muni in Thredha yuga; Brahma and Vishnu in Dwabara yuga; and Agasthiar in Kali Yuga. The temple tank outside in front of the temple is considered to be created by Brahma and is called Brahma Theertham; and the well near the kondrai tree in the outside praharam is considered to be created by Vishnu.
The Achumuri Vinayagar temple is just before the main temple and we are supposed to worship the Achumuri Vinayagar first before worshipping at the main temple.
The main temple is a big one, measuring 265 feet East-West and 140 feet by South-North with a 5 tier Rajagopuram and two praharams. The main entrance is towards Aacheeswarar, a Swayambu lingam on a Square avudayar built by the Sage Thirinendhrathari for himself in line with the Dwajasthambam, Bali peetam and Nandhi. There is an underground room in the sanctum mandapam covered with stone tiles now.
The other main shrine Umaiyatcheeswarar is present in the inner praharam on a circular Avudayar and was built by the same Sage for the King is in line with the Rajagopuram. Behind the lingam is Lord Shiva and Parvathi devi in human form in Marriage posture as stone sculpture. Sage Agasthiar got the dharshan of Lord Shiva’s marriage in 17 places and this is one of those places (In the Kalyana Sundareswarar temple at Nallur near Kumbakonam also Shiva and Parvathi are in marriage posture in the main shrine behind the main linga but as sudai sculpture).
The Nandhi sitting before Him is in an unusual meditative posture with eyes closed. It is said that Sage Thirinendhrathari, who constructed this temple is in Jeeva Samadhi under this Nandhi. Inside the shrine, Sri Saraswathi devi and Lakshmi are also present.
The Rajagopuram is in line with one main shrine and the Dwajasthambam/Balipeetam/Nandhi are in line with the other main shrine and so they all together are not in line as you can see in the above pictures.
Next to the Umaityactcheeswarar shrine is the shrine of Sri Srinivasa Perumal with Alarmel Mangai Thayar with the Perumal standing on an Avudayar. (Perumal standing on an Avudayar can be seen in Thirupparkadal near Kaveripakkam in the Chennai-Vellore Highway and also in the Voomaikku Kural kodutha Uthama rayar temple in the Vellore – Polur road near Santhavasal).
Opposite to the Perumal shrine is Sri Anjaneyar facing Perumal.
Koshta Gods in the inner praharam
63 Nayanmars are present as stone scuptures in the South praharam and as metal sculptures (Urchava moorthams) in the North praharam.
Lord Shiva, Parvathi with Murugar in between as Somaskandar
Sculpture of Kannappar Legend : When he tries to remove his second eye too with an arrow, seeing the Lord’s second eye bleed, the hands extend from the Shivalinga of Kalahasthi Malai. (Thanks to REACH Chandra for correcting me on this).
Polla Pillaiyar with His consorts Sidhi and Budhi, a lingam intervened between two Nagars, Sundara moorthy Swamigal with Sangili Nachiyar and Pavai Nachiyar, Sekkizhar, Natarajar surrounded by Sivagama Sundari, Manicka Vasagar and Karaikkal Ammaiyar, Kala Bairavar with a Brahma Kabala garland of skulls are the other deities present in the inner praharam.
Ambal Ilangili amman is present in a separate shrine facing south
Lord Ayyappa is present in an unusual posture with the left leg folded and the right leg down; left hand over the left leg and the right hand holding the Gnana bouquet. This form is called Gnana Sastha and is seen only in Kanchipuram, Trivandram and Thirunandhipuram alias Semmaneri near Perani in South Arcot district.
The annual Bhrammotsavam is celebrated in the month of Chittirai, where the Tirukkalyanam is performed on the 5th day.
The Gurukkal of this temple Sri Shankar Gurukkal is highly helpful and very kind indeed and I wish that every temple gets that kind of a Gurukkal.
With less than half a km diversion from the highway, this is a temple not to be missed, especially when you pass through that place.
Our travel continued with a few more temples around Achirupakkam in some beautiful locations and I will continue the travelogue.