Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thirumalai Vaiyaavoor Sri Prasanna Venkatesa Perumaal

Thirumalai Vaiyaavoor lies about 70 kms from Chennai and 18 kms from Chengalpattu. While going from Chennai, after crossing Chengalpattu, one can find Padaalam Cross Road (Koot Road) from where a road goes off GST Road on the right side. This road leads to Thirumalai Vaiyaavoor.

Thirumalai Vaiyaavoor has a beautiful temple for Sri Prasanna Venkatesa Perumaal on a small hill, which is also called Thirumalai. Goddess here is Sri Alarmel Mangai Thaayaar.

This hill has various names like Sri Vaikundagiri, Dhakshina Garudagiri, Dhakshina Venkatagiri, Dhakshina Seshagiri, Varaaha Kshethram and Ramanuja Yogagiri. This ancient temple has some interesting legends attached to it.

During the battle between Sri Rama and Raavana, Lakshmana fainted on the battle field. Sri Rama sent Sri Hanuman to bring the Sanjeevi hill to cure Lakshmana. Sri Hanuman brought the Sanjeevi hill as told by Sri Rama. It is said that Sri Hanuman worshipped Sri Varaaha Perumaal and Sri Prasanna Venkatesa Puramaal on this hill, on the way back to Lanka, carrying the Sanjeevi hill. As Sanjeevi hill should not be placed on ground, it is said that Sri Hanuman shifted the hill from His right hand to left hand to offer obeisance to the Gods here. As the holy Sanjeevi hill was not kept on ground here by Sri Hanuman, this place came to be known as Thirumalai Vaiyaavoor (திருமலை வையாவூர்).

Once a demon king called Hiranyaakshan took the earth and kept under his custody, hiding it deep inside the ocean. Lord Vishnu took Varaaha Avatar, killed the demon and brought back the earth to its position. After this Sri Varaaha Perumaal wished to take abode on a hill to bless the world. He directed Sri Garuda to bring a hill from Vaikuntam itself. Sri Garuda Bhagavan brought a hill from Vaikuntam and placed it near the banks of Swarnamuki River, which was called Garudagiri (present Thirupathi). While Sri Garuda carried the hill, a small part of it broke and fell near the banks of the river Palar and came to be known as Dhakshina Garudagiri (Thirumalai Vaiyaavoor).

After placing the hill in the banks of river Swarnamuki, Sri Garuda prayed God to see His Viswaroopa Dharsanam. As wished by Sri Garuda, Lord Vishnu gave him Viswaroopa Dharshan in the form of Sri Varaaha Perumaal here at Dhakshina Garudagiri.

Once, Lord Vishnu told Sri Aadhiseshan to take the form of a mountain on Garudagiri, for Him to take abode and bless the world during Kaliyugam. Sri Aadhiseshan took form of a hill on Garudagiri and from then the place (Thirupathi) came to be known as Seshagiri. Lord Vishnu took abode as Sri Srinivaasa Perumaal on Seshagiri in the Thamizh month of Purattaasi, on the day of Dwadasi when ‘Thiruvonam’ star occurred.

Sri Aadhiseshan prayed Sri Srinivaasa Perumaal and told that he had a wish to serve as an umbrella to the Lord. Sri Srinivaasa Perumaal agreed and told that his wish would come true at Dhakshina Garudagiri. In Thirumalai Vaiyaavoor Sri Aadhiseshan is seen above the deity Sri Srinivaasa Perumaal’s head as an umbrella. Hence, this place came to be known as Dhakshina Seshagiri.

There was an ancient king called Thondaimaan who was an ardent devotee of Lord Venkateswara at Thirupathi. Once, Lord Venkateswara helped the king with His Conch (Sangu) and Chakra to defeat the enemies. The king after defeating his enemies built a beautiful temple for the Lord at Thirupathi. As directed by the Lord, he also built a temple here at Thirumalai Vaiyaavoor. Lord Venkateswara gave him dharshan here on a chariot with a Sengol (செங்கோல்), the symbolic weapon held by kings. The foot marks of the horse and the marks of the chariot wheel are seen on some rocks of the hill here.

Once, Sri Brahma went to Thirupathi and worshipped Lord Venkateswara by lighting two lamps. He prayed the Lord that the lamps should glow non stop till Kaliyugam exists. The Lord granted his wish and said that He would give dharshan to devotees in the form of Jyothi on all Thiruvonam days at Thirumalai Vaiyaavoor and till that Jyothi dharshan continues, the lights lit by Sri Brahma would be alive. Lord Brahma then came here to this place and worshipped the Lord and got dharshan in the form of Jyothi.

It is also said that Sri Rama after the battle with Raavana came here, bathed in Varaaha Theertham and worshipped the Lord, on His way back to Ayodhya.

Sri Ramanuja had worshipped the Lord here and named the place ‘Vaikundagiri’. He also had stayed in this place and meditated the Lord. Hence this place is also called as Ramanuja Yogagiri.

About 500 years back, a Vijayanagara King called Raja Thodarmaal had contributed much to this temple and has helped the temple for Poojas and festivals in a grand scale. He had installed an idol for Sri Ramanuja and also for himself in this temple.

The temple is beautifully located on the hill top. There are about 500 steps on the hill to reach the temple. There is a proper road also to reach the temple by vehicles. Though the main deity is Sri Venkatesa Perumal the Aadhi Murthy here is Sri Varaaha Perumaal. One has to first visit Sri Varaaha Perumaal before visiting the main deity. Sri Varaaha Perumaal is seen with Sri Lakshmi facing west. Also, when the temple is opened, Sri Varaaha Perumaal’s shrine is opened first and all the offerings are made to Him first, before others.

The main deity Sri Srinivaasa Perumaal is seen facing west. The Lord is beautifully decorated with ornaments and gives dharshan exactly as in Thirupathi. Goddess Sri Alarmel Mangai Thaayaar has a separate shrine here. There are separate shrines for Sri Aandaal and Sri Ramanuja too.

The inner praakaarams have lot of stone pillars and spread on a wide area. The pillars have some exquisite carvings on them.

The Theertham for this temple is called Varaaha Theertham which is at the foot of this hill. The path to the Theertham is not motorable but looks beautiful when seen from the hill top.

Sri Anjaneyar shrine is present facing the hill opposite to the stair way to the temple.

The temple has a vast outer praakaaram with huge stone walls surrounding it. Sri Garuda Bhagavan is seen on specific corners on the wall, guarding the Lord.

It is also said that people visiting Thirupathi should also visit Thirumalai Vaiyaavoor and bathe in Varaaha Theertham and worship Sri Prasanna Venkateswara Perumaal here, only after which the pilgrimage gets complete.

This beautiful hill temple for Sri Venkatesa Perumaal gives the feeling of being in Thirumala itself.