Friday, June 6, 2008

Velankanni - Nagapattinam

8 March'2008:
Velankanni: After Tiruvaimur we continued on our way towards Nagapattinam. The countryside was drab, dry & barren. We had entered Nagapattinam district which had been severely devastated by Tsunami. Suddenly & quite unexpectedly we saw a board indicating Velankanni lay about 13 Kms off the highway to the right. We took an impulsive decision to visit Velankanni shrine though this was not in the original plan.
Our lady of Good Health, popularly called "Our Lady of Vailankanni" is in the small town of Vailankanni (5000 residents) located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal- 150 miles south of Chennai and 5 miles south of Nagapattinam. Our lady chose this place to dispense her miracles to mankind. A strong oral tradition attests to Our Lady’s apparitions at Vailankanni, built around the following three significant events:
Sometime during the sixteenth century, Our Lady with her infant son appeared to a Hindu boy carrying milk to a customer’s home. The boy gave her milk for the infant.
Some years later Our Lady appeared again to a crippled boy who was selling buttermilk near a public square on the outskirts of the same village of Vailankanni. She asked him for buttermilk for her infant Son and the boy compiled.
A few years later, Our Merciful Mother rescued a few Portuguese merchant sailors from a violent storm, which wrecked their ship.To give thanks and pay tribute to Our Lady, they built a small permanent chapel on their return trip.
For detailed information log on to:
We spent less than an hour at Velankanni & briefly visited the shrine & prayed. We departed for Nagapattinam. Enroute we saw the memorial built for Tsunami victims.
We soon reached Nagapattinam & drove straight to the Neelayadakshi Kovil, one of the 7 Sapta Vitanka Stalams sacred to Tyagarajar, housing Sundara Vitankar (Paravara Taranga Natanam). This temple is regarded as one of the 64 Shakti Peethams of India. Nagappattinam is considered to be the 82nd in the series of Tevara Stalams in the Chola kingdom located south of the river Kaveri. Lttle of its past glory remains in this vast temple. The Gometaka Lingam representing Sundara Vitankar was stolen in the recent past.
Shiva: Kayarohaneswarar & Ambal: Karuntadankanni, Neelayadakshi. Vriksham: Maamaram & Theertham: Pundarika Theertham. Patikam : Sambandar, Appar, Sundarar
Legends: Pundarika Munivar ascended to divinity with his mortal body, hence Kaya Aarohanam. The name Nagappattinam is believed to have been derived from the legend of Adiseshan worshipping Shiva there. Adiseshan's daughter is believed to have married Saaleeswaran, a devotee of Shiva.
The Temple: As with the other 7 Saptavitanka shrines, there are separate shrines for the Moolavar, Tyagarajar and Ambal. There is a shriine to Sundaramoorthy Nayanar and Paravai Nachiyar across the hall from Tyagar, very much along the lines of Tiruvarur. Nagabharana Vinayakar and Maavadi Vinayakar are the names of Vinayakar here.
The Deva Theertham is to the South of the temple while the Pundarika Theertham is to the west. Neelayadakshi's shrine here is of great significance. The bronze image of Panchamukha Vinayakar is worth mention (as in Tiruvarur and in Vedaranyam). There are several inscriptions relating to the period of Dutch rule at Nagappattinam, in this temple.
Nagai SoundarajaPerumal Temple:
The Soundaryaraja Perumal Temple in Nagapattinam has an interesting history and a fascinating legend behind it. Thirumangai Azhwar in his "Periya Thirumozhi", hails the Lord enshrined in the temple in the port city of Nagapattinam as Naagai Azhagiyar. He describes the Lord's body as gold coloured, wearing an ornament studded with emerald and He is the embodiment of the Vedas. According to Brahmanda Puranam, the temple existed in all the four yugas — in the Kritha Yuga, the serpent king Adisesha, did penance in Soundaranyam (erstwhile name for Nagai), praying to the Lord to grant him the boon of being with Him forever. The Lord fulfilled his wish and he became the Lord's couch. The place also came to be known as Nagapattinam. The idols of Adisesha and His Consorts are found in the temple. In the same Yuga, Dhruva, son of King Uthanapada did penance here, praying to the Lord to enable him to become the ruler of the entire world. But when the Lord appeared before him. Dhruva fogot all about becoming the ruler of the world and requested the Lord to stay here as Soundaryarajan and bless the devotees.
In the Thretha Yuga, Bhooma Devi did penance here and in the Dwapara Yuga it was Sage Markandeya. In the Kali Yuga, Salisugan, a Chozha king, fell in love with a Naga Princess. He prayed to the Lord to unite them in wedlock & his wish was granted. After getting a son through him she wanted to return to the Naga world. The Lord appeared and showed the way to her.
The temple has a 70-feet Rajagopuram, a four-pillared mandapam at the entrance, a Dwajasthambam and a Garuda Mandapam. On the left are shrines of Azhwars & the Vasantha Mandapam and on the right is Soundarya Pushkarani. The Sara Pushkarani, created by Adisesha is to the north of the temple.To the south of the Soundarya Pushkarani is the Vaikunta Nathar or Veetrirunda Perumal shrine.
At the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum is the Jaggulu Naicker Mandapam, named after an official of the Dutch rulers when they were in possession of the Nagapattinam area. He was an ardent devotee of the Lord and both built and renovated many portions of the temple.
The images of the official and his wife have been carved on the floor at the entrance of the mandapam - in a lying posture offering their obeisance to the Lord.
There is also a beautiful icon of Ashtabhuja Narasimhar with the Lord blessing Prahlada with His right lower hand while His right and left upper hands carry the Sudarsana and the Panchajanya. The Lord, with Hiranya on His lap, slays him with His other hands.
The Moolavar of the temple is "Azhagiyar". He is also known as Neelamega Perumal. The Utsavar is Soundaryaraja Perumal. The shrine of the Goddess, known as Soundaryavalli, is to the right of the main shrine.
The vimanam over the sanctum sanctorum is known as the Soundarya or Bhadrakoti Vimanam. The Sthala Vriksham is the mango tree.
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