26 July'08(cont'd): After Tiruchengode we headed towards Namakkal, a journey of approximately one hour. We reached Namakkal town and drove straight to the temple of Narasimhamoorthy & Namagiri Lakshmi Thayar. The temple is located at the western side of the Namagiri malai, on the summit of which is the historical Namakkal fort, which offerred a magnificent view from the road. The fort is said to have been built during the Madurai Nayak regime. On the eastern side of this rock is the cave temple of Sri Ranganatha lying on the serpent Karakotaka. On the western side an 18 feet high idol of Sri Anjaneya, with folded hands is found worshipping Sri Narasimhar in the Narasimhamurthy rock Temple. There is no roof or gopuram on top of the idol of Anajaneya ! It is open to sky. We first went to the Narasimhamoorthy temple. Ther is no entrance gopuram. We walk through the tall doorway and reach the entrance mandapam with deepasthambam & a tall dwaja sthambam going through the mandapam roof. We walk through and reach the inner prakaram of Sri Narasimhar shrine. We walk up the steps into the mandapam and find that the shrine is closed. We wait a while and after the shrine doors open we go into the inner portico leading to the garbha griha. The idols in the sanctum are rock cut. We were allowed within a few feet of the deity. It was an awe some & awe inspiring sight. Lord is in Yoga Narasimha pose with Mahalakshmi on his breast. There is a Sanku on the left hand & on the right hand there is a shade of purple ( colored by the blood of Hiranyakashupu). The Utsavar is Bhayam Tirtha Bhiran flanked by Sridevi & Bhudevi. There are sculptures on the rock face behind the Lord - Brahmas two children with Sivan & Suryan on one side and Chandran & Brahma on the other side. Since Brahma, Siva & Vishnu are seen together in the same sanctum this is considered a Trimurthi Sthalam. To the North side inside the shrine are sculptures of Vaikunda Narayana Perumal (south facing) & Narasimhar killing Hiranya Kashipu ( West facing). Like wise on the Southern side are sculptures of Ulagalanda Perumal crushing Mahabali under his feet & Lord in Vamana avatar standing nearby ( North facing) & Lakshmi + Varahar ( West facing). We first receive tirtham & then vibhuti, chandanam,thulasi leaves & are blessed by chadhari. Next we go to the Namagiri Lakshmi thayar shrine which is located on the North side of the prakaram and is east facing. We wait for a long time in the mandapam in front. Abhishekam was in process behind the curtains. Then the doors open and devotees are ushered in to the inner portico. We witness deeparathanai , offer worship & receive kumkumam. It is already past one O'clock. We rush to the Anjaneya sannithi which is across the road to the western side. Anjaneya is facing Lord Narasimha and his eyes are on level with the Lord's lotus feet.
Legend: After returning the Sanjeevi mountain to the Himalayas Hanuman was having a bath in the Gantaki river where he found a precious Saligramam which contained two shrines of Mahavishnu together - Sri Ranganathar & Sri Narasimhar. Hanuman decided to take it home with him for worship. Enroute to Sri Lanka Hanuman stopped near a pond to perform Sandhyavandanam. He searched for a person to whom he could hand over the Saligramam and he found goddess Mahalakshmi who was in deep meditation. She agreed to take receive it on the condition that Hanuman would not take long. Hanuman agreed. But after completing Sandhyavandanam Hanuman started Nama Japam after which he lost consciouness and fell into deep meditation. By the time he returned Mahalakshmi had placed the Saligramam on the ground and it had grown into a big hill. The place came to be known as Namagiri Kshetram & the godess as Namagiri Lakshmi. Temple: The cave temple is a a fine example of early Pallava architecture of the 7th Century AD. For more details of the temple log onto: http://www.srinamagiri.com/narashimhar/appearance/appearence.htm. For photo gallery log onto: http://picasaweb.google.com/ramakrishnan49/NarasimharNamagiriThayar