Shiva Krupa

Temples of India signify the very root of Hinduism and its culture. To be worth of the trust reposed by our ancestors, it becomes our primary responsibility to sustain our heritage for generations to come.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pazhayarai Temples

It has been my desire to write elaborately on Pazhayarai,the Chola capital. Due to various constraints the wish could not be fulfilled through the blog. But then,I thought of presenting a brief sketch of the present status of the place where the Royal kings lived and built several temples which stand testimony for their faith and love towards art and culture. The place is not far away from the temple town of Kumbakonam. It can also be reached from Swamimalai and Thiruvalanchuzhi. When I took the journey from Thiruvalanchuzhi, all I could see was temples which were neglected over several decades, undergoing renovation.

Gopinatha Perumal temple is a huge temple that comes first in this route. Negligence of the first order has made the shrine pathetic. The sanctum is kept closed and we could not walk around freely due to the presence of vegetable growth. It may take 1-2 years to complete the work . Before entering Patteeswaram, we could see Kailasanatha temple at Pazhayarai Melthali , the reference for which can be seen in Thevaram Hymns. There are four ancient Siva temples in Pazhayarai,one on each side,namely, Keezh Thali (On East) MelThali(On West),Then Thali(On South) and Vada Thali (On North).The temple at MelThali is situated on a raised platform with no compound wall around it. The pooja is said to be performed only once in a day. The temple complex occupies a vast area with a collapsed Gopuram in front. The renovation work may be completed within a year and God alone knows how perfectly the job will be carried out. No work was in progress when we visited the site. Paucity of funds may be the reason for the grinding halt it has suffered.

Pazhayarai Vadathali is also undergoing Renovation, though lot of work remains to be taken up. Weeds can be seen in the unfinished Rajagopuram. We could remove some plants from the structure from a reachable distance. It requires volunteers and support from wellwishers. The Lord is sung by Appar in his Thevaram. Appar observed fast on seeing the temple under the clutches of jains that kept the temple closed. His act inspired the king to open the temple for regular worship. There is a statue of Appar in sitting posture on the outer prakaram. People who throng the temple at Patteswaram should also visit this temple which is just 2km from Dhenu-pureeswarar /Durgambika Temple. The other two temples at Patteswaram and Thiruchatthi Mutram are in good condition and draw devotees from many parts of the state.

While the above mentioned temples are undergoing renovation, hare is another temple of Chola period under ruins at Korkai , some 3km from Patteswaram. Brahma Gnanapureeswarar temple will bring tears to those who witness the present status of the great shrine. In the absence of compound walls, the outer prakaram is open for cattles to enter freely. The legend says that the Lord has been worshipped here by Brahma,Moon God, and Gorakka,a Siddha. The sculptures of Ganapathi,Dhakshinamurthi, Ardhanaareeswara and Durga on the Goshtas are outstanding. The front hall of the sanctum presents wonderful scuptures of Subramanya,Kiratha Murthi and Adhikara Nandhi with His Devi. Nandis facing Siva and Devi have a common shelter which is a rare sight.

The Granite structure above the Sanctum and the front Mandapam are threatened by wild growth of trees . Their thick roots have gone deep inside and created wide gaps at many places. Devi shrine,though small, is damaged everywhere. Pooja is done once a day when the priest arrives in the afternoon from Kumbakonam. Hence it will not be possible to have dharshan of the deities due to non availability of the priest at this place except at Noon.

Although many people from outside have visited the temple and written articles in the magazines, no fruitful work has begun so far. An aged couple who live closeby and take active interest in lighting lamps and organising Pradosham etc wish the appeal for renovation should reach the right persons. Unity among the locals is essential for the outsiders to take up the job. I suggested them to form a Renovation committee with the formal approval of the Executive officer of the temple. May Lord BrahmaGnana pureeswara shower Gnana on everybody so that the shrine attains its old glory at the earliest.