Sunday, February 21, 2016

Annamalaiyar Temple – Fifth Prakaram

Annamalaiyar Temple – Fifth Prakaram
At present, the temple includes Seven Prakarams in total. Actually the temple has five prakarams only. Sixth prakaram is the outer car street and seventh was the Girivalam path. And from the fifth Prakaram there are Nandhi statues placed facing the Lord Arunachaleswarar temple. The fifth Prakaram is the outer most Prakaram and it has four Gopurams on all four different sides of the temple. They are the Thirumanjana gopuram, Ammaniammal gopuram, Pei gopuram and the Rajagopuram. All these Gopurams are located between fifth and sixth prakarams.
The Rajagopuram is an imposing 217 feet tall with an 11 tier gopuram. This is considered to be the second tallest temple gopuram in South India. This splendid temple architecture owes its due to King Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara kingdom. At this fifth Prakaram there is also a thousand pillared mandapam besides a holy tank called Shiva Gangai tank.
This thousand pillared hall is very artistically designed with all the stone pillars finely sculpted by veteran artisans. This mandapam is used specially on Thirumanjanam that coincides with the appearance of Thiruvathirai star. Thousands of devotees sit on this day to worship Lord Arunachaleswarar together at this mandapam. There is a underground chamber known as the Pathala lingam chamber. This shrine contains the Shiva lingam. Shri Ramana Maharishi in his early days sat in deep meditation for long hours and days in this Pathala lingam. 
Next important landmark in this Prakaram is the Kambattu Ilayanar Sannathi. This magnificent Sannathi was built by King Krishnadevarayar. This Sannathi has four chambers. The third chamber is used for prayers; the fourth one is the moolasthanam where Lord Muruga’s shrine is placed. The chamber that which is first contains many sculptures that are acquisitively created and from here it leads to the second chamber. Behind this Kambattu Ilayanar Sannathi and in front of the thousand pillared mandapam stands the Sannathi of Siva Ganga Vinayagar. It has an imposing vimanam with plenty of colourful deities.
Another important structure is the Arunagirinathar Mandapam. Here Arunagirinathar is in a standing posture offering his prayers to Lord Karthikeya. This is also called the Gopurathilaiyanar Sannathi. Next comes the Kalyana Sundaresvara Sannathi. This Sannathi faces the Vallala Maharaja Gopuram from the south side. There is a marriage hall in this Sannathi where many devotees came to perform marriage. There are also idols of Lingam, Nandhi, and Goddess Devi in this Sannathi.
The Vallala Maharaja Gopuram was constructed by King Ballala. The uniqueness of this Gopuram is that the Lord Arunachaleswarar takes the role of King Ballala’s son to perform the funeral rites of the king since the king was childless.
Raja Gopuram
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Thittivasal
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Kambatthu Ilayanar Shrine
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Valaikappu Mandapam
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Sivagangai Theertham
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Sarva Siddhi Vinayaga Shrine
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Rudraksha Mandapam
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Thousand Pillared Mandapam
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Patala Lingam Shrine
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Vahana Mandapam
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Thirtha Mandapam
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Nandhi Mandapam
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Kalyana Sundareshwarar Shrine
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Gopurathilaiyanar Shrine & Arunagiri Mandapam
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Vannimarathu Vinayaka Shrine
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Banyan Tree (Sthala Vriksha)
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Vallala Maharaja Gopuram
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Masappirappu Mandapam
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