Soundararajaperumal Temple, Thadikombu – Temple Architecture
The temple is located in Thadikombu, a village in the outskirts of Dindigul in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The main entrance of the temple faces the East and at the entrance of the temple, there is a four pillared open hall.
The temple has a 90 ft (27 m) tall Rajagopuram (temple tower) and is enclosed by rectangular walls around it. The temple has two precincts. The temple is a Maadakovil, with its plinth constructed in an elevated platform around 2 m (6.6 ft) in height. The parapets in the steps are decorated with curled yalis, the lion faced Vijayanagar sculptures.
The presiding deity, Soundararajan, is housed in the sanctum. The first precinct also has shrines for his consort, Soundaravalli, Andal and Viswaksenar. All the inner shrines face east, leaving the shrine of Viswaksenar, which faces south.
The Dhwajasthambham (flag staff) and a hall are located in axial alignment from the gateway tower to the sanctum. The South-west corner of the second precinct houses the image of Chakrathaazhwar. The images of the Dasavatara, the ten avatars of Vishnu, are housed in the Anna Mandapa.
The Ranga Mandapam (also called Anna Mandapam) has beautiful architectural representation of various forms of Vishnu. It is located near the Soundaravalli shrine leading to the sanctum. It is believed that similar architectural specimens of the Vijayanagar kingdom is found in Alagar Koyil, Krishnapuram Venkatachalapathi temple, Srivilliputhur Divya Desam and Jalakandeswarar Temple, Vellore.
The temple occupies an area of 1.5 acres (0.61 ha) and is surrounded by granite walls on all four sides. All four sides around the temple are paved in such a way to accommodate movement of the temple car during festive occasions. The presiding deity is housed in the sanctum in standing posture and has a height of 5 ft (1.5 m). Bhudevi and Sridevi are positioned on either side of him. The image of the festive deity is also housed in the sanctum.
The Kalyan Mandapa has musical pillars, each of which produces different musical sounds. The same are found in Meenakshi Amman temple, Thanumalayan temple, Kasi Viswanathar temple, Tenkasi, Krishnapuram Venkatachalapathi temple and Azhwar Tirunagari temple. The image of standing Ganesa holding Angusam in his hands, Vishnu Durga containing exceptional features and Anjaneya occupying pillars are noteworthy.
The fourteen life size images of the Sundarapandya Mandapa are Vaikuntanatha, Stunanarasimha, Mahavishnu, Chakarathalwar, Madanagopala, Manmadan & Rathi, Trivikrama, Nataraja & Kali, Agora Veerabhadra, Rama and Kartha Veeryarjunan.
The entrance of the Soundararajan Perumal Temple is covered by an impressive Rajagopuram (temple tower) that is 70 feet in height. A mandapam (hall) with four pillars stands beyond it. The Soundararajan Perumal Temple contains some exquisite sculptures and friezes. Lord Vishnu who is called Soundararajan Perumal, the king of beauty, can be seen in a reclining position in the sanctum with his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi who stand next to him.
The incarnation of Vishnu, called Hayagriva, who bestows good education on his devotees can be seen in this temple. The deities of the Soundararajan Perumal Temple are covered with gold and emeralds. There are images of Adisesha, the serpent god along with his consorts.
The Soundarya Pushkarani is the source of holy water. The Vasantha Mandapam is an added attraction at the temple. The Swarna (gold) Akarshana (attraction) Bhairavar is believed to solve people’s economic problems. Chakarathalwar, the Lord of the Discus, is present with other figures associated with the Gayathri Mantra.
Lord Narasimha can also be seen along with the Ashtalakshmis, the eight forms of Goddess Lakshmi, consort of Vishnu. There are also shrines for Vishwaksenar, a twin Vinayaka (Ganesha), the Dasavatharam or ten incarnation forms of Lord Vishnu, Lakshmi Narasimha, Venugopala and Anjaneya (Hanuman).
There is a separate shrine for Lord Dhanvanthari, considered to be a form of Vishnu, who appears as the healer and father of Ayurveda. On new moon days, abishekam (ablution) is performed to Soundararajan Perumal with a medicated oil and herbal paste known as Lehiyam.
Goddess Soundaravalli, a form of Lakshmi, is placed in her own shrine. Lord Vinayaka and Vishnu Durga and the deities of prosperity called Sanganidhi and Padmanidhi can be seen in her shrine. The sculptures in this shrine are simply beautiful and include Lord Vishnu as Vaamana measuring the three worlds, Lord Narasimha, the lion-man incarnation of Vishnu, Vaikundanathar, Venugopala (Krishna, the eighth incarnation), Lord Vishnu on his vehicle Garuda, Anjaneya carrying Lord Rama on his shoulders, Chakarathalwar, Oordhvathandavar (cosmic dance of Lord Shiva), Oordhvakaali (Goddess Kaali), Akora Veerabadra, Rathi and Karthaveeryarjuna.
Chakarathalwar graces with deities attributed to Gayatri Mantra. Lord Narasimha graces with Ashtalakshmis.
Sculptures of Exquisite Beauty:
The sculptures in the corridor-prakara are noted for their exquisite beauty and minute workmanship in nails, muscles and reflecting even the inner veins.
A big feature at this temple is the beautifully crafted sculptures on the Southern side of the temple similar to the one at Krishnapuram near Tirunelveli - 14 in all including Anjaneya carrying Rama on his shoulder, Vaikuntanathan sleeping atop Adiseshan, Maha Vishnu mounted on Garuda, Battle with Hiranya and ‘Hiranya Samharam’ - quite a difficult one to carve. There are also 7 musical pillars at the temple. Another unique feature is the presence of a standing Pillayar and Vishnu Durgai.
There is an idol of Hayagriva, who is believed to bestow good education on devotees, in this temple where vows that have to be fulfilled in Azhagarkoil can be fulfilled. The Swarna Akarshana Bairavar here is believed to solve people’s economic problems.
The sculptures in this temple speak of the artistic skill of the builders and it is surprising to see even minute details like the nail tip, muscles, nerves and eyelashes sculpted with such finesse.