Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thirumuruganatheeswar Temple, Thirumuruganpoondi – Temple Architecture

Thirumuruganatheeswar Temple, Thirumuruganpoondi – Temple Architecture
The temple is believed to have been built by the Kongu Cholas, with 68 recorded inscriptions from the king Vikrama Chola I seen on the walls of the sanctum & around the precinct. Thirumuruganatheeswarar temple is located in Thirumuruganpoondi, a village located 9 km (5.6 mi) from Tiruppur on the Tiruppur – Avinasi road. The temple does not have Rajagopuram as like in other South Indian temples.

All the shrines are housed in a rectangular enclosure measuring 1 acre (4,000 m2). The sanctum houses the image of Thirumuruganatheeswarar in the form of Lingam, an iconic form of Shiva facing west. There is an Ardha Mandapam and a Mukha mandapam, pillared halls leading to the sanctum.
There is a shrine of Muruga facing south, towards the Shiva shrine. Since Muruga is believed to have used his weapon, the Vel, to dig the spring, he is seen without his weapon in the shrine, or his vehicle peacock.

Presiding deity Lord Tirumuruganathar is so named as he was installed and worshipped by Lord Muruga. Substantiating this story, the Muruga shrine facing south, has a Linga facing west in the sanctum sanctorum. While coming to worship Lord Shiva, Sri Muruga left His Vel weapon and the peacock vehicle outside the temple. As such, Lord Muruga in the shrine does not hold Vel and there is no peacock by him.

The first precinct has the images of VinayakarDurga, Dakshinamurthy and Chandikeswara. The shrine of Avudainayaki is seen in the first precinct facing west. There are sculptural depictions of Sundarar on the walls showing him in three different emotions of anger, humiliation and happiness. There is a hall of Nataraja called Adavallan Sabha.
There are three temple tanks associated with the temple - Shanmugha Theertham, Gnana Theertham and Brammatheertham. There are images of Kalabhairavar and Lingothbhavar, which are considered architectural specimens of the Kongu Cholas.

A Pandya king Maharadhan by name having no progeny, had a dip in the Shanmuga theertham and prepared porridge (Payasam in Tamil) with its water with cow milk and sugar candy and offered it to the Lord as nivedhana. He also gave it to the Brahmins. He was blessed with twins.

There is also a shrine southeast of this place for Lord’s consort bearing the name Neelandi facing north with eight hands blessing all as a guardian deity.

On entering the temple, after worshipping Raja Ganapathy, one will witness a vast courtyard with a Dwajasthambam and a 16-pillared nritya mantapam, on the northern side of the entrance. Then there is a rectangular mantapam, also a part of the maha mantapam, which has a separate shrine for Muruga facing south, a peculiar feature here.
He goes by the appellation, Shanmuka, a five ft. icon, with five of his faces looking towards south and the sixth one facing north. His consorts, Valli and Devasena flank him on the sides. He is found seated on the beautifully sculpted peacock mount. The maha and ardha mandapams lead to the sanctum sanctorum.

At the entrance of the maha mantapam are the statues of Dwarapalakas called Dandi and Mundi. The presiding deity Muruganatheeswarar is a small lingam with a five-headed snake spreading its hood over it. There is no enclosure around the garbha griha for circumambulation.
To the left of the presiding deity is the shrine for goddess Muyangupoon Mulai Valli or Alingabushana Sthanambigai, which is of a moderate size with the lower two arms in abhaya and Vara mudras. The small sized Nandhi is similar to the one found at Edakka Nathar temple in Thiruvedagam near Madurai.

Inscriptions:
The temple has attractive shikaras over the garbha grihas of the presiding deity and his consort. They are studded with stucco works depicting mythological stories. Besides these, one would witness rich inscriptions on the side walls of the garbha griha. Most of these belong to king Vikrama I, the earliest among the Kongu Cholas (1004-1045 A.D.)

Up to 68 inscriptions of Vikrama I have been discovered of which Thirumuruganpoondi and Solamadevi at Udumalpet taluk in Amaravathy valley contain a good number. From an inscription it is seen that king Vikrama I had titles such as ‘Kalimurka,’ ‘Kokkalimurka’ and ‘Thiruchitrambalamudaiyan.’
He had a daughter by the name Vikrama Chola Deviar. It is also seen from the inscription that Alagia Pandya Devar was also his relative and the name of the queen was Alagia Nachi Alivi.

In another inscription, Vikrama I has been described as wielding a sceptre seated resplendent under his glowing white parasol appropriating to himself a sixth share of the produce from the land.
The inscription also has a record that an organisation called ‘Ayya Potil’ (an association for merchants) seems to have existed during his reign. There is a lurking danger to these inscriptions from the oil-lamps lit under the base of Durga Devi embedded in the wall. A small high stool may be provided for the lighting of these lamps by visitors.

Sculptures:
Apart from inscriptions, the two note-worthy icons which draw the attention of a visitor are those of Kala Bhairavar and Lingothbhavar. Kala Bhairavar is found in the north-eastern corner of the main prakaram, facing south. The artisan has well chiseled the Ashta Bujanga Bhairavar on single stone. His mount, dog – personification of the Vedas – is found behind him.
The front, right and left arms hold the ‘Soolam’ and ‘bhiksha Paathiram’ respectively. The three arms on its right side hold damaru, vajram (spear like) and sword (Kadgam), while on its left, is ‘nagam,’ ‘musalam’ (club like) and a shield. There is ‘Agni sikai’ on the head.

The icon of Lingothbhavar on the eastern wall of the garbha griha is an attractive piece. Brahma as swan and Vishnu as ‘varaha’ are trying to locate the head and feet of Siva, whose smile looks as though he was feeling that his peers were engaged in a futile pursuit. Opposite to the eastern wall the lingas of Pancha boothas – Appu, Vayu, Theyu, Prithvi and Akash – are found in a row.

Theerthams:
On the southern side of the parakaram is seen a huge Nandi, a stucco work, and by its side is the famous Subramanya tirtham, a ‘Koopam.’ The two have been connected by a flight of steps to draw water from the well for bathing the lunatics and for Abhishekam to deities. Incidentally, the 63 Nayanmars adorn the western side of the prakara.

There are two more tirthams, Gnana and Brahma – in the western and northern sides of the prakaram. According to Dakshinamurthy Gurukkal, the Gnana tirtham is not in use and Kurukkathi, the temple tree, has become senescent and efforts have not been made to rejuvenate it.
However, the temple of Madhavaneswarar and Mangalambikai, which is associated with this temple and located across Poolurpatti road, 100 metres away, has received a face lift.

The small lingam installed at this temple was originally of sand when Muruga worshipped it and it got washed away by the floods in Agnima tirtham which flowed as a river by its side long ago. In its place a stone lingam is said to have sprung on its own.
Now, instead of Agnima tirtham, there is Thirunallaru on its southern side which flows from Avinashi in a weakened form. There is a separate Sannidhi for Kethu in the prakaram.

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