Sunday, August 7, 2016

Ardhanareeswarar Temple, Tiruchengode – Temple Complex

Ardhanareeswarar Temple, Tiruchengode – Temple Complex
Thiru Kodimaada Chenkundrur is an ancient Hindu Temple known for its unique manifestation of Half Male Half Female Lord Arthanareeswarar (Shiva), one of the 64 manifestations of Shiva, representing the unity of Shiva and Parvati, is enshrined in this revered hill temple of great significance, accessible by a Motorable road. This temple is regarded as the 4th of the 7 Tevara Stalams in the Kongu Region of Tamilnadu. 



This ancient hill temple according to the inscriptions on the walls must have been built about 2000 years ago. The hill is about 650 ft. height. The temple is situated on a hill near Tiruchengode in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu 120 km northeast of Coimbatore.



This Siva temple is in Tiruchengode in the vicinity of Erode and Salem in Tamil Nadu. A Motorable Ghat road is available to go to the top of the hill and one can reach the temple by bus or car. Another way to reach the temple is to alight 1200+ steps to the top of the hill. Tiruchengode (also known as "Thirukodi mada chengundroor" in Vedic times) has many references in Puranas, like Thevaram and Silappathikaram.



In Silappathikaram, Ilango Adigal referred Tiruchengode as "Chengodu” and that "it has numerous holy ponds and enjoys popularity and prosperity". To reach the hilltop temple of Arthanareeswarar Temple, the devotee has to climb up 1206 stone steps. At the top you first enter Sengunthar Mudaliyar Mandapam that is followed by the Kalathi Swamigal Mandapam, Thirumudiyar Mandapam and Thylai Mandapam. All these halls have been built by grateful devotees as shelter for devotees.



The sculptures found in the mandapam, in front of the Chengottu Velar shrine, contain intricate designs and wonderfully detailed workmanship. Copper plates containing temple inscriptions and inscriptions on rocks help to prove the temple’s antiquity going back to Sangam times. You have to climb special steps called Arubadam Padi (60 steps) or Sathya Vaakku Padi (steps of truth) that were named by Saint Arunagiri Nadhar. These 60 identical steps are considered to be the most important ones.



On top of the hill, the main Gopuram (Tower) with 5 tiers is on the north side of the hill. The compound wall of the temple is 260 feet length east to west and 170 feet length north to south. The compound wall with white colour and red stripes identify the location of the temple while coming in the road path. Lord Arthanareeswarar has a unique form here, which combines half male and half female form. The lord is also known as Madhorubagan and Ammaiappan. 



It is claimed that this rare posture of the Lord as prime deity can be found only in this temple. The hill top temple can be reached by climbing up 1206 steps, made of stone. Ambal, his consort is known Baagampiriyaalammai. The image of the main deity is 6 feet in height, the right half of the image as male and left half of the image as female. Hence the main deity is also known as Ardhanareeswarar.



There are different beliefs on the formation of this idol. One such belief is that the idol is made by Siddhars out of Ven pashanam, which is a mixer of variety of herbals in a particular ratio. And another is that the idol is formed naturally (known as ‘Suyambu ‘) and not made by anybody. The Lord Ardhanareeswara is facing western direction here, which is not common amongst Shiva temples. There is a water spring at the foot of the image, which is said to have been divinely manifested “Uli Padaa Uruvam”.



It is auspicious to garland the lord with Vellerukku, Vilvam, Lotus, Champa, Mandarai, Padiri, Sengkaluneer, and Ponnarali apart from usual Sandal, Kumkum and Viboothi. There is a spring under the feet of Lord Ardhanareeswara, which never dries. Devotees believe that the water from this spring is special holy divine water (known as Deva theertham). 



It is also believed that, this holy water can cure any disease if consumed for one mandala (48 days continuously). The priest who is doing pooja serves this holy water to the devotees as Prasadham. The Theertham in this temple is called Sangu Theertham. Although the sanctum faces the West, entrance to it is from the South.



Subramanya known as Chengottu Velar is located on a flat surface atop the hill. This Chengottu Velar shrine is on the back side of the main sanctum sanctorum. The Thiruchengottuvelavar shrine to Subramanyar attracts a number of pilgrims. Chengottu Velavar is as popular as Ardhanareeswarar. Arunagirinathar and others have sung hymns on Chengottu Velavar. Velavar carries swear (vel) on right hand and cock on his left hand. The image is very short hardly 31/2 feet high, but very attractive. This shrine is exactly located at the back side of the sanctum sanctorum. 



In front of the shrine of Velavar, there is a mandapa full of beautiful life size sculptures of various Gods, Goddesses, and saints such as Rathi, Manmadan, and Nandi in different posture, a king with three wives, Veerabhadra, and Kali. There is a small idol of Selva Vinayaka is also located in this mandapam. 



There is a separate shrine housing the processional (Utsava/metal) idol of Ardhanareeswarar. The temple also houses other shrines and idols such as Mallikarjuna, Sahasralinga, Iluppai Viswanath and Visalakshi, Nataraja with Sivakami, Vinayaka, Adi Sesha, Sangameshwarar Vedanayaki, Bhairava, Surya, Arunagiri, Siddhi Vinayak, Kumaresa, Navagraha, and Lingothbhava.



Adi Sesha shrine is also found which is rare to find in Shiva temple. There are more beautiful sculptures in the temple such as Nataraja and dancing Kali, Kuravan and Kurathi, etc. There is a separate shrine for Adi Kesava (Vishnu). Kedara Gowri, Nallesar, Mukkodu Vinayakar, Nalvar, Chandikeswarar, 63 Nayanmars, Kubera Lingam, Lakshmi, Nageswarar and various other Shiv Linga idols are also found in this sculpture-rich temple.



There is a big sanctum for Lord Vishnu known as Aadhikesava Perumal with Sree Devi and Bhoodevi. Saptha Mathas are also installed in the temple. Navagraha are also installed in the temple. While we enter to the left side Ganapathi is installed in the open, facing east, with Nagaraja and nagayakshi on either side. There is another Ganesh temple in the top of the hill called as Uchi pillaiyar Kovil. There is no regular path to reach this temple.



“Artha Jama Pooja" the late night worship service is considered to be of importance in this Shetram. New moon days are also considered to be special events. The annual festival is celebrated in the Tamil month of Vaikasi. Moliapalli annamar swamy temple is located 15 km from Thiruchengodu. This temple is regarded as the 4th of the 7 Tevara Stalams in the Kongu Region of Tamil Nadu.



There are many mandapams on the way for the devotees to take rest. The sculptures found in the mandapam in front of the Chengottu Velar shrine are of intricate designs and workmanship. Ancient walls, mandapams and sculptured pillars (now in a state of disrepair) add to the awe that this temple perpetuates, on top of the hill. 



The motorway and the renovated Rajagopuram are of recent origin. True to the name Nagagiri, there is a 60 ft. long snake carved on the hill. There are inscriptions here from the times of Parantaka Chola, Gangaikonda Chola, the Vijayanagar and Mysore Kings and the Nayaks. The idols of Birungi Munivar and Arunagirinathar are found inside the temple.



Kannagi after burning Madurai finally reached Thiruchengodu hill and she was taken by Pushpaka vimanam and went to heaven and Kannagi Vizha is celebrated with pomp and glory every year. The Thiruchengottuvelavar shrine (to Subramanyar) attracts a number of pilgrims. Sambandar composed the Tiruneelakandapathigam here, to help rid fellow travellers of an affliction.



Muthuswamy Dikshitar has sung of this shrine in Ardhanareeswaram in Kumudakriya. There are inscriptions here from the times of Parantaka Chola, Gangaikonda Chola, the Vijayanagar and Mysore Kings and the Nayaks. Sambandar composed the Tiruneelakandapathigam here, to help rid fellow travellers of an affliction.



The Hill
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View of Mountain:
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Arubadam Padi (Sathya Vaakku Padi):
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Ghat Roads & Steps:
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Gopurams:
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Mandapams:
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Nagar Pallam:
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Sculptures:
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Sthala Vriksham:
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Thiruchengottuvelavar Temple:
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Uchi Pillaiyar Temple:
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Inscriptions:
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Theerthams:
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Sanctum Sanctorum:
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