Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gangaikonda Cholapuram – Greatness of the Temple

Gangaikonda Cholapuram – Greatness of the Temple
The Shiva Linga in the temple is bigger than the one at Thanjavur temple.  Thanjavur Linga is 12.5 feet tall on an Avudaiyar of a circumference of 55 feet. The Linga in Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple is 13.5 feet tall placed on an Avudaiyar of 60 feet circumference. 
Planks are provided around the Linga to stand on to facilitate abishek pujas.   It is also said that the Thanjavur Linga is masculine with pounding stone design (Ural in Tamil), the one in this temple is feminine in nature with Udukkai design.
The Nandhi the bull vehicle of Lord Shiva is also bigger than of Thanjavur.   The Nandhi in Thanjavur is made of a single stone and placed on a high level Mandap.  The Nandhi in this temple is made of lime stone and placed on the ground.  
In Thanjavur, the Nandhi is 100 meters away from the sanctum, in this temple, the distance is 200 meters.  Rays of Sun fall on the Nandhi each day and reflect on the Lord in the sanctum.  The devotee can have a pleasant darshan of Lord even after putting off all lights, simply with sunlight.  This is a rare sculptural skill exclusively of Tamilnadu.
A stone, called Chandrakanta stone is installed under the Linga with a rare power of making the place cool during summer and comforting warmth during winter.  This is experienced by generations of priests of the temple.  It appears that no temple has such an environment pleasure. 
Annabishekam is performed and celebrated in the temple on Aipasi full moon day by Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam Mutt for quite a number of years.  Hundreds of bags of rice are cooked for the purpose to cover this biggest Shiva Linga.  This abishek begins at 9.00 a.m. on the day and continues till 4.00 p.m. 
More nivedhanas are offered to Lord prepared with vegetables and fruits.  The Annabisheka Linga darshan is made available to the devotees from 6.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.  As a tradition this Anna-rice is dissolved in rivers later. 
In this temple, the same is offered as Prasad taken from the Avudaiyar part of the Linga.  The rice on the Linga is not offered as humans cannot bear its power, it is said.  Those seeking child boon are particular to get the Prasad and consume it. 
Mother Periya Nayaki, as the very name suggest is tall and big in size.  The devotee has to raise his/her head to worship the Mother to see her merciful face.  His Holiness Sri Chandrasekhara Saraswathi of Kanchi Kamakoti Peeth had installed a Sri Chakra at the feet of the Mother.   People say that only after the installation of the Sri Chakra by Kanchi Seer, the crowd began to swell in the temple.
Navagrahas the nine planets are together on a lotus shaped peeta made of a single stone.  The planets are around Sun on a Rath drawn by 7 horses.  Aruna is the Sarathi-Rath driver.  The Mandap is so structured that devotees cannot circumambulate the Navagras, because they go round the world and humans should not go round them, according to one theory.
Mother Durga in the temple graces the devotees as a 9 year old pretty smiling little girl with 20 hands killing demon Mahishasura.  She is the family deity of King Rajendra Chola.  This is a rare form of Mother Durga praised as Mangala Chandi.  People pray to her for wedding and child boons, employment and transfers to place of choice offering archanas. 
Rajendra Chola used to offer his worship first to Mother Durga and then only to Lord Shiva.  Remembering this tradition, on Sundays devotees offer their first prayers in Durga Shrine before praying to Lord Shiva.
Rajendra Chola called his Minister and demanded accounts for the temple construction.  Minister was unable to submit the account correctly.  He fell at the feet of Lord Vinayaka who restored his memory. 
Minister recollected the account as 8 thousand copper for Kavi (saffron) stones and 8 thousand copper for Kavi threads and so on.  Hence, this Vinayaka was called Kanakku Vinayaka (accountant Vinayaka) presently praised as Lord Kanaka (Gold) Vinayaka.   He appears with a pen (Ezhuthani in Tamil) in his right hand. 
The Rajagopuram of the temple is testimony to Chola temple architecture.  As in Thanjavur, the tower was built only after installation of Lord.  216 feet tall Tanjore Tower was built on a single base going up gradually in an even manner.  The 180 feet tall tower in Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple has a base of 100 feet width up to 100 feet height. 

The base is reduced to 80 feet width after this level.  The shadow of the tower does not fall in the ground.  The Vimana-tower above the sanctum in the temple is the second biggest next to Thanjavur.