Vakrakaali Amman & Chandramouleeswar Temple, Thiruvakkarai – Architecture
Chandramouleeswar temple is located in Thiruvakkarai, a village located on the banks of Varaha River, located 20 km (12 mi) from Villupuram on the Villupuram - Gingee road. The temple in its current structure built of stone was built by the Chola king Aditya I (870 - 907 CE). The temple has a seven-tiered Rajagopuram, the gateway tower that pierces the rectangular wall that houses all the shrines.
The temple tank is located adjacent to the temple. The sanctum houses the image of Chandramouleeswar in the form of Lingam, an iconic form of Shiva. There is an Ardha Mandapa and a Mukha mandapa, pillared halls leading to the sanctum. The first precinct has the images of Vinayakar, Murugan, Durga, Dakshinamurthy and Chandikeswara. The second precinct has a hundred pillared hall. There is a separate shrine for Varadaraja Perumal and Vakra Kali in the second precinct.
Lord Murugan with twelve hands is seen seated on Peacock along with Valli and Devayani. Kundalini Siddhar Jeeva Samadhi is there within the temple premises.
There are many things contradictory to tradition. The temple tower, Dhwajasthambham, Nandi and main deity Siva Lingam are not in straight line. They are from one another. The chakra, which Varadaraja holding in his hand is different from usual one. Sani Bhagavan Vahanam crow is seen to left side of him instead of right side.
The Temple has three main components with the most famous Vakrakaali Amman in the fore court, the Chandramoulishwarar and Amritheshwari (also known as Vadivudai Amman) in the middle and Varadaraja perumal in the back so all three major gods are here though Vakrakaali is the most popular temple here.
This gopuram lies in between the second stage of Rajagopuram and in the right of the temple with lot of sculptures, called ‘Kili gopuram’, looks beautiful with a 100 -pillared mandapam. But it is in a dilapidated condition and the devotees are warned not to go inside. It is believed to have been built 2,000 years ago.
It is located opposite to the Deepalaksmi Shrine. Although this remains closed, the important temple festivals are conducted here.The Chandra Mouleeswarar temple, situated on 10 acres of land, was built by King Aditya Chozha.
If anyone affected by the grahas comes and worships Vakrakaali, Vakralingam, and Vakra Sani Bhagawan here, they will be rid of the troubles and the sorrows and lead a happy and peaceful life.
As soon as one crosses the Rajagopuram, one can see the sanctum sanctorum of Vakrakaali. She appears with a skull on her head as crown, a dead foetus on her right ear, and has eight hands. She blesses her devotees with one leg folded on the Peetam and the other hanging down. Full Moon days are special for this Goddess and devotees throng here to worship her on this day.
Her head is surrounded by a halo of flames. She wears a skull crown and the corpse of a new born in her right ear as "Kundalam". Her eight hands carry different weapons like lasso, discus, sword, dagger, damroo, shield, skull cup and her index finger in one left hand points downwards towards the ground. She wears a garland of skulls. She is supposed to have been a fierce Goddess, after destroying a Rakshashi called Dunmukhi. Saint Adi Shankara is said to have calmed her down by installing a "Sri Chakra “under her left foot. She now stands with her eyes looking downwards, her face calm and serene.
The Sight of Vakrakaali fills one with happiness. The deity of Vakrakaali is an artistic treasure. Since the deity is similar to many sculpture of Pallava period, it can be taken as a work of Pallava period.
Kanda lingam Shrine
To the opposite side of the Kaali temple is the sanctum sanctorum of the Aathmalingam. As the demon worshipped with this lingam, it is also called as Vakralingam. The lingam feels cool to touch during summer and droplets of water are found during rainy season.
Outside the Kali Temple, Unusual sighting of four women in odd sizes, with tonsured heads, in the place of Dwarapalakas are found, 2 on each side. The history of Dwarapalagis explains us the compassion of Goddess Vakrakaali.
The four Dwarapalagis belonged to the Yadava caste this livelihood by selling milk and milk products. But these four sold adulterer milk by adding water to it. On coming to know this, the King ordered the four to be beheaded after shaving their heads. Before being beheaded, the four realized their mistakes and prayed to Vakrakaali, Vakrakaali saved them and gave them the status of Dwarapalagis.
The Shiva temple is in a separate complex with its own Nandi and Gopuram. Magnificient Nandi was towering high above the two Ganesha’s found on either side of it. The Nandi faces the entrance of the Chandramouleeswar shrine.
Lord Siva’s name is ‘Pirai Soodiya Peruman’ and He is also called Chandra Mouleeswarar. The Lingam here is the Gnanalingam and has three faces (Bhrama, Vishnu and Shiva). The east face is known as Thatpurudam, north face is known as Vaamadevam and the south face is known as Agoram to which there is teeth (Korai Parkal) seen out at the ends of mouth. This is visible only during the milk abishekam is performed to Lord Siva.
His consort is known as Vadivambigai Amman. Pooja is done for the Thatpurudam with turmeric smeared on the face at dawn; at noon, sandal is smeared on the face of Vaamadevam, and in the evening, the face of Agoram is smeared with saffron powder (kungumam).
Each kalam pooja is done to each face of the lingam including three Abishekams. Each face was shown for Chandra, Brahma and Indra after they prayed to Shiva here.
The inner shrine has the usual Koshta Vigrahas Dakshinamurthy, Vinayaka Arumugham, Brahma, Durga and Chandikeshwarar. There is a rare Bhairavar and Kalabhairavar inside.
Inside the sanctum sanctorum of Vakrakaali Yogeshwara Lingam is in the right and Valampuri Ganapathi is in the left. Valampuri Ganapathi is rarely found because only one out of 108 Shiva temples has Valampuri Ganapathi. Therefore, the darshan of his Valampuri Ganapathi can give one of the benefits of going to 108 temples of Shiva.
Unusual Lord Nataraja Shrine
Lord Nataraja’s sanctum sanctorum is at the back of Pirai Soodiya Perumal’s sanctum sanctorum. The Lord is found dancing the ‘Rudra Tandavam’ where His left foot is planted on the ground and right feet lifted up (usually He stands with His right foot lifted and left foot on the ground). Also his hair is tied up and not flowing, like in other temples.
Ten feet Dwarapalakas stand on either side of this sanctum sanctorum.
Once entering the temple, Ambal Amruthambikai (@Vadivambigai, Vadivudaiamman) Sannidhi is located on the right side and the main Shiva Sannidhi in front. The Ambal Vadivudaiamman is seen standing about 5 feet tall and blessing devotees facing south.
Lord Varadaraja Perumal Shrine
The idol of six feet tall Lord Varadharaja Perumal can be seen in a separate temple and it is said he appeared before his devotees after killing the demon at this place. Behind the Perumal’s sanctum sanctorum is the Sahasralingam. The distinctive feature of this Lingam is that it has 1,008 Lingams carved on the main Lingam.
Varadaraja Perumal Shrine is located behind the Chandramouleeswar shrine. One could not help, but notice, the difference in patronage and resources between the Vakrakaliamman temple and the other two temples in the same complex. It was sad to find the Bhattar in the Perumal shrine instructing people to contribute liberally. The Lord was absolutely breathtaking. Over six feet tall, with a Prayoga Chakram in hand, he stands alone, without the company of Sridevi and Bhoodevi.
There is no Thayar Sannidhi here. Inside is a rare vigraha of Vishnu as Ram + Krishna with flute in right hand and a bow in the left hand. This was the darshan he gave to Rukmini and Radha the Ramakrishna Rupam. This shrine has been built by Kochengat Cholan.
Further down you have a Sannidhi for a kotilingam and a navagraha Sannidhi with Shani having his mount the crow on the left (Vakram).
Kundalini Maharishi Samadhi
The Samadhi of Kundalini Maharishi is found to the right of the Chandramouleeswar Shrine. A huge Shivalingam is found above the Samadhi and there are several people in the forecourt of the shrine meditating. The ease of concentration, and the inner peace felt due to the positive vibrations here are worth mentioning.
Opposite the Sanctum Sanctorum, there is a shrine for Deepalaksmi. Girls seeking marriage alliance light lamps in lemon peel and tie yellow threads on the goddess. This offering is mainly done on full moon days. This place is abuzz with activity. There are several families clustered here, tying threads, offering Pongal and panchamirtham and lighting lamps. There are several Naga Statues to which people pray to get rid of Naga Doshams.
Sapthamatharkal namely Varahi, Indrani, Gowmari, Vaishnavi, Pirmani, Dunmukhi and Samundi are seen inside the temple. Goddess the mother Adhi Parasakthi herself in the form of kali is here in the place of Chamundi. These sculptures showcase the artistic excellence of the later Pallavas.
The circumambulatory path around the Chandramouleeswar temple is a treasure trove of ancient sculptures. The Ganesha under a tree and another Ganesha with 2.5 feet Mooshikha in front of him (almost like a Nandi) are enchanting. The Vishnu Durgai found here is half Vishnu and half Durgai, something which you have not noticed anywhere else.