Thursday, March 24, 2016

Padavedu, Thiruvannamalai

Padavedu, Thiruvannamalai
Padavedu is one of the most important ‘Sakthi Sthalas’ in Thondainadu. Goddess Renugambal is self-manifested in this place and offering her blessings along with Brahma, Vishnu and Lord Siva. In this place a number of sages performed penance and attained salvation. The existence of Banalingam and Nanakarshna Chakra consecrated by Adi Sankarar is the specialty of this place. This is the most popular temple of Padavedu and is usually crowded on holidays.

This is the place where Saint Jamathakni did penance and attained Mukthi (salvation).  Here as blessed by Lord Siva, Mother Renugambal kept her Sirasu (head) for performing pooja by devotees and to offer them her blessings. She took her body to Swarka Loga (Heaven) along with Saint Jamathakni.

It is an interesting place. For the people interested in archeology, it is a treasure island. Padavedu is centrally located among Vellore, Arani and Thiruvannamalai in the Vellore – Polur (Thiruvannamalai) route. The entire village is under the control of "Archeological Department" at present. No one is allowed to dig any land other than for cultivation. If one wants to construct a house, during the time of digging for basement, the officials from the department will be present to supervise the construction works. Reason for this, wherever one digs, one can excavate a temple, idol or cave consisting of archeological facts/interests.

Birth of Uma Devi as Renugai:
With the blessings of Brahma, the Mother of all worlds Uma Devi was born to Eraivadha Maharaja, the king of Vidharba Desam. The child named as Renugai grew and attained marital age. Permitted by her father and according to the customs of those times, Renugai traveled the whole world accompanied by her friends and an army in search of a suitable husband. At last, she arrived at Kundalipuram, where saint Jamathakni was doing penance. Since Renugai camped near the Ashram with her soldiers, the sacred place was named "Padai Veedu" (army encampment). "Padaiveedu" is now called as "A.K.Padavedu (Amman Koil Padavedu)".  Here, Renugai saw Saint Jamathakni.
Kamandala Nadhi (River):
At that time a war broke out between the disciples of the Saint Jamathakni and the soldiers of Renugai. Durga alias Chamundeeswari who accompanied Renugai, effected havoc by the fire appeared from her third eye. Hearing this, the Saint Jamathakni brought all the Theerthas available in three worlds in his kamandalam (water jug used by ascetics) and dropped it. The water from kamandalam transformed into a huge river and extinguished the fire brought by Chamundeeswari. This river is known as "Kamandala Nadhi".
Renugai marrying Saint Jamathakni:
She learnt through a voice from Heaven that Saint Jamathakni would be her husband.  Renugai requested the saint to marry her.  Saint Jamathakni agreed and both of them got married. They gave birth to a child 'Parasuramar', a Vishnu Avatar.
Parasuramar chopping off Renukadevi Head:
Renukadevi, daughter of King Raivada married Sage Jamadagni and delivered Parasurama.  Padavedu is the place where Sage Jamadagni, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, lived with his wife Renuka, an Incarnation of Parvathi and son Parasurama, the avatar of Vishnu. Sage Jamadagni and Sage Vishwamitra grew together. The Sage used to perform Yagna daily to which mother Renuka used to bring water in a pot just made that day. One day the Mother saw a Gandharva flying and lost her mind on that due to the Maya or the play of the great Shakti. She was late for the yagna and felt ashamed.
The Sage, knowing this, asked his sons to chop off mother’s head but none came forward. Only Parasurama, to abide his father, came forward and did it and also cut his hand. Nearby Dhobis (Cloth washers) came to rescue the mother but Parasurama killed all of them. The sage was pleased and asked Parasurama’s wish and he rightly wanted his mother back.
Sage agreed and asked Parasurama to join the head and the body and sprinkle holy water over them. Parasurama did so and his mother came to life and also the dhobis who died in the fight. But, alas, his mother’s head was attached to a dhobi woman’s body and vice versa while doing it in an anxiety. But then Universal mother might have wanted this way only and she then made that dhobi woman, her close maiden. She is also worshipped here.
All these happened in Padavedu. There is a river nearby where dhobis washed the clothes. The Holy ash given in the temple is the one from the sage Jamadagni’s yaga Gunda which still exists.
Parasuramar slaying Kshatriyas:
Karthaveeryarjunan stole the Kamadenu cow of Jamadagni after killing him.  Renukadevi accompanied her husband in death.  However, as rain fell, she appeared with burn injuries and neem leaf clothing and met her son Parasurama.  Parasurama pursued Karthaveeryarjuna and killed him and recovered the Kamadenu and began destroying the Kshatriya community.  
Lord Shiva appeared before Parasurama and said that what happened was the act of destiny and asked him to end the anger.  While Renukadevi’s head alone stayed in Earth, the body accompanied Jamadagni to higher worlds. This is how, Renuka’s head alone stayed and now a swayambu in the Padavedu temple.
Nestled among the hills between Arni and Vellore is a village called Padaiveedu. This beautiful pastoral village was once the capital of Sambuvarayar Dynasty and was also a grand commercial center.  Encircled by mountains and hills, this place consists of 17 villages.
During 13th and 14th Centuries, the Sambuvarayar chieftains ruled this region under the patronage of the Pandyas. For a short time they became independent and subsequently came under the rule of Kempagowda. Padavedu was the capital of their empire and so this was a big commercial place during that time. During their reign, Sambuvarayas rendered great service to art and religion. The archeological findings in this area bear ample testimony to this fact.
There were two forts – Big fort and Small fort with moats (Agazhi in Tamil). Number of sages performed penance and attained salvation here. It is fascinating to find that Padaiveedu is the abode of so many deities. The temples are dedicated to Goddess Renuka Devi, Draupadi, Lord Hanuman, Lord Ramar and Lord Venugopala.
It is said that there were 1008 Shiva temples and 108 Vishnu temples here. Out of these except the Yoga Ramar temple and the Renugambal temple, all other floor temples have disappeared due to the natural disasters. During the 1990s, many temples have been unearthed and renovated. These were built at various points of time, but most of the improvements and decorations appear to have been done when the Sambuvarayar came under the sway of the Vijayanagar Empire. There are many inscriptions from Vijayanagara periods.
The town Padaiveedu was in full pomp and glory during the regime of the following Sambuvarayar Chieftains:
Raja Kambeera Sambuvarayar
1236 - 1268 AD
Mankonda Sambuvarayar 
1322 - 1337 AD
Rajanarayana Sambuvarayar 
1337 - 1373 AD
Rajanarayana Sambuvarayar III
1356 - 1375 AD

· Padavedu is the avatara sthalam of Parasuramar, one of the Dhasavadharams of Mahavishnu
·        There are more than 10 ancient temples of 12th century
·        Sri Renugambal Temple is one of the important Sakthi Sthalams
·   Ramar is seen in a meditative posture with ‘Chin mudra’ in Sri Yoga Ramachandra Moorthy temple
·    Sri Varadharaja Perumal temple and Sri Ammayappar temple were once buried under the sand and have been excavated and renovated
·   In Subramanya Swamy temple, Lord Subramania is seen standing on his peacock. Legend has it that Lord Subramania was conferred the title “Deva Senapathi” only on this hill top at the behest of Goddess Renugambal.
·      Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar temple is having Goddess Lakshmi seated on the right lap of Lord Narasimhar (usually She will be on the left lap)
·        Sri Kailasa Vinayagar temple where the Vinayagar is about 5.5 feet high
·   Sri Kailasanadhar Temple is where Lord Shiva is seen with Uma Devi in human form but unfortunately in a vandalized condition.
·   Sri Venugopala Swamy Temple that is on a picturesque hill en route a beautiful forest with a few hanging bridges
·        Vel Temple is where ‘Vel’ consecrated by Siddhar Bhogar is present
·  Sri Veera Anjaneyar temple is where there is a beautiful 8 feet tall Anjaneyar
Scenic Village
Padavedu is a calm and scenic place that consists of 17 villages encircled by the Jawadhu hills, river and other water bodies, paddy, coconut and plantain fields. There are more than 10 ancient temples with Renugambal temple as the most popular of them. This is one of the Sakthi Sthalams of Thondai Mandalam. 

TVS Group has adopted this village around 20 years back and all the temples are being maintained very cleanly by a Trust owned by them. This is one of the cleanest places and is a definite model for other temples to follow.

This region, which was, many centuries ago, marked by two forts (a Big Fort and Small Fort), was apparently home to 1008 Shiva temples and 108 Vishnu temples. It was also the capital of the Sambuvarayar chieftains, who ruled in the 12th and 13th Centuries. The northern gate of the fort was called Santha Vaasal.

The Sambhuvarayars, who were first under the Cholas and Pandyas, subsequently came under the rule of Kempagowda. Hence, many of the original temples found in the area have Vijayanagar inscriptions, iconography and style since they were built and renovated during the time of Venru Mann Konda Sambuvarayar (1322-1337 A.D.), his son Raja Narayana Sambuvarayar I (1337-1373 A.D) and grandson Raja Narayana Sambuvarayar III (1356-1375 A.D.).

Due to some natural disaster, the temples lay buried and it was only through the efforts of Srinivasan Services Trust, a part of the TVS Group that many have been unearthed and renovated since the early 1990s. Statue of Hanuman under a large old banyan shall be seen in the village and learnt that the village once had eight Hanuman statues placed in the eight cardinal directions to guard it, which seems to be characteristic of the Vijayanagar Empire. Only five remains now.

Of the temples here, very few retain their original fa├žade. The Renugambal temple, retains for most part and so one can spend time looking at the sculpted pillars, panels and domes of the temple. Set against tall coconut palms and rolling hills, the view from the temple is one to experience. Then again, most of the temples in this region are of that sort. The Yoga Ramar temple too retains some of its original look, even if the Rajagopuram is bright and new. The iconic feature is of Rama in Ardha Padmasana, and next to him, Hanuman seated with a book in hand. This too seems a characteristic feature of that time. And from here, you can see temple atop a small hillock, dedicated to Lord Murugan.

A couple of kilometres northwest of the Rama temple, you can find Varadharaja perumal temple amidst rice fields and Banana Plantations. 

Most of the temples have been renovated, and stands on the very spot the idols were found. From the Lakshmi Narasimhar temple (which is also on a smaller hillock), one can have a panoramic view of the Javadi hills and the valley below.

The Venugopalaswami temple atop Kottaimalai Hills can only be reached by a tractor and a long flight of stairs on Saturday mornings at dawn.

Other finds in the area were a statue of Shiva in human form in a hillock called Kailasaparai and even a statue of Buddha, which seems to suggest that Buddhism had a following here.

TVS has really shown to the corporate world how they can participate in the social upliftment programs. The place is about 23 kms from Arani, and about 43 kms from Vellore.

Places of Interest
Places of Interest in and around Padavedu Village are listed below;
Renugambal Temple
For brief details, please refer below link;
Ammaiappa Eswarar Temple
For brief details, please refer below link;
Chinna Kottai Varadharaja Perumal Temple
For brief details, please refer below link;
Kailasa Vinayagar Temple
For brief details, please refer below link;
Kailasanathar Temple, Kailasaparai
For brief details, please refer below link;
Lakshmi Narasimhar Temple
For brief details, please refer below link;
Rishi (Lord Buddha) Temple
For brief details, please refer below link;
Ramalinga Sowdambigai Amman Temple
For brief details, please refer below link;
Sadasivan Temple
For brief details, please refer below link;
Venugopala Swamy Temple, Kottaimalai
For brief details, please refer below link;
Velmurugan Temple
For brief details, please refer below link;
Veera Anjaneyar Temple
For brief details, please refer below link;
Yoga Ramachandraswamy Temple
For brief details, please refer below link;
Shubramanya Swamy Temple
For brief details, please refer below link;
Shenbaga Thoppu Dam
For brief details, please refer below link;
Periya Kottai Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple
This Temple is in ruined state. This is being renovated now and will be ready for Dharshan in near future.
Padavedu is situated in Polur taluk of Thiruvannamalai District; it was once known as Marudarasar Padaiveedu. It was the capital of the Sambuvaraya kings. The Department of Archaeology conducted excavations in the year 1992-93 at two sites namely Vetagiripalayam and Kottaikaraimedu. 
The overall cultural sequences of this site could be characterized as period 1 and period 2. Period1 datable to 13th and 14th century CE is governed by the occurrence of brick structure with the channels used for bringing drinking water and draining out sewage water and ring wells. While Period 2 assignable to 14th and 16th centuries CE is marked by the presence of smoking pipes, Sultan coins and a number of decorated red ware sherds and bangle pieces.
Padavedu is centrally located among Vellore, Thiruvannamalai and Arani in the Vellore – Polur (Thiruvannamalai) route. Padavedu is 8 km far from the branch road of Chandavasal lying on the Thiruvannamalai highway. 
Bus facilities are available to Padavedu from Kancheepuram, Vellore, Polur, Arcot and Arani. The place is 42 km from Vellore, 52 km from Thiruvannamalai, 22 from Arani, 150 km from Chennai and 23 km from Polur.
Nearest Railway Station is located at Kalambur, Arani. Nearest Airport is located at Chennai.