Saturday, March 19, 2016

Uppiliappan Temple, Tirunageswaram – The Temple

Uppiliappan Temple, Tirunageswaram – The Temple
This east facing temple has 50 feet high five-tiered Rajagopuram (the gateway tower) and enshrined within a granite wall. The complex contains all the shrines and water bodies associated with it.  The Temple has two prakarams. Dwajastambam, Bali Peedam and eight pillared mandapam can be seen behind Garuda Shrine. The area for Pradakshinam has many beautiful paintings of Dashavatara. It has got Gosala and garden also. There is a beautiful Temple elephant which is decorated during festival occasions.

The main shrine of the temple houses the image of Oppiliappan in standing posture and it also houses the images of Bhumidevi and sage Markandeya. Presiding Deity stands majestically facing east. He is about 8 feet tall. His consort Bhumidevi is seated with a bending knee and folded hands facing north. Markandeya is seated facing south in a posture indicative of giving Kanya - Dhan. Left hand of Oppiliappan contains the inscription "Maam Ekam Saranam Vrija" made of diamonds which is a verse form Bhagavad-Gita instructing the whole mankind to devote their pure souls into his lotus feet to attain Salvation.

The vimana over the sanctum is called as Suddhananda Vimanam (Suddhananda meaning pure happiness). It is plated with gold. Note that the vimana in Tirumala Tirupati is named as Ananda vimana, whereas here it is Suddhananda Vimana. It is believed that Lord Vishnu granted darshan to Nammazhvar in five forms – Tiruvinnagarappan (in sanctum sanctorum), Ponnappan (procession deity), Maniappan and Ennappan in Prakara shrines and Muthappan.  Of these, Muthappan shrine is not in existence.  Discus and Conch are with the Lord in Maniappan shrine. 

The utsava deity Oppiliappan is never taken out of the temple, without his consort, Bhumidevi. The Sahasradhari plate and pot (Kudam) are made of gold for performing Thirumanjanam (ablution) to the presiding deity. The temple also maintains golden sword, diamond crown and gold arm guard for the image of Hanuman. All food offerings at the temple are strictly and completely saltless. Salt or any food item containing salt is not allowed in the temple beyond Garuda’s Sannidhi. It is a sin to carry salt inside the temple. Hence the Lord is also called as ‘Lavana Varjita Venkatesa’ i.e. Venkatesa who avoids salt.

Other Shrines:
The Desika shrine is located near the sanctum sanctorum. On the sides of the first precinct, the shrine of Anjaneya is located on the southern, and Alwars and Sri Rama on the northern and Ramanuja on the eastern sides. The shrine for Maniappan is located in the second precinct in the southern side, while the shrines of Ennappan and the holy birth spot of Bhumidevi are located in the northern side. Garuda's shrine is located right opposite the sanctum and right behind the temple mast. The shrine of dancing Krishna is located on the southern side of the main entrance.

A marble hall is located on the western side in the inner precinct acts as the resting hall for the festival deities during festivals. Dolothsavam festival is celebrated in another marble hall in the northern side of the temple. Adjoining the hall, there is a shrine where the images of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman are housed. The sacred bed chamber called Tiruppalliarai, covered full of mirrors is located next to it, where during festivals, the Lord and his consort rest during nights. During the two Brahmotsavams in Panguni (March-April) and Purattasi (Sept-Oct), it is a divine sight to watch and worship the god and goddess in this room full of mirrors.

Yaga Sala:
A Yaga Sala for performing religious rituals is present in the temple.
Vahana Mandapam & Library:
The temple includes a vahana mandapa and a library. Vahana Mandapam is used to house Vahanas of Lord. Religious books are preserved in this Library.
Eight Pillared Hall:
A hall with eight carved pillars is located on the banks of the temple tank (Pushkarini), where the annual float-festival is celebrated during January - February.
The Kodimandapam, located to the south of the Garuda shrine, is used for several day-to-day religious practises. The annual Kalyana Utsavam festival is performed in the hall amidst music and dance programmes. Prarthana Kalyana Utsavams are also performed here.
Marriage Halls:
Outside the main complex, the temple maintains two huge marriage halls where marriages tec., can be conducted for a nominal fee.
Rest House:
There is also a rest house containing 5 rooms, which is available for use by pilgrims at cheap rent.
Chariot Halls:
There are 2 mandapas at the end of the Sannidhi Street. One houses a small chariot and the other for use during the big chariot festival.

There is a garden around the third precinct of the temple and a much bigger garden about 0.5 km (0.31 mi) to the south of the temple, where Tulasi and flowers are grown in abundance for weaving garlands daily for the deities. A hall in the garden is used for resting deities during the Vasantotsavam festival celebrated for six days in May–June every year.

There is a small 'Thulabharam' to the right side before you enter the sanctum sanctorum. Devotees can offer anything as per their vow except salt.
Sthala Vriksham:
Sthala Vriksham is Tulsi.
For brief details, please refer below link;
There are inscriptions from Medieval Cholas period indicating generous gifts to the temple. There are two inscriptions recorded from the Naganatha Swamy Temple in Tirunageswaram. The inscriptions on the northern wall of the central shrine indicates gift of gold jewel worked in gems and pearls to the temple from the Chola king Parakesarivarman alias Rajendra Chola I (1012–44 CE). The second inscription on the southern wall of the same shrine indicates a gift of land to the temple in the fourteenth year of the Chola king Rajaraja Rajakesarivarman I. Inscriptions refers the place as Thiruvinnagar – Tirunageswaram and Uyyakondar Valanaadu.