Saturday, April 23, 2016

Kanagagreeswarar Temple (Ponmalai Nathar Temple), Devikapuram

Kanagagreeswarar Temple (Ponmalai Nathar Temple), Devikapuram
The Kanagagreeswarar Temple is located on top of a small hill called Kanagachalam or Ponnmalai and the Periyanayagi Amman temple, the more popular one is located at the base of the hill in the center of the town. Ponmalai Nathar Temple is at a height of about 500 feet, from the mean sea level. It is thought to have been built approximately 1000 years ago during the reign of the Chola King. Later the temple was expanded during the Vijayanagara Period in the 15th century.

The hill known as Kanakagiri is behind the Amman temple on the southwest side scaling 500 feet with 365 steps covering a circumference of 5 kilo meters.  Lord Shiva at the top of the hill is a swayambumurthy praised as Kanakagiriswarar-Pon Malai Nathar in Tamil.

Story behind Hot Water Abhishekam:
A story says that while a hunter named Irula was digging the forest and collecting roots, his axe hit a Lingam underneath. As a result of this sinful act, he fell unconscious. On account of his deep devotion to the Lord, the God appeared in his dream and told him that he is present inside the pit. At once, he found the Lingam, installed it on the top of the hillock and worshiped it.
Since then the worship and abishekam began with hot water as Lord was injured.  The hot water abishekam continues even today. As the Shivalinga is too tiny in size, Lord Kasi Viswanatha Linga is also installed by the side. Pujas are performed as per agamas.  The hunter story is a hearsay story.
Mother Parvathi Penance:
Sage Brungi on a visit to Mount Kailash simply worshipped Lord Shiva alone though Mother Parvathi was by his side. Feeling the neglect, Mother asked the Lord to part with her a part of his body. Lord suggested that she must go to Kancheepuram and do penance on him in the name of Kamakshi and he would marry her there. Then he would offer a part of his body to her at Thiruvannamalai. Kamakshi wedded Lord Ekambaranathar at Kanchi. On her way to Thiruvannamalai, She performed penance on Lord Kanaka Giriswarar for a Mandalam-covering 48 days- at Devikapuram. Hence, the name of the place is called as Devikapuram. Mother became part of Lord at Thiruvannamalai according to Sthala Puranas.
The temple for Mother Peria Nayaki, also Peria Nachiar in the center of the place is as famous as that of Mother Kamakshi in Kancheepuram.  This is one among the Shakti Peetas.  The temple has a 7 tier Rajagopuram and three corridors-prakarams. As mother held the hands of Lord after a severe penance, those facing delays in their wedding pray to mother here.  Lord came down from the hill to have mother in wedding on the Panguni Uthiram day in March-April.
Story behind sanctum having Two Lingas:
Subsequently, when a Pallava king, who was marching with his army through this place on his way to war, came to know about the glory of Lord of this temple, he worshiped it and vowed to build a grand temple at this place, if he returned victorious. He won the war due to his prayers to this Lord. As the human nature, people forget their promises after winning things.  
Pallava committed the same mistake.  When he met with a next problem, he recalled his promise and immediately built the temple.  Unfortunately, the hunter-Linga was missing then. The king brought a Linga from Kasi and installed in the temple.  Luckily, the hunter-Linga also was found then.  It also was installed in the sanctum.  Thus the temple has two Shivalingas side by side.
The Temple
The hill temple is at a height of 500 feet with 365 steps representing the days of the year and with the prayer that each day should be auspicious for the people. The temple has a three tier Rajagopuram.  Nandhi the bull vehicle of Lord Shiva looks majestic. There are shrines for Lords Vinayaka, Muruga, Dakshinamurthi, Chandikeswara, Agora Veerabadra and Saptha Mathas.  Mother graces from her shrine in the foot hill.  The temple with sculptures of high skills is believed to have been built during the Vijayanagara days.

There are several foot steps leading to the top of the hill. After a few steps, one would find the Veerabadrar's shrine, which is a thing of architectural beauty. Sri Aladi Vinayagar is installed mid-way to the flight of steps leading to uphill. On a rock, to the north of the hill top, are found two beautiful foot prints of the Ambal. It is believed to be those of the Ambal, who did a severe penance for Sri Ponmalainathar, in a standing posture. Just in front of the temple there is a thirty six pillared mandapam bearing several beautiful sculptures in all its pillars.

The temple is 140 feet long and 70 feet wide. The famous "Navanarikunjaram' sculpture is found in the inner prakaram. In the southern prakaram of the temple are found the Sannidhis of Sri Visalakshiamman, Saptha Kanniyars and Sri Dhakshinamoorthy, while the Sannadhis of Sri Vinayagar and Sri Murugar are located in the western prakaram.

There are three lingams in the sanctum sanctorum of Kanagagreeswarar temple. The Lingam at the rear is the Swayambu lingam called Kanagagreeswarar alias Ponmalainathar, which is a 2 ft.-high lingam and another one is an ancient Kasi Viswanathar lingam worshipped by Periyanayagi Amman. Since there should not be two lingams, another lingam made of Rudraksha has also been installed in the wall behind the Kanagagreeswarar. The first Dharsan in this temple is that of Sri Viswanathar.

There are sculptures of 9 women in the inner mandapa of the temple as an elephant speaking volumes of the Tamil sculpture skills.  On way down from the hill, the foot print of Mother is carved where she performed penance.  At the foot of the hill, there is a shrine for Lord Kameswara accompanied by Mother Kokilambal. It is a wonder that the whole temple is built with just nine stones. As there is no shrine for Ambica at the hill temple, Pradosha Pujas are performed in this temple.  People go round the Girivalam-3.5 km- on Poornima days-full moon days.

There are number of images of pigs in the outer walls of the temple. The images of the pigs might have been intended to create sentimental feelings among Muslim invaders and to avoid destroying the temple.

The notable features of the temple are, unlike other shrines, Abishegam is done to the deity here with hot water only instead of cold water. At 8AM every day, there is an Abhishekham for Kanagagreeswarar with ghee and hot water.

Temple Opening Time
The hill temple is open from 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. only. The Amman temple at the foot hills is open from 6.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. and from 5.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Saint Arunagirinathar appears to have visited this shrine and sung songs in praise of the deity, through his famous" Thirupugazh" in which he described this sthalam as Kanakagiri.
This is a hill temple. 10 day Panguni Uthiram festival beginning on the Krithika-Panchami day with flag hoisting and ending on the Uthiram star day, with the visit of Panchamurthis to the hill each day; Chithirai Natarajar abishek in April-May; Purattasi Navarathri in September-October; Aipasi Annabishekam to Lord in the hill in October-November; Karthikai Deepam festival in November-December, Maha Shivrathri in February-March are the festivals celebrated in the temple. Besides the above Poornima Girivalam-circumambulating the hill on full moon day, pradosha days, Deepavali, Makara Sankranti, Tamil and English New Year Days are also observed with special pujas to Lord and Mother, all drawing huge crowds of devotees.
Prayer in the temple brings total mental peace.  People also pray for wedding, child boons, besides employment opportunities, promotions and progress in business.
Devotees fulfill their prayer commitments with Pongal nivedhana, offering wedding garlands, tonsuring, lighting ghee lamps and abishek to Lord with oil, curd, milk, green coconut and offering vastras. They offer Sari to Mother. They make prasadams for Lord and Mother and distribute to other devotees.
Sri Kanakagiriswarar Temple,
Tiruvannamalai-606 902
Phone: +91- 4173-247 482, 247 796.
Devikapuram is part Thiruvannamalai district, Arni taluk, located in Polur-to-Chetpet Road (SH-115). It is part of Thondai Mandalam. It is a quiet & calm village without any industry. People lead a pleasant life by doing agriculture and weaving.
Devikapuram is to the West of Vandavasi; to the East of Polur; to the South of Arani and to the North-East of Thiruvannamalai. While going from Vandavasi after Nedungunam comes Chetpet and in the same road towards Polur comes Devikapuram. The temple is located by the right side of the main road.
By Road:
Devikapuram is located on State Highway 115.
This village can be easily reached by bus from:
·        Chennai (150 km)
·        Thiruvannamalai(50 km)
·        Arni (21 km)
·        Polur (14 km) and
·        Vellore (60 km)
From Vandavasi: Chennai to Vandavasi (via Uthiramerur/Thennangur) – 128 approx. km Vandavasi to Chetpet – 27 km Chetpet to Devikapuram – 12 km
From Arani: 21 km
From Polur: 15 km
Buses are plying to Devikapuram from Chennai (CMBT) round the clock with Bus No.148 (Direct Bus) and Bus No. 131(Via Kanchipuram). Town & mofussil buses from Arni, Chetpet and Polur are available.
By Train:
Polur is the nearby Railway station. Services have been resumed after the conversion of the tracks. Trains arrives/depart to/from Katpadi, Vellore, Thiruvannamalai, Villupuram, Madurai, Nagercoil and Mumbai, there are daily two trains to Tirupati.
By Air:
·        Chennai (Domestic & International) (150 km)
·        Bangalore (Domestic & International) (350 km)