Saturday, April 23, 2016

Periyanayagi Amman Temple, Devikapuram

Periyanayagi Amman Temple, Devikapuram
The Periyanayagi Amman Temple situated in the center of Devikapuram village. This temple is built by the Vijayanagara Emperor in the 14th century. This is the second largest temple after Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswarar Temple. The consort of Sri Kanakagiriswarar installed at the hill temple is Sri Periyanayagi Amman, found at the bottom. She is also otherwise known as Sri Brihannayaki and Sri Brahadambal. There is no Sivalingam here.

This is a second biggest temple in Thiruvannamalai district. This village is located south of Arni. Devikapuram comes under Arni Taluk. Periyanayaki Amman temple has lot of excellent sculptures. Compound of this temple was carved with phrases of Purana stories, warriors and animals like elephants and horses. These kinds of phrases are seen only at Hampi.

On the walls of the Periyanayagi Amman Temple about 50 inscriptions incised recording donations mostly from Padaiveedu Nayaks. Mandapams are main attraction of the tourists. On the hill top Malaikkozhundu Nayakar is housed a temple. One can easily reach the top with well laid steps. Periyanayagi Amman Temple is landmark in this area. It is regarded as second in importance only to Thiruvannamalai, and attracts a large number of worshippers.

The goddess is one of the four brought into existence by Brahma. Devikapuram, otherwise known as the city of goddess', is noted for its temples. Generally people call this village as Devikapuram, Devakipuram, Devakkapuram, Kanagagiri, Narayanavanam, Kanagathiri, and Kanagachalam, are the other names found in the history of this sthalam.

According to the Sthalapuranam of this temple, there is also a legend that Devaki, sister of Kamsan, came to this place, worshipped the Lord here and gave birth to Krishna, hence the name" Devikapuram" This place is further known as "Kanakagiri and Kanagachalam " after the name of the hillock here and also as "Narayanavanam" in view of the temple of Sri Srinivasamurthy found here. The name "Devikapuram" is found in the stone inscriptions of the Sri Devi Temple.

Devikapuram is located at around 40 km from Thiruvannamalai. The temples in Devikapuram were constructed by the Chola King Thondaiman Chakravarthy while the more ancient Kanakagiriswarar Temple on the hill is said to date back to the Pallava period. The current structure dates back to the Vijayanagar period as testified by the inscriptions seen in the Periyanayaki Temple.

The Temple
The consort of Kanakagiriswarar installed at the hill temple is Periyanayagi Amman, found at the bottom. She is also otherwise known as Brihannayaki and Brahadambal. There is no Sivalingam here. Here the temple is 475 feet east to west and 250 feet south to north, with a fortress o 30 feet in height.

The temple covers an area of 3 acres and has a big seven tiered pagoda. The fortress of the temple is beautifully fashioned out of artistically carved granite stones. On the outer walls, there are several carvings, a separate line for Horse, Bull and pig all around the wall.

The images of the pigs might have been intended to create sentimental feelings among Muslim invaders and to avoid their destroying the temples. There are there entrances leading to the temple in the north, south and east. The north and south entrances are closed for the devotees.

There are big Dwarapalakas on either side of the Rajagopuram entrance and after entering Rajagopuram there are beautiful sculptures on either side of the inner walls of the Rajagopuram. There are sculptures of Lingothbhavar, Narasimhar, Kaala Bairavar, Dancing girls etc., and the most beautiful one of them is the huge and stunningly beautiful Adhikara Nandhi. Ironically, some of the sculptures have been vandalized also. It is said that this vandalisation was done by the foreign invasions.

There were plenty of honeycombs (about 20) in the ceiling. It is said that sages live as birds, bees and snakes in the temple to protect the temple treasures and worship. In the Kalyana mandapam there are sculptures explaining the story of Manuneedhi Chola who killed his son under the wheels of his chariot just to keep up the justice as a King. Dhwajasthambham, Balipeetham and Nandhi Devars are present here.

In front of the eastern entrance, there is a high four pillared mandapam. Adjacent to it, is the "Thermutti Mandapam" Unlike other mandapams, which will have only a single flight of steps on one side, here there are two flights of steps on both sides.

In the entrance of the temple, beautiful sculptures like Lingothbhavar, Narasimha Avatar etc., can be found. Some of the sculptures were destroyed by the Muslim invaders. After the entrance, there are three prakarams in the temple.

Immediately after entering the temple, one would find Sri Veerabhadrar on the south and Sri Bairavar on the north. The Brahma Theertham is on the southern side of the temple with beautiful footsteps and a circular platform.

On entering Third Prakaram, on the left side there is a temple tank and a 4 pillared mandapam and on the right side there is an Open air Auditorium called Variyar Mandapam and a Kalyana mandapam in the form of a Chariot being pulled by the horses. The Kalyana Mandapam is found in the north facing south. This is designed in the shape of the two wheeled car drawn by houses which is very impressive and attractive. There are several architectural carvings on the pillars of this mandapam depicting the history of the King Sri Manu Neethi Cholan.

There is a thirty six pillared front mandapam beyond the Bali Peedam, Kodimaram and Nandhi. This mandapam is an encyclopedia of Sculptures because 432 sculptures are sculpted in this mandapam depicting the Puranams of Siva, Vishnu and Devi.  One Nandhi is present at an elevated height and just below another one is sitting on the ground.

To the south of this mandapam is the Vinayagar Sannidhi and to the north of it, is the Sannidhi of Sri Arumugar. Crossing this mandapam, and the entrance of a three tiered pagoda, on has to reach the next prakaram. The Sannidhis of Sri Kasi Viswanathar, Sri Pillaiyar and the Navarathri mandapam are found in this prakaram.

The Utsava vigrahams of Sri Vinayagar, Natarajar and Somaskandar are found in the Maha Mandapam. Next to the Maha Mandapam is the inner prakaram of the temple. After crossing the Maha mandapam we enter the 2nd praharam which houses Navarathri kolu Mandapam and Artha Mandapam which again houses plenty of sculptures. There is about 55 inscriptions, most of which belong to the Vijayanagara Empire and are in the 2ndpraharam. As we go further the Dwarapalagis are present on either side of the entrance and you will enter the 1st praharam and the sanctum sanctorum. Periyanayagi Amman is present majestically in standing posture with Pasa Angusam in her upper hands and Abhaya and Varadha mudras in the lower hands.

The beautiful Dharshan of Devi Sri Periyanayagi Ambal, the embodiment of love and affection can be seen in the sanctum sanctorum. Large number of devotees used to have Dharshan and worship the Devi on all Fridays.

There are several sacred theerthas in this shrine. The brahma theertham is inside the temple while the Navagraha Theertham is located at the foot of the hill which is now known as Periayappan kulam. To the south east of this sthalam is the Agni Theertham with Neerazhi Mandapam at its center. People call the Agni Theertham as Kaatan kulam. There is a Murugar Temple at the top of a hill lock on the bank of this Agni Theertham and to the west corner is the Devaradiyar Theertham and  to the west the seyyyan kulam or seeyan kulam.

There are also several other small Theerthams here all round the hill. On all Tuesday it is customary for the devotees to come around the hill and offer worship to Sri Kanakagiriswarar. By doing so, it is believed that the devotees who are suffering from incurable diseases are easily cured.
There are about 56 stone inscriptions in this sthalam of which 55 are found in the Periya Nayagi Amman temple and one in the Kanakagiriswarar Temple at the top of the hill. It is surmised that both these shrines should have been built during the reigns of the Vijayanagar kings.

One of the oldest stone inscriptions relates to the Maharashtra king another belongs to the Jagirthar of Arni and the remaining 53 stone inscriptions relate to the period of the Vijayanagar Kings.

Two of the inscriptions are found in Sanskrit, one in Marathi and the rest in Tamil. 
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.
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.
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)