Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Aatcheeswarar Temple (Aksheeswaraswamy Temple), Achirappakkam – The Temple

Aatcheeswarar Temple (Aksheeswaraswamy Temple), Achirappakkam – The Temple
The main temple is a big one, measuring 265 feet East-West and 140 feet by South-North with a 5 tier Rajagopuram and two Praharams. The main entrance is towards Aatcheeswarar, a Swayambu lingam on a Square avudaiyar built by the Sage Thirinendhrathari for himself in line with the Dwajasthambam, Bali Peetam and Nandhi. There is an underground room in the sanctum mandapam covered with stone tiles now. There are two main shrines in the temple, one with a Square Avudaiyar and the other one with a circular Avudaiyar.

The temple has two presiding deities Aatcheeswarar & Umai Aatcheeswarar gracing the devotees from two separate sanctum sanctorums. Also, two Mother-Goddesses Ilangili Ammai and Umayambigai grace from their respective sanctums. Shiva is a Swayambumurthy. Saint Tirunavukkarasar mentions this temple in Kshetra Kovai hymns. Saint Gnanasambandar has praised this temple in his Thevaram hymns. Demons Tharaka and Vidyunmali destroyed by Lord Shiva are the Dwarapalakas. Meditation Nandhi is before Umai Aatcheeswarar shrine.

Lord Atchipureeswarar is also praised as Acheswarar and Achu Kondu Arulia Thevar. Vinayaka is known as Achu Muri Vinayaka. Lord Srinivasa with Mother Alamelumanga Thayar graces in a shrine in Prakara. The Temple is having a 5 tier Rajagopuram. Dwajasthambam (Flag post) & Nandhi not in straight line to tower and entrance, it's offset. Umai Aatcheeswarar Sanctum is located on the south side from the Prakaram entrance. Ganesha and Dakshinamoorthy facing south are located on the circumbulatory path. Vishnu is located on the back side of the sanctum.

There is a second sanctum which is beside the main sanctum which is in line with entrance tower & Prahara. Emai Aatcheeswarar in Linga form behind the Linga we can see Shiva & Parvathi in wedding form as a pair. It’s one of the places where Shiva has blessed sage Agasthiar in a wedding pose and Lord Shiva in human form. The Nandhi in front of him is bowed in Dhyanam and is supposed to be built over the Jeeva Samadhi of sage Thirinendhrathari Beside the secondary sanctum on the north side we can see separate shrine for Perumal standing on Avudai (Base of Linga). Also Thayar (Lakshmi) is located next to Perumal on North side. Opposite to the Perumal shrine is Sri Anjaneyar facing Perumal.

Next to the secondary sanctum on the south side we can see three Devis and Lord Skanda. On the opposite of the main sanctum we can see Bhairavar, Surya & Chandra. The Prahara is nicely built with pillared hallway is built & the walls have lot of stone inscriptions. The walls have lot of scriptures sculpted.  Outside the Prahara when we circumvent it we can find a Bodhi tree below Ganesh on the south west corner is there & in the south side next to the main sanctum outside the Prahara the temple tree is Sarakondrai (Golden Shower Tree).

Shiva’s consort Ilangili Ambal (Young parrot) Shrine is located near main entrance on the north side. Umayambigai Shrine is located on the right side of Rajagopuram. The Amman is called Balasukhambal, Sundara Nayaki. The idol is facing south. She is in the standing position and is very enchanting. There are sannidhis for Saraswati and Pillaiyar with his consorts Siddhi and Buddhi, Sundara Moorthy Swamigal with Sangili Nachiyar and Pavai Nachiyar, Sekkizhar, Natarajar surrounded by Sivagama Sundari, Manikka Vasagar and Karaikkal Ammaiyar, Kala Bairavar with a Brahma Kabala garland of skulls are the other deities present in the inner praharam.

It is strongly believed that prayer to Lord Atchipureeswarar would elevate the devotee to ruling position with management abilities. Also as the Lord is in the form ‘Letters – Akshara’ the devotee will shine in education. The Achumuri Vinayagar temple is just before the main temple and we are supposed to worship the Achumuri Vinayagar first before worshipping at the main temple. 63 Nayanmars are present as stone sculptures in the South praharam and as metal sculptures (Urchava moorthams) in the North praharam.

Lord Ayyappa is present in an unusual posture with the left leg folded and the right leg down; left hand over the left leg and the right hand holding the Gnana bouquet. This form is called Gnana Sastha and is seen only in Kanchipuram, Trivandrum and Thirunandhipuram alias Semmaneri near Perani in South Arcot district. Lighting lamps at the shrines of Ganesha, Lords Umai Aatcheeswarar and Emai Aatcheeswarar, Goddess Ilangili Amman, and Achu Muri Vinayagar is said to bring power and position to the worshipper. The walls around the shrine of Aatcheeswarar have beautiful murals around them that depict various scenes.