Friday, February 3, 2017

Uma Maheswarar Temple, Konerirajapuram – The Temple

Uma Maheswarar Temple, Konerirajapuram – The Temple
Lord Shiva in the temple is a Swayambumurthy – 4.5 feet tall Linga. Presiding Deity is called as Uma Maheswarar. The goddess is Anga Vala Nayaki or Deha sundari. There are also shrines to Brahma and Vishnu within the complex. The Vilwa tree has 13 leaves in each stem. This is the Sthala Vruksha of the temple. Lords Brahmma, Vishnu and Shiva grace the devotees from the goshta wall behind main Shiva shrine. The temple was built by Maharani Sembian Madhevi, queen of Kandarathitha Chola and grandmother of Rajaraja Chola. Lord Arasamaram Vinayaka adores the temple. 

The vimana above the sanctum sanctorum is of Ashtadwarapala design. Sthala Vriksham is Bhadraksha & Theertham is Brahma Theertham. Garbagraham has four pillars resembling four vedas. The main God in Lingam form is too big and beautiful with lots of Rudraksha beads decorating him. The temple is calm, quiet and has good ambience. 

The back side of the garbhagriham in the temple is in the shape of elephant's back (Gajaprashta). Mother (Anga Vala Nayaki or Deha sundari) Sannidhi is located in the Prakaram. It looks like a separate temple. There is also a Sannidhi of Lord Vaidyanatha in the outer prakaram, after coming out of Ambal Sannidhi.

The temple has the largest metal cast Nataraja in the world, bigger than the one at Chidambaram which is of size: 8.5'x5.5'. There will be a mole and a hair stuck to the mole on his chest. To his side, stands the graceful Sivakami. He is the Moolavar. He won’t be taken out for procession. 

To his side, there is another Sannidhi where lies another Nataraja. This is the Utsava Moorthi who will be taken out for procession. He is known as Kalyanasundara Moorthi, also called as Mappillai swami and his consort is Devi Kathyayani.

Usually to one's right side, in any Shiva temple there would be Lord Vinayaka. But here, it is Shanmuka Subrahmanya with 6 faces, 12 hands, surrounded by Valli and Devasena on his both sides. There is a Lord Vinayaka on the left side protected by two bhutha ganas (one with banana bunch on his head and the other with a jack fruit on his head) is seated, blessing the devotees.

There is a main mandapam with Dwajasthambam. The ceiling of this mandapam has awesome paintings of five faces of Lord Shiva - Thathpurusham, Eesaanam, Vamadevam, Sadyojatam and Agoram, Moorthis of 4 vedas, and more. There were also paintings of British period - policemen with arms standing at the ritual and so on. But due to poor maintenance, most of the area in the paintings got faded.

After this Mandapam, Sanctum of Lord Uma Maheswara can be seen. The lingam is quite large in size that one could see the lord from the entrance. Idols of Bhairava, Surya and Siva lingas like Kasi Viswanathar, Shenbagavana Nathar can be seen in the circumbulatory path. Further proceeding vahana mandapam (place where God's vehicles like swan, yali (mixture of lion and elephant), ox (Rishabam) are kept) can be seen. All the vahanam speaks about the antique values.

On the opposite side idols of Agastya rishi, Vinayaka and inscriptions stating about the architects of this temple (Sembian madevi and Kandaraadhithan) can be seen. Navagraha Sannidhi is located outside the prakaram and there is another Shiva linga that has been worshipped by all the 9 planets. Planet Saturn – Sani Bhagwan is facing west. 

The niche images of Nataraja, Dakshinamurthy, Lingodbhavar and Ardhanareeswarar in this west facing temple are all of great beauty. The Mukha Mandapam in front of the sanctum is known here as Pugazhaabarana Mandapam. Bronze images of Natarajar, Kalyanasundarar dating back to the 10th century are of great beauty here.

Mother Durga facing west blesses the devotees. There are six Vinayakas in a single shrine looking like an assembly of Vinayakas. As the deities of the 8 directions – Ashtadhik Balakas- worshipped here, they have their due places in the vimana. There are three Chandikeswaras in the temple.  

There is no Lord Nataraja procession in three places – Madurai, Uthira Kosamangai and Koneri Rajapuram. Lord Nataraja is more human in look in this temple. People know this temple as Nataraja temple. This is regarded as a fully developed early Chola temple. It is well preserved, and it has the finest and richest collection of bronze images.

This temple was built by Sembiyan Mahadevi the Chola queen (of Gandaraditya). Images of Gandaraditya Chola and Sembian Mahadevi as well as several inscriptions are seen here in this temple. These images are about 1000 years old. Sembiyan Mahadevi is believed to have provided for the upkeep of the temple and for the performance of the daily rituals. This temple is also known as Gandaradittam. The inscriptions here are of great value as they offer an insight into how; the various sections of society then were involved collectively and separately in the day to day activities of the temple. Inscriptions speak of musicians, persons who prepared sandal paste, watchmen, reciters of hymns, managers, accountants, dyers, blacksmiths, etc. 

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