Bhaktavatsala Perumal Temple, Cheranmahadevi, Thirunelveli
Bhaktavatsala Perumal Temple is dedicated to Hindu God Vishnu located at Cheranmahadevi in Thirunelveli District of Tamilnadu. The Temple is believed to be built in 12th century by Pandyas (probably who were under the Cholas). Vimanam is made up of brick and the temple is full of beautiful relief and bas-relief images. The Temple is just a kilometer away from the banks of the river. The temple is being maintained by ASI and is near the Cheranmahadevi Nava Kailasa temple.
The Temple is believed to be built in 12th century by Pandyas (probably who were under the Cholas). The devotees are allowed to worship on the day called Vidhivadha. Chadurvethimangalam is the historical name of Cheranmahadevi in that Mangalam means "a place donated by a king to a priest". The proof of this name was located on 4 inscriptions and then another inscription says “சேரவன்மாதேவி இராசராச பாண்டிய நாட்டு உத்தம சோழ வளநாட்டு முள்ளி நாட்டு பிரம்மநேயம் நிலகரி சோழ சதுர்வேதிமங்கலம்”. This is known after “பிராந்தக வீரநாராயணனின்” wife “வானமன்மதேவி “who ruled from the year 885 – 903 AD. This information was provided by “Neelakanda Shastri”.
Bhaktavatsala Perumal temple is located in the outskirts of Cheranmahadevi amidst paddy fields. It is under the control of ASI. It can be considered as one of the best heritage sites in Tamilnadu state. It is unfortunate that this site remains little known. The temple complex is big and houses two structures. The smaller structure (temple) is dedicated Bala Krishnan. It is a very attractive sculpture. The bigger temple is dedicated to Bhaktavatsala Perumal.
Perumal sculpture is also very attractive; he is found in the standing posture and standing tall with four arms. He is standing alone without his consorts in this temple. The main shrine has all the sections as per the South Indian temple architectural style - moolasthanam, ardha mandapa, maha mandapa and the exterior mandapa. Garuda is found to be facing the main shrine. In the exterior mandapa, the sculpture of Bhoo Devi is found. Inside the maha mandapa, apart from the big Dwarapalas, the idol of Vishwaksenar is found.
The main shrine is built as per the "maada kovil" architectural style. The only other idol found in the temple is Yoga Narasimha temple located in the prakara. The entire temple is full of pillars with beautiful carvings and relief images. All the images are extremely attractive. Yoga Narasimha relief image on the backside wall of the main shrine is notable. The wall surrounding the main shrine is intricately decorated and found to be artistically brilliant. The vimana made up of brick is another highlight of the temple.
Though the temple entrance is incomplete, it is artistically attractive. The main entrance to the temple in the second and third circumference walls are West-wards whereas the temple is actually East-wards. The high temple walls are usually made of sized stones assembled with interlocking fixtures in two rows. Inner of these two rows of stone walls are filled with binding materials such as processed lime and bricks.
Arjunan Thapasu – the penance of Arjuna – as a ‘pudaippu’ sculpture i.e. embossed sculpture - on a front mandapam pillar. Arjuna is seen in a perfect yogic posture with a boar in the background symbolizing the epic story of Mahabharata. Penance of Arjuna is obviously one of the popular sculptural choices of ancient sculptors - which we can spot in almost all the major temples of Thirunelveli. However, undoubtedly the master piece of this depiction is that one of the Pallava sculpture found in the Mahabalipuram rock relief.
Unique feature of this temple is a lady sculpture illustrating the ornaments, dress, hair style, makeup pattern, aesthetic sense and beauty concept of the past era. The temple is full of various patterns of lion motifs indicating Narasimha Murthy. The splendid architectural pattern of the inner precincts is comparable to the famed Hoysala temples. This huge temple complex hidden amidst vast plantain and paddy fields - just appurtenant to a river Ghat is under the control of Archaeological Survey of India since 1921.
The ASI web site informs that this temple is with Chola architectural touches with inscriptions of Chola and Pandya regimes. Few statutes of later Nayakar royalty are also found in this temple. These royal image sculptures near the southern entrance to the second periphery are impressive and show the attire and patterns of Nayakar period. There is no more information made available by the ASI to the visitors other than this simple panel. This temple complex is a treasure trove of exquisite sculptures with minute carvings.
Bhaktavatsala Perumal Temple is located at Cheranmahadevi in Thirunelveli District of Tamilnadu. Cheranmahadevi is located at about 50 Kms from Tenkasi, 17 Kms from Ambasamudram, 6 Kms from Veeravanallur, 30 Kms from Thirunelveli, 190 Kms from Madurai & 155 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram. Buses are available every 15 minutes from Thirunelveli to Cheranmahadevi. Nearest Railway Station is located at Cheranmahadevi and Nearest Airport is located at Madurai and Thiruvananthapuram.