Pallikondeswarar Temple, Surutapalli – The Temple
The temple was built during the late Vijayanagara period. The temple is facing east with a 5 tier Rajagopuram. Presiding Deity is called as Pallikondeeswarar / Valmikeswarar and Mother is called as Maragathambigai. The temple has an outer prakaram, an inner prakaram. In the inner prakaram lies the Garbhagraham (the Sanctum Sanctorum), that has the shrines of Shiva and Parvathi.
This Temple is quite unique. Usually Lord Shiva is seen only in the form of a Linga but here He is seen in human form and that too in the reclining pose on the lap of Goddess Parvathi like Vishnu Ananthaasana. The name Surutapalli comes from the fact that Lord Shiva is rested at the lap of Goddess Parvathi feeling little dizzy after consuming poison during the churning of milky ocean – Palli means resting, Surutta means a little dizzy.
A beautifully painted Nandhi at an elevated height in the huge open space is in the front of the Temple. After entering the Temple through the small Rajagopuram, the shrine of Valmikeswarar and Goddess Maragathambigai is on the left side and the shrine of Pallikondeeswarar is on the right side. It is said that one must visit these two temples first before visiting the main temple. The temple of Goddess Maragathambigai must be visited first, even before the shrine of Valmikeswarar or the main temple.
The specialty of this temple being that all its deities are present with their consorts. They are: Pallikondeeswarar – Sarva Mangalambikai; Valmikeswarar – Maragathambigai; Vinayakar – Siddhi, Buddhi; Sastha – Pooranai, Pushakalai; Kuberan – Sanganidhi and Padumanidhi; Dhakshinamoorthy – Tara; Kasi Viswanathar – Visalakshi. Unlike the common practice of giving Vibhoothi (holy ash) as Prasadam, as in the temples of Lord Shiva, holy water is given here.
Valmikeswarar Shrine has the Dwajasthambam, Palipeedam and Nandhi Mandapam. The main deity is Valmikeswarar in an unusual triangular shaped Swayambu lingam. This is the Pradhosha Murthy, the one who takes the offerings on the day of the Pradhosha. It appeared when Sage Valmiki was in penance before he started writing his Ramayana and so is the name Valmikeswarar. In front of the Valmikeswarar shrine, to the left, is present a stone with many foot prints of kids.
When Kanchi Mahaperiyava camped here for 40 days in 1976, he showed a place and asked people to dig it. When they did, they found this stone and Mahaperiyava disclosed that the footprints are those of Rama’s twins – Lava and Kucha. Lord Krishna and Lord Hanuman are situated to the left of Valmikeswarar.
In the entrance to the chamber of Lord Shiva are also present Lord Rama with Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman along with Bharata and Shatrugna. The outside Nandhi for which Pradhosha Abhishekam is being done, is facing Valmikeswarar through the grills in the walls of the Ramalingeswarar shrine. Ramalingeswarar and Valmikeswarar Shrines are located next to Mother Shrine. Both the shrines are facing each other.
Nardana Vinayaga, Dhakshinamoorthy, Brahma and Durgai are the Koshta Deities around the sanctum walls.
Dhampathi samedha Dhakshinamoorthy:
Dhakshinamoorthy is situated on the left wall of the Valmikeswarar shrine. Lord is in a form entirely different from the usual image. Here he is Dhampathi (Gowri) Samedha Dakshinamurthy. Incidentally, the Lord is often erroneously referred to as Dampadya Dakshinamurthy. Clearly seen are sages, Patanjali and Vyagrapathar. The Lord, mounted on his bull mount is in a seated posture with one foot on Apasmasura and the other leg folded on a Yoga Pattai and embracing his Consort Gowri on a Rishaba Vahana. He is believed to bless people with good matrimony and children. Apart from here he is seen with his consort as ‘Sakthi Dhakshinamoorthy’ in Tirukallil.
Lingothbhavar is situated behind Valmikeswarar facing west. Lingothbhavar sculpture is again an intricately carved. Siva is standing inside a Lingam depicting endless column of fire. Below is Varaha and on the left, is the swan indicating Brahma. To the right is Thazhampoo. Both depicting the well-known legend.
Brahma is situated on the right side of the sanctum wall.
Goddess Durga is situated besides Brahma facing north. Unlike the usual ferocity, her face is so smiling that one can keep looking at her. And like Goddess Meenakshi of Madurai, she too has a parrot on her hand, something that is very special for a Durga statue to have.
Ekapatha Trimurthy Shrine:
Ekapatha Trimurthy is situated on the inner prakaram facing Lingothbhavar. Here Ekapatha Trimurthy is a carving, depicting the trinity standing on one foot. In the centre is Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu to his left and Lord Brahma to his right. One foot of Vishnu rests on the Garuda and one foot of Brahma rests on the Swan. The other foot of both joins with the foot that all three are depicted standing on.
Mother is called as Maragadambikai. She is housed in a separate shrine facing east. Mother is in standing Posture. The Ambal shrine is at a slightly more elevated level than the Pallikondeswarar Sannidhi to highlight that it was she who saved the Lord. Goddess is present with Kamadenu and Karapaha Viruksham on either side. Mother Shrine is guarded by Sanganidhi and Padmanidhi as Dwarapalakas. Outside are her sons, Saligrama Ganapathi and Subramanya. On the left wall of the Ambal shrine is Raja Rajeswari in a standing posture after destroying Bhandasura. Behind is Mahalakshmi and on the right wall is Saraswathi.
Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar, Valmiki, Varasiddhi Vinayagar, Kasi Viswanathar with Visalakshi, Sri Venugopalan, Adhikara Nandhi are all present in the inner praharam. Unusually there is no separate shrine for Ganesha. Subramanyar with his consorts Valli and Deivanai is present facing south, which is the direction of Yama, the king of death. So, it is believed that worshipping him will remove one’s death fears. Next to him is present the Rajamadangi shrine and it seems there is an underground passage going to Kalahasthi but is covered completely now without any symptom of it.
Palli Kondeswarar Shrine:
Presiding Deity is called as Palli Kondeswarar (translates to reclining deity) / Vishapaharanar (one who swallowed poison). Lord Shiva is seen in reclining posture (Bhoga Sayana) in the lap of his consort Parvati as Sarva Mangalambikai, which is typical of Ranganatha form of the god Vishnu. This icon of Shiva is unusual; most Shiva temples contain a Lingam, his aniconic symbol, as the central icon. The granite sculpture of the reclining Lord is huge to about 16 feet, as also the image of the seated Parvathi.
Sun God and Moon God are present on either side of Goddess Parvathi; Lord Maha Vishnu, Brahma, Lakshmi, Sage Markandeya, Sage Agasthiar, Sage Valmiki, Indran, Sage Naradhar, Sanakathi Munis, Nandikeswarar, Lord Subrahmanya with his Consorts, Lord Ganapathy and many devars and rishis are present in the sanctum sanctorum as sculptures. The whole Kailasam has assembled there, a scene which cannot be seen in any other temple.
Here Vibhoothi (holy ash) is not given as prasadam like the other Shiva temples, instead holy water is given as prasadam and blessing is done with Chadari like a Vaishnavite temple. Sitting at the entrance of the shrine of Lord Shiva, is the God who gets the first respects, the destroyer of all obstacles, Lord Ganapathi. The garbha griha is guarded by Lord Kubera (God of wealth) with his consort Sanganidhi on left side and with another consort Padumanidhi on the right side.
Other Shrines & Sthala Vriksham:
The temple has countless icons, besides the central icon; Brahma, Vishnu, Chandra, Kubera, Surya, Indra, Ganesha, Kartikeya with consorts Valli, Deivayanai, Eka Pada Moorthy, Dhakshinamoorthy, Raja Madhangi, Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Bhairava, Poorna Pushkala samedha Sastha, Surya, Chandra, Indran, Varasiddhi Vinayaka Ganesha), Venugopala Swami (Lord Krishna), Kasi Viswanathan with Visalakshi, Bhrigu, Markandeya, Narada, Agastya, Pulasthya, Gautama, Thumburu, Vashista, Viswamithra, Valmiki, Adhi Shankara, another form of Shiva, in a separate niche, Sapta Mata (seven mothers) namely, Bhavani, Maheshwari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indrani and Chamundi, Navagrahas, Durga, Lingothbhavar, Nardana Ganapathy, Raja Rajeshwari, Sanganidhi and Padumanidhi with their consorts Vasundara and Vasumathi
Saptha kanniyars are present in the outer prakaram. The shrine of Lord Subrahmanya with Valli and Devasena faces south, yet another speciality. There is also a deity of Sage Valmiki, depicted sitting and having a turban on his head. In the outer prakaram in the southwest corner, is the Sthala Vriksham, a peepal tree that is so huge and tall and widespread, hosting the shrine of the Nagaraja. The place next to it is filled with the symbolic homes that people built with the stones nearby to get the boon of a new home. This popular belief is being followed very specially at Siruvarpuri Murugan temple but generally followed in most of the temples in this region till Thirupathi.