Monday, September 30, 2019

Sthala Sayana Perumal Temple, Mamallapuram – The Temple

Sthala Sayana Perumal Temple, Mamallapuram – The Temple
The temple is located in Mahabalipuram, a historic town on the outskirts of Chennai. The temple is located close to Arjuna's Penance, the most famous landmark of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram. The temple is also believed to be the birthplace of Bhoothatazhwar, the 2nd Azhwar, the poet saints of 7th - 9th centuries. There is an unfinished Rajagopuram at the entrance with only granite basement. The granite base of the entrance is studded with sculptures.

The temple has a another five-tiered Rajagopuram built during 15 - 16th Century after the unfinished Rajagopuram. There is a newly built Mandapam before this five-tiered Rajagopuram. The Temple covers an area of about 4 acres. There are two precincts inside the temple with the sanctum is located axial to the main gate and approached through a Dwajastambam, Bali Peetam (sacrificial altar), Deepa Sthambam (altar for lamps) and Garuda Mandapam.

The sanctum houses the image of Sthalasayana Perumal, the presiding deity, in reclining posture (Bhujanga Sayanam) facing east towards sea. The image is sported with Ahvahanahasta, which indicates beckoning devotees to him. The front two hands rests on Bhoomi and points towards his Lotus feet. While the lord’s right rear arm rest under his head and the left arm is in rising position as if to call the devotees.

Here, Lord Vishnu appears in a simple form without Adisesha, Shanga (conch) and Chakram (discus), as he appeared in this Divya Desam to appreciate the rishi’s devotion and not to save or protect his devotee (rishi) from any evil or demon. Pundarika Maha Rishi is seen with folded arms in the sanctum sanctorum by the lotus feet of the lord. The image of Pundarika Maharishi is seen in standing posture. The Vimana (tower) above the sanctum sanctorum is of Kanakakruthi (Ananda) style.

The processional deity, namely Ulaguyya Nindran, sported with four arms, is housed in the sanctum. Procession deity appears with a lotus bud in his hand as if offering it at the feet of Lord. Lord in his teaching posture, is holding his Hand on the chest, called Upadesa Mudra. This is the only Divya Desam where the Utsava deity has a Lotus flower in his hand. There is an east facing shrine to the right of sanctum for Lakshmi, the consort of Perumal, in the form of Nilamangai Thayar. Mother is sitting on the floor (instead of sitting on lotus as seen in other temples).

There are shrines for Andal, Lakshmi Narasimha, Bhoothatazhwar, Rama with Seetha Devi & Lakshmana, Lakshmi Narasimha and Azhwars in the first precinct around the sanctum. There is a shrine for Hanuman opposite to the shrine of Rama. All the metal idols of the temple are found in a separate shrine near the main shrine.

There is a four pillared hall, with sculpted pillars in front of the temple, was designed for Dolothsavam (swing festival). The temple tank is located outside the temple and is called Pundarika Pushkarini. It has a small pillared mandapa in its centre. Garuda Nadhi is another Theertham associated with this Temple. Sthala Vriksham is Punnai Tree.

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