Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Srivilliputhur Andal Temple – The Temple

Srivilliputhur Andal Temple – The Temple
The temple has two divisions; the one of Andal located on the Southwest and the second one of Vatapatrasayi (Vishnu) on the Northeast direction. A granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all its shrines, the garden where Andal was found and two of its three bodies of water. The fish emblem of the Pandya dynasty can be seen in the ceiling and Mandapams. The Sukravara Kuradu bears the statues of Thirumalai Naicker, his brother Chokkappa Naicker and their wives.

The tall towers, massive car, huge tank, sculpted pillars, ancient Ramayana frescoes and modern wall paintings depicting the Lords of 108 Divyadesams, numerous inscriptions dating back to the rule of Pandya kings, fine rectangular hall with a wooden roof and above all its unique Thiruppavai Vimanam speak volumes of their rich architectural heritage.

The Rajagopuram, the temple's gateway tower, 192 ft (59 m) tall. The tower is originally believed to have been built by Periyalwar with the prize money he obtained from religious debates in the court of Vallaba Pandya in Madurai. It has eleven stages. The Raja Gopuram is one of the tallest in Tamilnadu. The temple tower is 2nd only to Srirangam Temple Rajagopuram (236 ft) among the Divya Desams. It is also the Emblem of Tamil Nadu Government. The great poet Kamban has praises it in lofty terms and the poem finds a place in the Tower.
Vadabadrasayee Shrine:
The Temple is also called as Vada Perum Koil and Periya Perumal Koil. This is the Divyadesam Temple. The temple of Lord Vadabadrasayee is a two storied Maadakoil, with a large prakaram full of beautiful paintings and sculptures. A shrine for Lord Lakshmi Narasimha is on the ground floor. The idol is large and brightly painted. There are Shrines for 12 Alwars and Dasavatharam of Vishnu can be found in the ground floor.
The sanctum in the second level approached through a flight of steps houses the image of Vatapatrasayi facing east in a reclining posture and his consorts, Lakshmi (Sridevi) and Bhoodevi, are shown attending to him at his feet. Sage Bhrigu stands near his head and sage Markandeya is near his feet. The banyan tree whose leaf is known as Vatapatram, on which Vishnu is said to rest in the form of a baby during deluge, is at his head, behind Bhrigu.
The Lord’s image is a large and very colourful stucco image (made of brick and mortar), hence daily Thirumanjanam (sacred bath ) is not performed. Lord Vadabadrasayee was the Lord whom Periyalwar and Andal worshipped with such fervour. Images of Panchamurtis – Thumburu, NaradaSanathkumara, Kinnara, Sun, Mithuna and Moon are present around the deity as well as representations of Villi and Puttan are seen at his feet.
The sanctum has three doorways from which the presiding deity can be seen. Also, on the first floor is a large rectangular hall with ornate woodwork on the walls. It is called Gopala Vilasam and it was built 200 years ago using wood panels from the temple car which was damaged. The intricate carvings on the wood panels  depict scenes from the Ramayana and other puranas and scenes from the life of Andal.
It is here that the Araiyar Sevai is performed during the Pagal Pathu Utsavam. Vimana over the sanctum is called as Samsana Vimanam. Utsava Idols of Chakrathalvar, Kannan and Allal Thavirtha Piran Utsavars are found in the Artha Mandapam.
Andal Shrine:
Andal Temple is situated on the southwest side of the Temple Complex. 20 Pandha Mandapam is found in the entrance of Andal temple. Kalyana Mandapam is situated on the left side after Pandha Mandapam. There are shrines for Sri Rama and Srinivasa Perumal immediately after the Kalyana Mandapam. Dhwaja Sthambam can be found next. There is Mandapam called, Madhavi Mandapam after the Dhwaja Sthambam. This Mandapam houses lot of beautiful paintings depicting Lord Vishnu.
Next to it is the Mani Mandapam and then the Artha Mandapam and then the sanctum follows. The Sanctum houses the image of Andal and Ranga Mannar. In Srirangam, Lord Ranganathar holds a conch and discus in his hands, In Srivilliputhur,  he holds a Dhandam-royal staff held by kings and is called as Ranga Mannar. A green parrot rest on Andal’s shoulder. This parrot is special in that it is freshly made by hand everyday using leaves and herbs. 
One finds Lord Garuda, the charioteer of Lord Vishnu, alongside the main deities. In all other temples, one finds Garuda standing opposite the main deity. It is believed that Garuda, brought Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam to Srivilliputhur faster than expected and hence he was accorded the special status here. This posture of Ranga Mannar, Andal and Garuda together depicts the wedding of Andal with Ranga Mannar.
Panchaloka idols of Ranga Mannar, Andal and Garuda are situated in the mandapam in front of the sanctum. Andal's shrine is crowned with the gold plated Pranavakriti Vimanam with stucco work depicting themes from each of the 30 Tiruppavai hymns. The walls around the shrine has paintings of the life of Andal. The second hall from the entrance towards the sanctum, the Kalyana Mandapa, houses huge life-size sculptures of MohiniRama, Rati, Kamadeva and many other deities.
Tiruppora Mandapam:
Tiruppora Mandapam is situated in the Nandavanam between Andal Shrine and Vadabadrasayee Shrine. It was here that Andal was found as a small child beneath Tulsi plant by Periyalwar. It is also believed that this mandapam was built by Periyalwar and the idol installed after his return from Srirangam where he handed over Andal in marriage to Ranga Mannar.
The flower gardens (Nandavanam) in between these two areas are said to have been maintained by Periyalwar.
Andal Idol:
There is no separate shrine for Andal in the Temple premises. A separate Statue is kept for Sri Andal in the Nandavanam, where she was born, which is found on the North East direction of Sri Andal Temple.
Periyalwar Shrine:
Periyalwar Shrine is found on the North side of the temple and he is faced towards the south direction.
Vijayanagar Sculptures:
The Vijayanagar and Nayak kings commissioned paintings on the walls of the shrine of temple, some of which are still present.
Temple Chariot:
The 9-tiered temple chariot is said to be the biggest in Tamil Nadu. The temple car was originally very heavy (40m tall and 650 tonnes) and it took days to take it back to the original position. Before 2000, the practise of drawing the temple car during the yearly festival was suspended. With the efforts of Vanamamalai Jeer, the head of a monastic institution, the temple car was modified with hydraulic wheels to ease the movement.
Theertham associated with this Temple is Thirumukkulam.

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