Saturday, October 23, 2010

Heritage trip-Oct-2nd-2010- Vruddachalam

When we were told that the Vruddagirieeswarar and Kuzhanjiappar temples of Vruddachalam were so important worshipping Temples and especially the Vruddagirieeswarar temple is supposed to be the oldest among the South Indian temples, patronized by the Cholas, sung by the Saivaite saints, Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar, we wanted to visit these places one day. And that day came on 2nd October 2010.

We also had information on Pennadam Thoonganaimadam temple,which has an unique vimana and also many mythological stories, and we visited Pennadam temple too.

Guided by our teacher S. Ramachandran, a group of 10 members from PSVP and temple_cleaners REACH FOUNDATION visited these temples. Interesting features were:

  • The Vruddagirieeswarar temple really looks too ancient.
  • The temple tower Gopuram side walls contain beautifully sculptured dancing women.
  • The roof of the front mandapa as soon as you enter the temple, has beautiful mural paintings,belived to be done some 100 good years ago.
  • The Nandi Mandapa is supposed to be made in the memory of Sembian Maadevi
  • Mythology has strong stores and reference to Sundara Moorthy Nayanar as well as Appar.
  • The Lord having named as old man, living in the oldest Mountain, was shunned by Sundarar as he refused to sing an old man. The amman appeared to him as Bala Ambikai, and made him sing at this temple!
  • The Kandaradittan Thiruvoil has his name inscribed at the entrance.
  • The Bairava at the Kandaraddittan Thiruvoil looks menacing and a typical Chola sculpture.
  • The inscriptions of various regime are rich, but are seldom maintained cleanly. See photos as a proof.
  • The word `manikkam' refers to devadasis in the area, which appears in many inscriptions and this shows their influence and importance in temple worship as well as donations.
The temple is not maintained as it should be and we saw trees overgrowing on the temple towers.

Beggars stray a lot inside the temple premises.

The Kuzhanjiappar temple is just some 5 kilometers away from the Vruddagirieeswarar Temple.
It has an eerie effect with the strange looking cement sculptures carved around the most modern and gaudy looking temple.
It seems this temple hosts shelter to handicapped animals! We saw a cow with an extra pair of foot, a goat with a broken limb and few handicapped monkeys and deers sheltered in a park made for them, behind the temple premises.
As per the priest, the moolavar is a svayambu and looks so. They worship it as Murugan.
The belief is that those who pray to Kuzhanjiappar will get all their desires fulfilled.

The Thoonganaimadam temple at Pennadam is also a calm and clean temple, except for the eye sore called the temple Vimana. A beautiful Pallava styled Vimana, sadly over painted with latest acrylic paints, with the least aesthetic sense of artistic fervour. The old murals painted outside the amman shrine were over done with newly sprayed Acrylic paints on the grills and walls.
A solitary pillar lying at the South west corner of the amman shrine interestingly has a Rajendra inscription on 4 sides and a pre-independence inscription on the fourth side. Some 'Rao Bahadur' or 'Sir' had shown his loyalty when the queen and king had been coronated in Delhi. Similar stone pillar was also seen on the South East corner of the 4 roads surrounding the Vruddagirieeswarar temple also. See the photos gallery.

The inscriptions were sadly white washed a lot in both the temples and in Vruddagirieeswarar temple, people have written with lamp soot on and above the inscriptions so vehemently, that we can very well conduct a competition for inscription lovers that if they read those verses correctly and completely, seen around the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, they will be given a year free supply of lamp oil!

The temple authorities were so curious in Pennadam that they doubted our extra time spent reading inscriptions and taking photographs around. We explained them patiently about REACH and its activities and then we were told that the local HR& CE officers themselves are quoting 4 times the cost for tree killer chemicals to their own staff. This made them desist the plan to buy and apply tree killers on the trees growing on the unique Thoonganai madam vimana!
The adjacent high raised shrine was built to the order of a devadasi who lived and wanted to see the Lord from outside, as she was not allowed to enter the main shrine (This story is not authentic, I think, as Devadasis were the next to Brahmins and Kings who were allowed to have access to all places at the temple).

Stories apart, these temples are worth a visit for the Vruddagirieeswarar temple for its ancient value and beautiful temple campus adorned with great sculptures, inscriptions, murals and mythological stories,
the Kuzhanjiappar story for the svayambu Murugan shrine and the eerie effect this temple causes ;)
and the Thoonganai Madam temple, which has a differently styled Vimana, tonnes of inscriptions and
The Dwarapalakas totally depicted in a different style.

Reach in news -15th October Times of India

REACH has members who are vigilant of any damage happening on heritage and member Jayakumar, a teaching faculty of Kalakshetra was fast enough to inform us the heavy quarrying happening in and around Pudukkottai.

Dinamalar the Tamil vernacular was the fastest to respond to our call and published the article the next day. See here.

Times of India carried an article the next day . Thanks to our member Jayakumar who brought this to our notice; with his help we could appeal to the state minister for Archaeology, Shri. Thangam Thennarasu, in person (our PRO Chandra waited outside his office for almost 2 hours to deliver the letter in person) and gave news to these dailies.

Ironically, in the same page of Times of India, just below the Pudukkottai quarrying article, there is another article which says ASI is documenting all rock-cut caves. Thanks but the irony is the most bombed rocks are from Pudukottai and Madurai regions, which claims most number of caves to exist as documented by ASI!!

Lecture on Ayodhya

There was a lecture on Ayodhya hosted by the Viswa Hindu Parishad, in which PArliamentarian Subramanaim Swamy delivered a guest lecture. Professor A.K. Sharma along with Dr T Satyamurthy were the few archaeologists who had visited the Ayodhya site and have excavated below the current Masjid structure. They both talked on the existence of the Vishnu shrine, corraborating evidences from Puranas and ancient manuscripts from famous scholars and poets along with supporting artifacts available at the site of dispute. Now as the court verdict is already released, we are releasing our photos of the function conducted at Chennai on September 4th, 2010.

REACH in NEWS - in Pudiya Thalamurai

Article in Pudaiya Thalaimurai on temples of South

The Pudiya Thalaimurai magazine covered a cover article on the after effect of Kalahasti and the reporter had an elaborate article covering the trevails of Tamilnadu temples. Our founder Dr. T. Satyamurthy had given a detailed report as well as I (Chandra) shared the centre piece photo) of the cracked lintel stone of Varadaraja Perumal East tower, which is unfortunately not yet repaired, but only white wash (to our eyes?) is going on without mending the cracks.. Also, the claim of the IIT academician does not stand any weight. Negligence and use of cement to further add weight to the already cleaving Gopura is the root cause. The cover picture is of the Perumathur temple which I took while returning from the Chidambaram Symposium.

Please see the link here.