Touched by Pandya generosity

PRADEEP CHAKRAVARTHY

The Kailasanathar temple in Perungulam, spread over a few acres of land, has been built in an elegant, square shape.

Lesser known than the nine Vaishnavaite temples on the Tambraparani banks — the Nava Tirupati — are corresponding Saivaite temples. Many of these temples are in fact coeval to their Vaishnavaite counterparts and speak for the broad-mindedness of the Pandyas. Some of them like the one at Manathi are on the verge of collapse, and others like those in Sri Vaikuntam and Azhwar Thirunagari are in better shape.

Significantly, most of them are dedicated to Kailasanathar. The Kailasanathar temple in Perungulam is a grand one, spread over a few acres of land. The temple has been built in an elegant, square shape. A pillared portico runs throughout the four sides with several subsidiary deities.

The main shrine is centred in this complex and is slightly elevated. Inside, there is a shrine for Kailasanathar and a separate one for a large and beautiful bronze of Nataraja and Sivakama Sundari. The utsavar is also of considerable size and is beautiful.

It was dusk when we visited, and sadly, our chance to hear the birds settling into the nests of the large mango trees was stifled by the loud broadcast of a singer belting out devotional numbers and frequently struggling at the high notes! But we were cheered by the fine wood carving on the dilapidated vahanas, particularly of the bootha ganas.

Uncommon statue

An uncommon statue of Joradevar, the deity to turn to when afflicted with fever, was on the passage apart from the usual sapta matrikas, shani bagavan, the sun and the moon. A smaller shrine for Gomati Amman faces the pond which looked deep and murky. The walls of the main temple have a few inscriptions. This is not surprising since this sleepy hamlet today was once the capital of the Thiruvazhudi Valanaadu, a subdivision of the Pandya kingdom and the place that Kari, saint Nammazhwar, ruled. Most of the inscriptions are bequests made to the temple during the reign of Sadayan Maran (B.C.700-730). Also known as Varaguna Pandian, he is mentioned in several inscriptions in this region. Athulagunathan has, on two different occasions, presented a ‘Sekandai’ or a gong in memory of his father Maran Kudiyan and a lamp in memory of his mother, Suvaranachi. The inscriptions call the deity ‘Jatamakuta Peruman of Thruvaludeeswaram’ or simply ‘Thiruvaludiswarathu Azhwar’ Savouring the sundal, this writer was tempted to stay on and enjoy the cool breeze that wafted through the mango trees but at the end of a long day and a long drive back home ahead, it was time to bid goodbye.

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Comments

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