The temple of Madurantakam is situated 50-km from
Chennai on the Grand
Southern Trunk road leading to Trichy.
In the days of yore the place was known as "Bakularanyam" due to
the sweet-smelling Bakula flowers which used to grow there in plenty.
The Legend Connected With The Temple
The sons of Lord Brahma wanted to know from Sri Narayana the ways and means of attaining salvation. Narayana gave them an image of himself in the shape of Karunakaramurti to meditate upon. The place for meditation was also specified as Vibhandakasram in Bakularanyam, which is modern Madurantakam.
Accordingly the Brahma Putras installed Sri Karunakaramurti in the hermitage of the great sage Vibhandaka and attained salvation by worshipping him. This happened in the Krita Yuga.
During his banishment in Dandakaranya, Lord Rama also visited Vibhandakasram and offered prayers to Karunakaramurti. When Lord Rama was departing Sage Vibhandaka requested Rama to pay a return visit to the place on his way back to Ayodhya. When Sri Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were returning to Ayodhya, after the killing of Ravana, the Pushpaka Vimanam, which was carrying them, would not move when it reached this place.
When Rama wanted to know the reason why the Vimanam would not move, his consort Sita reminded him of the request of Sage Vibhandaka. At this, Sri Rama clasped the hands of Sita and helped her to get down the steps of the Pushpaka Vimanam.
This realistic picture is worshipped in the temple. Nowhere else is this Hastavalam- bana Darshan, i.e., physical appearance of Sri Rama and Sita holding each other's hands, to be seen. The scene has been made so realistic and so vivid that one is spellbound at the sight.
A Unique Feature
A peculiar feature of this temple is that Anjaneya (Hanuman) is conspicuously absent here although he is generally inseparable from Sri Rama. Apparently he did not accompany Sri Rama here, being away to inform Bharata about the arrival of Sri Rama. But Hanuman came afterwards and took bath in the temple tank, Ramachandra Pushkarani, and from the banks he could see the deities of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita already installed in the temple. As a true servant of Lord Sri Rama, Hanuman could visualize the presence of Rama in everything. He has a separate temple on the bank of the tank, which is worth visiting.
Importance Of Madurakantam To Vaishnavites
Madurantakam is an important centre of pilgrimage for Vaishnavites because of its association with certain anecdotes in the life history of Ramanuja, the great Vaishnavite saint and philosopher. Though he was born in Sriperumbudur, Madurakantam was his spiritual birthplace. He wanted to be initiated by Peria Nambi. With this desire in his mind, he was proceeding to Srirangam. At Madurantakam, he accidentally met Peria Nambi, who had been sent by the Vaishnavites of Srirangam to invite Ramanuja from Kancheepuram (also spelt as Kanchipuram), to be installed as Head of the Vaishnava sect after the passing away of Alavandar.
Nambi took Ramanuja to the Bakula tree in the courtyard of the temple and initiated him on the five sacraments ("Pancha Samskarams"), viz., "Tapam", "Pundram", "Namam", "Mantram" and "Yagam''. Thus the Bakula tree became to the Vaishnavites what the Bodhi tree is to the Buddhists.
When Seth Maganlal Banker of Calcutta was renovating the outer walls of the temple in the year 1937, he accidentally came across an underground cave, to the great surprise of all. Further excavation showed at the depth of 20 feet a Mandapam having the copper image of a small Navaneeta Krishna and Sankham, Chakra, and puja utensils, all made of copper.
About The Temple
The temple looks beautiful with Lord Rama bearing the Kothandam and accompanied by Sita and Lakshmana. The utsavamurti of Lord Rama and Karunakara Perumal can also be seen. Karunakara Perumal is none other than Lord Vishnu with Sree Devi and Bhoo Devi. Lord Rama himself is said to have worshipped the utsavamurti at Madurantakam, which was then known as "Vaghularanyam".
The temple complex has other shrines dedicated to Lakshmi, Narasimha, Udayavar, Peria Nambi, Vishwaksena, Vedantadesikar, Azhwars and Andal. The Anjaneya shrine is on the southeastern corner of the temple tank. Just ahead of the sanctum one can find some of the most beautiful Kirtanas on Rama composed by Saint Thayagaraja. The miracle of Madurantakam only reinforces faith in the Almighty's limitless compassion and his awesome powers.
Sri Rama Navami is probably the best time to contemplate his greatness and see the site of his miracle in the temple of Madurantakam. Sri Rama Navami celebrations in the month of Panguni (March-April) last for 10 days. In the month of 'Ani' (June-July) the Brahmotsavam of Karunakaramurti is performed.
Air: Nearest airport is the Meenambakkam airport in
Chennai; it operates
both national and international flights.
Rail: The nearest railway station is at Kanchipuram, which is on Chengalpattu - Arakkonam line.
Road: Tourists can access Madurakantam by road, either from Chennai or Chengalpattu. Private taxis and regular buses ply from Chennai and Chengalpattu to Madurakantam.
Accommodation is available at the hotels in Chennai or at the small hotels in Chengalpattu. Being the capital city of the state, Chennai is well equipped with various kinds of accommodation options, varying from economic class to luxurious ones.