Tiruvellarai

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Location : 12-Km From Trichy, Tamil Nadu
Deity Worshipped: Pundareekakshar
Built By: Sibi Chakravarti


Tiruvellarai is one of the Divyadesams of Vaishnavites, which has a cave temple with a tank opposite to it in the form of a Swastika. Tiruvellarai is located just 12-km from Trichy.

The Legend
According to The Legend prevailing, Markandeya rishi wanted to have all the religious functions performed when Sibi Chakravarti built the temple. 3700 Vaishnavites came to Tiruvellarai from Antarvedi, which lies between the Ganges and Yamuna to attend to these functions. During this time, one of the 3,700 Vaishnavites died, and so Lord himself appeared as a replacement for the departed soul, and completed the festivities. It is also said that after the death of the Vaishnav, Lord Vishnu himself took the place of the missing person and performed Avini Avittam along with others.

One-day Thaayaar consort of Perumal (God) stopped him at one of the entrances and questioned him regarding the delay caused. Lord is reported to have told her the reason and only then entered the temple precincts. Since then this entrance is known as "Naazhi kettan Vaasal".

Another Intriguing Tale
Another interesting episode involving this sthalam is the fact that Lord promised Thaayaar that she would have Sengol paripalanam. So even today when both Perumal and Thaayaar are taken out in procession during festivals, the utsavar for Thaayaar will go first and Perumal will follow. Similarly, Thaayaar will reach the moolasthanam before Perumal.

The deity Pundareekakshar is in standing posture facing east. Shenpakavalli and Pankayachelvi are the names of his consort. There is a separate shrine for Taayaar here. Pankajavalli is the name of her processional image. One can see the images of Sree Devi, Bhu Devi, Surya, Chandra and 'Aadiseshan' (in human form) in the sanctum.

Ramanujacharyar is said to have lived here, and Manavalamaamuni and Desikacharyar have also sung of this shrine.

About The Temple
It is a vast temple with imposing walls and there are as many as 7 Theerthams (also spelt as Teerthas) within the temple complex. There are two entrances to the main shrine, referred to as the Uttarayana Vaayil and the Dakshinayana Vaayil as in the Sarangapani temple at Kumbakonam.

As implied by their names, the Uttarayana Vaayil is open from the Tamil month of 'Thai' (January-February) onwards, until the month of Aadi (July-August) from when on, the Dakshinayana Vaayil is used. In addition to these two entrances the temple also has another entrance referred to as the "Naazhi Kettaan Vaayil".

The deity who is on top of the hill has to be approached by climbing 59 steps. The first 18 of these are said to represent the 18 chapters of Bhagavad Gita. The next 4 steps represent the four vedas. After crossing these, one reaches the Bali peetam. After offering prayers at Bali peetam, one has to cross 5 more steps, which represent the Pancha Boothams. There is also an entrance named "Naazhi Ketta Vaasal".

Then one goes around the hill in a Pradakshina form, crossing two entrances viz., Utharayana and Dakshinayana. After crossing these entrances, there are eight steps representing the "Ashtaakshara Mantram". Then come the final 24 steps that represent the Gayatri Mantram.

At the end of these 24 steps, the Moolasthanam can be reached, where Perumal is flanked by the Sun God (Surya) on the right and the Moon God (Chandra) on the left, each facing the Moolavar. Gadruda and Adisesha, in their human form, can be seen to the right and left, respectively of Perumal. Next we see, Markandeya to the right and Bhoomipiraati to the left, both in seated posture performing 'Tapas' (penance). In front of the Moolavar are "Pankaja Nayaki" and "Pundarikakshan Utsava Murtis".

Tiruvellarai is the 'Avathara Sthalam' (also spelt as Avatar Sthal) for two prominent acharyas, Uyakkondaar and Engalalvan. Uyakkondaar, known initially, as "Pundarikakshan" was one of the two Sishyas (disciples) of Nathamuni, Kurukai Kavalappar is the other.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: The nearest airport is at Trichy, which is just 12-km away from Tiruvellarai.
Rail: The nearest railway station is Trichy, which is an important junction on the Southern Railway. It is connected by rail with places like Chennai, Thanjavur, Chidambaram, Madurai, Tirupati, Tuticorin, Tenkasi, Quilon, Rameshwaram, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Mysore, Kochi, Kanyakumari and Mangalore.
Road: Regular buses are available from Trichy.

WHERE TO STAY

Being a major city of the state, Trichy offers varied accommodation options varying from the economic class to the luxurious ones.



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