Holy Pilgrimage -Vishnu Temples in Tamilnadu State -1

Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in  Tamilnadu State

Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple,Sholinghur

Sholinghur (Tamil: சோளிங்கர்) is a town under Walajapet taluk in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu, India. Sholinghur is very famous for the Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy. Sholinghur was ruled by the Chola Empire, Nawabs of Arcot and Tippu Sultan.

Legend and Name origin

According to the legend of Sholinghur, Lord Narasimha not only took several incarnations in this world to reform people, but also sent His messengers as preceptors to perform this function. One such preceptor was Doddacharya of Chozha Lingapuram (சோழலிங்கபுறம்), now known as Sholinghur, who lived nearly 470 years ago performing service to Lord Yoga Narasimhar.
Monkeys at temple 

Monkeys are found all along the steps to the temple and in the temple premises. They take the fruits and eatables given by the devotees. At times they are aggressive and grab the bags from the pilgrims as well. Here are two pictures of such monkeys at the Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple.

Sarangapani Temple, Kumbakonam

Sarangapani Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu, located in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the Divya Desams, the 108 temples of Vishnu revered in Nalayira Divya Prabandham by the 12 poet saints, or Alwars  This temple is along Kaveri and is one of the Pancharanga Kshetrams.
The temple is believed to be of significant antiquity with contributions at different times from Medieval Cholas, Vijayanagar Empire and Madurai Nayaks. The temple is enshrined within a huge granite wall and the complex contains all the shrines and the water bodies of the temple. The rajagopuram (the main gateway) has eleven tiers and has a height of 173 ft (53 m). The Potramarai tank, the temple tank, is located opposite to the western entrance of the temple.
Sarangapani is believed to have appeared for sage Hemarishi. The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and twelve yearly festivals on its calendar. The temple chariot festival is the most prominent festival of the temple, celebrated during the Tamil month of Chittirai (March–April). The temple chariot is the third largest in Tamil Nadu, weighing 300 t (660,000 lb)


As per Hindu legend, the Vaishnava deity, Sarangapani, an incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu appeared for a sage Hema Rishi, who performed penance in the bank of Potramarai tank  The sage did penance to obtain Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu as his daughter. Vishnu was pleased by the penance and he wished the sage to get Lakshmi as his daughter. Lakshmi emerged out of the Potramarai tank among thousand lotuses and was thus named Komalavalli (the one who emerged from lotus). Vishnu descended to earth as Aravamudhan in a chariot drawn by horses and elephants from his abode Vaikuntam. He stayed in the near by Someswaran Temple to woo Lakshmi to marry him and the couple eventually got married.  The name Sarangapani derives from Sarangam meaning bow and pani meaning hand - the one holding bow in his hand is Sarangapani.

The temple

Sarangapani is the largest Vishnu temple in Kumbakonam and has the tallest temple tower in the town. The temple is enshrined within a huge granite wall and the complex contains all the shrines and the water bodies of the temple. The rajagopuram (the main gateway) has eleven tiers and has a height of 173 ft (53 m). There are five other smaller gopurams in the temple. The rajagopuram has figures depicting various religious stories. The temple faces east and the Potramarai tank is located in the western entrance. The central shrine of the temple is in the form of a chariot drawn by horses and elephants with openings on either side, showing the descent of Sarangapani from heaven in this chariot.  There is a sculptural representation of the sage in the western part of the temple.  The central shrine is for Sarangapani in pallikonda posture, where Sarangapani rests his head in his right hand. The are other images of sage, Lakshmi and also the festival images. There are two stepped entrances to the sanctum named as Utharayana Vaasal and Dhakshanayana Vaasal, each open for a six month period. From the 15th of January to 15th of June, Utharayanya Vaasal is opened while Dhakshanaya Vaasal is opened during the other period. The Potramarai tank has a central hall called Hemarishi Mandapam.
The temple has two processional chariots carved out of wood and is stationed outside the rajagopuram.
In Bharatanatyam, a South Indian dance form, 108 karanas form the basic movements. Some of these karanas are sculpted around the walls of the temple. Similar sculptures are found in the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur and Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram.

Religious significance

Sarangapani temple is considered third in the line of Srirangam and Tirupathi temples.  The temple is revered in Nalayira Divya Prabandham, the 7th–9th century Vaishnava canon, by Aandaal in one, Periyalvar in three, Bhoothathalvar in two, Thirumalisai Alvar in seven, Peialvar in two, Nammalvar in eleven and Thirumangai Alvar in 25 versesl. The temple is classified as a divyadesam, the 108 Vishnu temples that are reverred in the Vaishnava canon. As per a Hindu legend, Nathamuni, who compiled Divya Prabandham by the twelve azhwars, found only the first ten verses sung on Aravamudhan. Nammazhwar recited the remaining 3990 verses unconsciously while he was in deep meditation and Nathamuni compiled all of them.
Pancharanga Kshetrams (also called Pancharangams, meaning the "five Rangams or Ranganathas") is a group of five sacred Hindu temples, dedicated to Ranganatha, a form of the god Vishnu, on the banks of the Kaveri River. The five Pancharanga Kshetrams in the order of their successive locations, on the banks of the Kaveri River are: The Srirangapatnam called the Adi Ranga, the first temple on the banks of the Kaveri River from the upstream side; the Srirangam (island in Tiruchirappalli) in Tamil Nadu known as Adya Ranga (the last temple), Appalarangam or Koviladi at Tiurppernagar in Tamil Nadu, Parimala Ranganatha Perumal Temple or Mayuram at Indalur, Mayiladuthurai and Vatarangam at Sirkazhi. The Sarangapani temple at Kumbakonam is mentioned in place of Vatarangam in some references.

Worship and festivals

The temple follows Pancharatra Agama and Vadakalai tradition  The temple priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Vishnu temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Vaishnavite community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day; Tiruvanandal at 8:00 a.m., Kala santhi at 9:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 12:30 p.m., Ntiyanusandhanam at 6:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 7:30 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 9:00 p.m.  Each ritual comprises three steps: alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Sarangapani and Thayar. The food offering during the six times are curd rice, Ven pongal, spiced rice, dosa, Ven pongal and sugar pongal respectively.  The worship is held amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred text) read by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast. There are weekly, fortnightly and monthly rituals.
Akshaya Tritiyai - 12 Garuda Sevai Chaitra Brahma Utsavam celebrated during the Tamil month of Chittirai (April - May), Vasantotsavam during Vaikasi (May - June), Pavitrotsavam - Ekadasi Jyeshotsavam during Adi(July - August), Sri Jayanthi - Uriyadi Utsavam during Avani (August - September), Navaratri Utsavam - Saraswathi Puja - Vijayadasami during Purattasi (September - October), Deepavali - Shraddha of Sri Lakshmi Narayanaswami during Aippasi (October - November), Deepa Utsavam - Unjal Utsavam during Karthigai (November - December), Pakal Pattu - Ira Pattu Pongal Sankaramana Utsavam during Margazhi (December - January), Kanu Utsavam - Amavasya - Ratasaptami during Thai (January - February), Masi Magaham - Float Festival during Masi (February - March) and Brahmmotsavam - Tirukkalyanotsavam during Panguni (March - April) are the festivals celebrated in the temple.
The temple chariots weigh 300 t (660,000 lb) each and has been renovated in 2007. The chariot were not drawn for some years during the preceding period. The chariot is next only in size to the ones in Thygaraja temple in Thiruvarur and Andal Temple in Srivilliputhur. The temple chariots are pulled by hundreds of devotees across the streets around the temple twice a year, once during the Brahma Utsavam during April-May and other during Ratasaptami in January-February. The festival idols of Sarangapani and Kamalvalli are brought to the thermutti after elaborate religious rituals.
As per a temple legend, once a staunch Brahmin devotee of Aravamudhan spent most of his life to the service of the deity. At the end of his life, he felt his lonliness and prayed for his karma to be performed. Aravamudhan descended himself to perform the last rites on a Deepavali day. The ritual is performed annually by the priests and is one of its kind where death rituals are performed in the precincts of a Vishnu temple.


Kumbakonam is well-connected by road and rail with the rest of India. The nearest international airport is at Tiruchirapalli, which is 91 km (57 mi) from Kumbakonam.  The nearest seaport is located at Nagapattinam whch is about 50 km (31 mi) away.It is located 40 km (25 mi) from Thanjavur and 273 km (170 mi) from Chennai and well connected to all important towns and cities of Tamilinadu State.

Pancharanga Kshetrams

Pancharanga Kshetrams or Pancharangams ("five Rangams or Ranganathas") is a group of five sacred Hindu temples, dedicated to Ranganatha, a form of the god Vishnu, on the banks of the Kaveri River. The five Pancharanga Kshetrams in the order of their successive locations, on the banks of the Kaveri River are: The Srirangapatnam called the Adi Ranga, the first temple on the banks of the Kaveri River from the upstream side; the Srirangam (island in Tiruchirappalli) in Tamil Nadu known as Adya Ranga (the last temple), Appalarangam or Koviladi at Tiurppernagar in Tamil Nadu, Parimala Ranganatha Perumal Temple or Mayuram at Indalur, Mayiladuthurai and Vatarangam at Sirkazhi. The Sarangapani temple at Kumbakonam is mentioned in place of Vatarangam in some references

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple (Srirangam)

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is located on the eastern shores of the Srirangam (Adya Ranga) island, which appears like a conch in shape, one of the adornments in Vishnu's hands. In this temple, Ranganatha in a reclining position resting on the bed of Shesha and is seen with his consort Ranganayaki.  There are many legends connected with the founding of the temple but the most narrated one is that the creator god Brahma was involved in doing tapas (meditation) here when the central icon of Ranganatha emerged out of the cosmic milky ocean in a celestial flying craft. Brahma then took this image to his abode Satyaloka in the heavens where he offered daily puja. This was then brought to Ayodhya by King Ikshvaku after several hundred years of penance, and was passed down over generations to Ikshvaku's descendant Rama, an avatar of Vishnu and hero of the epic Ramayana. Rama then presented it to Vibhishana, who assisted him in killing the demon-king of Lanka and Vibhishana's brother, Ravana. However, when Vibhishana was taking the image to Lanka (modern-day Sri Lanka), he stopped en-route on the banks of the Kaveri to bathe at Srirangam, and thereafter the deity wished to dwell there itself, and since then it is under continuous worship at this location.  Since Vibhishana was very forlorn by the decision of the Lord, Ranganatha faces south towards Lanka to placate Vibhishana  One more legend mentioned is that river goddess Kaveri requested Ranganatha to reside at Srirangam.
The temple is also known for the legend of Andal, a female Alvar saint of the Sri Vaishnava sect. She got married symbolically to the Ranganatha icon (Vishnu) as per her deep desire. The marriage took place in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple when Andal (said to be an incarnation of goddess Lakshmi) merged with the image, and became a part of Ranganatha.
Another incident related to the deity of this temple is of a Vaishnava Saint (Alvar) who lived in 7th century and composed hymns in praise of the Lord. He was born in a village called Mannargudi on the banks of the Kaveri River and was a staunch devotee of lord Ranganatha of Srirnagam. He came to live in Srirangam and used to make garlands for the deity. However, he fell in love with a devadasi and he took to wrong deeds. Finally, Lord Ranganatha came to his rescue and then he was given the name of Thondaradippodi Alvar, (meaning: "dust at the feet of the lord"). Thereafter, he composed 54 hymns in praise of the Lord, which have become part of Nalayiraprabhandam (4000 hymns in praise of the Lord)
The temple location is in an island formed by the Kaveri River and the stream Kollidam joining it, to bifurcate it and again joining a few miles downstream of the island. Its construction, in Dravidian architectural style, is attributed to the period of Udayan Setupathi in association with Sri Lankan prince Pararaja Sekara, in 1414; however, the main sanctuary where the idol is deified dates to 11th century and the surrounding enclosures and pavilions belong mostly to the 17th and 18th centuries.  It took 350 years to complete with 35 villages granted for its maintenance. The sanctum sanctorum, square in shape, built with in circular shrine,  is encircled by seven tier of walls of 25 feet (7.6 m) height) spaced at 120 yards (110 m), with outer wall measuring nearly 7 miles (11 km). There are twenty one towers or “gopurams” (some of them unfinished) and each forming a common gated entry and all of similar design; the 13- tiered rajagopuram, or chief tower, on the western side, 78 feet (24 m) in height (illustration), was built in 1987 by Ahobila Mutt and dominates the landscape for miles around. There are many pavilions and shrines within the complex an Ayiram kaal mandapam (a hall of 1000 pillars of carved granite and decorated with carvings) and several small water tanks (two important ones for pilgrims to bathe are Agni Thirta and Kodi Tirtha) inside. The corridors and pillars are huge and elegantly carved. The corridors are about 400 feet (120 m) in length with width varying from 17–21 feet (5.2–6.4 m) with a height of 30 feet (9.1 m) from the floor to the ceiling. The total area covered by the temple precincts measures 865 feet (264 m)x657 feet (200 m). Red and gray granite and sienite have been used in pavements, stairways and lower part of walls. The temple has decorations of carved griffins, idols of gods and men and animals (tigers). The space between the walls of the temple complex has the well planned complete city of Srirangam with roads and houses.  It is stated to be the largest temple in South India.
Vaikunta Ekadashi festival is an important event in the temple premises and is said to be a celebration on the occasion of Ekadashi goddess who is said to have defeated asuras or demons.  
Parasara Batttar, well known poet of the times who has written a commentary on Vishnu Sahasranama (thousand names of Lord Vishnu) has noted the beautiful image of Ranganatha at Srirangam temple as ornamented with basil (tulsi) garland on the chest (favorite of Vishnu), Kaustubha, Vaijayanthi hara (a necklace) and a few other ornaments, which once formed the divine jewelry of Krishna, the avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu, are also decorating the image of Ranganatha.

Sri Ranganatha Temple, Srirangapatna

Also known as Adiranga, the temple is located on the banks of the Kaveri in Srirangapatna, Karnataka. This temple originally built in 894 C.E by Tirumaliah of the Ganga Dynasty and legend accounts its founding to Sage Gautama.  The temple was expanded by the Hoysalas in the 11th century AD and subsequently by Vijayanagar kings.  Ranganatha, the presiding deity of this temple, was honoured by the Muslim ruler Tipu Sultan, known as the "Tiger of Mysore",  who is said to have worshipped from outside the temple gate and not had his meal until they heard the temple bell.  He even donated silver utensils and other endowments to the temple
A Nayaka ruler who ruled over Srirangapatna built the fort there and also expanded the Sri Ranganatha Temple complex with the treasures he found there. His descendents ruled until 1495, when Srirangapatna was taken over by Vijayanagar Empire. One of the largest temples in Karnataka, it was built in three stages: the innermost part of the temple is said to date back to the Hoysala period;[17] the Gopuram was built in the Vijaynagara architectural style,  and has six stories, colourfully plastered and adorned with idols; and the main idol in the temple of Ranganatha is reclining on a five-headed serpent and is said to be very ancient. According to the local legend, it is said to be 3600 years old and was a gift from God.  There is a chariot located in the front yard of this temple which was a gift by Muslim Ruler Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan's father.
This temple is known as the eastern (Purva) Ranganatha Kshetram, while the similar temple in the western part of the Cauvery River, also in an island is called the Paschima Ranganatha Kshetra.
The temple is 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from the Mysore city in the town of Srirangaptna, which is named after the deity, Sri Ranganatha in the temple.  The annual Ranganatha Swamy temple fair is held at the temple premises in the month of Pausha (December/January).

Parimala Perumal Temple

The Parimala Ranganatha Perumal Temple is also one of the 108 Divya Desams. It is located on the banks of the Kaveri River, in Mayiladuthurai in Tamil Nadu  The legend of the temple is related to a pious bandit-turned-Alvar saint Parakal, known for his devotion to Ranganatha. Vishnu is said to have appeared in the form of Ranganatha at Srirangam temple, incarnated as a rich man and gave an opportunity to the bandit to completely loot him. Then god was pleased with the bandit and agreed to his request to permanently reside in his town Tirunakari. Ranganatha stayed in the town as Parimala Perumal and Parakal built a temple for him and remained there permanently offering prayers to the god.  The Temple town is now known as Tiruvizandur in Mayuram taluk of Tanjavur district in Tamil Nadu.
The practice of playing nadaswaram (a wind musical instrument) at temples, though in vogue for centuries, did not have any sahityam or music based literature or lyrics to go with it. Then a beginning was made by renowned musicians who composed a rakti, a musical composition with 2 to 8 notes according to their skills and then played it in Parimala Ranganatha Temple. Thereafter, it became a popular rendition in Nadaswara. The rakti (lyrics) played in the Parimala Ranganatha temple at Tiruvizhandur was made famous by Tiruvizhandur Subrahmanya Pillai and Kurainadu Natesa Pillai, who were among the reputed rakti players of an earlier generation. Sri Radhakrishna Pillai was also a well known player of this instrument in recent times.[

Sarangapani Temple

 The Sarangapani Temple on the banks of the Kaveri River is one of the Divya Desams and is also one of the five Pancharangam Temples. Its location is in the Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu, India, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the Kumbakonam railway station.
The deity in the temple is Sarangapani, an incarnation of Vishnu. According to a legend, when saint Hema Rishi did penance, Vishnu appeared to him from Heavens driving a chariot drawn by four horses and elephants. The temple depicts this scene in the sanctum sanctorum (central chamber of the temple) and the chariot opens out on either side. According to this legend the hermitage of the rishi became the Pottramarai tank of the temple

Sri Appakkudathaan Perumal Temple

The Sri Appakkudathaan Perumal Temple, also called as Thirupper Nagar, is located on the banks of the Kaveri River, 3 miles (4.8 km) away from Kollidam. It is one of the 108 Divya Desams  and also one of the Pancharanga Kshetrams.
The main deity in the sanctum is Lord Ranganatha, in a reclining pose and considered adi, meaning fore runner, to the Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple at Srirangam. The temple tower is in the shape of Indira’s Vimana (aircraft). Also seen in the precincts of the temple is the shrine of Lord Vazhikatti Vinanayaka (Guiding Vinayaka) or Lord Ganesh. According to the legend of the place, King Upamanyu and Parasara Rishi saw the Lord Appakudathan here, and King Upamanyu is stated to have offered appam (pancake) as a food offering to the god, and hence the lord got his name as Appakudathan. Indra’s pride was destroyed by this god and also removed the fear of death from the mind of Markandeya Rishi and also King Upari Siravasu was blessed free of sins and curses. Saint Periyalvar sang the Mangalashasanam, a hymn in praise of the Lord, in front of the god before he attained moksha or salvation.

Om Tat Sat

(My humble  salutations to the great devotees ,  wikisources  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )


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