Vridhachalam Siva Temple

1 Introduction

On the sacred bank of river by name MANIMUTHAR, there is an ancient Tirukkovil dedicated to Lord Siva. It is in heart of Vridhachalam, a flourishing town of South Arcot district. It is a big temple with all the indispensable parts, like the prakara, tower, courtyards, mandapams, garbha griha etc., and is attracting a steady stream of theists.

The local names given for Siva are Vriddhagireeswarar and Vriddambigai, for Mother Parvathi. Its vast courtyards and well sculptural mini shrines display its former splendour, and the sports demonstrated by the presiding deity.

The great Navalar Sundarar visited and offered lyrical flowers to the Lord. It is said that the Lord blessed the deserving devotees with Panchakshari mantra and they turned divinities.

These are two sannidhis for Mother Parvathi called in the local names of BALAMBIKAI AND VRIDDHAMBIKAI. The temple has many donors who endowed several valuable articles and among them a British collector’s gift – a grand long chain for the temple chariot deserves mention.

2 Location:

Vridhachalam is a major town in South Arcot district, commanding all transport facilities likes train and bus.

The most distinguishing feature of Tamilnadu is the proliferation of temples. The ancient Tamils were warned not to settle in a place where there is no temple naturally a large numbers of town and village bear the name of the chief deity of one of the temples located in the place. Virudhachalam an upcoming town 55 kilometre from south Villupuram is a shining example for this naming system.

Virudhagireeswarar Temple is known as PAZHAMALAINATHAR Temple. It is situated of the northern bank of the river Manimuthar. It is at a distance of 3 kilometres from Virudhachalam Railway junction and 1 kilometre from Virudhachalam Town Railway Station and 1 kilometre from Virudhachalam Bus Stand.

The temple is surrounded by high walls and four gopurams. The mandapam is carved like a chariot. The chains of the temple car were donated by Charles Hyde, the District Collector of the then South Arcot district in 1813.

3 History:

Virudhachalam is one of the 22 places of saivate pilgrimage in Tamilnadu. It is one of the places giving salvation to the departed. IT IS EVEN CONSIDERED HOLIER THAN HOLY KASI i.e. Varanasi. People in the past believed that Pazamalainathar himself the presiding deity here used to utter Panchatchara Mandiram into the ears of dead.

Hence in olden days people of Virudhachalam never used to undertake a pilgrimage to Varanasi when they become old and weak. As a result this place is also come to known as VIRUDHAKASI.

This temple has been constructed according to Agama Shastram and it has five Gopurams, FIVE PRAHARAMS, FIVE NANDHI, FIVE KODIMARM AND FIVE HOLY CARS.

Sri Thiruganasambhandar, Sri Thirunavukarasar, saint Sundrar had sung the glory of Pazhamalainathar.It is to be noted that goddess is worshipped in the form of elderly lady called Periyayahi alias Virudhambigai. At this request of guru Namasivayar she also took the form of young women with the name Balambigai. Vannimaram is the Holy tree.

4 Poojas & Festivals:

Daily Pooja is performed four times namely Kalaisanandhi, Utchikalam, Sayaratchai, and Arthasamam.

My note- I visited the temple during deeparadhani time. There is a spatika linga abhishekam and pooja and deeparadhana I worshipped spatikalingam. I was told by the chief priest that it is special and divine

Monthly and yearly festivals are performed in a grand manner. Among the annual festivals Adipooram festival is an important one and the festival is celebrated for ten days and Masi Brahmothswam is the main festival which includes Holy Car procession and Theppam festival.

The temple will function daily from morning 06.00 Hrs to 12.30 p.m. and evening 3.30 to night 9.00p.m. Archana and Abhshegam can be performed at request. I conducted Archana to all the three deities.

5 Contact address and Bank details

Executive Officer

ArulmiguVirudhagireeswarar Temple

Virudhachalam 606 001

Cuddalore District TamilNadu

Phone: 04143 230203

Bank Details: Indian Overseas Bank,

Vriddhachalam Branch, I F S C :- IOBA 0001088

Account Number:- 108801000013448,

6. Deities

Moolavar : Vruddha Giriswararar ,pazhamalai Nathar, Mudhu Kundrar

Amman / Thayar : Vruddhambikai, Balambikai – Ilaya Nayaki

Thala Virutcham : Vanni tree

Theertham : Manimutha River, Nityananda Koopam,Agni, Chakra Theertham, Kubera Theertham

Agamam / Pooja : Kameekam

Old year : 1000-2000 years old

Historical Name : Tirumudhukundram

My note- I have found a specialty in poojas by the archakas. Though they are from Tamil Nadu, the method of performance was found more Thanthreekam (Actions). Deepradhana closure time of the sanctum was just one or two minutes before LENGTHY DEEPARADHANA

7 Architectural styles: Dravidian architecture

8. About Vridhachalam

Vriddhachalam (also known as Virudhachalam) is a municipality and taluk headquarters in Cuddalore district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The ancient name of this town is Thirumudhukundram. As of 2011, the town had a population of 73,585.

Etymology-The name Vriddhachalam is obtained from two Sanskrit words – Vriddham which means old and Achalam which means mountain. So, Vriddhachalam means ‘old mountain’. It is also called by other name Thirumudhukundram which also means the same. (Thiru = holy, mudhu = old, kundram = hill). In pure Tamil Virudhachalam is called as Pazhamalai. it also means the same old mountain. It is one of the important railway destination and junction.

The river flowing here (Manimuktha River) is considered very spiritual. Vriddhachalam serves the midway between Salem, Trichy, Madurai, Chennai rail routes. Very near to Neyveli.

One of the oldest town in Cuddalore district. The ancient Lord Siva temple (Pazhamalai Nadhar Temple) is located in the heart of town. The temple was constructed by one of the chola empires. It has 5 big towers- one in the middle, the remaining represents the four directions. There is another famous temple – Thiru Kolanjiapper temple – located 5 km away from the town. Both of them are located near Cuddalore – Salem highway.

9 Sri Virudhagireeshwarar temple at Vriddhachalam

Some say this is the OLDEST TEMPLE IN TAMILNADU. The lord of the temple is Pazhamainathar (Olden Lord) and Vriddhachalam means old hill, THOUGH THERE IS NO HILL AROUND THE TEMPLE THE TEMPLE ITSELF IS CONSIDERED THE HILL.

10 Vinayaka temple

To show that the temple is the hill the Vinayaka temple is built at about 18 feet lower. The temple is very ancient with four Rajagopurams and Three main temples inside. There are 5 sannishis, five Kodimarams, five chariots all 5 in number!!

11 How to reach:

The temple is right next to the Railway station in Vriddhachalam. It is just after the road over bridge

12 Details of the placement of deities in the temple

The Thazha pillayar koil is seen on the left Ambal sannidhi is seen on the right near the back and the main Shivan sannidhi is seen in the middle. Close to Sivan sannidhi to left varanda spatika linga worship is performed

The nandi mandabam in front of the main shrine was built by sembian ma devi the Chola queen. There are 5 praharams and the pillars and walls are adorned with exquisite carvings.

13 More details of the Legends about the temple

This temple is considered to be older than Kasi itself and the lord is supposed to utter the panchakshara mantra to the departed here and take them to kailas. The Saivaite saints Appar, Sundarar and Gnanasambandar have sung poems on this lord. The ambal Vriddhambikai has a separate temple behind.

To appease the saint NAMACHIVAYAR she appeared as Balambikai and has a sannidhi in the main Shiva complex also .

The shivan koil is a huge temple by itself the entrance is seen above entrance is through the Gopuram. There is a huge shivalingam with usual Kosta devathas and Mahavishnu instead of Lingodhbhavar and a separate sannidhi for Balambikai inside. There is a Cute Vallabha ganapathy inside in the back. The sthalavruksham Vanni maram which is more than a 1000 years old

परोपकाराय फलन्ति वृक्षा: परोपकाराय वहन्ति नद्यः।

परोपकाराय दुहन्ति गावः परोपकाराय इदं शरीरम्।।


h.gifa.gifr.gifi.gifh.gifa.gifr.gifa.gifn.gifk.gif ( hari krishnamurthy K. HARIHARAN)"

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