Chitra Ratha Vallabha Perumal temple, Kuruvi Thurai, Madurai, is under way.

The historical Chitra Ratha Vallabha Perumal temple in Kuruvi Thurai, dedicated to Guru (Jupiter), is to receive a face lift. The moolavar deity, Vallabha Perumal, is almost a 10ft sandalwood idol seen in a majestic standing posture along with Sridevi and Bhoo Devi.

The temple which has a strong granite structure has several inscriptions on the Northern and Southern walls of the prakaram dating back to 1000 years. The temple, in its current form and structure, is believed to have been built in the early 12th century A.D. during the rule of Jadavarma Vallabha Pandya.

The secret mantra

Legend has it that, Brihaspathi, the leader of the Devas, assigned his son Kacha to secure the secret Sanjeevini mantra from Sukracharya, the preceptor of the Asuras that would help bring the dead back to life. While Devayani, the daughter of Sukracharya, fell in love with Kacha, the demons, realising the young man’s mission, killed and reduced him to ashes, dissolved it in water and made their guru Sukracharya consume it. the asuras, realising his mission, killed Kacha, mixed his ashes in a glass of water and made Sukracharya drink it. Saddened by her lover’s absence, Devayani appealed to her father to find him. Through his ‘gnana drishti’ Sukracharya came to know of the whole episode and realised that Kacha is in his stomach. He initiated the Sanjeevini mantra and Kacha came out of the acharya’s stomach thus ending the latter’s life. As he could not bear to see Sukra lying dead in front of him, Kacha in turn chanted the Sanjeevini mantra and gave a new lease of life to Sukracharya.

At this juncture, when he is asked to marry Devayani, Kacha justifies that she is his sister as he had come out of her father’s stomach. Having accomplished his mission by learning the secret mantra Kacha leaves the Asura kingdom. Angered at Kacha deserting her, Devayani prevented his departure to the Deva Kingdom.

Worried at the inordinate delay, Guru Bhagawan (Jupiter) undertook penance here invoking the blessings of Lord Narayana to save his son from the Asuras. Hence, this place came to be called as Guru Iruntha Thurai (later Kuruvi Thurai).

Pleased with the prayers, Lord Narayana used his discus (Chakrath Azhwar) to save Kacha from the asuras. He came here on a special chariot and provided darshan to Guru on the Chitra star day in the Tamil month of Chitrai and hence the Lord here is referred to as ‘Chitra Ratha’ Vallabha Perumal.

Salient features

Those who visit this temple and offer sincere prayers to Vallabha Perumal and Guru Bhagawan are said to be relieved of Guru dosham and other obstacles in life. Thursdays are said to be special prarthana and parikara days at this temple.

There is a separate shrine for Guru in front of the Eastern rajagopuram where he is seen facing west - in the direction of Chitra Ratha Vallabha Perumal. Guru Bhagawan and Chakrathazhwar are swayambu idols while the huge 10 ft Vallabha Perumal is made of sandalwood.

Nammazhwar’s Thiruvoimozhi

While this is not a Divyadesam, Nammazhwar in his Thiruvoimozhi verse sings in praise of the Lord as ‘Chithirath Ther Valavaa, Thiru Chakarathhaai, Arulaai….’ referring to both the ‘chariot and the discus’ used to demolish the asuras leaving one to wonder if Nammazhwar had actually directed his praise at Chitra Ratha Vallabha Perumal here at Kuruvi Thurai.

The temple with such rich history is currently being renovated. The entire temple complex including the five-tier rajagopuram, the inner and outer prakarams, Perumal and Thaayar sannidhis will be spruced up. Those interested to support the cause may contact 91592 36762. Devotees may also visit the ancient Janaka Narayana Perumal temple at Sholavandan.

How to reach: Kuruvi Thurai is about 30 km from Madurai and about eight kms West of Sholavandan. By bus: (route no. 68) Available from Periyar bus stand in Madurai to reach Kuruvi Thurai (in an hour). Auto: From Madurai Junction to Kuruvi Thurai, will be between Rs.400 and Rs. 500. By train: Chennai - Tirunelveli Nellai Express stops at Sholavandan (4.45 a.m.)

Festivals

Guru Peyarchi

Chitra Pournami

On Vaikunta Ekadesi day, Vallabha Perumal goes on a procession in a Garuda Vahana and makes his way back from the Kuruvi Thurai Village on a Horse Vahanam.

Quick Facts

Temple: Granite structure.

Moolavar : Chitra Ratha Vallabha Perumal seen in a standing posture with Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi.

Deity: 10ft idol made of sandalwood.

Goddess : Shenbagavalli Thayar.

Period : Built in the early 12th century A.D. during the rule of Jadavarma

Vallabha Pandya.

City : Kuruvi Thurai, Sholavandan.

District : Madurai.

Temple Time: 8.30 a.m.-12.30 p.m. and 3.30 p.m.-5.30 p.m.

Highlights of the temple

A temple dedicated to Guru (Jupiter).

Vallabha Perumal provided darshan here on a special Chariot on the Chitra Pournami Day.

Several Inscriptions in the Prakarams date back to 1000 years.

Thursdays are said to be special prarthana and parikara days.

Prarthana sthalam for relief from the adverse effects of Jupiter (guru) dosham.

Chakkarathahwar and Guru are believed to be swayambu idols.