The avatara utsavam of Bhoothath Azhwar took place recently with great fanfare at Thiru Kadal Mallai.
Maamallapuram was once a famous and an important port town and a business centre with traders dealing through the barter system. One finds an interesting reference to trade in Thirumangai Azhwar’s Periya Thirumozhi verse (Pulankol Nithi Kuvaiyodu, Puzhakaimaa Kalitru Inamum Nalam Kol Navamani Kuvayum Sumanthu….Iyangum Kadal Mallai). Here, he refers to ships carrying heaps of Gold and loads of Gems along the shores of Maamallapuram, a place where, he says, one finds Lord Vishnu providing darshan.
Thirumangai Azhwar highlights the unique (reclining posture on the ground) sayana tirukolam of the Lord in his another verse ‘Nannaatha Vaal Avunar….Thalasayanathu Uraivaarai.’ He says that among the many different Sayana postures of the Lord, this one is special, as the Lord is seen reclining on the ground.
He refers to this place as ‘Kadal Mallai’ in his praise of the ‘Thalasayanam’ Lord whom he compares with the Lord of Thiru Ninravur (nindra tirukolam) and the reclining Lord of Thiru Meiyam (on Adisesha).
In his verses, Thirumangai Azhwar consistently refers to the ‘cool groves’ of Kadal Mallai giving us an indication of the scenic surroundings around the temple over a 1,000 years ago.
Ancient Varaha Perumal Cave Temple
A lesser known but an ancient Pallava period Aadhi Varaha Perumal cave temple is located one kilometre south of the Sthala Sayana Perumal Divya Desam on the way to the light house. The story goes that a Pallava king, who made a daily trip to the Varaha Perumal temple at Thiru Vidanthai (15 kilometre north of Chennai on the ECR) and fed a 1,000 people each day after his darshan, was put to test one morning by Lord Vishnu who appeared before him as a hungry Brahmin carrying along a child (Goddess in disguise). The king requested if he could first make his daily trip and then offer them food as that was his practice. The Lord in disguise rejected this suggestion stating that he was dying of hunger and that it may be too late by the time he returned.
Invoking the blessings of Varaha Perumal of Thiru Vidanthai, the king decided that feeding a hungry child was more important than his trip. Pleased with his devotion, the disguised Lord provided darshan to the king at the same place as Varaha Perumal.
At this cave temple, moolavar Aadhi Varaha Perumal is sculpted on the rock and is seen with Goddess Agilavalli Thaayar on his right side and with his left leg placed on a Naga King and Queen.
One also finds exquisite idols of Rudra, Brahma, Lakshmi, Durga, Pallava King Simha Vishnu (who built this cave temple) and his son Mahendra Varma inside this cave temple.
Also at the temple is an entrance to a 15 kilometer long tunnel (now shut) that was once a secret route to the Nithya Kalyana Perumal temple in Thiru Vidanthai.
Every year, on the full moon day in the Tamil month of Maasi, the utsava deity, Gnanapiran, goes on a procession to the sea shore on a Garuda Vahanam.