Appakudathan Divyadesam in Tiruchi is under way.

Utren, Uganthu Pani Seithu Un Paadham Petren

Eethey Inmai Venduvathu Enthaai

Katraar Maraivaanargal Vaazh Thiruperaarku

Atraar Adiyaar Thamakku Allal Nillaavey

- Thiruvoimozhi Paasuram on Thirupernagar

It was to the Lord of Thirupernagar that Nammazhwar dedicated the last of his Divya Prabhandham verses before attaining the feet of the Lord. A Pancha Ranga Kshetram, the Appala Ranganatha Divya Desam at Koviladi (Azhwars in their Pasurams refer to this place as Thirupernagar) is located on a mound on the banks of River Cauvery, 25 km from Tiruchi/Srirangam and six kilometres east of Kallanai. One has to climb 21 steps to reach the sanctum.

Four of the Azhwars (Thirumangai, Thirumazhisai, Periazhwar and Nammazhwar) have showered 33 verses in praise of Appaala Rangan of Thirupernagar. As seen from the above verse of Nammazhwar, Thirupernagar was once home to great Vedic scholars and one where there was non-stop Vedic chanting. Inscription on the Northern wall of the temple that dates back several centuries indicate that there were donations made towards construction of a Maha Mandapam.

Rich history

Legend has it that Appala Ranganatha was the one who led the way and measured the steps to Srirangam (Ranganatha) and thus the name ‘Kovil-Adi' (Srirangam is referred to as the ‘Kovil' among Divyadesams and ‘Adi' means ‘Step').

A Divyadesam with such a rich history has been in bad shape in recent times. Moolavar Appa Kudathan, seen in a grand Bhujanga Sayana posture facing West, has been resting amidst broken temple walls, a cracked tower and a Madapalli (cooking area) on the verge of collapse. The temple authorities have decided to renovate the temple.

The legend goes thus: King Uparisiravasu, while on a hunting expedition, accidentally killed a Brahmin, mistaking him for an animal. Cursed by Sage Durvasa, the king lost all his powers. To get himself liberated from the curse, he was asked to feed one lakh Brahmins. Lord Narayana, disguised as an old hungry Brahmin, visited the king here at Thirupernagar. The king took special care of his guest, but to his dismay, the old Brahmin consumed all the food that had been prepared that day.

Not satisfied with what he had just consumed, the disguised Lord asked the king to feed him a pot (kudam) of ‘Appam' (a sweet). The moment he consumed the pot of ‘Appam,' the King was liberated from his curse and regained his lost powers.

Being the one who consumed a pot of this sweet delicacy, the Lord here is called ‘Appa Kudathan.' To this day, one finds the ‘pot' to the right of the Sleeping Lord inside the sanctum. This is the only Divyadesam where Appam is offered daily to the Lord.

Another significance of the Appala Rangam Divyadesam is that this is a Pancha ‘Rangam' Kshetram - said to be the most sacred of Ranganatha temples. The other four are Aathi Rangam (Srirangapatna), Madhya/Kasturi Rangam (Srirangam), Chathurthara/Saarangam (Thiru Kudanthai) and Anthima/Parimala Rangam (Thiru Indhalur).

Thirumangai Azhwar was so enticed by the Lord at Thirupernagar that he continued to be reminded of Appaala Rangan even after he left Koviladi and moved on to Thiruvellarai (a Divyadesam on the northern side of the River Coloroon) as can be seen from this verse in Periya Thirumozhi:

Thulakkamil Sudarai, Avunan Udal Pilakkum Mainthanai

Peril Vanangippoi Alappilaar Amuthai,

Amararku Arul Vilakkinai Sendru

Vellarai Kaandumey

Festivals

The 13-day Brahmotsavam in Panguni, Kaisika Dwadasi in Karthigai, Teertha Vari at the River Cauvery on the day of Maasi Magam and Nammazhwar Moksham during Era Pathu in Margazhi are special occasions at this temple.

Those interested in contributing for the renovation may contact 94431 83618/97150 37810/99524 68956.

How to reach Koviladi:

One can reach Koviladi by taking the Tiruchi- Kallanai- Thirukattupalli route.

Buses ply every half hour from Tiruchi Central bus stand and Chathiram bus stand.

The tariff for cabs from Srirangam/Tiruchi to Koviladi and back is around Rs.350-400.