Reconstruction work will soon give the ancient Sri Kothandarama temple, Ariyalur, a fresh look.

Renovation is on at the ancient Kothandarama temple located in the heart of Ariyalur, where the attractive idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are seen in a single peedam.

One is welcomed into the temple by the five-tier rajagopuram, which is now being refurbished. Also on the list are the vahana mandapam, dasavatara mandapam, the eastern temple tower and the nine vimanams, which will wear a fresh look next year. The Alarmelmangai Pushkarani (sacred temple tank) on the southern side of the temple, which is in a dilapidated state with thick vegetation inside, will also be spruced up.

Special festivals

But for the Garuda vahanam, all the vahanams including that of horse, hanumantha and elephant are still found in the vahana mandapam in a dilapidated state. Festivals that were once celebrated in a grand manner at this temple including Brahmotsavam in the Tamil month of Vaikasi have become sedate over the past several decades with the vahanas in a broken state.

With the construction of new vahanams, plans are to revive the Brahmotsavam and also celebrate the annual festivals including the Theppotsavam inside the big temple tank.

The temple chariot is also in a state of disrepair. In decades gone by, the annual chariot festival used to take place on the Sravanam day in the Tamil month of Vaikasi. Plans are on to reconstruct the chariot and the temple is hopeful of reviving the chariot festival within the next few years.

Pavitrotsavam, another sacred festival, which was also an annual feature here, is also being revived.

Dasavathara Idols

An interesting feature at the temple is the exquisite six ft tall Dasavaratha idols, on either side of the Dasavatara mandapam, one that was constructed by Vijaya Oppila Mazhava Raya. In recognition of this, one finds his idol at the entrance of the mandapam.

Lord Narasimha, who is facing North, is seen in four forms inside the Dasavatara mandapam – Lakshmi Narasimha, Yoga Narasimha, Hiranyavatha Narasimha and Prahlada Narasimha. One finds Lord Narasimha with sharp finger nails that tore apart the Asura, while his foot is placed on the slain Asura King Hiranyakashipu, and Prahalada is seen in a calm and devoted standing posture.

While the Dasavatara idols are a few hundred years old, the Kothandarama sannidhi, originally facing south, with the beautiful bronze idol of a smiling Rama is believed to date back to over 1,000 years (to the Pallava period) with later renovation during the Chola rule. To this day, the temple continues to be known after the original deity as the Kothandarama Temple of Ariyalur even though the East facing Venkatesa Perumal, a later creation, is now the main Moolavar deity at this temple. There is also a separate sannidhi for both Vishwaksenar and Manavala Maamunigal on the Northern side.

To support the renovation, contact: 97501 31328 / 87542 31001

How to reach

- Ariyalur is on the Chennai – Tiruchirapalli rail route and is just over 40 km North of Thanjavur.

- Auto from Ariyalur railway station to the temple will cost Rs. 40.

- Once here, devotees may also visit Kaliyuga Varadaraja Perumal temple at Kallankurichi, six km east of this temple.

The Name

- Ariyalur also bears its name due to the presence of Lord Vishnu here. ‘Hari Iruntha Oor’, (the place where Lord Vishnu resides) in course of time became ‘Ari’ yalur.

- Another feature of the temple is that weddings are solemnised here and the conduct of weddings is a regular event at the temple.

Highlights of the festival

- Vaikunta Ekadesi with Swarga Vaasal opening

- One day Rama Navami with special Thirumanjana

- Garuda Sevai Procession on Vaikasi Visakam day is a big highlight at the temple

- Panguni Uthiram Serthi Utsavam

Quick Facts

Moolavar: Venkatesa Perumal East Facing Standing Posture

Thaayar : Alarmel Mangai Thaayar (Separate Sannidhi)

Time: 7.30 a.m. – 10.30 a.m. and 5 p.m. – 8.30 p.m.

Special Features

- Exquisite Dasavatara idols constructed by Vijaya Uppilatha Mazhava Raya.

- Ugra Narasimha is seen with His foot on a slain Hiranyakashipu and with sharp nails.

- Ancient Bronze idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana is seen on a single peedam.

- Utsavar Venkatesa Perumal seen in a handsome smiling posture.