History & Culture

Towering addition to ancient temple

Lord Narasimha in Veera Sena Posture at the Narasinga Perumal temple, Devar Malai.  


Renovation Work at Kathir Narasinga Perumal Temple, Devar Malai, includes a seven- tier rajagopuram and a new chariot.S. Prabhu

Kathir Narasinga Perumal temple, the five-centuries-old shrine, in Devar Malai, whose legend goes back to Hiranya Samhara and whose construction in its present form dates back to the Nayak period, will soon sport a seven- tier rajagopuram at the eastern entrance atop the current Mottai Gopuram. Plans to renovate the old chariot are also on the anvil.

The story goes that after Hiranya Samharam the ferocious Narasimha, came to the forest area of Devar Malai, where he was intercepted by the Devas who had congregated in large numbers. In an effort to calm Him down, the Devas brought sacred water and performed abishekam for Narasimha.

Pleased with the gesture, Lord Narasimha provided darshan in a majestic seated posture (veera asana pose) with his right feet placed on the ground and the left leg in a folded position. His left hand is positioned as if He is inviting the devotees while His right is in abhaya hastham posture blessing them. The Sacred water here is believed to liberate those with Pitru dosham.

Rich inscriptions

There are many inscriptions, dating back to centuries, at the entrance of the Thayar Sannidhi that tell the story of the temple.

Nayaks, belonging to the Kurivarkothram in Bellary, came here to Palayam, five km west of this temple. They were the earliest of the Nayaks to enter this region after capturing Puliyur through their killings of Vengals. Impressed with the Nayaks’ might, the Pandyas gifted them lands.

The story goes that Nayaks, who were adept at grazing cows, would bring the cows every day to the forest area of Devar Malai. On one such occasion, the cowherd saw a boy drinking the milk directly from one of the cows. Angered by this, the cowherd fought with the boy but to his surprise, the boy disappeared. Transfixed by this incident, the cowherd sat there near a tree while his cows returned to Palayam.

When Vathipala Muthappa Nayak came there, he tried to wake up the cowherd and instantly found a divine light. Digging that place, they found sacred water gushing out and realised that Lord Narasimha was present there and that it was the Lord who had come as a boy to enact the drama of drinking the milk from the cow.

The delighted Nayaks built a temple for Lord Narasimha at this place and the imposing granite structure that one sees today belongs to the Nayak period. While the temple itself is about 550 years old, the moolavar idol is said to date back to over 1,000 years.

The Nayaks, who then went on to rule large parts of Tamil Nadu, had many of those places named as palayam (Palayam Kottai, Raja Palayam) but the Palayam near Devar Malai is said to be the first of the ‘Palayams,’ marking their entry into this region.

The Swarna Bhairavar shrine on the northern side is similar to the idol seen at the Dhadi Kombu Sundararaja Perumal temple near Dindigul.

The temple, which for decades had been in ruins, was renovated a few years ago and wears a new look now. However, one is welcomed by a ‘Mottai Gopuram’ and one misses the presence of a temple tower.

There are plans to build a rajagopuram atop the mottai gopuram and renovate the temple chariot, which is in a state of neglect. Those interested to support the cause may contact Balaji Bhattar (Ph: 99436 10705).

How to reach: Devar Malai is 65 km west of Tiruchi on the Thogamalai-Palayam route and 35 km from Karur, off the Old Karur-Dindigul Highway and five km east of the Palayam Junction.

Buses are available every one hour from Tiruchi on the Devar Malai route with the first bus at 4 a.m. One should get down at Kuruni Kalathapatti and walk one km towards north to reach the temple.

From Karur, one can board Dindigul bound bus (old Dindigul road) and get down at Palayam. There are buses available every 15 minutes from Karur. Take a mini bus from Palayam to Devar Malai Junction.

Auto from Palayam bus stop to the temple is Rs. 100.

Quick Facts

Moolavar: Kathir Narasinga Perumal East Facing Sitting Posture

Goddess: Kamalavalli Thaayar (Separate Sannidhi)

Temple time: 7 a.m.-12 noon and 5-7 p.m.

Special Features

Veerasana Kolam of Lord Narasimha.

The first of the ‘Palayams’ of the Nayaks.

Several ancient inscriptions are found at the entrance to the Thayar sannidhi.

Moolavar idol is believed to be over 1,000 years old.

Special events

10-day Brahmotsavam in Vaikasi.

Navarathri Kolu for Kamalavalli Thayar.

Chakkarai Pongal presented to Sri Lakshmi Narayana every Monday.

Special abishekam on ashtami.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2018 6:46:23 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/towering-addition-to-ancient-temple/article4605889.ece