Thiru Mogur divyadesam wore a festive look as Gajendra Moksham, the annual festival, in Maasi, took place recently.

Sri Kaalamegha Perumal temple, 10 kilometres east of Madurai, in Thiru Mogur, is a divyadesam that in centuries gone by was identified as being one Yojana off Thiru Maalirun Cholai and South of the Elephant rock.

Legend has it that, answering sage Palasthiyar’s penance at Thiru Mogur seeking darshan of the Lord who churned the ocean to secure the nectar, Thirupaarkadal Nathan displayed a unique prarthana sayana posture resting himself on a five-hooded Adisesha. The sannidhi, facing south, is believed to pre-date Kaalamegha Perumal, the name by which the divyadesam is known today.

It was also here that Brahma performed daily pujas for Lord Vishnu as a gesture of thanks for securing the Vedic scriptures from the asuras. Pleased with this, the Lord provided darshan as Kaalamegha Perumal.

In his Tiruvoimozhi verse, Nammazhwar praises the Lord of Thiru Mogur as one who provides solution to the difficulties of the devotees who visit the temple and circumambulate Kalamegha Perumal just once (refer box).

The Lord thus praised by Nammazhwar left his abode at Thiru Mogur at 9 a.m. on the morning of Masi Magam (Feb 14) for his annual trip to Yoga Narasimha temple, north of Yaanaimalai (Y. Narasingam) to re-enact the Gajendra Moksham episode.

Mogur Aapthan, the utsava processional deity of Thiru Mogur divyadesam displayed three special Thiru Kolams on this festive full moon day. During the 10-hour day-long procession, he was seen in Kallazhagar Thirukolam, stopping over at Kothandarama Temple at Othakadai on the way.

Legend has it that Lord Vishnu took the form of ‘Mohini’ to mesmerise the asuras, who got lured by the beautiful maiden and forgot their objective of securing the nectar (a sip of which would give them immortality). Signifying this event, this place came to be referred to as Mohana Kshetram and this temple as Thiru ‘Mohur.’

Taking the devotees back in time to the legend of this divyadesam, the Lord of Thiru Mogur displayed his Mohini avataram at Yaanaimalai. Clad in a shining bright white vastram, the Lord went on a procession at 10 p.m. to the four-pillared mandapam at the Northern entrance where he was anointed with Thailakappu.

For the next three hours, the Bhattars of Thiru Mogur – Govindan and Sridhar Tiruvoimozhi Pillai – were bestowed with the honour of getting Mogur Aapthan ready for the third and the much awaited Thiru Kolam of the day.

Gajendra Moksham Puranam

Just after 2 a.m., the screens went up and Lord Mogur Aapthan in a beautiful green and violet vastram adorned with glittering jewellery and a majestic crown made his way out on the Garuda vahanam.

It was well past 2.30 a.m. and time for the enactment of the Gajendra Moksham episode, the much awaited event of the day. The scene was well set - a three ft tall wooden elephant and a four ft long wooden crocodile were placed on the temple tank with the crocodile seem to be clutching on to the leg of the elephant. One could almost visualise Gajendra’s loud cry seeking the help of the Lord. It was a moving episode.

Seated at the four-pillared mandapam alongside the lotus tank, Mogur Aapthan listened to the sweet 30 minute recital of the Gajendra Moksham Puranam by Sridhar Bhattar, a descendent of Tiruvoimozhi Pillai. Following the recital of each verse, he explained the significance of this event and how the Lord relieved Gajendra, who pleaded His support, and saved him from the clutches of the crocodile. The episode signifies that those who offer their prayers sincerely to the Lord will be protected by Him.

Sridhar Bhattar has been reciting the puranam for the past 28 years at this temple on the full moon night in Maasi.

As he recited the stanza relating to Lord Narayana hurling his discus to kill the crocodile, a cracker bullet was shot at from near Mogur Aapthan that sped and struck the crocodile at a lightening pace, thus relieving the elephant from its clutches. Hundreds of devotees had an opportunity to relive this historical episode.

Just after 3 a.m. Mogur Aapthan left Y. Narasingam on the Garuda vahanam and reached Thiru Mogur the next morning bringing to an end this annual event.

Special Features of Thiru Mogur divyadesam

One of its kind inscriptions on the Chakkarathazhwar with 154 letters signifying Hiranya Samharam.

Thiruparkadal Nathan seen in a unique ‘Prarthana Sayana’ posture.

Rahu-Kethu parikara sthalam.

Highlights of the festival

Darshan in three different Thiru Kolams including the Mohini alankaram.

Explanation of the Gajendra moksham Puranam by Tiruvoimozhi Pillai.

Gajendra Moksham episode re-enacted at Narasimha temple Lotus tank.

Quick Facts

Moolavar: Kalamegha Perumal East Facing Standing Posture

Goddess: Mohana Valli Thaayar (separate sannidhi)

Time: 7 a.m. – 12 noon and 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Contact: 98425 24325 / 95000 43011

How to reach: Thiru Mogur is about six kilometre from Madurai Maatuthavani bus stand and two kilometre off Oththakkadai. Auto from Madurai railway station will be Rs. 150. Mini buses ply directly to the temple. Town buses are available every half hour to the temple.

Nammazhwar’s description of Thiru Mogur

Nammazhwar in his 11 Thiruvoimozhi verses of praise on Thiru Mogur describes the greatness of the Lord and the features of this location as it was then, thousands of years ago. According to Nammazhwar, Thiru Mogur was a cool and fertile place with green fields and lovely groves with tall and ripe sugarcane and paddy all around. The sacred temple lake was full of beautiful Lotus flowers that bloomed in large numbers through the year.

He describes Kaalamegha Perumal as one who answered the prayers of the Devas by taking the form of Mohini to intoxicate the asuras thereby handing the sacred nectar to the Devas, thus giving them immortality.

Nammazhwar goes on to praise the attractive physical features of the Lord of Thiru Mogur- One with four strong arms, lotus eyes, wearing a Tulasi garland crown and beautiful lips that instantly lure every devotee to this temple. He also talks about the Lord who is seen in a sleeping posture atop the hooded Adisesha (Padarkol Pambanai Pallikolvaan Thiru Mogur). He says that even Brahma and Siva came here and sought darshan of Kalamegha Perumal at this place.

In an important message to devotees, Nammazhwar says that those who visit Thirumogur and go around Kaalamegha Perumal just once offering their sincere prayers and surrendering to the Lord of Thiru Mogur will find their problems vanishing in no time.

Ancient rock cut Yoga Narasimha cave temple

Located four kilometre north of Thiru Mogur divyadesam at the foot of the huge Yaanaimalai (elephant hill) is an eighth Century AD rock cut cave temple dedicated to Yoga Narasimha in Y. Narasingam. This place is referred to as the Gaja Giri Kshetram signifying the construction of the temple by breaking the huge piece of the elephant shaped rock.

The legend

During the Madurai Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam, Indra sent his elephant to Madurai. At the end of which it is believed that they found a huge elephant in a sleeping posture. This is said to be the elephant rock we see today off the Madurai-Chennai highway near Y. Oththakkadai. Pulasthiyar Rishi undertook penance at this place and had darshan of Lord Narasimha. The utsava deity, Varada Narasimha, is seen with a Lion shaped face and a mace in his left hand. There are several inscriptions dating back to over 1,000 years to the Pandya and Chozha rule.

It is here that the Lord of Thiru Mogur enacts the Gajendra Moksham episode every year on the full moon day in Maasi.

Three kilometre east of this temple and at the foot of Yaanaimalai is the Veda Narayana temple in Kodikulam where Pilla Lokacharya, the Vaishnavite acharya kept Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam in safe custody during the muslim invasion of Srirangam. To recognise this special contribution, a separate temple dedicated to Pilla Lokacharya has been constructed at Kodikulam.

Temple Time: 7 a.m. – 12 noon and 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Contact: 98420 24866 / 98654 88821