HERITAGE History, legend and faith meet at this favourite destination of artists. S. Prabhu
Referred to as ‘Then Gokulam’ and dating back to the Chozha period, the Kalinga Narthana temple in Oothukkadu, built by Nalankonda Chozha and believed to be the only temple dedicated to Lord Krishna in his Kalinga Narthana posture, has a unique music connection for it was here that Venkata (Kavi) Subba Iyer composed many of his unforgettable songs including ‘Swagatham Krishna,’ and ‘Alaipayuthey Kanna.’ Venkata Kavi’s ‘Omkara Siddhaiga Kalinga Narthana’ is a specific reference to the Lord of Oothukkadu.
Venkata Kavi also composed seven songs referred as Saptha Rathna Keerthanai. These songs are being presented every year on Krishna Jayanthi by the students of PSBB, Chennai. The temple is hoping that leading Carnatic musicians who present the Pancharatna kritis of Tyagaraja every year at Tiruvayaru will come forward and present Venkata Kavi’s Saptha Rathna Keerthanai at this temple.
Legend has it that Nandini and Patti, calves of Kamadhenu, had made it a practice to offer milk to Lord Kailasanatha of Aavoor, about two km from here on the north-eastern side. Also, every morning, the two would collect flowers for the Lord from the garden. On one such occasion, they happened to listen to Sage Narada’s narration of the story about five-year-old Krishna taking on the deadly snake Kalinga and the child dancing on its hood.
Moved by the hardship young Krishna was subjected to, the calves plunged into sorrow. A worried Kamadhenu approached Krishna for solution and the latter appeared at the Pushpa Vanam in Oothukkadu and presented Kalinga Narthana to convince the two that it was child’s play for him.
Narada requested the Lord to provide darshan as Kalinga Narthana and installed the idol (utsavar) with Nandini and Patti standing on either side of the Lord. Moolavar is called Vedanarayana Perumal, his consort being Mahalakshmi.
This temple is a favourite destination of aspiring artists. Also devotees throng the shrine to pray for offspring. Neglected for many years, the temple is in a state of disrepair. It has been 25 years since it has been renovated. The outer walls have developed cracks. The entire complex, except the sanctum and the Rajagopuram, has been taken up for reconstruction. Plans are afoot to erect a new shrine for Venkata Kavi. Also, a Carnatic music and dance stage is being set up with plans to organise programmes to mark Venkatakavi’s birthday in the Tamil month of Aippasi. Renovation of the temple tank and a garden is planned too. Work is progressing at a slow pace for lack of funds although philanthropists are helping.
Those interested in supporting the cause may contact 94426 99355/96656 75102/04374-268549 or the trust in Chennai (Ph: 98846 20129). Donations may be sent directly to the temple at Oothukkadu Sri Kalinga Narthana Krishna Kainkarya Trust, 2/210 Sri Krishna Vilasa Agraharam, Oothukkadu – 612 701, Avoor Via, Valangaiman Taluk, Tiruvarur District.
Also donations may be directly transferred via NEFT at Oothukkadu Sri Kalinga Narthana Krishna Kainkarya Trust, TN Mercantile Bank, Govindakudy Branch, Account No. 085100710400133 IFSC TMBL0000085.
An interesting feature at the temple is the unique posture of Kalinga Narthana (see picture). His left leg is on top of Kalingan, but not touching the snake. His left thumb alone is holding the tail of the snake with none of his other four fingers in contact with the tail. His four fingers are in Bharatanatyam Abhinaya Kolam. His right leg is poised in a dance posture. A closer look reveals abrasions said to be scars caused in the fight with the serpent. His left foot is on top of the hood but not quite touching it. It is explained that Kalinga surrendered and Krishna refrained from stamping on its head.
Moolavar: Veda Narayana Perumal
Utsavar: Kalinga Nardhana flanked by Rukmini and Satyabhama
Time: 9.30 a.m.-12 noon and 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Contact: Jayarama Bhattar@04374- 268549
Uriyadi Utsavam on Gokulashtami
Special Alankara and Abhisheka on Rohini star every month