FRIDAY REVIEW

Another abode of Lord Venkateswara

T. A. SRINIVASAN

Lord Venkata Varadaraja... His healing power is immense, say devotees.

Lord Venkata Varadaraja... His healing power is immense, say devotees.  

THE LORD of the Seven Hills, Sri Srinivasa, and the Lord of Hasthigiri (Kanchipuram), Sri Varadaraja, appear combined in a single form in Aaymur, near Thirukkuvalai in Nagapattinam district, as Sri Venkata Varadaraja, the God who is always ready to rescue those in distress. This is why He is also referred to as Bhaktavatsala.

The abode of Lord Venkata Varadaraja in Aaymur is in a highly neglected state. The temple is said to have been built by a devotee 600 years ago. The devotee had unearthed the idols of the presiding deity as well as His two Consorts from an anthill, in a pit just 100 yards from the place where He is enshrined now.

Aaymur is surrounded by two other places with similar sounding names, Chithaaymur and Thiruvaaymur. It is also at the centre of five holy places of Lord Rama — Thillaivilagam, Keezhaiyur, Adirangam, Thalainayar and Vaduvur — all situated within radius a 15 km. Aaymur, situated just six km from the sea, is a forlorn place now, but it must have throbbed with religious activity in the past.

Lord Anjaneya... now housed in a separate shrine.

Lord Anjaneya... now housed in a separate shrine.  

A devotee of the place, it is said, used to make regular trips to Thillaivilagam seeking progeny and when one year he was very ill and could not visit Thillaivilagam, Lord Rama appeared in his dream and told him to unearth His idol lying buried in an anthill near Aaymur and build a temple for Him there. The devotee, who obeyed the Lord's commands, built the temple and gifted his landed property to it.

As He was unearthed from an anthill, like Lord Srinivasa of Tirupati, the Lord is a Swayambu Murthi. Anthills are generally associated with Amman temples but it is said that it is only in Tirupati and Aaymur that the Lord's idols were found in anthills. Siddhars (mystics) like Gorakkar were said to have lived in the place in times of yore. Aaymur is now only a fishermen's hamlet, with just a handful of houses found nearby. According to some the area was ruled by a chieftain, Aaykon. The temple, which was in a dilapidated condition, is being rebuilt now. The Balalayam was set up exactly a year ago and since then the organisers, who began work right from scratch, have made considerable progress. They have set right the sanctum sanctorum, ardha mandapam and Garuda mandapam. Separate shrines have been built for Garuda and Anjaneya, whose idols had been kept inside the sanctum sanctorum along with those of the presiding deities. There is no dwajasthambam in the temple at present and proposals have been drawn up to install one. The vimanam over the sanctum sanctorum, which was highly damaged, has been rebuilt.

The idol of the Lord, which rises to a height of over seven feet, with His two Consorts looking at His feet, are a treat to watch. The Lord's two upper hands hold the holy Discus and Conch in the right and left hands while His right lower hand is in the ``Abaya Hastha'' pose. His left lower hand is on His hip — this is said to be a rare pose. It is proposed to introduce worship under Pancharatra Agama in the temple as in the Kanchipuram Temple. The temple is known as Srivaksha Kshetram and also as Saptamruta Kshetram because it fulfils the seven stipulations set in the Agamas.

The dilapldated condition is at last getting the attention it deserves.

The dilapldated condition is at last getting the attention it deserves.  

The Lord and His Consorts here are believed to fulfil the wishes of the devotees for progeny, early marriage. Even estranged couples have been reunited after a visit to the temple, it is claimed. Aaymur is three km from Aruntavampulam on the Thiruthuraipoondi — Nagapattinam route. One can reach Aruntavampulam via Tiruvarur, Katchanam and Ettukudi.

Apart from the works already completed, a mahamandapam, rest houses for archakas and devotees, a kitchen, well and a nandavanam, have also been planned.

These are estimated to cost Rs. 12 lakhs. Donations may be sent to Sri Sthalasayanachariar, Sri Venkataraja Dharmaparipalana Trust, No. 8, Ramakrishnapuram First Street, West Mambalam, Chennai - 600 033.

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