FRIDAY REVIEW

As holy as Tirumala

Lord Krishna with Sangu and Chakram flanked by Rukmini and Sathyabhama.

Lord Krishna with Sangu and Chakram flanked by Rukmini and Sathyabhama.  

NESTLING IN the obscure and remote village of Akkur in Thiruvannamalai district, 20 km from Kanchipuram on the road leading to Vandavasi, is the Ambujavalli Nayikaa Samedha Lakshmi Narayana temple, small but beautiful. The ancient temple may not attract devotees from far and wide to its precincts daily, yet it has its own unique features.

The temple was constructed roughly 700 years ago, with the efforts taken by Doddacharya, one of the most respected savants in Akkur at that time. It is believed that the Lord appeared in his dream asking him to construct a temple. At Akkur, which derives its name from the phrase, `aru oor', meaning six villages, he constructed two temples, devoted to both Vishnu and Siva. Here, he ran into difficulties. Despite the construction of the temple, they did not have the idol of the presiding deity to be installed.

Doddacharya, guided by the voice of the Divine, went to Thumbarkonai in search of the vigraha and located it from near a snake pit adjacent to a lake. Incidentally, it is believed that idols for most of the temples in this region were all taken from Thumbarkonai.

The temple is very small and apart from the sanctum sanctorum, there are only a couple of other shrines dedicated to Andal and Ambujavalli Thayar.

In the sanctum sanctorum, Vishnu, facing the East can be seen in a seated position with Mahalakshmi seated on his left thigh, not a common posture. There are the Hanumantha and Sesha vaahanams, on which the different utsava idols are taken in a procession round the temple. The idol of Kannan in the Kalinga Nardhana pose (the serpent, however, is not visible) with four arms holding the sangu and chakra, is unique, it is said.

Mr. Rajagopal, trustee, says according to legend, worship at this temple is equivalent to visiting the shrine of Balaji at Tirumala. There have been several instances when a person who, after offering his prayers here goes to Tirumala, finds getting darshan difficult because he has already offered his prayers and had darshan of Vishnu at Akkur. Incidentally, only a couple of families have managed to remain at Akkur village in the service of the temple. Most of the residents of the agraharam have now settled in Chennai but make it a point to visit the temple during festival time.

Renovation of the temple has begun and the deity has been shifted to `Baalalayam.' Fund, however, is a constraint and work is going on at a slow pace. Mr. Rajagopal says that there are plans to renovate the sanctum sanctorum, the shrines of Andal, Thayar, acharyas apart from repair of the wall and the wells. The estimate is Rs. 5 lakhs and he hopes devotees and philanthropists will chip in with donations. Contributions can be sent by cheque, DD or M.O. to V. Srinivasan (those who need the 80G certificate can send it in the name of A. S. V. Charities) No.26/42, Madhava Perumal Sannidhi Street, Mylapore, Chennai, 600 004.

K. MANIKANDAN

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