Reviving the glory of Pelapur temple

The idols of Keerthinarayana and His Consort, Malarmangai.

The idols of Keerthinarayana and His Consort, Malarmangai.  

PELAPUR, FIVE km from Chengalpattu railway station, has an ancient temple on the banks of Palar River, known in times of yore as Ksheera Nadhi. According to records, it witnessed great religious activity during the rule of King Sadasivaraya of the Vijayanagar dynasty.

The original name of the place was Palapura, according to a copper plate of the Vijayanagar period, which gives its boundaries as Parankusapuram in the north, Kavanuru in the south, Thirumeluru in the west and Vichuru in the east. Pelapur, then situated in the Padaiveedu region, was given as a tax-free gift to Brahmins, who were experts in the study of Sanskrit and Tamil Vedas (Ubhaya Vedas). Their names were, however not mentioned in the copper plate, which recorded the gift in the Saka year 1467 (1542 A.D.) with royal insignia.

The gift included the entire village with "Nidhi-nikshepa-siddhi-jala" (treasure, groves, lakes, tanks etc). It was around this time that idols of Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were installed in the temple originally dedicated to Lord Keerthinarayana. For over four centuries the villagers offered worship to the two deities — Keerthinarayana and Kodandarama. However in course of time, due to land reforms and other exigencies, the residents of the village migrated to nearby cities and this led to the neglect of the temple.

The idol of Keerthinarayana was almost forgotten and the temple festivals shrank to the celebration of only the Ramanavami Festival. The descendants of the original inhabitants however made it a point to be present in the village for the Garudasevai and Hanumantha Vahanam days of the festival. The temple also came to be popularly mentioned as Kodanda Rama Temple.

A divine directive to one of the residents sought the construction of separate shrines for Lord Keerthinarayana and Lord Kodanda Rama. The Balalayam was set up on December 15, 1999. Meanwhile a Sivalingam was found half-buried in Palar River near the temple. After the construction of separate shrines for Keerthinarayana and Kodanda Ramar, the Samprokshanam was performed in the first week of July 2001.

A third shrine to house the Sivalingam, called Vasishteswarar, was also constructed, all at a cost of Rs. 9 lakhs, and the Mahakumbabishekam for the Siva shrine was performed two months before the Samprokshanam in the Perumal Temples. Eyewitnesses recount how the idol of Keerthinarayana could not be moved till an old serpent stirred out of its pedestal and inched its way to disappear harmlessly.

The festivals were revived for the presiding deity as well as for Andal, Nammazhwar, Kulasekara Azhwar, Thirumangai Azhwar, Ramanuja and Manavalamamunigal after the Samprokshanam was performed. Besides these the Navaratri, Dhanurmasam festival and Samvatsarotsavam were conducted for Keerthinarayana Perumal in the month of Aani for five days. Divyaprabanda Seva and Upanishad recitals were the main features of all the festivals. People hailing from Pelapur and now residing in Chennai, Kanchipuram and other places, make it a point to be present during the festival.

It has been proposed to build a new mandapam to interlink the three shrines, with the existing but dilapidated granite mandapam, to ensure greater safety and also provide congregational space for the devotees.

It is also planned to renovate the Thirumadaippalli (kitchen) and vahana mandapam and to construct a compound wall around the temple, which existed in the past but has been destroyed now.

Contributions may be sent to Keerthinarayana-Kodandarama Sabha Trust, 30, Hanumantharayan Koil Street, Triplicane, Chennai-600005.


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