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Templenet - The Ultimate Source of Information on Indian Temples
©1996 K. Kannikeswaran
Tradition Meets Technology
The Rockfort Temple at Tiruchirappalli: This temple situated on top of a hill is the most prominent landmark in the city of Tiruchirappalli in Tamilnadu. The entire Rockfort (Malaikkottai in Tami) temple complex carved into the hill here features three temples. The Manikka Vinayakar temple is situated at the bottom of the hill, the famed Uchchi Pillaiyaar temple is on top of the hill. The Taayumaanavar (Maatrubhuteswara) temple, venerated by the hymns of the Tevaram Saints (7th - 9th century) is also at an elevation and is considered to be an engineering marvel. An interesting legend surrounds the Uchchi Pillaiyaar Temple. Vibhishana, brother of Ravana, was returning home to Sri Lanka after having witnessed the coronation of Rama at Ayodhya, carrying with him, an image of Ranganatha (Vishnu) which Rama had given him for worship, with the caveat that the image would get stuck to the earth if placed it on the ground. Vibhishana it is said, was proceding Southward with great care, when for inevitable reasons had to take a break on the banks of the Kaveri where he was affronted by Ganapati in the guise of a young lad, who promised to care for the image, allowing him to perform his morning rituals; however the lad dropped the image on the ground much to the chagrin of the enraged Vibhishana and the image took root in the Southern soil of India, and is now believed to be the venerated image of Ranganatha in the famed Sree Rangam Temple near Tiruchirappalli, while the image of Ganapati who caused the origin of the Ranganatha shrine at Sree Rangam is worshipped at the Uchchi Pillaiyaar temple. Legends similar to this, concerning Ganapati are associated with the Gokarna temple in Karnataka and with other temples elsewhere in India.
Karpaka Vinayakar Temple at Pillaiyaarpatti: This temple is located in the town of Pillayarpatti (named after the temple), near the town of Karaikkudi in Tamilnadu. Karpaka Vinayakar or Desi Vinayaka Pillaiyar is the presiding deity here, and he is portrayed with two arms and a trunk curled towards his right in the valampuri mode. This 6 feet tall mammoth image of Ganesha is a bas relief in an excavated cave, off of a hill in the precincts of the temple. This is a temple steeped in antiquity and tradition. It celebrates several festivals throughout the year the grandest of which is Ganesh Chaturti in the month of Aug - September, where a ten day celebration brings much gaiety to this temple town. Each day's celebration is marked by much splendor as Pillaiyaar is taken in procession around town on several of his mounts, as are the other festival images. The ninth day of the festival is marked by a chariot procession.
Sweta Vinayakar Temple at Tiruvalanchuzhi near Kumbhakonam: Tiruvalanchuzhi is a hamlet located near Swamimalai, near the temple town of Kumbhakonam near Thanjavur in Tamilnadu. An white colored image of Ganapati - Sweta Vinayakar is the center of worship here. Legend has it that the Gods (the Devas) fashioned this image out of the foam that was generated when the milky ocean (Ksheera Samudram) was churned by them, in their quest for the celestial nectar Amritam. There is more to this temple than the legend. This temple occupies an area of about 8 acres, has a huge tower decorating its entrance. Although it is primarily dedicated to Shiva (Sadaimudinaathar) it is known more for the shrine to Sweta Vinayakar. This temple has been revered by the Tevaram hymns of the 7th - 9th centuries. There are as many as 5 mandapams with intricately carved pillars and stucco images. The intricate stone windows and the delicately carved granite pillars in the Vinayakar shrine deserve mention. A ten day festival is celebrated here, during the time of Vinayaka Chaturthi. This temple is managed as a sub temple of the famed Swaminathar Temple (Subramanya) nearby. Festivities surround this temple in the Tamil month of Pankuni, when an image of Subramanya is taken in procession from Swamimalai to Tiruvalanchuzhi.
Significance of Ganesh