Shravanmaas (Tamil: Purattasi) is a festival season for devotees of Lord Vishnu. It is said that, Lord Vishnu will shower his grace and benevolence to devotees offering obeisance during Shravanmaas. It is a customary practice among devotees to take up SpiRitual Journeys to various Teertha Kshetras and temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Pureprayer is presenting some of the interesting Vishnu temples as travel destinations for Shravanmaas.
Where is Sri Vaikuntanathan Temple?
Sri Vaikuntanathan temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is located in Vaikuntam town about 22 km from Tirunelveli in Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) district. This is one of the 108 Divyadesam temples glorified in Nalayira Divya Prabandham. Sri Vaikuntanathan temple is also one of the Nava Tirupathi temples revered by Saint Nammalwar. Devotees seeking the grace and benevolence of Surya (Sun god) are advised to visit this temple.
Lord Vishnu is called Vaikuntanathar. Goddess Lakshmi is called Vaikuntavalli.
What are the legends associated with Sri Vaikuntanathan Temple?
Sri Vaikuntanathan temple is also known as Kallappiran temple. Paal Pandiyan temple is another name associated with this temple.
Kaladushana or Kaladushak was a robber with a gang of thieves who attacked greedy and rich. He would distribute all the loot among poor and donate a portion to temples. He had donated to Sri Vaiuntanathan temple too. Once he looted the king Pandiyan’s treasure. This enraged the king and he sent a huge army to catch the bandits. Kaladushana prayed to Lord Vaikunthanathan vowing to donate all the collection to the temple. Lord Vishnu appeared in place of Kaladushan and allowed himself to be arrested. Lord appeared in the king’s dream and advised him about the ill-effects of hoarding. He ordered the king to release the robbers and mend the ways of the greedy people who had ill-gotten wealth in his kingdom. The enlightend king Pandiyan followed the lord’s orders. Henceforth, the deity came to be called Kallappiran.
A person in charge of the Gaushala of the king once reported that a particular cow in the herd would give away her milk near a mound in the grazing land and the milching the cow was not possible. The king was displeased with the cowherd’s report arranged some personnel to inspect the matter. They reported the facts. Intrigued king reached the mound and ordered the place to be dug up. They were all surprized to uncover the image of Lord Vishnu. The king got the image reinstalled and built the temple around it. The deity earned the name, “Paal Pandiyan”.
Legend from Puranas state that, once a demon called Somakasura stole the Vedas from the creator, Lord Brahma and hid himself under water. The helpless creator prayed to Sri Vaikuntanathan on the banks of Tamraparni. Lord Vishnu appeared before Brahma and assured him to help recover the Vedas. He took the form of Matsya (Meaning: Fish) and slayed Somakasura and restored the Vedas to Brahma.
Sri Vaikuntanathan Temple-complex is spread over an araea of five acres and surrounded by a high granite wall. The temple has been built in Dravidian style of Architecture with five Prakarams (Meaning: Corridors). Prakaram walls are decorated with paintings of 108 Divya Desam temples. A 110 feet high Raja Gopuram can be seen from quite a distance. Temple-complex has three water bodies. Bhrigu Teertham and Kalasha Teertham are two waterbodies inside the temple-complex. Two separate shrines facing each other have been built for consorts of Vishnu, Sridevi and Bhudevi. Shirnes for Yoga Narasmha Swamy, Venu Gopala, Garuda, Manavala muni and many others also exist in this large temple. The temple-complex found patronage of Pandyans, Vijayanagar Empire and Nayaks of Madurai.
Dhwajastambha Mandapa, Thirumozhi Mandapa, Swarga Mandapa and Maha Mandapa with carved pillars attract you. These are said to be a contribution of Vijayanagar dynasty that also commissioned paintings on the walls of the temple. Some of them can still be seen. Thiruvengadamudayan Hall is a treasure trove housing many life-size sculptures said to be four centuries old.
Sculptures relating to Ramayana can also be seen here. Rama is hugging Sugreeva with his right hand while holding the bow in the left. To his left is the sculpture of Seeta. Also the sculpture of Ram hugging Hanuman exists here. Prince Angad is next to Ram with folded hands.
Lord Vishnu as Sri Vaikuntanathan is the main deity. The image with four arms is in a standing posture. He is holding Shankh and Chakra in the upper hands. The lower right hand is showing Abhya Mudra with Gada (Meaning: Mace) in his lower left hand. Aadi Shesha is guarding the lord with his hoods spread like a cover above the image. The Gopuram on the sanctum is called Chandra Vimana. A Stupa of Gold sheeting can be seen on the sanctum.
Another feature of significance is, that sunrays fall on the deity during the months of April and October.
What festivals are observed in Sri Vaikuntanathan Temple?
Brahmotsavam is celebrated in Pushyamaas occurring in the month of January or February with great glory.
Garuda Sevai is another major celebration taking place during Vaishakhamaas occurring in the month of May or June. Procession deities from all the Nava Tirupathi temples are brought in Garuda Vaahan (Mounted on Garuda). An idol of Nammalwar is brought along in procession.
Many Vaishnavite celebations take place through-out the year.
When is the best time to visit Sri Vaikuntanathan Temple?
Sri Vaikuntanathan temple can be visited round the year. However, the climate is said to be pleasant during the months of October through January.
Who is Nammalwar?
Nammalwar was one of the twelve Vaishnavaite saints. He was born in Thirukurukur of the Pandyanadu. When he was born, he is said to have remained speechless and eyes closed. His parents left him in the precincts of Sri Aadinathar. The child stayed in the hole of a big tamarind tree for many years. Another saint Madhurakavi Alwaar travelling along noticed a bright light and decided to investigate. He found the boy in the tree hole and tried to engage him in talks but to no avail. Madurakavi decided to pose a riddle to the boy and test him. He received a wonderful answer that confirmed the divinity of the child.
Nammalwar has been mentioned in the Nalayira Prabandham.
What are the nearby temples?
Aravinda Lochanar temple dedicated Lord Vishnu is located about 9 km from Sri Vaikuntanathar temple. This is one among the Nava Tirupathi temples.
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