|Sanjeevi Raya Hanuman Temple, Ayyangarkulam|
It is quite common to find Hanuman in Vishnu/Ramar temples facing the Sanctum Sanctorum or in a seperate shrine. There are even Shiva temples where we can see seperate shrines for Hanuman.
But here is a temple where the Siriya Thiruvadi is in the Sanctum Sanctorum and the Periya Thiruvadi (Garudalwar) is found outside. For a medium sized temple, there is no other shrine.
Surprised! Come to Sanjeevi Raya Hanuman Temple, Ayyangarkulam.
Situated on the Kanchipuram - Vandavasi route, on the banks of Palar, this temple has been built by Sri Koti Kannikadhanam Lakshmi Kumara Thathachariar in the 16th Century. The history behind this temple is extremely interesting.
Lakshmi Kumara Thathachariar was the Raja Guru of the Vijayanagara Kings - Venkata Raya I and II and the Chief Minister of the Vijayanagar empire during his time. He hailed from the glorious Acharya lineage of Vaishnavite philosophers and had heriditary relations with Nathamunigal, Sri Alavandhar, Sri Ramanuja etc. Considering his knowledge and acts of philanthropy which gave him the title of Koti Kannikadhanam, the Vijayanagar kings nominated him as the Sri-Karya Durandharar of all the Divya Desams in their empire.
One night, Sri Thathachariar was travelling to Kanchipuram with the royal gifts he received from the king, to offer them to Varadaraja Perumal. As it became dark, he decided to stay where the temple now stands and spend the night under a tree there.
During Treta Yuga, when Hanuman was carrying the Sanjeevi Parvata to revive Lakshmana who was hurt and unconscious, it is believed that a piece of the parvata had fallen at this point.
After Thathachariar and his men settled down and fell asleep, having safeguarded the riches under the tree, a group of robbers came there and started looting. Immediately, a group of monkeys appeared out of nowhere, and started attacking the robbers.
The robbers in an effort to save themselves, started running. Some of them could not bear the attack and fell down unconscious. Thathachariar could see all the happenings as if in a dream. He saw the monkeys safeguarding the treasures after driving away the robbers. He could also see that Sri Hanuman himself was spearheading the attack. Overwhelmed with devotion, he sang a sloka in praise of Lord Hanuman called "Srimad Hanumath Vimsati". He vowed to build a temple there for Hanuman and that was how the Sanjeevi Raya Hanuman Temple came to be built. Sri Thathachariar also built a massive pond of almost 150 acres that has come to be known as "Thatha Samudram" after the Thathachariar. The place has also got its name of Ayyangarkulam from the pond and thathachariar
The temple was closed when we reached. There is a lady living nearby, who is the caretaker of the temple and opens it for visitors on request.The main entrance to the temple is probably opened only on festival days. Entry is usually from the pond side. There is a 24 pillared mandapam on the banks of the pond that lead to the temple. This mandapam has about 85 different types of hanumans of various forms on the pillars.
On entering the temple, we found the "Hanumad Vimsathi" written in Grantha script clear and bold, on an entire wall. It was indeed sad to say, that the wall had been painted in stripes of saffron, oblivious to the inscriptions on it. Despite this, the letters are so bold and clear that it was a delight to watch.
My camera for some reason was giving me a lot of trouble. I could do nothing about it then, and for best part of my visit to this temple, I had to resort to shooting in video mode. Apologies for the poor quality of the pictures, which I hope to replace during my next visit.
There is a huge mutram in the temple, which has a strikingly handsome Garudalwar with outspread wings.
This remarkable Garudalwar, over six feet tall, stands in open air, with hands folded in prayer is sure to catch anyone's attention.
We moved towards the Sanctum Sanctorum, where Sanjeevi Raya Hanuman, stands alone. He stands with Anjali Hastha and without a crown, slightly bowing forward. It is believed that in Ayyangarkulam, people bit by insects do not have any discomfort or physical problems, due to the presence and grace of Sanjeeviraya Hanuman. Praying at this temple is also powerful for yielding child birth, especially male progeny.
Here I must share my personal experience. When I heard that the Hanuman here grants wishes for childbirth, I prayed earnestly for my niece and my friend's daughter, who have both been looking to start a family for some time now. At the time of writing this post, I have received confirmations, that they are in the family way. This has come as a pleasant surprise for me, because my sincere prayer has been answered in only two weeks' time.
The Hanuman was a delight and I was really eager to capture him on camera after praying, but photography was not allowed in the Sanctum Sanctorum ,. On our way out, we saw the idols of Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana piled up in an alcove! These were probably made later, but never installed.
There is a huge kitchen (Madappalli) with blackened walls and an awesome "Kal Uruli" and a huge stone bench that is used for making puliyodharai during festivals.
The gopurams with typical Vijayanagar architecture have vegetation grown on them. There are two mandapams where the utsavars would be brought during festivals. The walls have "Dasavathara panels" in a poor state of maintenance.
We walked out and around the temple to witness an architectural wonder - the "Nata Bhavi". It has an arch, quite similar to the one at Hampi Thulabharam, but of smaller size, with a gajalakshmi on top. It contains a well like structure, with a 16 pillared underground hall, with cloistered verandahs. This structure is usually full of water. There is a mechanism (Yetram) to take out the water when required.
|The Ayyangarkulam Nata Bhavi|
On Chitra Pournami Day every year, Lord Varadaraja Perumal of Kanchipuram comes here, to this Nata Bhavi goes down the steps and into the hall, and then is taken around it,as part of the Vasanthosavam. Thirumanjanam is performed here for the Lord. We also observed that when we dropped a stone in the well on the opposite side of the Natabhavi we were able to see ripples in the water collected inside the Bhavi.
A fence has been created around the Nata Bhavi after it was featured in the tamil film "Naan Kadavul" where the villian keeps all the children and beggars hidden. It was sad to see two wheelers parked and men drinking behind this structure.
On the Kanchipuram - Vandavasi route, turn at the Vembakkam Koot Road. After you cross the Palar bridge, continue on SH116 you will reach the temple.
The address is Sanjeevirayar Hanuman Temple, No.35, Ayyangarkulam Village, Kanchipuram Taluk - 631502.(12.78'E, 79.67'N)
I will update this portion soon, as I was not able to get the telephone numbers of any archaka at the time of the visit.