Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal TempleLocated on the banks of the Cauvery River, Tiruchirappalli fondly called as Trichy is a renowned pilgrim center in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The urban center is the home of a lot of historic places of worship like temples, churches and mosques that receives devotees from all over the globe, regardless of times of year.
Some of the significant religious sites in Tiruchirappalli include Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Rockfort Ucchi Pillayar Temple, Kaatazhagiya Singaperumal Temple, Samayapuram Mariamman Temple, Thirupattur Sri Brahmapureeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswarar Temple, Woraiyur Vekkaliamman Temple and many other sites.
Among the most important religious sites of Tiruchirappalli, Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple or simply Thiruvellarai Temple occupies a prime position, for its historic background and significance. Located in Thiruvellarai, one of the small town outskirts of Tiruchirappalli, Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple is about 23 km away from the city center and can be accessible via NH45 and SH 62.
First and foremost, Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple is one among the most revered 108 Divyadesams (108 Vishnu temples that are named in the literary works of the Tamil poet-saints of azhwars. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikaksha Perumal Temple is lauded in the Nalayira Divya Prabandham, a sacred collection of 4,000 Tamil verses written by the 12 azhwars, viz, Poigai Alvar, Bhoothathalvar, Peyalvar, Thirumalisai Alvar, Nammalvar, Madhurakavi Alvar, King Kulasekhara Alvar, Periyalvar, Andal, Thondaradippodi Alvar, Thiruppaan Alvar and Thirumangai Alvar.
Etymology of Thiruvellarai
The Tamil word 'Vellarai' is actually 'Vellai Parai' which means 'white rock'. As the sacred site is located approximately 100 feet on a small artificial hillock made of granite slabs, the temple is called as 'Thiruvellarai'. In the Deva Baasha of Sanskrit, Thiruvellarai is called as 'Swetagiri' which also references the hillock of white rock. Thiruvellarai is also called by many other names and some of them are Hita Kshethram, Adhivellarai and Uthama Kshethram.
Significance of Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple
Apart from being one among the Divyadesams of Lord Vishnu, Thiruvellarai is the place of birth of Uyyakondar, an adherent of Ramanuja (1017–1137 CE) and Thirukurukai Piran pillan, the second son of Periya Thirumalai Nambi. Uyyakondar also called as Engalazhwan is believed to have instructed Sri Bhasyam to Nadadhoor Ammal in this very temple.
To seek the blessings of Sri Pundarikaksha Perumal (Lord Vishnu), devotees will have to climb 18 stairs which surprisingly has a relation to the represents the illustrious Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita. The 18 stairs at the Thiruvellarai temple represents the 18 chapters of the Bhagavad Gita.
- Chapter 1: Visada Yoga
- Chapter 2: Sankhya Yoga
- Chapter 3: Karma Yoga
- Chapter 4: Jnana Yoga
- Chapter 5: Karma Vairagya Yoga
- Chapter 6: Abhyasa Yoga
- Chapter 7: Paramahamsa Vijnana Yoga
- Chapter 8: Aksara-Parabrahman Yoga
- Chapter 9: Raja-Vidya-Guhya Yoga
- Chapter 10: Vibhuti-Vistara-Yoga
- Chapter 11: Visvarupa-Darsana Yoga
- Chapter 12: Bhakti Yoga
- Chapter 13: Ksetra-Ksetrajna Vibhaga Yoga
- Chapter 14: Gunatraya-Vibhaga Yoga
- Chapter 15: Purusottama Yoga
- Chapter 16: Daivasura-Sampad-Vibhaga Yoga
- Chapter 17: Sraddhatraya-Vibhaga Yoga
- Chapter 18: Moksa-Opadesa Yoga
The Garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) of the Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple features two entryways, that is to say, Utharayana Gate and Dakshinayana Gate.
The same kind of two entryway system can also be witnessed in the notable Kumbakonam Sarangapani Temple. The two entryway system is well explained that every human being use two separate gates in life, one for entering and another in passing, out of life. This is directly related to the two gate concept followed in the sanctum sanctorum of Thiruvellarai temple.
- Utharayana Gate - the entryway through which all the Jeevathmas come into existence as a human and is the base of 'Kubera', the Lord of Wealth. During Utharayanam, the god is 'Suriya Narayanan'
- Dhakshinayana Gate - the entryway to the end and it is the base of Yama, the god of death. During Dakshinayanam, the god is 'Govindan’
Further, devotees will have to climb another eight stairs which represent the Ashta-aksharam, that is, 'Om Namo Naaraayanaaya', an eight syllable word
- OM - 1
- NA - 2
- MO - 3
- NA - 4
- RA - 5
- YA - 6
- NA - 7
- YA - 8
In Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple, the goddess Shenbagavalli Thayar receives first rights! Also, it is strongly believed that people must come to this kshethram to seek blessings from Sri Pundarikakshan, so that they will eligible for Mukthi. Besides, there is a custom that the childless people visit this temple and have a holy dip in the temple tanks (theerthams) during the Tamil month of karthigai and seek the graces of Lord Vishnu to be blessed.
The Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple is regarded to be the oldest of the Vaishnavaite sites located in all of South India. As a matter of fact, Thiruvellarai temple is much older than the far-famed Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, which was constructed during Sri Rama’s time period, whereas the Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple was constructed by Sibhi Chakravarthy, a forefather of Sri Rama and thus, the name 'Aadhi Vellarai'. Another, unique rather surprising thing to notice in this temple is its half finished raja gopuram!
Facts on Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal TempleLocation and Contact Details:
Sri Pundarikakshan (Thamarai Kannan) Temple, Tiruvellarai,
Tiruchirappalli - 621009
Phone Number: +91- 431-256 2243, 9345118817
Primary Deity/Moolavar: Sri Pundarikaksha Perumal (majestic standing posture, facing east)
Goddess/Amman/Thayar: Shenbagavalli aka Periya Piraattiyaar Lakshmi Devi
Festival Goddess/Utsava Thayar: Pangajavalli
Temple Tree/Thala Virutcham: Vilwa Maram
Temple Tanks/Theerthams: Pushkala, Kusa, Chakra, Manikarnika, Varaha Gandha and Padma theerthams
Other Deities and Shrines: Bhoomi Piratti, Sri Krishna, Suriya, Kulasekara Azhwar, Chandiran, Aadisheshan, Chakarathazhwar, Manavala Mamunigal, Thondarippodi Azhwar and so on
Temple Timings: 7:00 AM to 1:15 PM and 3:30 AM to 8:00 PM
Thanks Giving/Prarthanai: People do Bali Peetha Tirumanjanam and tender chakarai pongal naivedhyam to perumal
Number of Praharams: 05
Tower/Vimanam: Vimalakrutha Vimanam
Important Festivals: Chithirai vizha, Chithirai poornima, Gajendra moksham, Aavani srijayanthi, Panguni brahmmotsavam, Tiruvonam, Tirukarthigai and so on
How to Reach:
Frequent buses are operated to Thuraiyur from Chatram bus stand in Trichy. Thiruvellarai temple us 17.8 km away from the Chatram bus stand and the temple can be reached via Salem - Namakkal - Trichy Rd/Trichy Chennai Trunk Rd and SH 62. From Mannachanallur, the Thiruvellarai temple is just 7.5 km.
After reaching the Thiruvellarai temple bus stop, the grand entrance arch receives the devotees. Enter the road under arch and in approximately 1 km, the half finished raja gopuram of Thiruvellarai temple welcomes.
Nearby Places to Visit: Arulmigu Gneeliwaneswarar Temple, Thiruppaingneeli - 5.3 km