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Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple

Located 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.

Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple Tower

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.

Mandapam in front side of Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple

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.
Gateway Tower at Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple

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

Walls of Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple

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

Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan

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.

Festival Deity of Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal 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
Further, the devotees will have to climb another 4 stairs at the entrance of gopuram which represent Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. Proceeding further, devotees will be reaching the Bali Peetam of this temple. After the Bali Peetam, devotees will have to climb another 5 stairs which represent Pancha Bhootas according to Hinduism, that is to say, Fire, Earth, Water, Sky and Air.

Stone Carvings inside Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple

The Garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) of the Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple features two entryways, that is to say, Utharayana Gate and Dakshinayana Gate.

Festival at Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikaksha Perumal Temple

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
Apart from the Utharayana Gate and Dhakshinayana Gate, the Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple also has a third entrance to the sanctum sanctorum. The third entrance is called as ‘Naazhi Kettaan Vaayil’. It is supposed that Sri Pundarikakshan was stopped and queried by the goddess, after returning from his visit. Till this day, during the temple events and festivals, after finishing the outdoor visit (veedhu ulla), Lord Vishnu has to explain the goddess about his trip at this Naazhi Kettaan Vaayil gate so that he can get inside!

Temple Tank at Thiruvellarai Sri Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple

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
Thenceforth, devotees will arrive at the twenty-four stairs to enter the sanctum sanctorum. The twenty-four stairs represent one of the Gayathri Mantra (a highly revered Sanskrit mantra).

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 Temple

Location 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

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