Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kandadevi - The Forgotten Heritage

There are a lot of places in Tamil Nadu associated with the Ramayana. One such forgotten place in the Kandadevi. Kandadevi marks an important event in Ramayana - the kidnapping of Sita by Ravana.

Ravana kidnapped Sita and went on his way to Srilanka. Sita cried in distress for help but in vain. Jatayu saw Sita being kidnapped by Ravana and in distress. Jatayu ventured into the skies to save Sita and fought against Ravana, but during the fight Ravana cut its wings. Jatayu fell to the ground after valiantly fighting against Ravana. Jatayu was holding its life hoping Lord Rama would follow to get back Sita from Ravana. As Jatayu hoped, Lord Rama found Jatayu hurt fatally. Lord Rama knew that Jatayu was his father's long time friend and shed tears on finding Jatayu in its deathbed. 

Lord Rama narrated the incidents that happened and died in Lord Rama's hands. Lord Rama considered Jatayu as his father and performed the final rites for the dead Jatayu. Lord Rama in remembrance of Jatayu installed a shiva lingam and named it as Lord Siragilinathar, meaning the lord without feathers.

The place where Jatayu saw Sita being abducted is Kandadevi, actually Kandaen Devi, meaning the Seeing Sita. Kandaen Devi later got transformed to Kandadevi. There is a place nearby called Iragusari (meaning place where wings fell - Iragu: Wings, feather, Sari - Fall) where Jatayu fought and had his wings cut. Iragusari has now been transformed as Iravuseri.

The temple is now called Lord Swarnamoortheeshwarar Temple. The Goddess is Periyanayagi. The original name of the deity is Lord Siragilinathar, however there are some interesting legends that explain why the name got changed to Lord Swarnamoortheeshwarar.

First one is very interesting. The King who ruled that region wanted to renovate the temple, but his kingdom did not have enough money or gold to renovate the temple. So, he took two businessmen, who were brothers, with him to get enough money from acquaintances. When they were walking near this temple, all three of them stumbled and fell on the ground. The King immediately found it to be strange that all three have falled and ordered his men to dig the place where they fell. There he found lots of gold and precious gems. He realised it as a blessing of Lord Siragilinathar. With the treasure temple the King renovated this temple and named the deity as Lord Swarnamoortheeshwarar as the he was bestowed with gold treasure.

The next - Once there was a severe drought and no rains. All the people in the nearby village suffered and went on without food for many days. They prayed to this Lord to save their lives and it rained gold in that village. The village is named after this incident as Semponmaari - meaning (rain of gold). As a result the Lord who bestowed them prosperity was named Swarnamoorthy

The last one is, The Lord's name in Sanskrit was called as Swarnabarneshwarar (Swarna (Gold) + Barna (Wings, Feather) meaning the Lord with the golden feather, later got transformed as Swarnamoorthy.

Behind the temple, is a big tank called the Jatayu Theertham. The tank is so huge and covers a large area. It is said that the temple tank has never dried up even during drought or intense summer seasons.

Now let us view the pictures of the temple

The Rajagopuram to Lord Siragilinathar Temple, Kandadevi

The temple Mandapam

The Rajagopuram from within the temple

The temple mandapam

The temple mandapam of Annamalaiyar Shrine, Vinayagar Shrine.

The pillar in the mandapam carved out of a single stone

Sculpture in the pillar, so intricate and artistic

The 12 zodiac signs sculpted on the ceiling of the temple mandapam

Lord Dakshinamoorthy carved in one of the pillars

The intricate sculptures in one of the shrines in the temple

At the backside of the temple Prakaram

Temple Vimanam

The temple Prakaram

Lord Subramaniyar Shrine from behind

Temple Prakaram the northern side

Lord Subramaniyar Shrine

The Nagalingam Tree

Lord Karuppar statue carved in the temple walls

Lord Bhairavar Shrine, behind it is the shrine of Periyanayaki Amman

The temple prakaram and the Lord Subramaniyar Shrine

Intricate carvings in the walls of the Periyanayagi Amman Shrine

Close-up picture of the carvings

Much closer look at the carvings

Sculpture of a Peacock holding a snake in its beak

The temple entrance from inside the mandapam (Baby Priyanka and My Father in the picture)

Intricate art of sculpture in the temple entrance

Sculpture masterpiece at the temple entrance. Notice the small shaft connecting the two pillars

The shaft that connects the two pillars, the shaft and the stone it appears attached to is made out of a single stone!

The entrance to the temple that we visited

The temple Rajagopuram, another view

The outer walls of the temple

The temple car (Thaer - தேர்), which is at least a few hundred years old

Intricate carvings in the temple car

Another picture of the beautiful carvings in the temple car

The following pictures show the Jatayu Theertham, the temple's tank

Aerial view of the temple and Jatayu Theertham, just look at the scale of the tank. (Courtesy:

Kandadevi is 2 km Devakottai. Devakottai is a town in Sivagangai district and is one of the oldest municipalities of Tamil Nadu. Renovation is being done in the temple, for further details about the temple timings etc., please contact Karthik Gurukkal - +91 94439 56357

Having so much of heritage to it, Kandadevi is really a forgotten place that needs to be revived and heralded of its glory it once had.

More to come, until then...