Saturday, September 18, 2010
Thiruppaer Nagar (aka Koviladi, Appakudathaan)
(Acknowledgement: All images in this posting on Thiruppaer Nagar are from Kumudham Jothidam magazine. A wonderful article on this Divya Desam by the renowned astrologer Sri A M Rajagopal was published in the issue dated July 16 2010)
Click here for a beautiful Youtube video of this Divya dEsam.
Tiruchirappalli (Trichy) in central Tamilnadu was the former capital of the glorious Chola kingdom. Situated right on the banks of the River Kaveri, Trichy is a bustling, lively city surrounded by vast tracts of lush green fields. The region in and around Trichy is dotted with several hallowed Divya Desams, with the foremost Divya Desam – Sri Rangam, being just across the Kaveri from Trichy. Uraiyur, another Divya Desam and also the birthplace of Sri Thiruppaan Azhwar is located within Trichy city.
Thiru Anbil, Uttamar Koil (Thiru-karambanUr), Thiru Vellarai, Koviladi (formal name Thiruppaer Nagar) are the other major Divya Desams around Trichy city. It is possible to cover all the six Divya Desams in and around Trichy in one day by road, although covering them over two days is more convenient and leisurely. Personally, I avoid rushing through Divya Desams. It is better to cover them sedately, enjoying the sights and sounds, absorbing the holy vibrations and imbibing the devotion and spirit of the Azhwars who elevated the temples to Divya Desam status through their devotional verses (mangaLaasAsanam). From a practical point of view, Trichy is well connected by road, rail and air (there are direct flights from Singapore and Columbo) and has plenty of hotels Food options are abundant.
Of the Divya Desams in and around Trichy, the one that can safely take the top honours for beauty of location is Thiruppaer Nagar (unofficially referred to as Koviladi or Appakudathaan). Koviladi is situated directly on the banks of the KoLLidam river, which is a tributary of the River kAvEri. Further, this place is near the Grand Anaicut dam. The Grand Anaicut was built in the 2nd century AD by the Cholas, and is still in excellent shape and continues to be used even today. When the British governed India, a team of engineers was deputed to study this dam and identify any improvements or reinforcements that might be needed. The engineers concluded that there was nothing needed to strengthen or modify the dam – a testimony to the technical calibre of the Chola engineers.
Getting back to kOviladi, the Divya Desam is built at a high elevation (about 50 feet from the ground). The reason is immediately obvious when we consider that the koLLidam river is less than 200 feet away. This is also the reason why the temple has survived intact over the centuries despite the ever-present threat of flooding.
Legend associated with Koviladi:
According to the sthala puranam, a king Upamanyu lost his wealth and kingdom due to a curse from Sage Durvasa. He begged the sage himself to suggest a way to be freed of the curse. Moved by his entreaty, the sage prescribed that Upamanyu do an anna-dhaanam (distribution of food) at this place. Accordingly, the king started this act of penance. One day, an old man arrived at Upamanyu’s place to accept food and was received with respect. But, to Upamanyu’s dismay and surprise, the old man quickly gobbled off all the food that the king had on hand. When he explained the situation to his elderly guest, the latter asked for a pot of “appam” – a kind of sweet pancake. Upamanyu arranged for it, and upon receiving it, the old man revealed his true identity – He was none other than Lord Sriman Narayana. Upamanyu was delighted and freed of Durvasa’s curse. Hence the Lord of Koviladi got the moniker “Appakudathaan”, which means “He who has a pot of appam”. True to this name, the moolavar in the Divya Desam has His right hand holding a pot of appam. In deference to the legend of Upamanyu, appam is prepared for the Lord every night as prasadam. According to this Divya Desam’s history, kOviladi even pre-dates Sri Rangam in antiquity.
Further, Thiruppaer Nagar is the Divya Desam where Lord Sriman Narayana removed the fear of death from Sage mArkandEyA’s mind. The theertham here is referred to as “Mruthyu vinaasini theertham”.
Thiruppaer Nagar is one of the five Ranga-Kshetrams. The full list is :
1. Adhi-Rangam: Sri-Rangapatnam near Mysore, Karnataka
2. appAla-Rangam: Thiruppaer Nagar
3. madhya-Rangam: Sri-Rangam
4. chaturtha-Rangam: Thirukkudanthai (Kumbakonam)
5. pancha-Rangam: Thiru-indhalUr (near MayilAduthurai)
AzhwAr mangaLAsasanams (33 pAsurams):
PeriyAzhwar: 173, 205
Thirumangai Azhwar: 1428-37, 1851, 1857, 2048, 2050, 2059, 2060, 2070, 2673 (70), 2674 (118)
Thirumazhisai Azhwar: 2417
This is the last Divya Desam glorified by Sri Nammazhwar before his ascent to paramapadam.
The thAyar here is Sri KamalavaLLi, who is seated in a separate sannidhi and bestows Her infinitely compassionate glances on Her devotees.
Koviladi is about 25 km from Trichy city and about 8 km from the Grand Anaicut. Those who wish to travel by bus may first take a bus to kallaNai (Grand Anaicut) from Trichy’s Chathram bus terminus and then take a bus (from Kallanai) travelling in the direction of Thanjavur or Kumbakonam and alight at kOviladi.
Posted by Sriman Venkatesan at 1:43 AM