Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sthänumalayan Temple, Suchindram

Sthäëumälaya Temple, Suchindram

The Suchindram Temple is located about thirteen km from Kanyakumari, and six km from Nagercoil. It is considered one of the unique temples in the country.

The Räjagopuram is 134 feet tall, richly decorated with Puräëic characters. After the Räjagopuram is a tree believed to be 2,000 year old.



Deity
It enshrines Sthäëumälaya, the Trinity (Sthäëu=Çiva, Mäl=Viñëu and Äyan=Brahmä). The single image of Sthäëumälaya represents all the three aspects. The bottom part represents Brahmä, the middle Viñëu, and the top Çiva. (The understanding becomes clear when one reads the legend of Åñi Atri, his chaste wife Anasüyä, and her encounter with the Trinity).

Legend
Suchindram is known as Jïänäraëyam. According to a legend, Maharñi Atri and his wife Anasüyä, known for her chastity had their hermitage here. Anasuyä could bring rains to the parched land by sprinkling the päda-tértham of her husband.

Temple architecture/style/specialty
The Temple is famous for its skillful architecture and beautiful sculptures. The 134-foot-tall gopuram is visible to the pilgrim (including me) from a long distance. It is the 8th tallest Gopuram in south India/India. 


Famous Gopurams*
Place
Tier
Height
Builder
1
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
Trichy
13-tiered
240 feet
1980
2
Arunachaleswara Temple
Tiruvannamalai

217 feet

3
Ekambareswara Temple
Kanchipuram

194 feet

4
Sri Andal Temple
Srivilliputhur
11-tier
192 feet

5
Southern Rajagopuram of Minakshi
Madurai
9-tier
-1511 sculptures
160
feet
Sevvanti Murty Chettiar in 1559 CE
6
Eastern Rajagopuram of Minakshi
Madurai

153 feet
Maravarman
Sundara Pandyan
7
Sarangapani Temple
Kumbakonam
12-tier
146 feet

8
Suchindram
Kanyakumari

134 feet

9
Rameswaram
Rameswaram

126 feet

*Why do I give this Table every time. So that each write-up is independent, and one can visualise immediately.


On the eastern corridor is the shrine of Lord Dakñiëämürti. (Lord Dakñiëämürti is similarly placed in Äpadsahäyeçwara Temple, Alangudi, near Kumbakonam).

The face of the Gopuram is covered with sculptures and statues from Puräëas. There is a covered area in front of the main entrance, and the entrance itself is 24 feet high with a beautifully carved door. There is only one corridor running along the other wall of the Temple with many shrines and maëòapams scattered in the inner area.

History
The structures were mutilated by iconoclastic invaders like Tipu Sultan, Chanda Sahib (---1752), the Nawab of Karnataka etc. whose soldiers looted the temple wealth. Some of the mutilated figures were later reconstructed.

There are about 30 shrines dedicated to various deities within the Temple-complex. There is a large Lingam in the sanctum, an image of Viñëu. Facing the sanctum is the nearly 800-year Nandi painted white. It is 13-feet tall, 21-feet long and 10-feet wide, and is made of lime and mortar.

Hanuman
There is an imposing image (22-feet tall) of Çré Hanumän facing Çré Räma’s shrine. It is said to represent the viçvarüpa of Çré Hanumän as shown to Çré Hanumän Sétä at the Açokavanam in Lanka. It is sculpted out of a single granite block. The image is mostly covered with butter offered by the devotees. The Hanumän figure was kept buried during the Islamic invasions, and was reinstalled later.


  Navagrahas
Another unique feature of the Temple is that the Navagrahas are not resting on a platform, but are suspended from the ceiling. The Temple has also nine musical pillars, one for each swaram and one having the sound of the mådaìgam. The pillars are carved out of monolithic granite blocks. The Temple, which attracts both Vaiñëava and Çaiva devotees, is indeed an architectural wonder.

Tirumalä Näyaka (of Madurai Temple and Srivalliputtur), and later on the Maharajas of Travancore bestowed the temple with huge endowments. The temple is a storehouse of some of the best specimens of south Indian art.

Festivals
The two most important festivals are in Markazhi (December/January) and Chitrai (April/may). During the Markazhi festival, on the 9th day, the deities are taken out in procession around the streets on the three festival cars.


In the study of Vedänta, we have çravaëa (listen), manana (reflect on what is listened to), and nididhyäsana (contemplate on that). Gradually documenting all the temples I have seen so far, is becoming like darçana (seen earlier), manana (happening now), and nididhyäsana (as and when I compare any similarities in the architecture, or growth of temple-architecture, or development of styles).
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Work in progress
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1 comment:

  1. The Srirangam near Trichi Shri Ranganatha Swamy Temple is of 236 feet height.

    ReplyDelete