Saturday, 19 January 2013

Sri Särangapäni Temple, Kumbakonam


Sri Särangapäni Temple, Kumbakonam

My first visit in July 2010 to this temple was a quick one, hence this time in August 2012, it was my second priority in my list (first being Kumbeswara which I had not seen at all). Among the sacred 108 Divyadesam in Vaishnava sampradaya, Sarangapani Temple is given the third place next to Sri Rangam and Tirupati.

The Builders
The central shrine (vimanam) was built during the Chola period (900-1150 CE), while the rest of the huge temple (Gopuram etc.) was built by the Vijayanagara emperors (1350-1565 CE) and their Nayaka successors (1600-1750 CE).

The Rajagopuram
The 12-tiered Rajagopuram is 7th tallest in India, standing tall at 44 metres (146 feet).






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




Erotic art is visible in the first tier of the Rajagopuram, not in stone, but in cement and rather crude.



Various karanas are also sculpted on the outside as well as inside walls of the Rajagopuram.

Some Ganas – dwarfs are seen with musical instruments, on the Rajagopuram wall.





There are yalis on the entrance of the mandapas


Temple architecture/style
The central shrine resembles a chariot on wheels, complete with elephants and horses pulling it.


(Other Chariot Temples that I have visited are Konark in Odisha, and Airavateswara Temple in Darasuram. However in Konark, the mukhasala is built as a chariot. In Airavateswara, the mandapam  is in the form of a chariot. In Sarangapani, the central shrine is in form of a chariot.)



(Now I understand the Temple-plan better.)


Beyond the 100-pillared hallway is the sanctum, which was reportedly modified several times by the rulers of many dynasties. The inner court is guarded by images of huge dvarapalas, while between them stand perforated stone screens.




The sanctum enshrines Lord Vishnu in anantasayana posture, very similar to Sri Rangam posture.


There are two entrances to the sanctum, enough to confuse me. One is kept open throughout the Uttarayana period, and the other during the Dakshinayana period. I think both my visits were in dakshinayana, so I would have entered through the same dakshinayana entrance.

Balustrade at Sarangapani
Balustrade at Darasuram

On both sides at the entrance steps are small balustrades in the form of elephants (better such style is seen Darasuram Temple).

The lion-pillared corridors resemble similar style seen in Vaikuntha Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram.


Lioned Pillar in Sarangapani
Lioned Pillars in Vaikuntha Perumal Temple

There is an intricately carved pillar (perhaps of granite), with striking filigree work.

 

 

 

 

The outside corner of the central sanctum is richly sculpted resembling Brhadiswara and Kailashnath.

 

Kailshnath, Ellora

Brhadiswara, Tanjavur

Sarangapani, Kumbakonam

 



Sarangapani Temple

Darasuram Temple

 

I remained confused for years seeing the position of the elephants and horses, trying to pull the chariot-temple in opposite directions. After much exposure I now understand it as – the elephant is in the balustrade, and the other elephant (in Sarangapani) and horse/s are pulling the chariot-temple.

 

The dhvajastambha – flagstaff, and the balipitham are outside the sanctum. 

dhvajastambham

balipitham

 

The Temple Tank named Hema-Pushkarini separates Sarangapani Temple and Kumbeswara Temple.

 

Temple Paintings

 

 

Connection with Nathamuni

The Temple is associated with Nathamuni, one of the twelve Äÿvärs. He is said to have meticulously pieced together the scattered portions of the Näläyira-Divya-Prabandham (Vaishnava Legends) by invoking the blessings of Aaravamudhan, another name for Lord Sarangapani.

 

 

 

Näläyira-Divya-Prabandham has 4,000 Tamil verses of the Äÿvärs, the Vaiñëava Saints.

The twelve Alvärs are – i) Periyä* Äÿvär (600-900 CE), ii) Äëòaÿ* (600-900 CE), iii) Kulaçekhara Äÿvär (600-900 CE), iv) Tirumaliçai Äÿvär, v) Tiruppän Äÿvär, vi) Madhurakavi Äÿvär, vii) Tirumaìgai Äÿvär, viii) Nammäÿvär, ix) Bhudattäÿvär and x) Pey Äÿvär, xi) Näthamuni (824-924 CE), xii) Yamunä (918-1038 CE).

*Äëòaÿ was the foster daughter of Periyä Äÿvär (600-900 CE).

Of the 4,000 verses, the last 1,000 verses were written by Nammalvär known as Tiruvaimozhi. The ecstasy of the madhura-bhakti of the Gopis for Kåñëa that creates a divine intoxication is the rasa of Nammalvär's poetic compositions.

 


Contribution of various Dynasties to South Indian Temple Architecture
(4 of the Temples are World Heritage Sites)


Dynasty
Period*
Temples
Style
Place
The Pallavas of Kanchi
(Initiaters of Rock-cut Temples)
600-900 CE
Five Rathas,
Shore Temple

rock-cut,
architectural
Mahabalipuram
(World Heritage Site)


Kailasanath Temple

architectural
Kanchipuram
Chalukyas of Badami
(in west/north?Karnataka)
500-753 CE

Vesara
Aihole(cradle of Indian Architecture), Pattadakal
(World Heritage Site)
Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta
750-983 CE
Ellora
cave temples,
Monolithic rock-cut Temple
Ellora
(World Heritage Site)
Chalukyas
Of Kalyani
983-1195 CE
Lakkundi, Dambal, Gadag


Hoysala
Of Karnataka??
1100-1350 CE


Belur, Halebid
Somanathapura (proposed as World Heritage Site), Srngeri
Chola
Of Tanjavur
900-1150 CE
Brhadiswara Temple
Dravida
Tanjavur
(World Heritage Site)


Brhadiswara
Temple

Gangaikonda
(World Heritage Site)


Airavateswara
Temple

Darasuram
(World Heritage Site)


Sarangapani sanctum

Kumbakonam
Vijayanagar
Of Hampi?
1350-1565 CE


Tiruvannamalai


Sarangapani Gopuram/s

Kumbakonam


Rajagopuram of
Ekambareswar


Nayakas
Of Madurai
(succeeded Vijayanagara)
1600-1750 CE
Sri Rangam
(expansion)


* Period is indicative since historians will not agree to one period.

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Work in Progress
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