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Lord Vishnu Gives Darshan in 4 Poses Atop Sacred Hill

Published: 16th March 2016 05:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2016 05:07 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: The village of Thiruneermalai near Pallavaram is important to Vishnu devotees as ancient temples of this deity are located here. At the base of Thiruneermalai hill is a temple for  Neervanna Perumal who is in a standing posture. The temple atop the hill which can be reached by climbing about 250 steps,  has many shrines.

TEMPLEa.jpgThe main one is for Lord Ranganatha, reclining on the serpent Adisesha and facing South with Goddesses Sridevi and Bhudevi near the feet. The other deities on the hill-top are  Trivikrama (seen in the walking pose), Narasimha (in the seated posture) and Goddess Lakshmi, enshrined as Ranaganayaki Thayar, the consort of Ranganatha.

An important feature of Thiruneermalai is that Vishnu is seen here in four poses — standing (as Neervanna Perumal), seated (as Narasimha), reclining (as Ranganatha) and walking (as Trivikrama or Ulagalanda Perumal). While the procession deity (utsava murti) in most Vishnu temples is generally worshipped in front of the main idol, in the hill-top shrine, only the large central deity is seen and His processional idol Azhagia Manavalar is inside the temple at the foothills.

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The ancient Sanskrit work Brahmanda Puranam mentions eight important Vishnu temples in India. The Tiruneermalai temple is one among the select eight. The hill is a divya desam or a sacred place praised in the Tamil poems of the Vaishnava saints called the Azhvars. There is a large temple-tank with a mandapam in the centre near the Neervannal Perumal temple called by various names like Suddha Pushkarini, Ksheera Pushkarini, Karunya Pushkarini and Swarna Pushkarini. 

A large number of inscriptions belong to the Chola and Vijayanagara times and register gifts of money, livestock and lamps to the temple.  Thiruneermalai was situated in the ancient territorial area called Jayangonda Chola Mandalam.

(The writer is a historian who focuses on temple architecture)

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