Unique temple for the Hindu Trinity

Unique temple for the Hindu Trinity

Many inscriptions have been discovered here and the first of these records a gift of land during the reign of the Chola king Rajadhiraja.

Uttamar Kovil is home to a very unique temple as it has separate sanctums for Vishnu, Brahma and Siva. In addition, there are sanctums each for the consorts of these deities — Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Parvati respectively. It is one of the 108 Divya Desams sanctified by the hymns (pasurams) of Thirumangai Alvar. The main east-facing sanctum is for Purushottama Perumal (Vishnu) reclining on His serpent Adisesha under the Udyoga Vimanam.  Nearby is a separate sanctum for Goddess Lakshmi known here as Pooranavalli Thayar.

Temples for Brahma are rare, but this temple has a separate south-facing sanctum for this deity in a seated posture with four heads (chaturmukha), situated to the right of the main entrance. His consort, Sarasvati, enshrined closeby, is also seated with the lower right hand in the pose of blessing (abhaya hasta) and the lower left hand in the boon-giving posture (varada-hasta). In Her upper right hand She holds a rudraksha garland and holds a manuscript in the upper left hand.

The west-facing sanctum for Bhikshatanar (Siva as a mendicant), located behind that of Vishnu, enshrines a Swayambhu (self-manifested) Linga, with the processional image being worshipped as Bhikshatanar.  The shrine for Goddess Saundarya Parvati, is located close by. There are other sanctums for various other deities too.

Many inscriptions have been discovered here and the first of these records a gift of land during the reign of the Chola king Rajadhiraja. Another belongs to the time of the Pandyan ruler Maravarman Kulasekhara. The epigraphs mention that this area was called Rajaraja Valanadu. The temple tank is called Kadamba Pushkarini and the sacred tree (sthala-vriksham) is the vazhai maram. 

This unique temple is called Uttamar Kovil because Vishnu is enshrined here as Purushottama Perumal and also called Bhikshatanar (Bhikshandar) Kovil as Siva is worshipped as Bhikshatanar. The name Adi Mahapuram is also ascribed to this place as Brahma or Adi Purusha, finds a special sanctum in this temple-complex. 

Ancient names
This temple was known as Tirukkarambanur, Neepa Kshetram and Trimurti Kshetram

Unique festival 
During Kartigai Deepam, the images of Vishnu and Siva are taken out together in procession

Chithra Madhavan

cityexpresschn@gmail.com

The writer is a historian who focuses on temple architecture 

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The New Indian Express
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