Lord Vishnu who undertook the Narasimha Avataaram at Ahobilam (Andhra Pradesh), once again displayed the Narasimha Avataaram to saptha rishis, who undertook penance at Sholingur. Hence, this is said to be the one of the most sacred of “Divya Desams on the Hill” in Tamil Nadu.
Located about 90kms west of Madras (and about 25kms from Arakkonam and 40kms from Tiruttani), atop a hill on a single stone is the Lord Narasimha Divya Desam in Sholingur, also called Chozha-Simha-Puram and Thiru Kadigai. This is also referred to as UtheeCheerangam(North Srirangam).
There are two temples of significance here- the Yoga Narasimha temple at Periya Malai (the big hill) and the Yoga Chathurbhuja Anjaneyar temple at Chinna Malai (the small hill).
1300 steps up the big hill
Guarding oneself against the hundreds of monkeys, one has to walk up 1305 steps to reach the Narasimha Sannidhi at the ‘Periya Malai’. East of this Sannidhi in another hill is the Yoga Anjaneya Sannidhi( one has to climb another about 406 steps to reach the Sannidhi atop the chinna malai ).
Atop the hill, in Thiru Kadigai, one finds the Moolavar deity and Amruthavalli Thaayar, while in the town below, one can have darshan of the Utsava Deity.
Utsava Deity seen in Sholingur Town
In downtown Sholingur, one finds the Aathi Kesavaperumal Koil built by the Chozha kings. The sacred water at this temple goes into the feet of the Lord Kesavan and from there directly on to the earth below!!! The Utsava deity of Bhakta Sithan(Bhaktavatsala Perumal) is seen here in downtown Sholingur.
Sage Vishwamitra, who undertook penance here, was blessed with ‘Brahmma Rishi’ by Lord Narasimha, within 24 minutes (One Kadigai/ One ‘Naazhigai’). Following the foot steps of the great sage, Saptha Rishis too undertook penance here at Sholingur wanting a darshan of the Narasimha Avataaram and hoping to get the darshan within 24minutes!! Hence, it is believed that one who stays here for 24 minutes will attain Moksham.
During his rule, the great Chozha king, Karikaala Chozhan, called this region Thiru Kadigai.
Anjaneya’s Moksham request
At the end of the Rama Avataaram, Anjaneya wanted to join Raama in his abode at Vaikuntam. However, Rama had other thoughts and asked Anjaneya to go to Sholingur to protect the Rishis from Asuras. Rama provided Anjaney with Conch and Chakra.
Devoted as ever and always following Raama’s words, Anjaneya is said to have come here and demolished the asuras. Lord Narasimha appeared before Anjaneya and asked him to remain here, as Yoga Anjaneya, with the assurance that he would take Anjaneya into Vaikuntam during Kali Yugam.
There is a small opening on the wall of the Periya Malai Koil through which it is said that Yoga Anjaneya, from his place in Chinna Malai, has darshan of Lord Narasimha.
Abiding by the Lord’s wishes, Anjaneya is said to have remained here atop the small hill and is seen here with four hands( Chathurbhuja Anjaneyar) in a Yoga posture with Conch, Chakra, Japa Maalai and the fourth hand with a Japa Sankai( counting the Japam).
This is the only Divya Desam with such special prominence for Lord Anjaneya.
There is a Raama Sannidhi and Ranganatha ( tiny) Sannidhi inside the Yoga Anjaneya temple.
Dodda Acharya and the Sholingur-Kanchi connection
The Sholingur Narasimha Koil has been managed and taken care of by the descendents of Dodda Acharya for the last several centuries. Dodda Acharya was the grandson of MuthalaiAndaan and to him, it is said, goes the credit of creating this beautiful temple town of Sholingurk in the Arcot region of Tamil Nadu.
Dodda Acharya used to visit the Garuda Sevai of Varadaraja Perumal at Kanchipuram every year. However, once he could not make his annual trip to Kanchi as he fell ill. Saddened by this, he bathed at the temple tank at Sholingur, invoked the blessings of Varadar of Kanchi and sang 5 songs in praise of Lord Varadaraja Perumal.
So pleased was the Lord with his devotion that he is believed to have provided darshan to Sholingur Dodda Acharya from his Garuda Vaahanam.
A special event at Kanchi every year
In memory of this event, every year on the third morning of Brahmotsavam at Kanchi, the temple door is closed for a few minutes and Lord Varadaraja Perumal, in his Garuda Vaahanam, says ‘ I am now going to give darshan to DoddaAcharya of Sholingur.
The Lord waits at the entrance of the temple, faces the direction of Sholingur and provides darshan to Dodda Acharya. This is called the Dodda Acharya Sevai in Kanchipuram.
There is a separate sannidhi for Dodda Acharya at the Sholingur temple.
Budhan liberated from Agastya’s curse
Budhan, who played a prank on Sage Agastya and was subject to a curse by the angry sage, performed service to saptha rishis at Thiru Kadigai and is said to have been liberated from his curse.
Azhvaar Praise-Thirumangai refers to the Lord as ‘ Thakkan’
NammAzhvaar, PeyAzhvaaar and Thirumangai Azhvaar have sung praises of the Kadigai Lord Narasimha in four verses.
“Mikkaanai Maraiyaai Virintha Vilakkai, Ennul Pukkaanai Pughazh Ser
Polingra Pon Malaiyai, Thakkaanai Kadigai Thadan Kunrin
Misai Iruntha Akkaara Kaniyai, Adainthu, Uyinthu Poneney” – 1731 Thirumangai.
Thirumangai in the above Paasuram refers to the Sholingur Lord a ‘Thakkan’ to mean that the Lord is the right one to fulfil all the wishes of devotees.
Varadarajan with Perundevi Thayar
This is a Prarthana Sthalam. Belief is that the Lord cures devotees, who bathe here and walk up the two hills, from all kinds of diseases and is said to give them peace of mind. Lord Narasimha is also said to fulfil all the wishes of the devotees.
Every Friday at 7am in the morning, there is a Prarthana Utsavam for Amruthavalli Thaayar with special Abhishekam for the Thaayar and Perumal. On Sunday at 7am, there is special Abhishekam for Lord Anjaneya.
Maasi Dodda Acharya Utsavam
Vaikasi Narasimha Jayanthi
Puratasi Navarathri Utsavam
Margazhi Adhyaana Utsavam and
Panguni Thiru Kalyana Utsavam
On the same day as the Kanchi Varadaraja Perumal Garuda Sevai, there is Garuda Sevai at Bhakta Sithan temple as well as the Varadaraja Perumal Koil in Sholingur.
Annual trip of Thaayar down the hill
Amruthavalli Thaayar makes her annual trip to down town Sholingur in Puratasi and stays here with Bhakatvatsala Perumal for two month( Puratasi and Aipasi). On the first day of karthigai, she makes her trip back to the top of the hill.
Moolavar : Akkara Kani Yoga Narasimha East Facing Sitting posture
Thaayar : Amruthavalli Thaayar (separate sannidhi)
Utasavar : Bhaktavatsala(Bhakta Sithan) Perumal – below in the town of Sholingur
Paasurams : PeyAzhvaar(2342), Thirumangai Azhvaar-1731,1736,2674(73), NammAzhvaar
Temple Timing : 8am-5pm
How to reach Sholingur
From Madras, one can take the following trains:
1. Early morning Kovai Express or Brindavan Express to Arakkonam and a 29km bus trip from Arakkonam to Sholingur (will take about 45minutes to 1 hour) – Good wide Arakkonam- Walajah SH 61.
2. Sapthigiri Express (625am departure) to Tiruttani(arrival at 730am). There are a number of buses from Tiruttani to Sholingur (40kms).
3. Take Chennai- Bangalore Express (departure at 1.20pm) and get down at Sholingur Station( 240pm arrival). A number of Share autos from the North of the station will take you to Sholingur temple in 30 minutes( a distance of 16kms)
There are also direct buses from Madras to Sholingur but it is better to take the train-bus option.
Auto is available from Arakonam/Walajah highway to the foot of the Periya Malai.
One can take another auto from the foot of the Periya Malai to the foot of the Chinna Malai.