Ulagalantha Perumal koil is located in Periya Kanchipuram close to Kamakshiamman temple. It is at a distance of 1km from the railway station and one can take an auto from the railway station. If one travels by bus it is also a km away and can even be reached by foot. If one is travelling from Varadarja Perumal temple, one can take public bus or share auto or regular auto (cost will be about Rs.80- Rs. 100.). It is at a distance of 4km from Perumal koil.
We travelled by two wheeler from our house in South Mada Street and reached the temple in about 20 minutes. The traffic is scary and everyone seems to be in a hurry.
As we neared the temple we saw a metal structure housing the temple chariot or “ther’. Then we spotted the temple tank or pushkarni.The pushkarni was impressive and clean. It is called ‘Nagatheertham’.
After enjoying the beauty of the water-body we entered the temple after buying flowers at the entrance. We had to descend a few steps to reach the temple. that is the temple is below the road level.We prostrated at the dwja sthambam and entered the temple .After worshipping Garudazhwar we entered the sanctum sanctorum.
We were simply stumped on beholding the Beauty of Ulagalandha Perumal. The Dwarf who became a Giant to measure the Three Steps promised by Mahabali stood before us as a 35ft(approx) archamurthi with His Left Leg held parallel to the ground(Oh my Lord how did You manage!) and His Right Leg on the head of Mahabali. Two fingers of the Left Hand indicated that He had measured two steps. One finger on the Right was held up asking ‘where is the third step?’ His Tirumukhamandalam was way up in the air and there was a lamp lit at a height for us to see Him. The ceiling is elevated and the designs on His Tirumeni are beautiful. One stands rooted in sheer amazement. At His Feet are the utsava divyamangala vigrahams of the Utsavar, Lokanathan flanked by Ubhaya nachimars, Thayar is Amudhavalli . As we stood listening to the bhattar swami explaining and showing us Perumal’s Tiruvadi holding the camphor light we remembered Andal’s ‘Oongi Ulagalantha Utthaman’. Since there is no killing in this avatharam He is Utthaman and this divyadesam is referred to as ‘Peragam ‘ in azhwar pasurams.
Ooragathan is the presiding deity of this divyadesam which is seen to the left as we enter the sanctum sanctorum of Ulagalandha Perumal. Uragam means snake and it was as the five-headed Adisesha that Perumal showed Himself to Mahabali who with his bent head could not see the gigantic form of the Lord. Because he could not keep up his promise he was sent to Patalalokam also known as nagalokam. At Ooragam we get to see this form of Perumal and He is awe inspiring. One has to bend down to see His Form on the wall. Tirumanjanam to Ooragathan takes place on Fridays and Sundays between 11.00 a.m. and 12.00 p.m. Only those who sponsor the Tirumanjanam get to see it as we have to sit in a narrow passage where only a handful can fit in. The Tirumanjanam is awesome and one travels to patala lokam as the deity is bathed in milk and raw coconut water, turmeric and sandalpaste to the accompaniment of sukthams and azhwar pasurams. The tiny sannidhi is filled with sambrani smoke and one feels blessed to be at that spot. Tirukannamadhu (payasam) and curd rice are offered to Perumal and given to the participants. This Perumal is known as ‘Kalyana Nagar’ and removes obstacles in the way of marriage. Rahu and Kethu dosham is removed by doing tirumanjanam to Ooragathan. Facing Ooragathan sannidhi we have a room housing the divyamangala murthis of many deities.
As we come out of the sanctum and proceed in pradakshinam (clockwise) there are sannidhis for Vishvaksena. Andal, azhwars and Manavalamamunigal. On this platform are to be seen different vahanams like simham, yaali,ashvam and hamsam.
As we proceed we see a sannidhi for Neeragathan.Perumal is in ‘ninratirukolam’ with chathurbhujam(four hands) facing east.
An interesting feature of this divyadesam is the presence of the image of the Perumal at the top of the entrance of different sannidhis. It is not appropriate to take photos of Moolavars in temples and these images are miniature replicas which allow us to visualise the images. So actually we are in divyadesam -2 now. Perumal is Jagadeeshwara and Thayar is Nilamangavalli, the vimanam is Jagadeeshwara vimanam and this Perumal was pratyaksham to Akrura.
As we proceeded we had ‘vimana darsanam. ‘The vimanam of Ulagalantha Perumal is known as ‘Saara srikara vimanam’ and there is a board indicating the spot for vimana darsanam. As we continue in pradakshinam we climbed a raised platform housing the third divyadesam ‘Tirukaaragam.’
This Perumal is in ‘irundha tirukolam’ that is seated on Adisesha and is known as Karunakara. Kaaragam means rain bearing clouds and Perumal pours His Mercy like the black clouds which pours everywhere without discrimination. Thayar is Ramamani nachiyar and the vimanam is Ramya vimanam.
Seated outside this sannidhi facing Aranavalli Thayar sannidhi was a lady reading pasurams from the four thousand divya prabhandhams in a clear bhakthi filled voice. The notes of azhwar divyasukthis filled the atmosphere with holiness. After getting down the platform housing Kaaragathan we climbed a flight of stairs to offer our prayers at Thayar sannidhi. Thayar in seated posture was beautifully resplendent in a yellow silk saree and Her kataksham is what we all seek.
As we are about to complete our pradakshinam we reach a sannidhi which says ‘Kaarvana Perumal sannidhi’. Perumal is in nindratirukolam(standing posture)facing north with chathurbhujam (four Hands) and is flanked by Sridevi and Bhudevi. This is the fourth divyadesam in the temple. Perumal is known as Kalvar and Thayar is Kamalavalli and the vimanam is pushkala vimanam.
So while completing a pradakshinam we see three divyadesams and the fourth is inside the sanctum. The temple area is about 60,000 square feet and the rajagopuram is three tiered with seven kalasams. It is believed that the three divyadesams in the temple precincts were separate temples at some point of time but due to some circumstances came inside the premises of Ulagalandha Perumal koil. It is noteworthy that Tirumangaiazhwar has sung about The four deities in a single verse.
A visit to this temple is satisfying and the bhattar swamis are kind and helpful which is an important aspect of a temple visit. Two major festivals are Brahmotsavam during Thai(between January 15th and February 15th) and Vamana jayanthi on Avani (August 15th and September 15th) Sravanam day.
Photos: Sri Sundararajan, Write – up: Smt Vyjayanthi Rajan