Pundarikakshan – 108 Divya Desam

Moolavar : Pundarikakshan
Urchavar : Pangaya Chelvi
Amman / Thayar : Shenbagavalli
Thala Virutcham : Vilwa
Theertham : Kusa, Manikarnika, Chakra, Pushkala, Varaha Gandha and Padma theerthams.
Old year : 1000-2000 years old
City : Tiruvellarai-srirangam near by 10 km
District : Thiruchirapalli
State : Tamil Nadu

The temple is built as a fort. There are rooms built of stones on the south side with high echo powers.

Being one of the 108 famous Vaishnava Divya Desas, this is the birth place of Saint Uyyakondan Engal Azhwan. To have the darshan of the
Lord Pundarikakasha, the devotee has to pass 18 steps first representing the 18 chapters of Bhagwat Gita. The next 4 steps at the Gopuram-tower entrance represent the four Vedas. After worshipping at the Bali Peeta there are 5 steps representing the five Bhoodas-space, water, fire, wind and earth. There are two entrances to the sanctum sanctorum, the Dakshinayana entrance open from Aadi to Margazhi Tamil months covering from July-August to December-January and the second Utharayana open from the Tamil months Thai to Aani covering January-February to June-July.

Prayer begins at the Bali Peeta in the temple. Realizing their wishes, devotees perform Bali Peeta Tirumanjanam and offer pudding-pongal nivedhana to Lord. Those seeking child boon, bathe in the Theerthas and consume the nivedhana offered to Perumal. This prayer, according to belief, ensures child boon without fail.

Perumal graces the devotees in a standing form facing east. The Vimana-tower above the sanctum is of Vimalakruth design. Emperor Shibi, Sage Markandeya, Lord Brahmma and Lord Shiva and Garuda Bhagwan worshipped Lord Pundarikaksha in this temple.

Temple History:

During a conversation in Tiruparkadal-Ocean of Milk, Lord Vishnu praised Mother Mahalakshmi that He was very happy to see all beings prosperous because of Her grace and offered a boon to Mother. Mother said that though she had no greater boon than of sharing His chest, She would yet claim to have more rights in the Milk Ocean, Her place of birth. Lord said that as He was all in the ocean, Her prayer could not be granted there and advised Her to come to earth for the boon when the Lord would be granting darshan to Emperor Shibi.

It was a period in South India when hands of demons were up and strong. Emperor Shibi, with his vast army came here to destroy them and protect the people. On their way, a white swine appeared before the army and created troubles. The army with all its might could not succeed in capturing the animal. Even the emperor could not succeed. When he chased the animal around the hill, he saw sage Markandeya performing penance there and explained his experience. The sage told the emperor that he was too lucky that the Lord had come before him in the form of Varaha-swine while he (sage) was toiling to have the darshan of the Lord. The sage also advised the emperor to perform abishek to the ant-hill there with milk. Emperor Shibi did so and to the delight of all, Lord Narayana granted darshan to all.

Lord Vishnu told Mahalakshmi who was also present on the occasion that he had transferred all rights of the place to Her and He would be there only in Archarupa-idol- in the place.

The emperor was preparing to take on his mission then. Sage Markandeya stopped him and said that Lord Vishnu was already on the mission to destroy the Ravana group in His incarnation as Lord Rama and that he could therefore return to his kingdom. The king was not happy at the suggestion. Markandeya asked him to build a temple for the Lord who granted him darshan. Obeying the sage, the emperor brought 3,700 families to conduct the pujas in order. On the way one died and the number fell short by one. Lord assured the Shibi that he would replace the deceased and make the number 3,700 as the emperor wished.

Mother Sengamalavalli is in the sanctum sanctorum. During festival times, Mother leads the procession in a palanquin.

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