Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Kaliyuga Varadaraja Perumal||Ambal / Thayar:||Sridevi, Bhoodevi|
|Timing:||6.30 to 12.30 & 3 to 9||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Kallankurichi||District:||Ariyalur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Ariyalur (6.2 km)||Perambalur (34.7 km)|
|Kumbakonam (45.5 km)||Thanjavur (51.1 km)|
Kallankurichi is located about 7 km east of Ariyalur.
Sthala puranam and temple information
This place was called Gopalankudikadu, after a person called Gopalan Padayachi who helped the poor people of this place. His son Maangan, when taking the cattle out to graze, lost one of his cows which was pregnant and was unable to trace it for two days. On the third night, Lord Vishnu appeared in his dream where He led Maangan to the spot where the cow would be found. The following morning, Maangan went to that spot, found the cow with a newborn calf, and brought both of them back home. However, he noted that at the spot, the cow had poured a lot of milk from its udders, on a stone pillar. That night, Vishnu came in Maangan’s dream again, and indicated His disappointed that Maangan had ignored the pillar. He instructed that a temple be built for Him, since that pillar had originally been brought by Maangan’s forefathers, to carve the main deity out of, at a temple they were to construct. But for various reasons, that temple could not be built. The following day, Maangan formally installed the pillar, performing abhishekam to it and enshrining it as a temple.
The Padayachi Vanniyars of Sithalvadi village in Udayarpalayam (located about 26 km away), consider themselves to be the descendants of Gopalan Padayachi and Maangan, and it is that community that built the structure of this temple, around 250 years ago. Naturally, the pillar would have been in worship for many centuries prior to that.
The pillar itself is 12-feet tall, with Anjaneyar at the base – almost like it is he who is bearing the pillar. It is regarded that Perumal is Himself present in the pillar, and is worshipped as such.
The temple also has some very nice architecture in the form of sculptures, on many of the pillars in the ardha mandapam.
The temple is particularly significant in the origin of temples. The pillar is considered the primary form of worship, and represents the point of transition between Vedic worship (which was without any murtis or iconography), and ritual Agamic worship (which has structured rules around construction of temples, installation of deities, etc). A pillar may be in any shape – a small mound of sand (various putru kovils), a Siva Lingam (which is also a pillar), or even something as large as a hill or mountain (Tiruvannamalai or Kailasam). (We will look at this in detail in a separate feature in the near future.)
Other information for your visit
Given the temple’s timings, especially in the afternoon (there is only a short break from 12.30 pm to 3 pm), this can be the last stop prior to lunch at Ariyalur, or the first temple to visit after lunch, before proceeding elsewhere.