Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Govindaraja Perumal||Ambal / Thayar:||Sridevi, Bhoodevi|
|Agamam:||Age (years):||Timing:||to & to||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Veppathur||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (10 km)||Mayiladuthurai (29 km)|
|Tiruvarur (42 km)||Ariyalur (51 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
The sthala puranam here is similar to the one at the nearby Venkatesa Perumal temple. There is a view that in every yugam, the Ramayanam takes place in a different part of Bharat. In that context, this temple’s puranam is connected with the Ramayanam that took place in the south. When Rama was in exile, he is believed to have come here, after killing Maricha, to expiate his sin. Impressed by this, Vishnu, in the form of Venkatachalapati (Venkatesa Perumal) came here with Alarmel Mangai and gave Rama His divine vision.
Another slightly different version suggests that as Rama was looking for Sita in the forest, he rested here for a while.
In ancient times – possibly over 2000 years ago – Veppathur was considered a centre of knowledge and learning, and was referred to as Ghatika Sthanam, recognised for spiritual and philosophical education and culture. Perhaps because of this, during Chola times, this place was called Chola Marthanda Chaturvedi Mangalam. The Chola king of the time (unknown, but 10th-12th century) is also said to have given the adjoining village of Bhagavatapuram for use as residences, while continuing their academic pursuits at Veppathur, which attracted students and scholars from far and wide. For this reason, it is said that the place used to be called Vedamur, which over time has become Veppathur. According to another version, this place was called Nimmagramam in Sanskrit, which became Veppathur in Tamil. The place flourished as a learning centre during Pallava, Chola and even the period of the Vijayanagara dynasty.
Not Veppathur in general, but this place in particular was named Avani Narana Vinnagaram, after Avani Narana, one of the titles of Nandivarman III.
The tall vimanam structure we see currently (underlying which would have been the temple) is in a poor state, but was likely to have been well maintained during the Chola and even Nayak periods. This vimanam – from the 9th century and the time of the Pallava king Nandivarman III, is built on top of an older brick structure, dated to the 6th century, or possibly even the pre-Pallava period). The 25-metre tall vimanam is constructed entirely out of brick, and bound by clay mould. Some experts suggest that this could have been an Ashtanga vimanam in three levels, housing Vishnu in all 3 kolams – nindra kolam, amarndha kolam and kidantha kolam. Some experts also suggest this could be a Sangam period temple, as there are bricks beneath the main upapeetham. The mandapam in the upper level of the vimanam has frescoes dating to the Pallava, Chola and Vijayanagara periods.
The temple was renovated in the time of Rajaraja Chola I, including the installation of granite murtis of Perumal, Sridevi and Bhudevi, in the garbhagriham. According to some versions, the vimanam served as inspiration of the Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar temple and Gangaikonda Cholapuram Brihadeeswarar temple, to some degree. It is also surprising that Rajaraja Chola I did not renovate the temple into a granite temple, as was done with several other temples during that time.
Restoration of this vimanam is in progress, being done by the REACH foundation, and replicating the two-layer construction found in the original temple.
This temple is described in many texts and inscriptions which themselves date back to 1000-1500 years ago, meaning, this temple could have been in existence even about 2000 years ago.
Some years ago, the Archaeological Department discovered stone carvings and potsherds said to have been in use over 5000 years ago.
As of October 2021, these murtis are housed in the small one-room building (pink coloured, as seen in the cover image) in front of the vimanam, and daily worship continues. The shrine is tended to by the bhattar of the Venkatesa Perumal temple.
Other Information for your visit
Narayana Bhattar: 73052 08099
Veppathur has several temples of importance including:
Govindaraja Perumal temple
Kailasanathar (Kamakshi Amman temple)
Kasi Viswanathar temple
Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal temple