Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Veyil Ugantha Vinayakar||Ambal / Thayar:||–|
|Deity:||Vinayakar||Historical name:||Suryapuri, Tavasiddhipuri, Pavavimochana Puram, Vannimandhara Vanam, Lavanapuram|
|Timing:||6 to 11 & 4 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Uppur||District:||Ramanathapuram|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Ramanathapuram (37 km)||Karaikudi (66 km)|
|Pudukkottai (106 km)||Sivaganga (118 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
At Daksha’s yagam, Sati immolated herself. In addition to this causing grief to Siva, was the fact that several of the celestials and gods attended the yagam, to which He was not invited. So Siva unleashed Veerabhadrar to punish all of them.
The greatest wrath of Veerabhadrar seemed to be reserved for Suryan who, among other punishments, had his teeth knocked out and his effulgence and brightness greatly weakened. Feeling truly penitent and remorseful, he went to various temples to expunge himself of the effects of the punishments meted out to him. In his wanderings, he reached this place, which was near Tirupunavayil, Devipuram (today’s Devipatnam) and the sea, which was also a forest of Vanni and Mandhra trees. Finding this to be the perfect place for his penance, he settled down here and began worshipping Vinayakar – since the son of Siva was the best to recommend his case to Siva.
Pleased with Suryan’s sincerity and devotion, Vinayakar blessed him and relieved him of his curses. As a mark of gratitude, Suryan requested Vinayakar to stay here forever, with the promise that his rays would shine on Vinayakar every day of the year – from the north during Uttarayanam, and from the south during the Dakshinayanam. Vinayakar is called Veyil Ugandha Vinayakar as He basks in the glory of the sun’s rays.
Later, in the time of the Ramayanam, Rama came down south in search of Sita. After being informed that She was in Lanka, Rama and Lakshmana decided to build a bridge from Rameswaram, to reach Lanka. As was (and is) custom, they decided to propitiate Vinayakar at this temple before beginning their campaign.
The original temple is said to be from the Pandya period, though very little (if any) evidence exists to support this claim. Much of the masonry temple today is believed to have been originally constructed about 400-500 years old, in the time of the earliest Sethupati kings (said to be a trail off from the Pandya dynasty, whose lineage continues to this day).
The various historical and mythological names of this place are all connected to the story of Suryan.
Suryapuri – as Suryan worshipped here; Tavasiddhapuri – since Suryan’s penance bore fruit here; Pavavimochana Puram – because Suryan’s sins were relieved here; Vannimandhara Vanam – as this was a forest of Vanni and Mandhara trees.
The Tamil name of Uppur today is also derived from the Sanskrit name of the place – Lavanapuram – which is mentioned in the puranas.
The temple is built almost entirely in the same design as a Siva temple, except that the moolavar is Vinayakar (and so is preceded by His vehicle, the mooshika). The other interesting iconographic aspect here is in the prakaram, where Vinayakar is depicted with his two consorts – Siddhi and Buddhi. (In typical south Indian tradition, Vinayakar is regarded as a bachelor.)
There is a welcome arch above an outer mandapam, following which one enters the main premises. There is a dhwajasthambam, followed by a bali peetham and the mooshikam, and then an elevated shrine for Vinayakar, in the maha mandapam. In the prakaram are a separate Vinayakar, a shrine for Siva as Viswanathar with Visalakshi Amman, Murugan with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, Bhairavar and Saneeswaran, as well as Suryan.
At the time of our visit in December 2021 (on the day of Tiruavdhirai), the temple was being renovated. Unfortunately, the half-built cement façade that is coming up seems to be a poor replacement for the traditional entrance, a picture of which (from the internet, source unknown) is presented here.