Sarangapani Temple’s Vaideeka Vimanam (special style of dome over sanctum) is considered to be an offshoot of the Srirangam Pranava Vimanam, which is a replica of the Pushpaka Vimanam (flying chariot from the Ramayana) presented to Vibishana of Sri Lanka by Rama after the ten-headed Ravana was killed. The main temple has a beautiful mandapam (hall) in front of the temple.

The temple sanctum is an architectural masterpiece. It is designed like a chariot with wheels drawn by horses and elephants. This is grander than the Melakadambur Temple built by Kulottunga Chola I (early 12th century CE).  A set of padukas (footprints) in the outside prakaram (enclosure) are worshipped by the devotees as representative of Vishnu. The shrine for Patala Srinivasa Perumal can be reached by climbing down a few steps.

The main deity of this temple is Sri Sarangapani and he is also known as Aara Amudhan, Abayaryaapthamiruthan and Utthanasayi. Sarangapani is shown in the Udhyoga Sayana posture as if he is getting up from a reclining position. This is how he appeared before Hema Maharishi.

Sarangapani’s (Lord Vishnu) consort is known as Komala Valli Thayar and has a separate shrine. She is also called as Padi Thanda Pathini that denotes a devout wife who does not step outside her threshold. Taking a dip in the Hema Pushkarani Tank next to the temple is considered very auspicious.

The one unique aspect of Sarangapani Temple is that it does not have a Paramapadavasal, the gate that is the entrance to Lord Vishnu’s abode—Vaikunta which is opened on Vaikunta Ekadasi, the 11th day after the New Moon in Margazhi (December-January). The two gateways of this temple are called Uttarayanam after the northern and Dakshinayana, the southern annual movement of the Sun. The northern gate is opened from 14th January to 15th July and the southern gate from 15th July to 14th January.

Sarangapani is the largest Vishnu temple in Kumbakonam and has the tallest temple tower in the town. The temple is enshrined within a huge wall and the complex enshrines all the water bodies of the temple except the Potramarai tank. The Rajagopuram (the main gateway) has eleven tiers and has a height of 173 ft (53 m). There are five other smaller gopurams in the temple. The Rajagopuram has figures depicting various religious stories. The temple faces east and the Potramarai tank is located outside the western entrance. The central shrine of the temple is in the form of a chariot drawn by horses and elephants, with openings on either side, showing the descent of Sarangapani from heaven in the chariot.

There is a sculptural representation of the sage Hemarishi in the western part of the temple. The central shrine of the temple houses the image of Sarangapani in Pallikonda posture, with his head resting on his right hand. There are other images of sage Hemarishi, Lakshmi and festival images enshrined within the sanctum. There are two stepped entrances to the sanctum named as Utharayana Vaasal and Dhakshanayana Vaasal, each open for a six-month period. From 15 January to 15 July, Utharayanya Vaasal is opened while Dhakshanayana Vaasal is opened during the other half of the year. The Potramarai tank has a central hall called Hemarishi Mandapam. The temple has two processional chariots carved out of wood stationed outside the Rajagopuram.

In Bharatnatyam, a South Indian dance form, 108 karanas form the basic movements. Some of these karanas are sculpted around the walls of the temple. Similar sculptures are found in the Brihadeeswarar Temple inThanjavur and Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram.

The Sarangapani temple is of great religious significance, considered to be second only to the Srirangam temple. The Vaideeka Vimanam of this temple is considered to be an offshoot of the Srirangam Pranava vimanam, and a replica of the vimanam presented to Vibishana of Sri Lanka by Rama. It is conceived of, as a chariot with wheels drawn by horses and elephants, in a scale grander than that of theMelakadambur temple built by Kulottunga I (early 12th century).

This vimanam has two gateways (as in Tiruvellarai), the northern gate, or the Utharayana Vaasal, open on Makara Sankranti, and the Dakshinayana Vaayil, opened on Aadi Perukku, the 18th day of the Tamil month of Aadi. The earliest of the Alwars Peyalvar and Bhutattalwar have sung of this temple. So have Periyalwar, Andal and Thirumangai Alwar (8th century). Tirumazhisai Alwar spent his last years and attained salvation here. Nammalvar has also sung of this temple. It is at this temple that the Vaishnavite savant Nada Muni was inspired to compile the works of the Alwars, upon listening to the Tamil hymn ‘Aaravamude’ composed by Nammaalvar. Nadamuni spent his last years at the Chola capital of Gangaikonda Choleeswaram.

Although the temple existed during the Pallava period, the current structure is attributable to the period of Vikrama Chola (1121 onwards). Later Cholas built the superstructure of the 11 tiered gopuram, and the tower was actually completed by the Vijayanagar rulers. There are sculptures depicting the Bharata Natya karanas, as enunciated in the Natya Shastram – on the first tier of the Gopuram, in contrast to other temples (such as Chidambaram) where they are seen on walls.

In the sanctum there is a beautifully carved out 12 pillared mandapa going by the Tirumamani mandapam reminiscent of the similar Mandapa at Sri Vaikuntha and hence it is axiomatic to call this kshetra a Bhuloka Vaikuntha like Sri Rangam.

The immensely lofty tower 173 feet in height and 90 feet and 51 feet in length and breadth shall speak a lot about the grandeur of the gopuram and the splendour of Sri Sarangapani who abides therein.

There is no Paramapadavasal to the temple. There was a devotee by name Sri Lakshmi Narayana Swami. During his life time he was ever engaged in the Nityakanikarya of the temple. With the help got from kings and the wealthy, he was able to procure ornaments for the deities, landed properties to the temple. He also had the big tower, Raja Gopuram, a marvel of beauty, and other extensive mandapas, built for temple. When the devotee breathed his last on a Deepavali day, the Lord himself ordered to perform the funeral rites of the deceased as he had no heirs. Even to this day on every Deepavali day Shraddha is performed to Sri Lakshmi Narayanaswami on behalf of the Lord. Sri Rama performed the funeral ceremonial rites once to Jadayu.

Deities: The Moolavar here is Pallikondaar, while the processional deity is Sarangapani, with his consort Komalavalli.

Moolavar:

The Moolavar of this temple is Sri Sarangapani. Aara Amudhan, Abayaryaapthamiruthan and Utthanasayi are the other names of Moolavar. Moolavar is in Udhyoga Sayana posture (i.e) he appears as though is getting up from sleeping position.

Thayaar:

Sri Komalavalli Thayar. Also called as “Padi Thanda Pathini” i.e Thayaar would never (leave out) or leave away from her chamber. She has her own separate Sannadhi in this temple. The repository of beauty and grace, with a smile exuding compassion with the face turned to the east abides to the right of the sanctum sanctorum of Sri Aravamudan is a separate shrine. A darshan at this shrine is equally insatiable indeed. It is customary to worship the Divine mother, Sri Komalavalli Thayar, before we have a darshan of Sri Aravamudan.

Pushkarani:

  • Hema Pushkarani (Potramarai Kulam).
  • Cauvery Nadhi.
  • Arasalaaru.

Vimanam: 

  • Vaidega Vimaanam

The complete article is taken from https://tamilnadu-favtourism.blogspot.in/2016/01/sarangapani-temple-temple-architecture.html

 

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