Thirukkadigai Temple, Sholinghur, Vellore
|Architectural style:||Dravidian architecture|
Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD. A granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all its shrines uphills. The temple has a five-tiered rajagopuram at the top of hill, while the temple tank is located opposite to the temple, outside the main entrance in the foothills. As the presiding deity, here is Lord Narasimha the place could have been known as Simhapuram and as it was in the Chozha country it might have got the name of Chozhasimhapuram.
One who visits this temple and stays here for 24 minutes is said to attain moksham. The temple follows Thenkalai tradition of worship. Six daily rituals and many yearly festivals are held at the temple, of which the Karthikai festival during November – December, Brahmotsavam during the Tamil month of Chittirai (March – April), and Narasimha Jayanti during Vaikasi (May – June) being the most prominent. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
The name Sholingapuram stems from the legend that a Chola Raja discovered a Shiva lingam and built a temple here (Chola Linga Puram, hence Sholingapuram). The Bhrama Puranam refers to this shrine as Katikachalam and Chintamani. It is also referred to as Vada Tiruvarangam. Sholingapuram is a town of historical importance as this is where a battle was fought between Hyder Ali and the British in 1781. The Malai Adi Vaaram (Bottom of the Mountain) of this temple is called “Konda Palayam”. Konda means Hill and Palayam means a town.
The belief is that by worshipping this Lord, the problems of mental disability, witchcraft and incurable diseases get dissolved. For conjugal problems, sterility and marriage impediments, the devotees offer prayers and are alleviated from their distresses. People have faith that to offer worship in this sacred place will relieve them from troubles such as loss in business, poverty and sorrow of old age. The unshakeable belief of the devotees is, by piling the stones and building a tower around the hill-path will give them sanction to buy a new plot or build a new house.
The traditional faith is that by taking a bath in the Narsimha pond will annihilate a person’s Brahmahatti sin. To perform charitable acts and distribute alms is equivalent visiting Gaya. Those who pray for issues, those with mental disorder and incurable diseases bathe in the pond and worship the Lord of the hill and Anjaneyar. The important offerings dedicated by the devotees are to offer rock-candy, jaggery, plantain fruits, give clothes, curd-rice, and conduct Abhishekam and poojas.
On all Fridays Abhishekam is performed to both the Lord and his Spouse. The ingredients used for the abishekam such as milk, curd, honey and sugar are known as ‘Panchamritham’ and are distributed as prasadam (the Lord’ blessings). If anyone pays the prayer-fees to Thaayar (Goddess), Utsavam is conducted for her. The devotees serve the Lord in different ways like creating temporary halls when the Lord goes in procession, building stone-halls and creating endowments.
Devotees believe that if a person visits the temple and spends 24 minutes on the hill, he/she will attain Moksham (salvation). The temple also attracts devotees who are in search of cures for mental disability and chronic diseases. Devotees perform Girivalam, (circumambulation of the hill) on Pournami days (full moon). On Sundays in Karthigai (November-December), people worship at this temple after taking a bath in the temple tank, Chakra Theertham. They lie flat on every step as they climb, as a penance. Devotees believe that the Lord comes and fulfils their wishes in their dreams.
Legend / Local stories
Sri Vishnu Puranam and Sri Padma Puranam speak about the greatness of the place and it is said that sage Viswamithra became a Brahma Rishi by staying in this place for one “Kadigai”.
Saptharishis worshipped Lord Vishnu here:
According to legend, Saptharishis – Athri, Kashyapa, Vasishtar, Jamadagni, Gautama, Bharadhwaja and Viswamithra – did penance here to have a vision of Lord Narasimha.
Anjaneya stayed here on Lord Rama request:
The Lord, in his incarnation as Rama, after slaying Ravana, wanted to return to his abode and when Anjaneya expressed the wish to accompany him, he directed him to stay here and offer protection to the Saptharishis. When two demons, Kalan and Keyan, caused hindrance to the penance of the Saptharishis, Anjaneya tried to defeat them. The Lord gave him his sacred conch and holy discus to slay the two as well as other demons. The Lord also appeared before the sages as Narasimha. He directed Anjaneya to sit atop the nearby small hill and bless the devotees till the end of Kaliyuga.
Anjaneya was doing penance here to become the next Brahma:
According to a few Vaishnavite scholars, Anjaneya was doing penance atop the hill to become the next Brahma and he suspended the same in the Karthigai month as per the directive of the Lord to bless the devotees.
The Goddess here is known as Amritabalavalli or Sudha Valli as she emerged sitting on a thousand-petal lotus in a tank near Kadigachalam. As she was holding the Amrita creeper in her hand, she came to be known as Amritabalavalli and was married to the Lord on a Friday.
Budha got relieved of Sage Durvasa curse here:
Sage Durvasa, who was overwhelmed with joy after getting a Tulsi garland from Lord Narayana, began to dance. On seeing this, Budha, one of the nine planets, laughed, and was cursed by the sage. He got relief from the curse after visiting the hill temple and taking a dip in the “Pandava Theertham”.
The hill temple is also known as Kadigachalam or Thirukkadigai. Peyazhwar refers to the Lord here as “Vann Poonkadigai Ilankumaran.” It is known as Kadigai as, one could get salvation if he stayed in the place for one “Kadigai” (24 minutes). It is believed that those afflicted with psychological ailments, find cure upon residing here. Sholinghur or Chola Simhapuram was known in ancient times as Thirukkadigai and is mentioned in the sacred poems of the third Thiruvanthathi of Peyalvar and Thirumangai Alvar (Vaishnava saints). The Lord is referred by Nammazhwar in a Paasuram (verse set to music) as Thakkan, the Lord who has the right to fulfil all the wishes of the devotees.
Equivalent to Gaya:
It is also claimed that performing the rites for our forefathers in this holy place is more effective than performing the same at Gaya in the North.
Lord Anjaneya helped King Indradhyumna to defeat a Demon:
There is a legend associated with this shrine. Once a king named Indradhyumna came to this place chasing a deer. When he attempted to shoot an arrow at it, the deer disappeared and there came ablaze a flame. From then on, he left his hunting activities. He received an extraordinary prowess with which he routed a rakshasa called Kumbhodharan and protected his citizens. It is believed that at the behest of Lord Narasimha, Lord Anjaneya came to help the king. The former bestowed the latter with the wheel (chakra) and the conch (shanku), and also four arms. Like the Master, Lord Anjaneya also sits in yogic posture, containing within himself, his immense energy. Worshipping this Lord, along with the Prime Deity, drives off insanity and evil doings, is the staunch belief of the devotees.
Balarama pressed down the height of the Hills:
There is also a legend that this hallowed hill which arose out of the surrounding plains, continued to rise in height much to the chagrin of Indra, who requested Balarama to press it down to its present height.
Valmiki worshipped Lord Vishnu here:
Valmiki, author of Ramayana is said to have worshipped Lord Vishnu here.
Narasimha came to this place after killing the demon Hiranya:
It is believed that Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar (the lion-man avatar of Lord Vishnu) came to this place after killing the demon Hiranya and stayed here forever in this peaceful Yoga posture.
Narasimha gave mukthi to Prahaladha:
Lord Narasimha gave mukthi (salvation) to Prahaladha, the son of Hiranya. Prahaladha was a staunch devotee of Narayana and was given a darshan (appearance) by Lord Narasimha in his calm and peaceful Yoga pose.
Narasimha gives darshan to Anjaneya through a small Window:
There is a small window opposite to Lord Narasimha’s sannidhi at Big Hill, through which the Lord gives darshan to Yoga Anjaneya Swamy at Small Hill. Yoga Narasimhar is facing east and the Small Hill is at the eastern side of the Big Hill.
Dodda Acharya and the Sholinghur – Kanchi connection:
The Sholinghur Narasimha Koil has been managed and taken care of by the descendants of Dodda Acharya for the last several centuries. Dodda Acharya was the grandson of Muthalai Andaan and to him, it is said, goes the credit of creating this beautiful temple town of Sholinghur in the Arcot region of Tamil Nadu. Dodda Acharya used to visit the Garuda Sevai of Varadaraja Perumal at Kanchipuram every year. However, once he could not make his annual trip to Kanchi as he fell ill. Saddened by this, he bathed at the temple tank at Sholinghur, invoked the blessings of Varadar of Kanchi and sang 5 songs in praise of Lord Varadaraja Perumal.
So, pleased was the Lord with his devotion that he is believed to have provided darshan to Sholinghur Dodda Acharya from his Garuda Vahanam. In memory of this event, every year on the third morning of Brahmotsavam at Kanchi, the temple door is closed for a few minutes and Lord Varadaraja Perumal, in his Garuda Vahanam, says ‘I am now going to give darshan to Dodda Acharya of Sholinghur. The Lord waits at the entrance of the temple, faces the direction of Sholinghur and provides darshan to Dodda Acharya. This is called the Dodda Acharya Sevai in Kanchipuram.
This is a Prarthana Sthalam. Belief is that the Lord cures devotees, who bathe here and walk up the two hills, from all kinds of diseases and is said to give them peace of mind. Lord Narasimha is also said to fulfil all the wishes of the devotees. Every Friday at 7am in the morning, there is a Prarthana Utsavam for Amruthavalli Thaayar with special Abishekam for the Thaayar and Perumal. On Sunday at 7am, there is special Abishekam for Lord Anjaneya. According to the puranas there are 14 peaks at Kadigachalam and the hill temple has existed for eons. If one takes a dip in the holy tanks here and goes around the two hills they can achieve many things in life. The circumambulation of the two hills has been classified under two heads.
How to Reach:
Sholinghur, also known as Cholasingapuram or Sholingapuram is located at about 30 Kms from Arakkonam, 44 Kms from Thakkolam, 26 Kms from Walajapet, 28 Kms from Ranipet, 55 Kms from Vellore, 27 Kms from Thiruthani, 43 Kms from Chittoor, 65 Kms from Kanchipuram, 80 Kms from Thiruvallur, 74 Kms from Sriperumbudur and 117 Kms from Chennai. The Temple is located at about 5 Kms from Sholinghur.
The Temple is located at about 3 Kms from Sholinghur Bus Station. Sholinghur is well connected to Vellore, Chennai, Kanchipuram, Thiruvallur, Thiruthani, Arakkonam and other nearby places by Bus. There are also direct buses from Madras to Sholinghur but it is better to take the train-bus option. Auto will charge Rs.10/- from Arakkonam/Walajah highway to the foot of the Periya Malai. One can take another auto for Rs.10-15/- from the foot of the Periya Malai to the foot of the Chinna Malai.
Several routes are there to reach Sholinghur and some of the popular routes are.
Route 1: Poonamallee – Sunguvar Chathiram – Vellai Gate (Kanchi outer) – Kaveripakkam – Sholinghur
Route 2: Poonamallee – Sunguvar Chathiram – Vellai Gate (Kanchi outer) – Arakkonam – Sholinghur
Route 3: Poonamallee – Sunguvar Chathiram – Madhuramangalam – Parandhur – Thirumalpur – Arakkonam – Sholinghur
Route 4: Poonamallee – Thandalam (MP Distilleries) – Narasingapuram – Perambakkam – Arakkonam – Sholinghur
Route 5: Poonamallee – Thiruvallur – Thiruthani – Sholinghur
Route 1 & 2 are in good condition, as we can travel in Bangalore Highway for most of the distance. Route 3, has advantage of visiting Madhuramangalam Embar Swamy Temple. Route 4, has advantage of visiting Narasingapuram Narasimha Swamy Temple. Route 5, has advantage of visiting Thiruvallur Sri Veeraraghava Perumal Temple. In general, all the roads above are equally good.
Nearest Railway Station is Sholinghur Railway Station located at about 17 Kms from the Temple. Sholinghur is situated in the Chennai-Bangalore railway line. Train is the best choice of public transport from Chennai to Sholinghur. Plenty of local trains are there between Chennai Central – Arakkonam. Arakkonam Bus stand is around 1 km from Railway station. From Arakkonam, plenty of buses are there to Sholinghur (30 Km). Devotees can get down at Temple foothill itself (Thakkan Kulam / Konda Palayam). Though, Sholinghur itself has a railway station, it is nearly 10 km away from the town.
- Early morning Kovai Express or Brindavan Express to Arakkonam and a 30 Kms bus trip from Arakkonam to Sholinghur (will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour) – Good wide Arakkonam- Walajah SH 61.
- Sapthagiri Express (6.25 am departure) to Thiruthani (arrival at 7.30 am). There are many buses from Thiruthani to Sholinghur (27 Kms).
- Take Chennai- Bangalore Express (departure at 1.20pm) and get down at Sholinghur Station (2.40 pm arrival). Many Share autos are available from the North of the station will take you to Sholinghur temple in 30 minutes (17 kms).
Nearest Airport is located at Chennai (123 Kms) and Thirupathi (91 Kms).