Andal temple, Srivilliputhur, TN - Why does it stand apart from other Vishnu temples?

Sri  Andal temple of   Srivilliputhur in Virdunagar district of Tamil Nadu is  a popular one and is an important divyadesam shrine among the 108 shrines. This temple of great antiquity is closely associated with poetess Andal (Goddess Lakshmi), one among the  Tamil Azhwar who dedicated their life to the services of God Vishnu. This temple is a repository of fine architecture and impressive large stone sculptures. This temple  forms  a confluence of sculptural excellence, architectural majesty and godliness.

Andal temple, Srivilliputhur, TN

Flag staff mantap, Andal temple,

.Mural art, Srivilliputhur Andal temple,TN

Andal temple Prakaram.

The following are fascinating features of this temple:

00  Mainly dedicated to poetess Andal on the vast temple premises there are two temples - one  for Andal and the other is  Rangamannar or Vadapatra sayee; the latter is more than 1500 years old. Both temples contain over 60 inscriptions in "Vattezhuthu" in the tower.  Numerous stone inscriptions in the temple date back to the reign of  Pandya kings. Madurai Nayak rulers also made considerable contribution to this temple.

Srivilliputhur location map,

00  An important Vaishnava kshetram for the following reasons: a. Here all 12 Tamil  Vaishnava saints did Mangala sasanam to Perumal.  b. Poetess Andal composed  Thirupavai on Vedapatra sayee (Vishnu) and her adopted father and Tamil saint Periazhwar composed "pallandu" here. c. Most importantly Periazhwar found the child Andal near the Tulasi madam in the garden between two temples  and brought  her up as his daughter who grew up a true devotee of Peumal.  

00  It is one  of the few temples where  Ariyar seva is held during the Vaikunta Ekadasi.   Ariyars use the childhood  pranks of Andal and other episodes as themes for  part of their rendition. 

00  The Pushpa yagam, a fascinating form of divine worship,   is  arranged by the Andal Seva Trust in the "Sukravara Kuradu" inside the temple. It is  rare mix of large quantities of flowers,  may be 12 or more of varying hues, added to the deities with  spiritual ecstasy.

 00 "Thiruppavai Vimanam"  has rich architectural features depicting various scenes from Puranas - aspects of Vishnu and Krishna.

00  Among the festival events besides Vaikuntha ekadasi and Thiruvaadipooram day,    five Garuda Sevai is an interesting one. Here, in the sanctum of  Andal garuazhwar is  enshrined along with other deities.

00  The stone "Palahanis" providing light and fresh air to the Mahamandapam and Manimandapam are not mere windows but fine works of art.

00  They date back to the 10th century or even earlier during the reign of Pandya kings. Most of the inscriptions speak about the lands and other gifts made to the two temples. Srivilliputtur is mentioned as "Malli Valanadu" and they provide lots of information about the divisions and sub-divisions made by kings and administrators, the names of the deities and the rulers and chieftains.

Andal temple: 

00  Poetess Andal has a separate shrine in the SW part of the temple complex. The goddess is with Rangamannar (Vishnu) and the lord  holds Dhandam (a sort of Royal staff), hence he is known as Ranga Mannar.

00  Prabavakriti vimanam over the goddess shine is gold-plated  with stucco woks  -  t"Sudhai" images depicting scenes from Thiruppavai hymns.  

00  Big life-size sculptures of Mohini, Rama, Kamadeva, Rati and many other deities adorn the  Kalyana Mandapa,  second hall from the entrance towards the sanctum. About  a dozen monolithic pillars with exquisite images  adorn  the Dwajasthambam (flagstaff) mandapam

00  The deities are  worshipped every Friday in a decorated "Oonjal" (swing) in "Sukkiravara kuradu."  Here are found on the walls  pictures from  Andal's life as depicted in Her "Naachiyaar Thirumozhi" and "Thiruppavai." The statues of king Thirumalai Nayak and his consorts  are  well carved 

00  The mandapam at the entrance to the Andal temple,  is the place where Andal's celestial wedding is celebrated on the Panguni Uthiram day every year. The ceiling has  frescoes depicting scenes associated with Lord Rangamannar and Andal .

 00  The images  of Lord Sri Krishna playing flute and holding the sacred disc or Sudarsana and Panchajanya or the conch and that of   Viswakarma or Mayan,  the divine sculptor with his tools are well made.  Yet another fine carving is that of   demon king  Jalandarasura who was born out of divine ocean and who was spared by lord Vishnu. 

00  The composite columns of Virabhadra holding sword and horn are  additions of the Vijayanayagara kings during the early 1500s. Similar columns of Virabhadra are found in other temple like Adikesava Perumal Temple at Thiruvattar, Meenakshi Temple at Madurai, Nellaiappar Temple at Tirunelveli, etc. 

00   The Vatapatrasayee Temple, This shine is  believed to have existed even before Periyazhwar's time; may be more than 1500 years old.   Often called Periya kovil  "Maadakkovil"it  is a two story structure  with a shrine for Sri Lakshmi Narasimha on the ground floor; here are found shrines for 12  Azhwars and dasavatharams of Sri Vishnu.  The large prakaram has fine sculptures and paintings.   The sanctum dedicated to  Vatapatrasayee is on the upper floor and can be accessed through a  flight of steps. The lord is in the company of his consorts Sri Devi, Bhoo Devi and sages Markanyaya and Brigu. 

Sayana perumal Vadaparta sayee.

00  The sanctum, on a higher level in the second precinct,  has  three doorways from which the presiding deity can be seen. Here, the lord is in the Boojanga saynam (Bujanga "Sayana Thirukkolam)."

Andal temple

Andal temple. Hall with carved wood

Hall with carved wood.

00  Here the unusual feature is the  Lord's  large image is in "Sudhai" (brick and mortar); so no daily "Thirumanjanam"(sacred bath) is nor done  to Him. Vimanam over the garbagriha is  known as Samsana vimanam.

 00  ''Gopala Vilasam" in front of the sanctum is a big hall with wooden paneled  roof and it was   built with the remains of the temple's big car -chariot  which was partially damaged in a fire mishap nearly 200 years ago.  Wooden carvings include themes from Andal's life and the Ramayana. It is here  araiyar  sevai is performed during "Pagal Pathu" utsavam.  

00   The famous chariot (car) began to run after 2000. Thanks to the efforts made by  Vanamamalai Jeer, the head the mutt, who had the chariot  modified with hydraulic wheels to ease the movement;  

 00  The  old chariot  was  made by the then Jeeyar  of the Nanguneri-Vaanamamalai Math over 150 years ago (40m tall and original weight: 650 tones). It was damaged in a freak fire accident long long ago. The chariot was a heavy one,  as big as  that of Azhi Ther of Thiruvarur. 

00  Though this  temple possesses numerous jewels and vast landed property,  the income generated is quite disappointing. Media nd newspapers blame the HR & CE for poor  financial  management and poor   enforcement of  laws to collect rental income, etc.