Ulagalantha Perumal Temple or Trivikrama Temple of Tirukkoyilur, Tamil Nadu

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Tirukkoyilur, twitter.com

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple or Trivikrama Temple of  Tirukkoyilur, Tamil Nadu, one among the 108  Divya Desam shrines glorified in the Prabandha (Tamil Vedam), the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD is a rare  Vishnu temple related  to the avatar of Vamana saint who demanded 3 steps of land from the good natured Asura king Mahabali. Only recently in   Kerala during the Thiruvonam festivities, the annual return of Mahabali from the pathal loka - ether world was celebrated  with great joy. The legend of Vamana is associated with Thrikkakara Temple in Kerala, but also with this temple and Ulagalantha Perumal Temple of Kanchipuram, near Chennai.  During the colonial rule, this temple was almost like a fortress, particularly when the Carnatic war was on. The temple faced threats  during the days of the rule of Hyder Ali.  

 Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Tirukkoyilur,veludharan.blogspot.com

location map Thirukovilur TN.google.com

In this temple Ulagalantha Perumal's consort is   Lakshmi as Poongothai. The temple that covers 5 acres of land and has the third tallest tower ( 192 ft tall) - entrance gopura is  as per records, was  built by the Medieval Cholas.  the later dynasties of Vijayanagara and Nayaks of Madurai, being patrons of god Vishnu, made additions. The tall tower is next to the one in Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple and Thiruvannamalai Annamalaiyar Temple. 

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Tirukkoyilur, twitter.com

This temple is a sanctified one because it was here three  Vaishnava Azhwar saints   , Poigai Azhwar, Bhoothathazwar and Pezhwar attained ''Mukthi'' - salvation (free from birth and death cycles). Yet another sacred aspect of this temple is it is one of the Panchakanna (Krishnaranya) Kshetrams - five Krishna temples. 

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Tirukkoyilur, .facebook.com

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Tirukkoyilur, .facebook.com

It is said Maha Vishnu not only appeared before Mahabali as Ulagalantha Perumal, but also gave the same darshan to the Azhwar saints.  The temple hold many festivals all through the year, the most interesting one being  Chittirai  festival  (March–April), which is widely attended by the devotees.   The temple is being managed by the HR & CE the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Tirukkoyilur, wikiwand.com

The legend has it that the temple is said to have been originally a Krishna temple. The temple name, Kovilur, refers to the original deity Gopalan, another name of Sri Krishna.  According to Brahmanda Purana sage Mrikandu and his wife  Mithravathi, on the advice of Brahma, did penance here in order to see god Vishnu in  his  Ulagalantha Perumal kolam/ form - a giant form in his  Vamana avatar.  God Vishnu was at last pleased with their devotion and dedication and  reappeared as Vamana - Thrivikrama form 

A note-worthy feature here is the main deity,  Ulagalantha Perumal,  an imposing one made of Tharu wood with foot raised (far- stretched).  Unlike other Vishnu temples, here Perumal has Sangu (conch)  in his right hand and Chakra on his left. Also enshrined here are the images of Mahalakshmi, Prahalad and Mahabali to the right of presiding deity and the images of Sukracharya (guru of Assuras), sage Mrikandu. The image of Vamana is  behind the sanctum. The festival deities (utchavars), the metal idols of Koovalan and Poongodhai Thayar are also in the sanctum.

The three Azhwars (Peyazhwar, Bhoothath Azhwar and Poigai Azhwar)  are housed in the hall preceding the sanctum. There are separate shrines for various deities and saints notably Andal  Manavala  Mamuni and Ramanuja.

Quite interesting to note the idol of  Vishnu Durga, which normally one would find in the Shiva temples. Goddess Durga is a form of Parvati, sister of God Vishnu and consort of Shiva. The idol of Sri Krishna in a separate shrine is a unique one made of  saligrama stone that is normally found in the foot hills of the Himalayas in Nepal (the stone dates back to millions of years).

Unlike other Hindu temple, this temple has  as many as  sixteen temple tanks, the fore most being Chakra Theertham located outside which is believed to have been formed  from the waters used by Brahma to wash the holy feet of God Vamana.

Numerous stone inscriptions in the temple suggest donations from   Chola, Pandya and Vijayanagara  Dynasties.  An inscription from Rajendra Chola II indicates that the temple was once known as  Thiruvidaikazhi Azhwar temple.  It was a   chieftain  Ranakesari Raman rebuilt  the whole sanctum with granite because the brick structure became weak.  During the reign  of Virarajendra Chola (1063–70), a granite structure was developed and later additions were made  using granite. 

The important festivals are  the 15-day Panguni Brahmmotsavam in March–April, Sri Pushpavalli Thayar Oonjal, the Masi Magam festival celebrated in February–March, the festive deity is carried on the shoulders of devotees to Cuddalore. Sri Manavala Mamunigal utsav in October–November, Karthikai Kaisika Ekadasi, Tirukarthikai in November–December, Margazhi Rapathu, Pagal Pathu and Vaikunta Ekadashi in December–January.