Thonthoni Perumal temple near Karur

Karur Kalyana Venkataramana perumal.Tamilnadu Tourism 

This rock-cut cave temple, (8th century AD) 4 kilo meter  near Karur town Tamil  Nadu, is a popular Vishnu temple and the presiding deity in the garbagraha/Srikovil is Kalyana Ventataramana Swamy and the goddess is Mahalakshmi who is on the chest of Perumal. The size of the  west facing deity is  majestic and is more than 10 feet tall adorned inside the sanctum. The sanctum, which is a cave is believed to have been carved out of the rock formation. The temple is atop a small hillock and the main temple entrance can be accessed by a flight of steps -70 steps

An interesting aspect of this  temple is, unlike many Vishnu temples, the deity in the sanctum is  self-manifested, god's image appeared on its own. Hence, the deity is called in Thanthoni Malai Perumal. There has been some controversy regarding the moola stone image  which is considered as Lord Shiva. The presence and styling of  Bhoodha Ganam  support this view. According to  a great saint Sadashiva Brahmendral of Nerur, who installed goddess in the famous Mariamman temple at Punnainallur, near Thanjavur city, the deity here is Muruga (Karthikaya) and he conducted prayers here centuries ago. Yet other historians say it is a Jain temple. Let us not get bogged down to this controversy over who the real god is.

Kalyana Venkataramana perumal. Karur KarurOnline

Sri Kalyana Venkataramana swamy Temple's  Punarutharana Ashtabandhana Mahasamprokshanam (consecration) at Thanthoni Malai, Karur took place  in September 2014. This temple is a prathana sthala (offering center) for childless and unmarried people. The temple is over crowded on auspicious days and lots of weddings are held on the temple premises. 

Kalyana Venkataramana perumal. Karur www.thanthoniperumal.tnhrce.
The 8th Century AD Rock cut Cave Temple bears similarity in Architecture and structure to the Narasimha temple at Namakkal town,  roughly 45kms from here, but in terms of cave size, it is larger than the one at the Narasimha temple in Namakkal.

The Maha Mandapam and other Sannidhis/shrines at the temple were said to have been built in the 12-13th Century AD. The  
stricking facts are the huge sanctum in the cave, gigantic stone image of the Moolavar  and 16 specially carved sculptures playing instruments. Features inside the sanctum are similar to those at  Thanjai Maa Mani Narasimha Divya Desam shrine both in terms of the huge size of the Moolavar Lord as well. The shrine of Garudazhwar  is on the left.

Karur Dist. map. India Map
The legend has it a child less person called Somasharma, was once approached by the local people to guide them in building a Vishnu temple at Thanthondrimalai (also Thanthonimalai). Somasharma helped the locals sincerely and  with  devotion to build the Kalyana Venkatramana Swamy Koil. His wife joined him later after the completion of the temple work. Both were blessed by Kalyana Venkatramanar with a baby. Since then, childless couples had begun to visit this temple with a strong belief that the lord will bless them with a baby. This his temple is also called Then Thirupathi, 

According to another  legend, Chola King Muchukunda, a Saivite devotee, was cursed to have the face of a monkey.  To get rid himself  of the effects of  the curse, he built several Vishnu temples. The  two perumal temples of Karur - this one at Thanthonimalai and the Abhaya Pradhana Ranganatha temple in the center of Karur town are among them.

Yet another story is: Once upon a time, in the absence of the chief priest - Bhattacharya who was unable to do his temple duties on a particular day, he sent his small son to perform puja, etc. There is a custom that the Lord is almost daily adorned with the life size garland  called Nilai Malai. When a devotee wanted the boy to garland the lord with Nilai malai, being short,  the boy intensely prayed to God. Then he cried and prayed the Lord to bend a little (Venkataramana Devudu, please bend a little). Pleased as he was, the presiding deity  bent good enough for the boy's convenience. Then the boy priest was happy and garlanded the lord.This shows, the lord, regardless of devotees' age and status,  pays attention to their wishes  by lending his ears  and blessing them. That is the reason, the temple has become popular for a pretty long time. 

Donation of one slipper as an offering in a Hindu temple? Does it not sound odd? Yes, this practise has been here for a long time. We rarely come across a peculiar offering at other temples as we find it here. Lord Kalyana Venkatramana Perumal is believed to appear in the dreams of devotees and suggest a particular size of one foot wear of  leg to be donated to the temple by the devotee. And the same footwear of similar size of another leg is to a be donated by another devotee. Thus, it makes two devotees come together, each offering one foot wear of similar size of different legs, making it a perfect pair.The footwear offering is made specifically by the devotees to have their wedding wishes fulfilled. Positively, they get their wishes fulfilled here. This is called Chemmali Samarpanam. How did the origin of this  strange offering come about? It is not clear. Devotees offering the odd gift are quite satisfactory with the results. Those who offer their sincere prayers and present this slipper, as suggested by Kalyana Venkatramana Perumal, have their wedding wishes fulfilled.
Chariot festival Thonthoni temple, Karur.KarurOnline
Some facts:

01. A rare puja protocol here is  there will be  a Thirumanjanam  (anointing)  every day at this temple  at 11.30 am for the Moolavar deity. This ritual, which is well attended,  lasts for a long time.  This ritual is rare in many Vishnu temples.

02. Unmarried women and men  come to the shrine with a long Tulsi malai (garland made of basil leaves) to be offered to  the main deity so that they could be blessed with a suitable life partner.

03. There is not a separate shrine for the goddess -lord's consort Mahalakshmi. 

04. Thiru Kalyana Utsavam is another special feature at this temple.

05.  Every month on the day of  Shravanam Star, there is a special abhishekam  performed for childless couples.

06.  Here the procession deity - Uttchavar is Srinivbasa Perumal.

07.  Two  important Brahmotsavams - one in Maasi and  another in Puratasi are significant. Pavitrotsavam in Avani and Navarathri Utsavam are well-attended.

08.  Chariot Festival on the Thiruvonam day in Puratasi and Magam day in Maasi attract a lots of devotees. The 7 day Masi Magam car festival in February-March; Krishna Jayanthi in August-September; Vaikunda Ekadasi in December and Tamil and English New Year days are the other important festivals celebrated in the temple.

09. Thirumalai Nayak ruler of Madurai, a devout Hindu made valuable contribution to this temple.  

10. In this temple, Puratasi 3rd Saturday is a special occasion.

11. The place is referred to  as Dakshina Tirupathi-Tirupathi of South.  As in Tirupati, there is no shrine for the god's consort -Thayar