Tiruvekkaa or Yathothkari Perumal (Vishnu) Temple of Kanchipuram - unusual ''Ananathasayanam'' posture

 One of the  108  Divya Desam shrines glorified by  Azhwar Tamil saints in  the ''Divya Prabandha'' Tiruvekkaa Temple or Yathothkari Perumal Temple of Kanchipuram close to Chennai city is a popular one.  There are references to this temple in Patanjali Mahabharatham and Tolkāppiyam (3rd century BCE).  Locally called Sonnavannam Seitha Perumal   temple dedicated to god Vishnu, here his consort is  Lakshmi as Komalavalli. It is said   to have been built by the Pallava rulers  of the late 8th century AD, with later contributions from Medieval Cholas and Vijayanagar kings. The temple's association with  Kulothunga Chola I (1070–1120 CE) and  that of Rajendra  Chola (1018-54 CE) is highlighted by three inscriptions on its walls. Further   Kulothunga Chola  gifted villages to 32 brahmins to take care of the temples, etc.  As per records  Chola king, Parantaka I (907–950 CE) gave a  gift of 367 kalanju of gold to the temple by an individual. 

The architecture followed here is a good example of Dravidian style. This temple follows the traditions of the Thenkalai samprathayam (sect of Vaishnavite tradition) and  vaikanasa aagama. The Vaishnavite   priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and  six Kaala puja on a daily basis.   Mangalasasanam to this temple has 14 Paasurams;  6 paasurams are written by Thirumangai Alwar and 3 paasuram are written by Thirumizhisai alwar , 4 Paasurams are by Poigai Alwar and remaining one paasuram is  by Nammalwar.

Tiruvekkaa Temple or Yathothkari Perumal Temple, Kanchi. en.wikipedia.org

Above image:  Also known as Tiruvekkaa Temple, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, it is one among the three oldest Perumal temples in Kanchi; the other being   Ulagalantha Perumal Temple and Pandava Thoothar Perumal Temple. 

Yathothkari Perumal Temple,Kanchipuram, TN, facebook.com 

Above image: At this 8th century CE  Yathothkari Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram the presiding deity Sri Vishnu has a rare Ananthasaynam posture (reclining). Unlike other Sri Vishnu temples where the lord  is recumbent on his right, here he is recumbent on the left.   Originally lying left to right upon hearing Thirumalisai Azhwar's  devotional  soul-stirring hymns  God turned his reclining posture from right to left.  Famous historian Nagaswamy is of the opinion that  the image (reclining posture in an unconventional way)  made of stucco in this temple  is one of the rarest representation of the deity.  Yet another interesting fact is Poigai Azhwar, one of the azhwars Tamil  saints of 7-10th century, was born at this temple lotus tank. Here, the lord gave darshan to goddess Saraswati and  Thirumalisai Azhwar. ...........................................

As for legends, there are a few versions. According one legend  Thirumalisai Aahwar, a disciple of Pey Azhwar with his mystic power  once turned an old lady into a beautiful damsel through the grace of  Bhujanga Sayana Perumal.  Later the Pallava ruler of that region married that good-looking girl. When age was catching up with him while his wife remained young,  he requested  one   Kanikkannan,  a disciple of   Thirumalisai Aahwar to sing in praise of him so that he could turn young brimming with youthfulness.  When out-rightly refused to do so, the king was in rage and banished Kanikkannan from the country.  Kanikannan explained  what had happened to  him to  his Guru  Thirumalisai, who in tern, prayed to Bhujangasayana  Perumal. Further infuriated.  king ordered all the three to to be banished. 

Location map, Kanchipuram. mapsofindia.com

No sooner had the learned persons and divine power  left the town of Kanchi than  it  fell under the cover of darkness, heralding a bad omen  filled with dreadful apprehension and a sense of foreboding for the future. Realizing his grave mistake and folly and concerned about the welfare of the people living there,   the king worshipped Bhujangasayana Perumal and requested him  to  return to Kanchipuram  along with his two devotees. Since the presiding deity obliged to his devotees' wishes, he is called Yathothkari Perumal  - Yathothka meaning  as requested and kari denotes the person who accomplishes the task.  

Yathothkari Perumal Temple,Kanchipuram, TN,epuja.co.in

Above image:  Yathothkari Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram. Here  God Vishnu  is known as  Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal  implying the Lord had obliged  the request of Azhwar.   According to  one of the legends  Goddess Saraswati  came to this place when she was angry with Lord Brahma..........

The presiding deity of the main west facing  sanctum, "Sonnavannam Seitha Perumal" is in Bhuganja Sayanam posture. There are rare stucco images of various legends in the sanctum, one being that of goddess  Saraswathi praying at Lord's  feet . The roof of the sanctum is referred to as  Vedasara Vimana  with  five kalasams There are separate  for Poigai Azhwar located to the North of the flagstaff and lord   Yathothkari's  consort Komavalli (facing the central shrine in the Eastern side of the temple). The sanctum is accessed through pillared halls, Mahamandapam and the Ardhamandapam.  The richly ornate pillars od Mahamantapa were  built during the Vijayanagara period of 15-16th centuries. The temple has two prtakshana paths (/prakaram/precincts);  the second one  has tall  granite walls pierced by a five-story   rajagopuram ( main gateway tower). In the temple there are images of Rama Setha, Hanuman and Garuda. 

Panguni Brahmotsavam  is celebrated  during April - May and Poigai Azhwar birthday during Aipassi Thiruvonam star are the two major festivals celebrated in the temple.  Aipassi Thiruvonam, the birth star of Poigai Azhwar, is celebrated every year. ] To indicate the legend of Kanikannan, the festive image of Yathothkari, Tirumalisai Azhwar and Kanikkannan are taken in procession to Orikkai village to have a short stay during the Thai Magam festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Thai (January - February).  The annual  Azhwar Utsavam is  celebrated annually during the birth date of the Poigai Azhwar based on Tamil calendar in the temple.

In the last two years due to COVID-19 pandemic, the  conduct of festivals is very much restricted. So are the number of devotees entering the temple. The temple is under the  administration of  the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.