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Uppiliappan Temple, Kumbakonam Overview

Located in the village of Thirunageswaram, near Kozhikode, Uppiliappan Temple is a revered Hindu temple. Also known as Thiruvinnagar of Venkatachalapathy Temple, the temple enshrines Lord Vishnu and is constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture. Glorified in the popular Tamil work- Divya Prabandha, the shrine is counted as the 60th amidst the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Vishnu is worshipped as Lord Uppiliappan and his spouse Lakshmi is worshipped as Bhumi Dev.

The construction of the temple is believed to have been started during the reign of the Medieval Cholas in the 8th century AD and was completed in the times of Thanjavur Nayaks. The five-tiered gopuram is constructed within a granite wall and has two inscriptions dating from the Chola period. Administered and maintained by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu, Uppiliappan Temple observed six daily rituals and three annual festivals. Panchguni Festival (also known as Chariot Festival) is celebrated during March- April and thousands of pilgrims gather at the spot to be a part of the festivities.

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Legend of Uppiliappan Temple

The oldest legend associated with the temple goes to say that once Tulsi (the plant) prayed to attain closeness to Lord Vishnu. Vishnu gave the plant a boon that Goddess Lakshmi will appear in its lap herself. Tulsi then, grew at the place where the temple stands now. Some years later, Maharishi Markandeya worshipped to Lord Vishnu to let Goddess Lakshmi be born as his daughter and that Lord Vishnu should then marry her and become his son-in-law.

When Markandeya reached the site of the temple, he got an intuition and started a severe penance that lasted for several thousands of years. Finally, Lakshmi appeared as a baby under the Tulsi plant and Markandeya realised that his wish has been fulfilled. The Maharishi nurtured the child and reached the age of adolescence; when Vishnu appeared before him in disguise and asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage. To which Markandeya replied that his daughter is too young to decide the content of salt in food let alone being married. Vishnu not only accepted his daughter’s flaw but also said that the food she cooks will be of best quality with or without salt.

The Maharishi got puzzled and prayed to Lord Vishnu to help him out. Then, Lord Vishnu then appeared in his original form with a conch and chakram and married Goddess Lakshmi. The temple stands at the same spot. And as per this legend, the prasad offered in the temple- Neyvethiyam, is prepared without any salt in it to this day.

Architecture of Uppiliappan Temple

The major attraction of the temple is the luxuriant five-tiered gopuram adorning the entrance. Besides, it is needless to mention that the rich temple is generously endowed and bedecked with precious jewellery and valuable stones. The shrine above the sanctum sanctorum is plated in gold as are the Sahasradhari plate and pot used to perform ablution- Thirumanjanam. The idol of Hanuman is decorated with a diamond crown, golden sword and armour.

The main shrine houses presiding deity of Uppiliappan. The temple complex also houses smaller shrines of Bhoomidevi, Sage Markandeya, Anjaneya, Alwar, Sri Rama, Maniappan, Ennappan and also Garuda. The complex also houses two marriage halls, a guest house with five rooms, ne chamber each for the big and small chariot and two spare halls. A garden in the premises grows Tulsi plants.

Festivals at Uppiliappan Temple

The Chariot festival is the most important festival of the temple celebrated for nine days during the Tamilian month of Panguni (March - April). Along with the chants of the mantras and singing of hymns, the devotees and the priests carry the deities in the chariot to the neighbouring streets of the city. The festival is celebrated with much zeal and gusto and thousands of pilgrims throng the holy premises to be a part of the festivities.

History of Uppiliappan Temple

The actual history of the temple cannot be traced with the help of the inscriptions. However, the inscriptions and the records of gifts mentioned on the walls and art of the temple suggest the creation of the temple to be from the Medieval Cholas Period. The epitaphs and inscriptions are majorly from the reign of Rajendra Chola and Rajaraja Rajakkesarivarman I.

The later kings modified the shrine. The original idol of the presiding deity was changed from wood to stone. A lot of extensions and additions were made by Govinda Dikshitar and the Nayak rulers.

Best Time To Visit Uppiliappan Temple

March- April is the best time to visit the temple as the annual Chariot Festival (also known as Panchguni Festival) is celebrated. The temple is decorated in colours and lights and thousands of tourists and pilgrims visit the temple to be a part of the celebrations.

How To Reach Uppiliappan Temple

Uppiliappan Temple is located in Thanjavur near the city of Kumbakonam. It can be reached easily in hired taxi- cabs, autos or state-run buses. Alternatively, you can drive down to the spot.

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