Prime Deity (Moolavar): Deivanayaka Perumal
Consort (Thayar): Hemambujavalli
Significance: Consecrated (Divya Desam)
Sacred River: Garuda River (Vraja Thirtham)
Sacred Fountain: Chandra Thirtham, Sesha (Bhu) Thirtham
Sacred Dome (Vimanam): Suddhasatva Vimanam
City : Thiruvaheendrapuram
Thiruvaheendrapuram, also known as Ayindai, is in the Cuddalore District, 5 kms. from the Thiruppathirippuliyur station in the Chennai-Tiruchy main line. The place is reachable by road, by traveling from Chennai through East Coast Road, en route Pondicherry and Cuddalore. Adequate bus services are also available.
The Sanskrit ‘Aheendram’ refers to Adi Seshan, the Serpent-bed of Lord Vishnu. The belief is that Adiseshan is the architect of this city and hence the name Thiru Aheendrapuram, ‘the holy city of Adisesha’. Following ever his Lord and Master, Lord Narayana Who decided to stay there, after a war between the devas and dhanavas (angels and demons), Adisesha built this city for Him. The deity came to be known as ‘Devanathan’, meaning ‘the Leader of the Devas’. So goes the legend : Once the proud devas were defeated by the asuras and surrendered to Lord Narayana Who promised them to lend his support. The asuras were helped by Lord Shiva, at the behest of Lord Brahma. With this support, the mighty asuras routed the devas. The Lord, in turn, directed His invincible ‘Sudarshana Chakram’ (Wheel) against the dhanavas and brought victory to the devas. By drawing the Lords Shiva and Brahma unto His form, the Lord decided to remain there. The idol of the prime deity ‘Deivanayakan’, is in the standing posture facing east. He is also hailed in different names such as ‘Dwishannathan’, ‘Vibhuthanathan’, ‘Daasasathyan’ and ‘Atiyavarkku Meiyyan’.
‘Sesha or Bhu’ Thirtham is another significant aspect of this temple, associated with the Great Serpent. The legend says that once the Lord, to quench His thirst, sent Garuda to fetch water for Him. Garuda was late and Adiseshan with his heavy tail slashed the earth and made the spring flow – that is ‘Sesha Thirtham’ and because it flowed from the earth, is also called ‘Bhu Thirtham’. This well is situated within the southern paved way (praakaram) of the temple, and is considered to be a sacred place for special worship. To immerse salt, pepper and jaggery in this water brings cure to skin diseases is the staunch belief. The water of this well is also offered as ‘naivedyam’ (ritualistic offering of food, fruits etc. to the Deity) to the presiding Lord. The Garuda River – the water brought by Garuda – runs south to north and the water is used for the ‘Tirumanjanam’ (Sacred Bath) of the Lord. To take a dip in this water is akin to taking bath in the River Ganges. During the rainy season, the water flows in reddish colour.
The most significant aspect of the temple is the shrine dedicated to Lord Hayagreevar,in the nearby hillock, ‘Aushadagiri or Aushadaachalam’. Once again, another legend links this place with therapeutic value. It dates back to the Ramayana period, when Hanuman carried the Sanjivi hill to Lanka to retrieve Lakshmana who fell unconscious during the Rama-Ravana battle. As he was flying in a hurry, a small portion of the Sanjivi hill got dropped on this hillock which proudly retained the name ‘Aushadaachalam’ meaning ‘Medicinal Mountain’. We can see that this hillock is full of rich medicinal herbs and plants.
‘Aushadagiri’ has another noteworthy association. Sri Vedanta Desikan, the great Vaishnava Acharya after Sri Ramanuja, conducted his ‘tapasya’ (contemplation) on Lord Hayagreevar and Garuda in this hillock and received their grace. Swami Desikan, a prolific writer in both Sanskrit and Tamil, has composed ‘Sri Hayagreeva Stotram’, ‘Garuda Dandakam’ and ‘Garuda Panchashath’ in Sanskrit celebrating both the deities. The vaishnavites believe that Swami Desikan received the ‘Hayagreeva mantra upadesam’ (the teaching of Hayagreeva mantra) straight from Garuda himself. ‘Sri Hayagreeva Stotram’, Desikan’s first composition in 33 slokas, is a celebration of the Lord as ‘Wisdom Supreme’. (‘Hayagreevar’ means ‘horse –necked’. This is one other incarnation of Lord Vishnu to kill the asuras, Mathu and Kaitabha and is considered to be the Lord of Wisdom.) Sri Vedanta Desikan lived in this city for more than 40 years. We can see even today the place where he lived ‘Sri Desikan Tirumaligai’ and also the well he himself had constructed. By carving his own image, he won a competition and this idol is installed within the temple premises. The famous ‘malai festival’ and ‘thirthavaari’, the festivals celebrating both the Lord and Sri Desikan, are celebrated in the month of Purattasi (October-November).
Tirumangai Alvar has offered his mangalashasanam to this deity in 10 pasurams in his Periya Tirumoli, where he christens the Lord ‘Atiyavarkku Meiyyan’, the Tamil translation for Sanskrit ‘Daasasathyan’.
The important festivals of this temple are: (1) 10 days Brahmotsavam in Chitrai – Garuda Seva on the 5th day and on the 9th day thousands of devotees attend the Chariot festival and ‘Thirthavari’. (2) 10 days Vasanthotsavam in Vaikasi. Hindu festivals like Adi Amavasai, Pavithrothsavam in Avani, Deepavli, Tirukkarthigai, Vaikunta Ekadasi and so on are also celebrated with much fanfare.
Distance from important cities: From Cuddalore-6 kms; Panrutti-22 kms; Villupuram-50 kms; Pondicherry-20 kms.
Lodging facilities: Private lodges, rental range from Rs.200/- to Rs.600/- are available at Cuddalore.
Transport facilities: Thiruvaheendrapuram is in Cuddalore-Panrutti route. Enough buses run from Cuddalore to Thiruvahendrapuram. Thiruppathirippuliyur is the nearest railway station and Chennai, the nearest airport.