Kottarakkara Ganapathi Temple

Kottarakkara Ganapathi Temple is a famous temple for Lord Ganapathi  located in Quilon, Kerala. It is one of the oldest and famous pilgrim centres of South India. The fact is this is a Siva temple (Kizhakkekara Siva temple) , but it is not known by the principal deity’s name and known as a Ganapathy temple widely.  Moreover, the Ganapathy idol here was not installed according to the tantra rituals.   Also the important art form of Kerala having international repute – Kathakali has its origins in Kottarakkara.

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Kottarakkara Ganapathi Temple

Legend has it that it was it was Perumthachan who installed the  idol here. Perumthachan, the master craftsman had crafted an idol from the roots of jackfruit tree and had was seeking the permission of the tantri of Padinajarekkara temple to install the idol there. The tantri  on the other hand denied permission and that prompted Perumthachan, the craftsman to change his plans.  Later having secured the permission of the tantri of Kizhakkekara temple  Perumthachan,installed the idol there.  He is believe to have studied in detail and  found it ideal for the installatiion in south east direction. He felt that it was like kailasa (abode of Lord Shiva).

The strange fact is that the main offering (Nivedyam) for Lord Ganesha is the Unniyappam or Koothappam, a food having very sweet and delicious taste.   The story behind this offering is that when Perumthachan had asked the head priest what the neyvedyam for Ganapathy will be. The priest suggested unniyappam. It is said that Perumthachan immediately offered half a dozen unniyappams in a plantain leaf before the deity.

Adisiya Vinayagar Kovil

About Keralapuram

Keraleswaram aka Veera Keralapuram, is near Thuckalai (Thuckalay) now in Kanyakumari district of  Tamilnadu. Originally part of Travancore, was transferred to Tamilnadu after the linguistic reorganization of states of  Kerala and Tamilnadu.  Keralapuram is also a home to an ancient temple devoted to Lord Siva.  This is a region with several places of historic and religious significance.  The name, Keraleswaram it is believed to be derived from Veera Kerala Varma, a legendary king who belonged to the Chera dynasty.

About the temple

This extremely powerful and one of its kind, rare temple of Lord Ganesha is said to have existed in Keralapuram for many centuries in Keralapuram.  Locally known as “Atisaya / Adisiya Vinayagar Kovil’ which literally translates to ‘Miracle Ganesha Temple’ is said to attract devotees from far away places.   The first glance of the temple will speak of neighboring state (Kerala’s) influence. There are no exuberant temple towers (Gopuram) that we usually find in other Tamil Nadu Temples.  If  not for the  huge devotee following and a temple name plate, one cannot even recognize that this is the famous ancient temple.    It is believed that the temple was built in 1317. The idols were established long before the temple was built!

Though its  primarily a Shiva temple, one can clearly see the Vishnava’s influence in this temple. Those days Vishnava’s were dominant in this area hence it reflects throughout the temple.    This temple was renovated many times over the centuries and this information is available in the temples scriptures. There are beautiful paintings drawn on the walls inside the temple.

Inside the temple complex

Once you approach the temple, you can find a huge yard with deep-rooted trees, a small dome and a sculpture of lord Shiva and Parvathi on it.  It’s relatively very different kind of temple from the normal exquisitely carved Tamilnadu temples.  You will also find a whole lot of snake idols, and each idol has a unique face to it  and the whole place echoes simplicity!

Now that you are inside the temple premises you will see two temples inside the complex one belongs to Lord Shiva , locally known as Mahadevar while the second one belongs to Lord Ganesha, locally known as Vinayagar. As you pass by you will see a huge tree under which is a snake carved out of granite stone, I do not know what is the story behind this but, one can normally see a huge crowd of villagers offering their prayers here for astrological reasons.

Walking further from this place we head towards  our destination = Adisiya Vinayakar Temple.   This temple has a long passage and walls are adorned with magnificent paintings. The sacred sanctum has an iron grid sliding door. The sacred sanctum is not an enclosed chamber like the regular temples instead Ganesha is placed outside –  under the huge banyan tree.

About the Idol.

Lord Vinayagar’s idol changes its color once in every six months into black and white.   During Utharayana (March-June), the idol is black in color, and in Dakshiyana (July-Feb) idol turns to white.  Hence this temple came to be known as ‘’Miracle Ganesh Temple.  This idol is believed to be originally from Rameswaram and the king got it from the sea. Another legend says that this is the idol worshipped by Ravana himself, later reaching the Indian shores. The colour that changes from black to brown and white, then back.

Mythological story behind the idol

The Shaiva ruler of  Keralapuram decides to go on a  pilgrimage to Rameshwaram, which is a a famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva – facing Bay of Bengal.   While the king and his men were washing their feet at the Rameshwaram beach, A Ganesh idol is said to have washed over the shores. This idol is then gifted to  Sethu Mannan, the Ruler of Rameshwaram by the Keralapuram King.

Upon receiving the Ganesha idol, Sethu Mannan was overwhelmed by the love and affection due to the gesture shown by the Keralapuram King.  However he decides to returns the gift back since  he firmly believed that the true owner should be the one who found the idol.   He feels that their is divine play in work  because of which the Keralapuram King was chosen to find the idol at the first place , so firmly makes a decision that handing over it back its the right thing to do.  Along with the found idol, the Rameshwaram King gifts another huge emerald Idol to the Keralapuram King as a token of  affection.  However, the Mogul  rulers later looted the emerald idol during their invasion.

They tried to loot the found idol of Ganesha too, but they could not move the idol.  The idol was miraculously struck to the ground.   So without much choice they left the idol behind. Though, the temple was built around the 12th century, the idol of Ganesha here are dated older than the temple.   According to the temple priest, the idol is at least 2,300 years old!   It is also noteworthy that this idol was not installed according to the agamana shastra; it is simply kept on the elevated platform.

Miracles of the Atisaya  Vinayagar Kovil

It is believed that those who are looking for their soul mates or married couple wishing to have kids throng this temple. By breaking coconuts, and offering rice dumplings (Modak) to Ganesha, the devotees wishes will come true.  Devotees reach this temple from far away places just to see the color change of the idol.  There is another miracle associated with this temple. There is a well that is located inside the temple complex and the color of the water in this well too changes every six months. When the idol is white in color, the water changes to black and vice versa!   Another  noteworthy feature of this temple is the key temple tree (Sthala Vruksham) . The Banyan tree (Stala Vruksham)  leaves starts to fall during dakshiyana, and new leaves starts to sprout from march. This is not a typical behavior of a Banyan tree and also the tropical states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu do not have a ‘’fall season’’.

Wiki Map

Wikimapia

Mysterious Ganesha

 

In September, the Portland Art Museum acquired a 36-inch-tall stone sculpture of a revered deity of Ganesha purchased from an auction house for about $50,000 to $100,000.  The deity has quickly become an object of both adoration and mystery: The museum doesn’t know the ownership history for this work, which depicts an elephant-headed deity holding a bowl of sweets and wearing a headdress.

The museum decided to go even more public with the enigmatic idol when it offered the work for international scrutiny by placing it on the web site of the Association of Art Museum Directors. The membership organization for major museum directors sets operational and conduct standards.

In the days and weeks to follow, anyone — though most likely it will be South or Southeast Asian cultural organizations or governments — can examine the work and its history online, and then make a claim for ownership. If they can prove the work was stolen from them or illegally exported out of their country, the Portland museum would have to return it.

No one knows what will happen to the Ganesha, but its baffling history opens up a fascinating ethical discussion about the responsibilities institutions have when they are dealing with works of incomplete provenance.

The Trinetra Ganesha Temple , Ranthambore

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The Trinetra Ganesha Temple is located in Ranthambore, Rajasthan and is one of the oldest and most famous temples of Rajasthan, at a distance of 12 kms from Sawai Madhopur. The temple is situated in the magnificent fort of Ranthambore. The Ranthambore Fort has got its name from the two adjoining hills near the fort i.e. the Rann and the Thambore hill. The Ganesha temple is situated just at the entrance of the gate of the fort. The main entrance originally had four gates, out of which only one is still standing.

The sthalapurana of this temple dates back to the year 1299 when a war broke out between King Hameer and Ala-ud-din Khilji at the Ranthambore fort. Since the war continued for a very long time, the food stock was running low. King Hameer was an ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha. Amidst all the problems and tensions, he never forgot to worship Lord Ganesha. King Hameer saw Lord Ganesha in his dream and the Lord promised him that all the problems that he was facing would be sorted by the morning. In the morning, an idol of Lord Ganesha as Trinetra (tri is three and netra is eyes) was found in one of the fort’s walls. As promised by Lord Ganesha a miracle happened and the war was over and the go downs were full.

In 1300 AD King Hammer built the temple of Ganesha and placed Riddhi Siddhi, and two sons Shub Labh along with the idol of Ganesha. His vehicle mushak (mouse) is also placed there. Hindus across the world worship lord Ganesha first before any auspicious ceremony or new venture. He is Pratamapujya. Many devotees send their first wedding card to this Ganesh. It is believed from the ancient times that Trinetra Ganesha Of Ranthambhore is the Pratham Ganapati.

Guru Narashima Temple , Saligrama

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Rare photo of Mooda Ganapathy Seva being performed to Lord Narasimha in Saligrama, Udupi  

Guru Narasimha temple is located at Saligrama,Udupi District.  The idol here is very old and it belongs to the 8th century AD and it is carved out of Saligrama rock.  The murti is around 3 feet high and facing west and the right hand holding chakra (disc) and the left hand holding shanka (conch) and Prabhavali at the back.It is believed that idol was installed by Lokaditya King of Mourya dynasty around 4 th century AD under the leadership of Rajaguru Bhattacharya.  Guru Narashima is the family deity (Kuladevaru) of many families residing in nearby villages and those who are originally from these places.  According to the “Sahyadri Khanda” of the Skanda Purana, the idol of Lord Guru Narasimha at Saligrama has been installed by Narada Maharshi.

Though the presiding deity is Narasimha, the rituals conducted at the temple are not like in Vaishnavaite temples but like in Shivaite temples. Moreover, Lord Ganapathi occupies a prominent place in all the rituals.

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  the original Dashabhuja Ganapathi Vigraha believed to have been worshipped by Bhattacharya

Sthalapurana : Gajanana appeared to the devotees with dashabhuja ten hands with his shakti,  and hence Dashbhuja Ganapati finds reference in available manuscripts.  Legend has it that, since Lord Narasimha appeared as Ganesha in Bhattacharya’s dream, Bhattacharya installed Narasimha  vigraha  on Ganesha yantra in the temple.  These incidences explain the reasons why Ganahoma is performed in place of Guru Pooje in all Mangala Karyas at homes of many and also for invoking ‘Maha Ganapati Narasimha Priityartham’ in sankalpa in all functions at temple.

Narada Maharshi visited these placed and took holy dip in different theerta sarovaras and worshiped at holy places. During this point in time an unexpected incident happened at this place. Earth started shaking and a big thunder sound was heard. As a result, all animals were scared and birds circled the sky. There was a heavy wind and the scared sages came to Narada Maharshi seeking for the protection. Suddenly they heard a divya vani (divine message) that preached about  Narasimha.

The divya vani, a message from unknown source informed that an idol of Lord Narasimha, holding shanka and chakra in both hands and seated in yogananda posture that is worshiped by Brahma and Lord Shiva is located between shanka and chakra thirta in middle of an ashwatta tree. The diyva vani instructed Narada Maharshi to install this idol.

Narada Maharshi accepted the instructions and searched for the idol of Guru Narasimha found it between shanka and chakra thirta in middle of an ashwatta tree.  Narada Maharshi then installed the idol of Lord Narasimha in between shanka and chakra  thirta.  Narasimha appeared in front of Narada and as per Narada’s request agreed to be there in the location permanently.  This place in the middle of Koota Kshetra, where Lord Guru Narasimha resides in Saligrama idol is called Saligrama.