A Sunday dip in the ocean of Kanchi – 2

The same Sunday….

We move on from Paremeswara Vinnagaram (Vaikuntta Perumal temple), made more than a thousand years ago.. To another spectacular temple… Which was constructed recently….

A temple designed keeping in mind the best of Pallava, Chola, Pandiya, Nayaka traditions of temple architecture… A temple that has been designed and constructed entirely in the traditional manner… A temple made entirely of stone, with little or no use of any bricks, cement, concrete, or steel…. A temple that is thirty tonnes of stone standing on sand…  The temple of Mahaperiyava, in Orikkai, by the banks of the dry Palar river near Kanchipuram….


Sri V Venkatrama Iyer, fondly known as Pradosham Venkatrama Iyer, was an ardent devotee of Kanchi Mahaperiyava. It was his sankalpa that a temple to Mahaperiyava should be built. A traditional architect, Sri Ganapathi Sthapathi, who was an Asthaana Sthapathi of Kanchi Mutt was entrusted with the task of design… A piece of land in Orikkai, a holy place by the banks of Palar was chosen. With the active encouragement and great support of Smt MS Subbulakshmi and others, the project was commenced in 1997. The first part of the great project was completed and the temple kumbabishejam was done in January, 2011…

Lets take a tour…

The temple was conceptualized to have a figure of Mahaperiyava in the sanctum sanctorum, in front of which his padukas would be kept and offered worship. The temple front was in the form of a chariot. The temple hall was built with 100 pillars, to reflect the 100 years that the Mahaswami graced the world in mortal form. Each pillar, exquisitely designed, with figures of rearing horses, elephants etc….


A view of the hall….


Orikkai is a quiet village… The name is a shortened form of ‘Oru Iravu Irukkai’ (Where the Lord stayed for one night)… This place is hallowed with the incident relating to Thirumazhisai Alwar, a great Vaishnava sage (7th Century AD), on whose behest, Lord Vishnu, in the form of Yathoktakari Perumal of kanchi, left his temple in Kanchipuram and came and stayed here for one night (and hence the name). (Click here to read about the great saint).

Kanchi Mahaswami would come to this place quite often. His Chaturmasya of 1955 was observed here. His 60th year Jayanthi was also observed here… And it was this place that Pradosham Venkatraman chose for his dream project, this Manimandapam of Mahaperiyava. Within a month of the land being acquired, Palar, a dry river, had sudden floods, and the  whole area was overrun by Palar water… This was taken as a blessing….

The temple is constructed in the form of a chariot…

Here’s the chariot wheel…


Sculptures of Elephants, and yALli….


A yALi..


The yALi seen above is carved, with a free rolling stone ball in the mouth…


Every item is carved from stone… Even the chain and door…


A massive Nandi sits outside…


Lets take a look at some of the carvings…

Here’s one of Pradosha Tandava Siva…


Considering that the temple was the dream-concept of Pradosham Venkatrama Iyer, it is indeed appropriate that there is a carving of Pradosha Tandava… Notice, the figure of Mahaperiyava carved in the top left, holding his sanyasa-danda, standing with folded hands and viewing the Lord dance.

Here’s a picture of the Guru parampara…


The Sanctum-sanctorum has an idol of Mahaperiyava (three and a half feet in size), and a gold covered pair of Paduka… The canopy above the sanctum is in the form of a Meru… Around the sanctum, on three sides, stone walls with forty windows have been carved, with a latticework of holes….

Stones for sculptures were brought from a place called Padimalaikuppam, near Vellore-Wallaja… White granite brought from near Bengaluru….

Gopuram and kalasa have been designed in the style of Tanjore big temple. Each Kalasham is seven feet in height… The Gopuram is a hundred feet or so tall, three quarter of the height of the tanjavur big temple.

Pradosham Venkatrama Iyer passed away in 1999.  He did not live to see his dream temple come up… But such was his devotion to Mahaperiyava, that this great monument has now come up…. A testament that the great Indian temple architecture is a living tradition… A must see place, when one visits Kanchipuram…

Jaya Jaya Shankara! Hara Hara Shankara!


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6 Responses to “A Sunday dip in the ocean of Kanchi – 2”

  1. srini Says:

    wonderful essay!

  2. krishni457 Says:

    thank u for the very good infn. thank u once again since I feel I saw in person the ManiMandapam. this I take as a blessing of Maha Periyava since this day is my 87th birthday 3 Sep 2012. Thank u.

  3. Lakshmi Srinivas Says:

    A small typo: it’s yALi (யாளி) , not yazhi.

  4. Anjun Krishnan Says:

    Guruji.. Found you at last… great … i was transported to all the places you describe… Braj Ghat is a special place for me.. my mother joined Gangamata there on a August morning in 2010.

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