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Oppiliappan or Uppaliappan Temple, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu

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Oppiliappan or Uppaliappan Temple, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
Oppiliappan , also known as Thiruvinnagar is a very sacred place, where boons are granted to devotees and is one among the 108 divyadesams of Sri Vaishnava’s. This pilgrim centre bears many names such as Akasa Nagaram, Vaikunta Nagaram, Thiruvinnagar, Uppiliappan Sannadhi. The lord here is present in five forms – ponnappan, maniappan, muttappan, vinnagarappan and ennappan.

Different Names of this Holy Place:
1. Akasa Nagaram
2. Vaikunta Nagaram
3. Tiruvinnagar
4. Oppiliappan Sannidhi
5. Uppiliappan Sannidhi

Different Names of the Presiding Deity:
1. Tiruvinnagarappan
2. Thannopparillappan
3. Oppiliappan
4. Uppiliappan
5. Srinivasan
6. Venkatachalapathi

Different Names of the Goddess:
1. Bhoomi devi
2. Bhoodevi
3. Bhoomi Nachiar
4. Dharani devi
5. vasundhara

The Manner of Manifestation :
The Deity stands majestically facing east. His consort Bhoomidevi is seated with a bending knee and folded hands facing north. Markandeya is seated facing south in a posture indicative of giving Kanya - dan.

Five forms of the Lord:
Tradition has it that Lord Oppiliappan appeared to Nammalwar in 5 different forms as
1. Ponnappan.
2. Maniappan
3. Muthappan
4. Ennappan and
5. Tiruvinnagarappan.

Unique Features of this Place:

In his ecstacy while praising the Lord, Nammalwar could not bear the separation with Oppiliappan. The Lord in His kindness, Himself embressed the Alwar, shared His happness with his devotee and decided to stay here permanently. This is how the Alwar's verses in praise of this Lord have been interpreted by ancient commentators.

Further, in 9 of his verses in Tiruvaimozhi in praise of this Lord, Nammalwar has highlighted that God is dwelling even in mutually conflicting objects and thereby the Lord harmonises mutually contradictory objects.

Tirumangai Alwar in his first decad eulogising the Lord here, observes that if only he can have the divine vision of the Lord, he would not desire family life here. He emphasises this point by repeating the same in 9 out of 10 verses.

Those who had divine vision of the Lord here were Garuda, Kaveri River, Dharma devata and sage Markandeya, according to Purana.

It is named as Suddhananda, meaning "pure happiness". Devotees who worship this vimana (tower) derive immense and unalloyed happiness. Note that the vimana in Tirumala - Tirupati is named as Ananda vimana, whereas here it is Suddhananda Vimana.

Holy place:
Because of Markandeya's severe penance, the Lord appeared here and married Bhoomidevi, who also appeared here earlier and was brought up by Markandeya. Hence it is called Markandeya Kshetra. Since Bhoomidevi appeared here among the forest of Tulasi plants, It is also known as Tulasi Vanam.

Oppiliappan or Uppaliappan Temple, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
Holy waters: (pushkarini)
The pushkarini (Temple Tank) here is known as "Ahoratra Pushkarini", meaning that bathing is specially permissible here both during day and night. Normally according to sastras, bating in holy waters is not permitted during nights. But nowadays bathing is permitted here, only when the temple is kept open for darsan.

Other holy waters:
Sarnga Tirtham, Surya Tirtham, Indra Tirtham and Brahma Tirtham are situated outside the temple according to puranas. These are now dry and not fit for bathing.

To the south of the temple, three holy rivers flow-known as Dakshina Ganga, Dakshina Yamuna and Dakshina Godavari.

The day Lord oppiliappan appeared:
It was at noon on the day of sravanam in the Tamil month of Panguni that Lord appeared to Markandeya here. As such a 9 day festival of Brahmotsavam is celebrated every year, with rathotsava (chariot) on the day of Panguni Sravanam.

Wedding Day:
Lord oppiliappan married Bhoomi Devi on the day of Sravanam in the Tamil month Aippasi. In celebration of this, a 12-day music and dance festival, is held every year, commencing with Tirukkalyanam (holy wedding) of the Lord with Bhoomidevi on Aippasi Sravanam.

Oppiliappan or Uppaliappan Temple, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu

Speciality of the Temple:

All food offerings at the temple are strictly and completely saltless. Salt or any food item containing salt is not allowed in the temple beyond Garuda’s Sannidhi. It is customary to offer a mixture of salt and pepper to the footprints in front of the Garuda and by doing this it is believed that such worshippers get releif from all kinds of skin ailments. It is a sin to carry salt inside the temple. Hence the Lord is also called as ‘Lavana Varjita Venkatesa’ i.e. Venkatesa who avoids salt.

There is no separate shrine for Bhoomidevi here and as already stated, Bhoomidevi is sitting with folded hands by the side of the Lord in the main sanctum sanctorum. The utsava deity of Oppiliappan is never taken out of the temple, without His consort, Bhoomidevi. The lord is also known as lord Venkateshwara’s brother and so those devotees who are unable to visit tirupati to fulfill their promises can do so here.


Oppiliappan or Uppaliappan Temple, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
According to Brahmananda Purana, Long ago Narada muni prays to Brahma to enlighten him on the history and greatness of the holy Markandeya kshetra. Hearing this, Brahma gladly started narrating the greatness of Tiruvinnagar and its presiding deity, whose glory cannot be described even by Adisesha with his 1000 tongues.

Sage Mirikandu had a son Markandeya. The astrologers predicted on his birth that he would die young. When Markandeya heard that he would not survive beyond the age of 16 he started a penance to save him from death. Pleased with his penance Lord Shiva gave him the boon of immortality. After receiving this boon toured many holy places and bathing in sacred waters, finally reached this holy place. He was so enchanted by the congenial surroundings here that he decided to stay here permanently. Wishing to get Laksmi as a daughter and Lord Vishnu as a son in law, he started doing sever penance to achieve his objective.

Tulasi Devi who was born along with nectar (amrita) during samudra manthan, told Mahavishnu as to why he has given a special place to Mahalakshmi in his Heart? Tulasi, also desired a special place in Mahavishnu’s heart begged Lord Narayana that she also be adorned by Him on His chest like Mahalakshmi. Thereupon, the Lord replied that Lakshmi did very severe penance to gain a place on His heart.

In order to fulfil her wish, Mahavishnu asked Tulasi to proceed to earth and appear on the banks of the Cauvery. Mahalakshmi would be born as Bhoomi Devi at a holy place near Kumbakonam, on the banks of the Cauvery. Tulasi was asked to appear in this holy spot before Mahalakshmi. The Lord further said that those who worship Him with petals of Tulasi , shall attain all prosperity in the world and also the benefit of performing ‘Asvamedha yaga’. All those who reside in this holy place will attain Sri Vaikunta at the end of their lives. From then onwards, Tulasi lived in this holy place, which therefore came to be known as Tulasi Vana (Tulasi forest). As directed Tulasi appeared before Mahalakshmi’s birth and at this juncture, Mahalakshmi appeared as Bhoomi Devi under the shade of the Tulasi .

Goddess Lakshmi took birth as a small child in the Tulasi forest and was found by sage Markandeya. With immense pleasure he lifted the divine child Lakshmi from the ground, fondled her, he named her as Bhoomidevi, as she was found on earth. The sage brought her up lovingly and as she grew up, he was very much worried about her marriage. He was in frantic search for a suitable bridegroom. At this stage Lord Narayana appeared before the sage, in the guise of an old Brahmin, clad in torn clothes and with a walking stick in hand, on the day of Panguni Sravana at noon. Markandeya, without realising that the old man was Sriman Narayana himself, received Him with due reverence and respectfully proceeded to serve Him, attending to His needs like washing His feet and so on. The sage then reverentially asked the old man the purpose of His visit. The visitor then proceeded to state that He was on the look – out for a suitable bride, as He wished to marry settle down in life and beget good sons. He therefore sought the hand of Bhoomidevi in marriage to enable Him to attain His objective.

On hearing the strange request of the old man (Narayana), Markandeya was non-plussed and did not know what to do. He then started explaining to the old man that Bhoomidevi was very young and was too tender in age to run a family. Moreover the age disparity between the old man and the young girl was too much. He requested the old man to drop His idea. The old man would hear none of it. He threatened to commit suicide if the young girl was not given in marriage to Him.

The sage Markandeya did not know what to do. He tried all methods to dissuade the old man from insisting upon marrying the young girl. The sage told the old man that his daughter was too young and did not even know how to cook properly She might even forget to put salt in the eatables, which may result in the old man getting angry and cursing her. Finding the old man still stubborn and unrelenting, the sage silently prayed to Lord Narayana for guidance.

The sage also sought his foster – daughter’s views in the matter and asked her whether she was willing to marry the old man. She threatened to commit suicide, if she was forced to marry the old man, much against her wishes. Sage Markandeya was caught between the old man who threatened to commit suicide, if the girl was not given in marriage to him, and his daughter who threatened to commit suicide if she was given in marriage to the old man. He fervently prayed to the Lord to show him a way out of the piquant situation. After prayers to God for a long time, the sage opened his eyes and there he found before him Lord Narayana in all splendor and glory, in the place of the old man. Realising that the Lord had played a practical joke on him, the sage danced and cried in ecstacy.
The Lord, blessing the sage Markandeya, said that He will married Bhoomidevi and will take only saltless offerings in this temple. Anyone who brings salt inside the temple will go to hell. Overwhelmed with joy, Markandeya readily agreed for the marriage and prayed for 3 boons: -

1. The Lord, after marrying Bhoomidevi, should stay in this place forever.
2. The holy place should be known in his name as Markandeya Kshetra.
3. Salt less offerings in this temple should also be relished by the devotees and He should also be granted moksha.

The Lord gladly granted the boons as prayed for and further blessed that the place will be known as “Tiruvinnagar” and “Tulasivana Markandeya kshetra” and stated the marriage would be held in the month of Aippasi on Sravanam day. At the request of the sage, the Lord also agreed to make all arrangements for the marriage.

The Lord Himself wrote out the marriage invitation and instructed His vehicle Garuda to hand over the invitations to Brahma and all devas and further help Him in conducting the marriage on the day of sravanam in the month of Aippasi. The joy of Brahma and other devas knew no bounds on hearing the happy news of the divine wedding and they all duly came with their wives to attend and worship the divine couple at their marriage. The holy wedding of the Lord and Bhoomidevi was duly conducted on a grand scale according to Vaikhanasa Agamas.Then onwards, the Lord continues to reside in this temple, along with His consort Bhoomidevi, blessing His devotees and granting them their desires.

About the Idol:

The lord is 8 ft tall with Bhoomidevi on the right and Markandeya Naharishi on the left. “Maam Ekam Saranam Vruja’ is written on the left hand of the lord. Lord never leaves the temple without Bhoomidevi thayar since he had promised Sage Markandeya that he would never leave his daughter bhoomidevi thayar alone while asking her hand in marriage.

How to reach:

The temple is situated about 7kms south of Kumbakonam in tanjore district of Tamilnadu. It is located at Thirunageshwaram post. Buses, autos and private vehicles are available to reach Oppiliappan temple from kumbakonam. Staying facilities are also available near the temple as well at kumbakonam. Number of town buses ply frequently between Kumbakonam and this place and Naganatha Swamy Temple (Rahu Sthalam) is also closeby

Temple Timings
Temple is open from 6 am to 1 pm in the noon and from 4 pm to 9 pm in the evenings.

Temple Address & Contact Details

Arulmigu Venkatachalapathi Swami Temple
Oppiliappan Koil
Tirunageswaram – 612 004
(Kumbakonam Taluk)
Phone (0435) 246 33 85


1 comment:

  1. thank you guruji for this valuable information. hope i would be able to visit all the temples in india with my family with the grace of baba. vanamala.