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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Pallikondeswara Temple, Surutupalli, Andhra Pradesh

Palli Kondeswara Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Bhagwan Shiva, located in Surutupalli, a village in Chitoor district of Andhra Pradesh state on the banks of the river Arani, close to the border of Tamil Nadu, Bharat.

Palli Kondeswara in Tamil means reclining deity. Shiva as Palli Kondeswara is seen in reclining posture on the lap of his consort Devi Parvati as Sarva Mangalambika, which is typical of Ranganatha form of Bhagwan Vishnu but very rare for Bhagwan Shiva.

The deity in Surutupalli temple is called as Bhoga Sayana Siva. This icon of Shiva in this temple is in complete vigraha rupa which is a rare feature, unlike the linga swarupa in most Shiva temples. Bhagwan Ganesha, Kartikeya, Surya, Chandra, Indra and sages such as Narada are seen standing around this Shiva deity.

Historical evidence indicates this temple was built during 14th Century by Hari Hara and Bukka Raya of the Vijayanagara kingdom in 14th Century.

Legend

During the Samudra manthan (churning of the ocean of milk) by the gods and demons, many treasures along with the Amrutha (elixir of the gods) and the poison (Halahala) rose from the ocean. To rescue the living beings of the world from the poison, Shiva consumed it.

When the poison was just going down the throat of Shiva, Devi Parvati stopped it there by tightly holding Shiva’s throat, turning His neck blue. Thereafter, Bhagwan Shiva came to be known as Nilakantha.

After the episode, Shiva proceeded to his abode Kailash with Parvati. On the way, Shiva felt exhausted and slightly uncomfortable, when he reached a place in the bounds of Andhra, which came to be called Surutupalli. There, He lied down to relax, keeping his head on the lap of Parvati.

The gods, who were anxious about Shiva’s well-being assembled there and stood around him, waiting for Him to open his eyes.

This lying posture of Shiva is rare and unique, is almost similar to Vishnu’s reclining posture. The name Surutupalli comes from ‘Palli’ which means resting and ‘Surutta’ which means a little dizzy.

As Bhagwan Shiva is rested at this place on the lap of Devi Parvathi feeling little dizzy after consuming poison during the churning of milky ocean this place is called Surutupalli. 

It is believed that sage Valmiki visited this temple and did penance at this place before starting to write Ramayana and worshipped Bhagwan Shiva. Hence the name Valmikeeswara to the deity.

It is also believed that Bhagwan Rama accompanied by his consort Seetha, brothers Lakshman, Bharat, Satrughan and hanuman visited this temple after killing Ravan and becoming the King of Ayodhya. The foot prints of Bhagwan Rama’s sons Lava and Kusa can also be found in this temple.

Pradosham

The performance of Pradosha pooja at this temple is noteworthy. Pradosham, the fortnightly festival is celebrated in all the south Indian temples. Pradosha or Pradosham is a bimonthly occasion on the thirteenth day (trayodasi) of every fortnight in Hindu calendar.

It is closely connected with the worship of Bhagwan Shiva. The auspicious 3 hour period, i.e., 1.5 hours before and after the sunset is one of the ideal time for worship of Bhagwan Shiva. In the Pradosha, period the Sun and the Moon meet in a horizontal line during their movement on their Axis.

Once Devas and Asuras were trying to get Amrutham (elixir) in churning the Ksheerabdhi (Milk Ocean) by using the serpent Vasuki and the hill Mandhara. Then the poison Halahalam came up from the mouth of serpent Vasuki who was tied as a rope to the hill Mandhara to churn the milk ocean. All got frightened and pleaded Bhagwan Shiva for rescue.

Bhagwan Shiva swallowed that poison. Then as per His order they resumed their effort to get Amrutham and succeeded in getting it on dwadasi (twelfth moon day). Without praying and thanking Him, by whom they got Amrutham, Devas started dancing and celebrating their victory.

On trayodasi (thirteenth moon day) they realised their sin of not praying Bhagwan and pleaded for forgiveness. Bhagwan Shiva forgave them and danced between the horns of the Nandi (holy bull). That time when Bhagwan Shiva danced is called Pradosham. It is believed that whoever prays Bhagwan Shiva in that time, will get their wishes fulfilled and attain salvation.

During Pradosha time anointing (Abhishekam) the Shiva deity with the following is considered fruitful.

  • Milk gives long life
  • Ghee gives salvation
  • Curd gives good children
  • Honey gives melodious voice
  • Rice powder frees one from debts
  • Sugar cane juice gives good health
  • Panchamrutham gives wealth
  • Lemon removes fear of death
  • Sugar removes enmity
  • Tender coconut gives enjoyment
  • Cooked Rice (Annam) gives majestic life
  • Sandal gives Lakshmi’s grace

The above story gives a message that one should never forget to show the gratitude to those who help them. It also tells that forgiveness is a divine quality one should cultivate (Like BhagwanShiva who pardons the Devas)

About the temple

As one enters through the small Rajagopuram, the shrine of Valmikeeswara and Devi Marakathambika is on the left side and the shrine of Pallikondeswara is on the right side. People first worship Devi Marakathambika and then Valmikeeswara.  

Kuber, the god of wealth with his wives Kauberi and Bhadra, are present in the temple entrance as Dwarapalakas. On either side of the Devi Marakathambika, Kamadhenu and Kalpaa viruksham are present. In the front, Salagrama Ganapathy murti is present.

Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar, Valmiki, Varasidhi Vinayaka, Kasi Viswanatha with Vislakshi, Sri Venugopala, Adhikara Nandi are all present in the inner prakaram. Subramanya with his consorts Valli and Devyani is present facing south. Next to him is the Rajamathangi shrine.

The specialty of this temple being that all its deities are present with their consorts. They are: Pallikondeswara – Sarva Mangalaambikai; Valmeekeshwara – Marakathambika; Vinaayaka – Siddhi, Buddhi; Saasthaa  (lord Ayyappa)– Poorna, Pushakala; Kuber –Kauberi and Bhadra; Dakshinamoorthy – Taara; Kasi Viswanatha – Vislakshi

The main deity Valmikeeswara in an unusual triangular shaped Swayambhu lingam.

In front of the Valmikeeswara shrine, to the left, is present a stone with many foot prints of kids which is said to be of Rama’s twin sons Lav and Kush.

The granite sculpture of the reclining Bhgawan Shiva is huge and about 16 feet, as also the image of the seated Devi Parvathi by the side of Bhagwan Shiva.

Sun God and Moon God are present on either side of Devi Parvathi; Bhagwan Maha Vishnu, Brahma, Lakshmi, Sage Markandeya, Sage Agastya, Sage Valmiki, Indra, Sage Narada, Sanaka and Sananda Munis, Nandikeshwara, Bhagwan Subrahmanya with His Consorts, Bhagwan Ganapathy and many devas and rishis are present in the sanctum sanctorum as sculptures.

The whole Kailasam is said to have assembled there, a scene which cannot be seen in any other temple. There is a separate enclosure for Adi Shankara.

Kanchi Shankara Paramacharya is said to have spent lot of time here meditating and is credited with tracing the Ramayana period findings present in the form of foot prints of Lav and Kush on a stone. A meditation hall is constructed in this temple in his memory.

The Pallikondeswara temple at Surutupalli is located in a serene atmosphere full of greenery and surrounded by hills.

How to reach Pallikondeswara Temple?

By Air: The nearest airport to the temple is located in Chennai at a distance of about 70 km. Tirupati (Renigunta airport) is located at around 70 KMs from Surutupalli.

By Rail: nearest railway station is Srikalahasti located at around 57 KMs. One can also go by train up to Chennai and from there by road to reach the temple.

By Road: Being a pilgrimage site, it is well connected by road from Tirupati, Puttur, Chennai and other major towns.

References:

  1. https://www.academia.edu/42434520/Pallikondeswara_temple
  2. https://tamilnadu-favtourism.blogspot.com/2018/05/pallikondeswarar-temple-surutapalli-andhra-pradesh.html
Dr. B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Ex- Senior Banker, Financial and Management Consultant and Visiting faculty at premier B Schools and Universities. Areas of Specialization & Teaching interests - Banking, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Economics, Global Business & Behavioural Sciences. Qualification- M.Com., M.B.A., A.I.I.B.F., PhD. Experience- 25 years of banking and 14 years of teaching, research and consulting. 100 plus national and international publications on various topics like- banking, global trade, economy, public finance, public policy and spirituality. One book in English “In Search of Eternal Truth”, two books in Telugu and 20 short stories and 27 articles published in Telugu. Email id: [email protected]

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