Pannermadai is located on the outskirts of Coimbatore. The place is popularly known as Pannimadai. I happened to visit my cousin R.Vishnu of Sri R.V. Jewelry on Big Bazaar Street on a rainy day. One Durai of Pannimadai has been with the firm for the past several years. Durai is an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna and has been reading the Srimad Bhagavatam (published by ISKCON - International Society for Krishna Consciousness) for some time now. He wears a Tulsi bead strand on his neck and is known to chant the Hare Krishna mantra everyday.
Durai told me about the ancient Kalinga Narthana Perumal Temple in his village Pannimadai and I wanted to visit it that very day. He fixed it up with the local people and I gathered myself along with my wife Sujatha and son Madhav Balaji in order to seek the blessings of Kalinga Nardana Perumal. The drive was pleasant and we visited a recently constructed Lord Lakshmi Narasimha Temple. This shrine was endowed with a nice portrait of Saint Ramanujacharya. The Acharya who is otherwise known as Bhasyakarar (this was bestowed due to his authoring a treatise on the sacred primary text Brahmasutra) has been blessing us with his presence for many years.
We reached Pannimadai and were received by the devout Durai. The temple was located in the village and Durai lived right next door. In fact his other neighbor happens to be another deity! Durai and his family were thus sandwiched in between the temples. We entered the old temple and offered our prayers to Lord Ganesha, Lord Kalinga Nardana Perumal and Lord Ulagalandha Perumal. The temple was endowed with a Swarga Vaasal (Paramapada Vasal). This would be opened only on Vaikunta Ekadasi. The priest showed the arati and we were super thrilled to see the lovely icon of Lord Kalinga Nardana Perumal.
This Lord represents the Leela (play) of Lord Krishna. Long ago, the poisonous serpent Kaliya was living in the River Yamuna. This was during the times when Lord Narayana had incarnated as Lord Krishna, the cowherd. The cowherd friends of Lord Krishna feared Kaliya because he would cause harm to the ones who entered the sacred Yamuna ( River ) for a bath. One day, Lord Krishna entered Yamuna and the venomous Kaliya attacked him with great ferocity. Taming Kaliya was a child's play for Lord Krishna. He subdued it and began to dance on its hood. The terrible serpent surrendered to the Lord and agreed to leave the River Yamuna for good. This pastime of Lord Krishna is part of Srimad Bhagavatam. Lord Krishna is said to reside in the text Srimad Bhagavatam during the Kali Yuga (Iron Age).
The victory of Lord Krishna over Kaliya or Kalinga (in Tamil) has been celebrated in the form of music, dance and sculptures in the homes of people and in temples. The temple towers would normally carry a stucco image of Lord Krishna dancing on Kaliya. There are very few temples which contain the icon of Lord Kalinga Nardana Perumal within the sanctum. Otherwise they may also be found on the sculpted stone pillars or as frescos on the walls within.
Othukadu near Kumbakonam and Pannimadai near Coimbatore are fortunately endowed temples for Lord Kalinga Nardana Perumal. The famous poet Venkatasubbaier ( 1700 - 1765 ) of Oothukadu had composed several songs on Lord Krishna those days. People continue to sing his composition 'Alaipayudhe'. This song is being sung on an everyday basis and there is forever someone ready to learn the same. Now let us come back to Pannimadai and take a look at the temple. The local people look after it quite well.
All the communities get involved in the celebrations and prayers connected with this centuries old shrine. The annual Sri Krishna Jayanthi celebrations are very special here. Youngsters participate in the 'Uriyadi Utsavam' with great enthusiasm. The pot is accessed by them with great finesse. All the villagers enjoy the festivities. The temple has been constructed with the use of bricks and granite. Old materials have been used to bond the bricks and stones. Heavy wooden planks are part of the structure. The sanctum tower rests on solid planks.
The Gettimelakkaran Thinnai (platform) is used by musicians who perform in this old temple. A nice stucco image of Lord Govardanagiridari on the sanctum tower seems ready to bless Coimbatore with abundant rainfall. The great and noble seer His Holiness Swami Dayananda Saraswathi had once visited the neighborhood Dharmaraja Temple. He was aghast on seeing the condition of the temple and he requested the public to set up a team in order to restore the temple. He advised them to restore the temple to its old glory and assured them of the grace of Lord Krishna.
Swamiji's words took form and the villagers got the work done. A Samprokshanam was done after the restoration and this took place on 04/09/2006. The occasion was graced by a number of saints and Swamiji's disciple Prasanthananda Saraswathi was part of this sacred entourage. The east facing temple has entrances in front of the shrines. The Kalkodimaram (Dwajasthambam / flag made of stone) is endowed with the sculptures of Garuda, Hanuman, Shanku (conch) and Chakram (discus). The Selva Vinayagar shrine is located on the southern side of Lord Kalinga Nardana Perumal, while the shrine of Lord Trivikrama Narayana (Ulagalanda Perumal) is located on the northern side.
The temple is found on a raised platform and the icons of Saint Ramanujacharya and Swami Vedanta Desika have taken the place of the Dwarapalakas (door keepers), Jaya and Vijaya. Stucco images of Navaneetha Krishna, Venugopala, Alilai Krishna and Krishna as Govardanagiridari add to the beauty of the three tiered tower which stands over the sanctum. The deity Ulagalanda Perumal is endowed with four arms. The arms in the front offer benediction - Vardam & Abhayam. The arms in the rear are seen with the Sudarshana (holy discus) and Panchjanya (holy conch).
Lord Kalinga Nardana Perumal is found in the company of his consorts Rukmini and Satyabhama. All the three of them are resident on the same big platform. The Lord looks lovely in the company of his consorts. He is seen holding a butter in his right hand and his left hand is found holding on to the tail of the serpent Kaliya. The right foot of the deity is found pressing the hood of Kaliya and his left foot is seen on the central part. A shrine of Lord Ganesha , Rahu and Ketu is found in the vicinity of this old shrine. The temple also has the statues of Vedanta Desigar, Manavaazhaga Maamunigal, Udayavar aka Ramanujar and Nammazhvar - nadhamuni.
An old Swamyamvyakta (self manifested) icon of the Lord can be seen in front of Ulagalanda Perumal within the sanctum. The shrine of Hanuman is an added attraction. While the holy basil (Tulsi) is the sacred tree, the Ganga (as found within the well) is sacred water (Tirtham) for the temple. The temple sees activities on Saturdays and Ekadasis. A Thirumanjanam (holy bath) is performed on such days. Karthikai Deepam, Diwali, Vaikunta Ekadasi, Navaratri, Sri Krishna Jayanthi are special here. Youngsters play the Uriyadi and Vazhukkumaram (climbing a slippery log) on Sri Krishna Jayanthi. The Lord is taken out on a procession on special days. The temple is managed as per the Pancharatra Agama (an ancient temple management method).
The villagers have been able to receive the grace of Lord Kalinga Nardana Perumal after the restoration. The village has become prosperous and the ones who had surrendered to Lord Kalinga Nardana Perumal have been able to get out of sorrows and troubles. Good things have taken over the lives of such devotees. A number of them have got lucrative jobs in different parts of the world. The level of contentment and prosperity at Pannermadai (Pannimadai) seems to be on the rise due to the grace of Lord Kalinga Nardana Perumal.
Lord Kalinga Nardana Perumal freed River Yamuna from the poisonous Kaliya and had saved the cowherds of Vrindavan. Similarly he will help the people to get rid of the toxins from afflicting their lives. Lord Kalinga Nardana Perumal is our eternal savior.
Mr. Rajesh Govindarajulu is one of the founding members of The Verandah Club Pvt. Ltd. He is a leading columnist, historian, jeweler, entrepreneur, and a heritage enthusiast who is earnestly working to revive the past in the light of the present. Experiential learning about the history of Coimbatore is his main course of interest and he is also a panel member of many colleges in the city.
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