Sholinghur is a famous pilgrimage spot in Vellore District in the State of Tamil Nadu in India and the nearest town to one of the 108 Divyadesham (Lord Vishnu temples), with Sri Yoga Narasimha Swamy, the 4th Avatharam of Lord Vishnu (Sriman Narayana) as the presiding deity and Sri Amirthavalli Thayar as his consort on top of a 450 foot hill called periya malai (big hill). This Divyadesham is also known as Gatikachalam and Thirukkadigai. There is also a temple nearby of Sri Anchaneya on a smaller hill called chinna malai, which is about 200 feet tall.
Sholinghur is about 120 KM (2 ½ hour drive) from Chennai and 260 KM (5 ½ hour drive) from Bengaluru.
The temples will usually be open between 8 am to 5.30 pm on weekdays and even earlier on special occasions and weekends. At the bottom of the hills is a smaller town called Kondapalayam, about 6 KM from Sholinghur on the Arakkonam-Walajah highway. Konda means hill and palayam means town and visitors to the temple usually get down here.
The big hill has 1305 (60-90 minutes) steps to climb and the small hill has 400 (20-30 minutes) steps. For the unable to climb crowd, there is also a doli or Jhoola service for between Rs. 1000-1600.
What is the historical & spiritual significance of Sholinghur?
Sholinghur is a shortened form of its original names viz. Chozhasimhapuram, Chola Lingapuram, Cholasingapuram and finally Sholingapuram until a couple of decades back. Karikaala Cholan, when separating his empire into 48 small districts, named this place as Kadigai Kottam. Inscriptions from the period of Parantaka Chola I (907-950 AD) are found here. This place was one of the 74 religious thrones established by Sri Ramanuja (1017-1137 AD) outlining the principles of Sri Vishisthathvaitham. Later, Pallava kings established many institutions and centres of excellence of fine arts including sculpting here. There is mention of this place during the reign of the Vijayanagar kings, Sri Veeerabadhra Ramadevaraya (1617-1632 AD) & Sri Venkatapathy Devaraya III (1632-1642 AD) who probably helped renovate the temples. The steps from the foot hill to the temple were constructed by Rajayya.
The Battle of Sholinghur was fought in 1781 between the forces of the Kingdom of Mysore led by Hyder Ali and British East India Company forces led by General Eyre Coote.
Namaskarams from SGKBK Samajam
(History of Samajam)
Kondapalayam near the town of Sholinghur in Vellore District of Tamil Nadu (South India) is the abode of the 95th Divyadesam (one among 108 holiest Sri Vaishnava pilgrimage spots) dedicated to Sri Yoga Narasimha Swamy, his consort Amirthaphalavalli Thaayar & Sri Yoga Anchaneya Swamy who reside on two hill top temples called Periya Malai and Chinna Malai respectively. The Tamil month of Karthikai starts in the middle of November every year and is considered the most sacred month for Worshipping the above deities.Thousands of pilgrims visit Sholinghur during this period especially on weekends as it is only 120 KM from Chennai and about 260 KM from Bengaluru with reasonably easy access by train or bus.
Whilst the number of pilgrims had increased vastly since Independence, the town of Sholinghur and Kondapalayam in particular did not have adequate facilities for food and shelter.
In 1987, Sriman Kandadai brothers hailing from Nellore in Andhra Pradesh decided to start Thadiyarathanai (Annadhanam) at a rented premises (Guruswamy Bungalow) to serve the pilgrims.
Doddacharya (1543–1607), a great Sanskrit scholar was chosen to spread Vaishnava philosophy by Erumbiyappa Varadhachari and Udayavar Ramanujar at this location. He was responsible for the renovation of the temple in 1588. Once due to illness, he could not go to the town of Kanchipuram (about 25 KM away) to attend the Garuda Seva Utsavam. Much depressed, he finished all his daily duties and sung 5 Slokas (hymns) in “Devaraja Panjagam” explaining his sorrows. Overjoyed at this devotion, it is said that Sri Varadharaja Perumal (Lord Vishnu) in Garuda Vaahanam (vehicle) gave his seva to Doddacharya at the Thakkan Kulam (Pushkarni of this Kshetram) in Gatikachalam. In memory of this event, every year on the third morning of Brahmotsavam at Kanchipuram, the temple door is closed for a few minutes and Lord Varadaraja Perumal, in his Garuda Vaahanam, says ‘”I am now going to give darshan to Doddacharya of Gatikachalam”. The Lord waits at the entrance of the temple, faces the direction of Sholinghur and provides darshan to Doddacharya. This is called Doddacharya Sevai in Kanchipuram.
According to the legends it is believed that there were 108 water bodies in the temple vicinity. Of these water bodies, only a few of them are accessible now namely Brahma Theertham (Thakkan Kulam), Sanjeevi Theertham, Hanumantha Theertham, Narasimha Theertham and Pandava Theertham. In earlier days, during the months of September to January devotees used to perform the ritual of taking a dip in the Bairava Theertham, Halavartham, Varaha Theertham, Pundarika Theertham, Gaarudam, Papavinasanam, Amrithakundam, Vama Theertham, Rathna Theertham, Vasishta Theertham, Sesha Theertham and Lakshmi Theertham alongwith above remaining Theertham in a ritual known as “Anthra Pradakshinam or “Mahapradakshinam (circum ambulation of the hill) according to the scriptures. Sadly today this ritual is not doable as most of the water bodies are untraceable.
All Utsavams are conducted to Sri Bhakthavatsalar of the temple at the foot-hill temple. In Kaarthigai month and Sundays, special pooja for Anchaneyar is done. Bhaktavatsalar comes in a Girivalam once every year at Sholinghur. The Lord provides a Giri Pradakshinam sevai to the 7 rishis, starting on an Eakadasi day and blessing the rishis on a Dwadashi day. Even now during the month of December – January devotees undertake a Giri Pradakshinam along with the Utsavar icon that is taken in a grand procession around the 2 hills, over a 25 KM distance.
The following Pushkarnies are still seen in vicinity of temple even if many others have vanished:
- Brahma Theertham (Takkan Kulam).
- Narasimha Theertham.
- Hanumantha Theertham.
- Pandava Theertham.
Brahma Theertham (temple tank) is also known as Thakkan Kulam. It is situated on the road leading to the Hill temples. This tank got its name since Brahma did penance on the banks of the tank to get rid of “Anka Vaikalya Dosham” (handicapped) when one of his five heads was cut off by Lord Siva and he became Chathurmukan or the four-faced. By worshipping Lord Narasimha and taking bath in this tank he got rid of the sin. Brahma Theertam and Sesha Theertham are very famous for their tending to cure properties. Every Saturday these Theerthams are thronged by the devotees to seek the removal of Sarpa dosham or Naga Dosham. Most of the Women devotees take bath in the Theerthams and do pooja to the idols of 7 deities kept near the place which are known as Saptakannigai (seven virgins).
Takkan Kulam Temple
Kondapalayam has a temple at the foothills near the Takkan kulam. This temple is a link between Kanchipuram Varadaraja Perumal and Doddacharya Swamy. It is customary for the devotees to take a bath in the temple tank known as Takkan Kulam. It is round-shaped and a very big tank. Devotees take a dip here before starting to climb the hills to have a darshan of the Lord.
To conduct Thadiyarathanai (Annadanam) for devotees visiting the Divyadesam during the month of Karthikai and to promote the significance of the temple town of Sholinghur amongst all devotees.
Registered Office: 20/3B Swamy Apartments, CRR phase III, Ganpatraj Nagar Road, Virugambakkam
Chennai 600092, Tamil Nadu, India.
Ugram veeram mahavishnum jaalvantam sarvato mukham
Narasimham bheeshanam bhadram mrutyur mrutyur namamyaham