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.
Once, there was a king by named Hiranyan (Hiranyakasipu) who by virtue of strong tapas (penance) got the varam (boon) that he could not be killed by any human being, day or night, land or air. He had become a menace to his people and ignored the existence of Indra. In due course, he declared himself as the supreme authority and insisted that people treat him as the supreme god and mention only his name. Indra and other gods requested Lord Vishnu to take care of Hiranyan and he agreed to do so in due course.
When Hiranyan’s wife was pregnant, Narada Muni visited her and narrated the essence of Bhakthi and that only Narayana (Lord Vishnu) could save the Universe from the clutches of evil. Her son to be named as Prahladan, heard the praises of the Lord while still in the womb. This made him a staunch devotee of Narayana. Hiranyan tried several times to kill his son as Prahladan was opposed to the mention of his father’s name in lieu of the name of Narayana.
Every attempt was a failure as Narayana saved Prahladan. At last, Lord Vishnu took the avatharam of Narasimha to finish Hiranyan. He had the face of a lion (Simham) and the body of a human (Nara). Taking Hiranyan on his lap, he tore him open with his finger nails at twilight (neither day nor night). To make Prahladan happy, Lord Narasimha gave his seva for 1 Kadigai in Yoga Nilai. Kadigai represents the fraction of time. Some have interpreted it as 24 minutes.
Following the footsteps Prahaladan, the Saptha rishis (7 great sages- Vasistha, Bharadvaja, Jamadagni, Gautama, Atri, Visvamitra, and Agastya,) also undertook penance here wanting a darshan of the Lord. Within 1 Kadigai, Lord Narasimha gave his seva to the Saptha Rishis. Since the Lord gave his seva to the rishis within a kadigai, this sthalam (location) came to be known as “Gadikachalam” and is also called “Thirukkadigai”. It is also believed that Sage Visvamithra meditated here for a Kadigai and obtained the Brahma Rishi title. It is said that even if we stay for just 1 Kadigai in this sthalam, we will get Moksham. It is also believed that worshipping at this temple would relieve the devotees from various ailments, especially those who suffer from mental illness and evil spirits. That is the kind of power, this Kshetram has got. Gadikachala Kshetra Mahatmiyam is described in Brahma Kaivartha Purana.
Once the saptha rishis who were troubled by two asuras by name Kaalan and Keyan approached Indirathuyman, the King of North Madurai and sought his help. This was the time when Rama avatharam had come to an end.
Lord Rama offered Anchaneya his sangu (conch) and chakram (discus) and asked him to help Indirathuyman. With Anchaneya’s help the king annihilated the Asuras.
For helping the rishis and bhaktas, Indirathuyman was given the powerful vajrayudham weapon by Indra. Anchaneya received a bigger prize in the form of the darshan of Lord Narasimha who in turn asked him to stay at Sholinghur and protect the devotees who visited Sholinghur to get his blessings with the assurance that he would take Anchaneya to Vaikuntam during Kali Yugam.
Since then, Anchaneya has made the small hill his abode as Yoga Anjaneya facing Lord Narasimha.
There is a small opening on the wall of the Periya Malai temple through which it is said that Yoga Anjaneya, from his place in Chinna Malai, has darshan of Lord Narasimha. The specialty about chinna malai is the pose in which Anchaneya is found.
Only in this sthalam, he is found in sitting pose with four hands, holding sangu and chakram. It is said that if one is surrounded and dominated by evil, takes bath in the Hanumantha theertham, he/she will be cured completely.
On the order of Bhairava Muni, the hill in this Kshetram is said to grow up towards the sky. So, Indra asked Balarama (brother of Lord Krishna) to help him stop the hill from growing further.
Sage Durvaasa once sought the thiruth thuzhaay maalai (tulasi garland) of this deity and danced with great joy by sporting the garland on his own shoulder. There were many sadhus present at that time who witnessed this event. Budhan, the God of planet Mercury one of the Nava grahams was also present in the form of a sadhu and he laughed at this sage’s act. Sage Durvaasa cursed him and Budhan had to stay here in this sthalam and serve all the sages who came to this shrine after taking bath in the Pandava Theertham and thus got his curse (spell) removed.
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.
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
Copyright © 2016 | SGKBK SAMAJAM | All rights reserved.