First of all a very Happy Ganesh Chathurthi to all the viewers from GoSthala !! Lord Vinayaka or Ganesha is one of the most beloved God of Hindus. He is considered as the Lord of Wisdom, Prosperity and good fortune. When it comes to TamilNadu, we could see at least one small Vinayaka Temple in every street (Such an adorable God He is !!). There are many temples that are well-known and famous. Few such temples are Uchipillayar Temple in Rockfort, Mukkuruni Vinayakar of Madurai and Karpaga Vinayakar temple of Pillayarpatti etc.
Apart from these famous temples, we are going to explore about few Ganesha temples that are less known yet having interesting features in them. These are Top 5 Unique and Lesser Known Vinayaka Temples in TamilNadu.
The Adhi Vinayagar or the human faced Vinayaka is found in Muktheeswarar Temple at Thilatharpanapuri, near Koothanoor, TamilNadu. The place is known as Thilatharpanapuri since this place is considered auspicious for performing the Pitru Karmas (Thila means Gingelly Oil, Tharpanam means Hindu ritual of paying tribute to ancestors).This is the unique temple with Lord Ganesh without an elephant head. This is considered as the ancient form of Vinayagar. This unique idol of Lord Ganesha is found outside the temple and He is also known as Naramukha Vinayaka (Nara – Human, Mukha – face). We all know the story how the Lord Ganesha got the Elephant Head. Initially, Goddess Parvathi created Vinayaka with the Human head. Later, Lord Shiva beheaded Lord Vinayaka in anger and then instructed His troops to bring the head of anyone who is found sleeping with the head placed towards the North. They brought the head of an elephant and so that head was placed for Lord Vinayaka and Lord Shiva named Him Ganesha. So the Naramukha Vinayaka is supposed to be the first Vinayaka that the Goddess Parvathi created and this is the only type of Vinayaka where we could see the Human Face.
This is one of the most interesting Vinayaka Temples in South India. The unique feature of this temple is that it has one idol of Vinayaka that is surrounded by 10 other Suyambu Vinayaka idols forming the shape of “OM”. The main deity of this temple itself is the Suyambu Vinayaka named Selva Vinayaka. Apart from this, we could see 10 other Vinayakas of various sizes surrounding the main idol (Since they are Suyambu moorthis, they look more like a Shiva Linga). These Vinayakas form the shape of “OM”. The Suyambu Vinayakas were adorned with Silver Kavacham and the smallest of them is called the “Bala Vinayaka”. It is believed that the Vinayakas have been growing in size since they were excavated. There is an interesting story behind these Suyambu Vinayakas. When all these Suyambu Vinayakas were buried under the ground, a Maharashtrian Minister named Thukoji passed across this place. At that time, the axle of his chariot broke and the blood started oozing out from the ground. The minister was worried and so prayed to Lord Vinayaka and he stayed in that place that night. Later Lord Vinayaka appeared in his dreams and told him about his whereabouts. Lord also asked the minister to bring all the idols out and construct a temple in that place. The wheel impression of the chariot can still be seen on the back of Selva Vinayakar. The sanctum has no roof and an idol of Saneeswara Bhagwan is found facing the Selva Vinayagar. This is really a unique temple of its kind and a not-to-miss site for all Ganesha/temple lovers!!
The honey absorbing Vinayaka, popularly known as Pralayam Kaatha Vinayaka and is found in the Sakshinatheswarar Shiva Temple which is the 46th Paadal Petra Sthalam. The idol of Lord Ganesha of this temple has a special significance. He is known as Pralayam Katha Vinayagar (Pralayam – Destruction of Earth by the Sea, Katha – Safeguard, Vinayagar – Lord Ganesha). During the end of the Threthayuga, the Earth was destroyed by 7 seas. Lord Shiva wanted to save this Holy temple of Thiruppurambiyam. So he gave this work of preserving the temple to His Son Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganesha used the powers of “Pranava Mantra OM” to control the forces of the 7 seas into one well. Even today, one can witness the Well that contained the 7 seas in the temple Premises and it is called by the name Yezhu Kadal Kinaru. The idol was believed to have been installed by the Rain God Varuna and it is said that he made this idol with the substances obtained from the sea such as Shells, Snail hoods, Oyster shells and Seafoam. On the night before Vinayaka Chathurthi, a special Abishekam will be performed to this Lord Ganesha with Honey. Nearly 100kgs of Honey will be used for this special Abishekam. During this, one can notice that all the 100kgs of Honey that was poured on the Lord will be absorbed completely by the idol (What a Wonder!!). At the end of the Abishekam, the idol will appear Crimson or Golden Colour. Other than this Honey Abishekam, no other Abishekam will be performed to the idol of Ganesha.
Next in our list of interesting Vinayaka temples in the Thiruvalanchuzhi temple where the Lord Ganesha graces His Devotees as Swetha/ white Vinayaka who is made up of the foam/froth from the ocean. This is a Shiva temple and the main deity is Periyanayaki Sametha Sadaimudinathar. The river Cauvery curves gently towards the right side and so this place is called Thiruvalanchuzhi (valam – right, chuzhi – curve). The idol of foam Vinayaka is said to have been installed by Indra. When the devas were trying to take the nectar from the ocean, they forgot to worship the Lord Vinayaka. As per Hindu mythology, Lord Vinayaka has to be worshipped first before starting any new task. Because of this, the Devas faced a lot of obstacles in getting the nectar. They encountered huge waves in the Paarkadal and they found it very difficult to quench the force of the waves. In order to overcome this difficulty, the devas formed an idol of Vinayaka with help of sea foams and worshipped Him. Since the Lord Swetha Vinayaka is made from sea water foam, no abhisheka is done for Him. Neither flowers nor vastras or sandal would be placed on Lord Vinayaka. Only powdered Pachai Karpuram is sprayed on the idol without hand touch.
The idol of Lord Vinayaka in this temple is considered as the Asia’s largest one. The forehead alone is 2.5 feet broad. The total idol is 19 feet 10 inches tall and 11 feet 10 inches broad. The idol weighs around 190 tonnes. It is said that 21 talented sculptors have put their effort for about 6 long years to make this idol of Vinayaka. Moreover, the choice of stone was not that easy. A huge flawless rock was taken from a place called Oothukuli in Coimbatore. The trunk of the idol is right circled – Valanchuzhi. Lord graces His devotees with 4 hands. Of the 4 hands, he holds the piece of ivory in the lower right hand (He used for writing the epic Mahabharata), Angusa in the upper right hand, a jack fruit in the lower left hand and a whip in the upper left hand. He is also holding a pot of nectar in the trunk. This is considered as the sign of Goddess Lakshmi. The whole idol of Vinayaka is mounted on a phallus designed as Lotus. We could also see a Lotus in His left foot. He is also wearing the serpent Vasuki as a belt around His hip. This assures remedy from the ill effects of Rahu and Ketu. Being under Arasa Maram, Lord Mundhi Vinayaka showers His Blessings to His devotees.
We in GoSthala would be glad to arrange for a Pilgrimage Trip covering all these Unique and Lesser known Ganesha Temples.