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Thiruvananthapuram of Tamil Nadu!

By Priyabaskar

Thiruvananthapuram of Tamil Nadu!

Inside the Aavarani Anantha Narayana Temple

Thousands throng the temple of Lord Ananthapadmanabha Swamy, at Thiruvananthapuram, through strict security and dress regulations. Here, 18 feet Lord, reclining on a five headed Anantha (Adhisesha) can be witnessed through three entrances, whereby his Thirumukam (face), Thiruvudal (Body) and Thirupadam (feet) are worshipped.
Come to lesser known Aavarani, in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu, where Lord Vishnu is seen as Anantha Narayana, also known as Aabharanadhari, his gigantic 21 feet form reclining on a seven- headed Anantha. This Lord, even larger than Ananthapadmanabhaswamy can also be viewed through three entrances through which his Thirumukham, Nabhi (navel with Brahma rising from it) and Thirupaadham are visible. The only difference here, is this temple is relatively unknown and one can spend minutes or even hours in front of the Lord, without any disruption.

Thiruvananthapuram of Tamil Nadu!

The Lord Aabharanadhari reclining on the seven hooded Adisesha

The village Aavarani, was originally called Aabharanadhari after the Lord. It is an extension of Thirukkannangudi, one of the 108 Divya Desams. It is believed that Lord Rama on his return to Ayodhya, passed through here and on the request of Brighu Maharishi and Veda Vyasa rested here in the form of Mahavishnu. 
The legend of this temple is associated with the life and times of Thirumangai Alwar. According to the Sthala Puranam,  the Alwar, desirous of raising resources for the Srirangam temple, came to Nagapattinam to steal the Golden idol of Buddha at the Vihara . He collected some banana stems from a place called Vazhakarai, stole the Golden idol, hid it among the banana stems during the day, and traveled over night towards Srirangam. The place where he hid the statue during day has come to be known as Porulvaithacheri (now called Poravacheri) near Sikkal. He then visited Aavarani and worshipped the gigantic Ananthanarayana Perumal. Seeing the huge Lord, he adorned his body with Tulsi garlands which are said to have turned into different jewels. He then called him "Aabharanadhari Narayana". Because of this, the place came to be known as Aabharanadhari. 
From here, he went to the Thirukannangudi Damodhara Narayana Perumal temple and worshipped the Ninraan and Irundhaan (Veetrirundha Perumal).  In his mangalasasanam of the Thirukkanangudi temple, the stanza beginning with "Vangama munneer", according to Vaishnavaite scholars, describes the Ananthanarayana Perumal of Aavarani who is reclined on the Anantha ("sangamaarangai thadamalarundhi samameniyen") and hence it is inferred that this sthalam must have been part of the Thirukkannangudi Divya desam originally. Government records also mention the Aavarani village as Thirukkannangudi Agaram which reemphasises this fact.
The Lord

Thiruvananthapuram of Tamil Nadu!

Lord Ananthanarayana at Aavarani

Lord Ananthanarayana Perumal is found completely filling the sanctum sanctorum. Reclining on the seven hooded Adisesha, with a Marakkal (measuring utensil) as headrest,  his head is placed on the Southern direction and feet towards North. He has a left hand supporting his head, and the right hand extended upto his knee.  He wears a number of ornaments on his body true to the name of Aabharanadhari. On his head, he wears a crown, kundalams in his ears, katakas on his arms, a beautiful Nalankilar Haram on his broad chest, sacred thread, and anklets on his feet. Brahma raising from his navel, and Sridevi and Bhudevi found by his side, are also wearing ornaments. Apart from them, Sage Bhrigu and Veda Vyasa are found at the head and foot of the Lord respectively as he gave vision to them at this site. 
Other Deities

Thiruvananthapuram of Tamil Nadu!

Goddess Alankaravalli

On entering the temple, one can see the Pakshiraja Garudalwar facing the Lord. He is seen with snakes as ornaments on his body. He is flanked by a beautiful Hanuman, known as Padma Hanuman. Goddess Alankaravalli is found in a separate shrine . The temple well is very special as the water is said to be extremely sweet. The temple tank is called Ananthapushkarani and bathing here and chanting Achutha, Anantha, Govindha thrice, rids one of all problems and turns them towards liberation.

Thiruvananthapuram of Tamil Nadu!

The beautiful well at the Aavarani Temple

A total of eleven inscriptions have been read at this temple. Out of which nine are from the Chola period, one from the Pandya period and another from the Vijayanagara Period. The oldest among them is from the time of Raja Raja Chola II from 1150 AD. This inscription calls Aavarani as Aabharanadari Chaturvedimangalam. The inscription also mentions a Siva temple known as Thiruvirameswaram which probably existed in Aavarani.
There are six inscriptions belonging to the period of Kulothunga Chola III, and one of Jatavarman Kulasekhara Pandyan.  A 1474 AD inscription of Thippayya Devamaharaya refers to the village as Aabharanadhari yaana Uttaranandapuram and the Lord as Pallikonda Perumal.
The rest of the inscriptions talk about temples nearby. One of the inscriptions refer to Simmavishnu Chaturvedimangalam and a deity called Parvatheeswara mudaiyar and about grants given to the temple. This inscription also mentions the villagers of Ranajana Chaturvedi mangalam giving grants to Parvatheeswara mudaiyar. This probably was a temple near Aavarani.  Another inscription mentions Chitralekha Perumpalli which probably was a Buddha Vihara nearby. There have been exchange of land between the Parvatheeswara mudaiyar temple and the Chitralekha Perumpalli.
Other significance:

Thiruvananthapuram of Tamil Nadu!

Padma Anjaneya at the Aavarani Temple

This temple is one of the Pancha Narayana Kshetrams referred to in the Garuda Puranam as Pancha Badra. The others being the Damodara Narayana Perumal in Thirukannangudi, Yadava Narayana Perumal in Keevalur, Deva Narayana Perumal in Devur and  Varada Narayana Perumal in North Alandhur.
How to reach here:
This temple is found on the Nagapattinam - Thiruvarur route, about four kilometres from the famous Sikkal Murugan temple.  GPS Coordinates : (10.74561792, 79.77533913)
Contact: S Kumar Bhattar - 97885 17247
Temple Timings: 9-11 am, 5-7 pm

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