Forty-five kilometers from Chennai and 10 kilometers north of Cholavaram on the Chennai-Kolkata national highway is the tiny hamlet of Puduvayal. Few know that this tiny hamlet is home to one of the oldest shrines to Lord Narayana in these parts - Sri Kamalavalli Thayar Sametha Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal Thirukovil. The temple is said to be more than 1200 years old.
The temple follows the Vaikhanasa Agama and presents Lord Vijayaraghava in the seated posture with His Divine Consorts, Sridevi and Bhoodevi by His sides (Veetrirunda Thirukkolam). There is a separate sanctum for Sri Kamalavalli Thayar (Thani Kovil Nachchiyar). She is called Swatantra Lakshmi or Swarajya Lakshmi in Her Utsavar form.
The temple complex is actually a cluster of shrines. Along with the sanctums of Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal and Sri Kamalavalli Thayar, there is a twin temple structure for Sri Venugopalaswamy and Sri Andal. In addition, there is a small shrine dedicated to Sri Siriya Thiruvadi. The mandatory cubicle for Sri Periya Thiruvadi is situated right across Sri Vijayaraghavar's sanctum and in front of the Sri Dhwaja platform.
The sthala puranam of the temple states that the kshetram's teertham is called Sri Kamala Teertham, the vimanam of the Lord's temple is Sri Vijayakoti Vimanam, that of the Goddess is called Sri Kamalakruti Vimanam and the sthala vriksham is the Krishna Tulasi plant. This is so because of the presence of Lord Venugopalaswamy's temple.
The temple complex is believed to have been commissioned by Sri Kanva Maharishi and, therefore, is called the Sri Kanva Rishi Kshetram. Sri Kanva Maharishi is also known to have fostered Shakuntala - Brahmarishi Vishwamitra's daughter from the apsara Menaka. Our country gets its name, Bharatvarsha, after Shakuntala's son - Bharat.
Sri Kanva Maharishi is believed to have performed the Pratishthapana and Thiruaradhana of Sri Vijayaraghavar at Puduvayal. Sri Kanva Maharishi's samadhi is believed to be somewhere in Puduvayal's vicinity, on the banks of what was once River Aranya. The river, known to have flown till the late 1950s, has been dry for several decades now.
Much of what the kshetram is famed to do for its pilgrims has its roots in the life of Shakuntala.
Eligible girls who do not easily come by grooms are known to have had their marriages solemnized in a few short days after their visit to the Sri Andal temple. Shakuntala is said to have met and married King Dushyanta here in the Gandharva tradition.
Women who seek children and are unable to beget them are known to get children on their votive visit to the shrine of Sri Venugopalaswamy. Shakuntala's son, Bharat, is supposed to have been born here.
Disputes that dogged Shakuntala's early marital life and the amnesia that afflicted King Dushyanta were settled and cured here after Shakuntala's vow to Sri Kamalavalli Thayar was fulfilled. By extension, the Thayar is famous for granting a favorable resolution of not only marital disputes but of all legal disputes. She also confers mental health and peace to all Her devotees.
Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal bestows on His devotees victory in all their undertakings. He ensures that His devotees achieve and maintain excellent physical health. The hastamudra of the Lord beckons warmly to devotees to come and get His blessings.
There are some other unique attributes of this temple. The Moolavar idol of Sri Venugopalaswamy has a cow licking the left foot of the Lord, showing the Saranagati principle of Sri Visistadvaitam. Inside the sanctum of Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal is a small space dedicated to Sri Vikhanasa Maharishi, the preceptor of the Vaikhanasa Agama. Very few temples have a separate sanctum for Sri Vikhanasa Maharishi. The Pushkarni called Sri Kamala Teertham is situated exactly behind the Lord's sanctum, again a very rare occurrence. Devotees who undertake vows to the Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal temple at the Divya Desam of Thiruputkuzhi, but are unable to fulfill them there can complete their vows at Puduvayal.
Despite all these unique characteristics, the temple has been suffering for want of attention. Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal's temple is in a decrepit condition. A bolt of lightning has totally demolished the sanctum for the Alwars. This lightning strike also affected a part of Sri Kamalavalli Thayar's temple. The twin temples to Sri Venugopalaswamy and Sri Andal too are in a bad shape. The Dhwajastambham is in a poor state. The Gopuram is unfinished. Sri Anjaneyar's temple does not have a vimanam. It is indeed a sad commentary that such a unique temple complex has gone to waste for lack of care and upkeep.
The Sree Vijayaraghava Trust has taken it upon itself the task of renovating and developing the temple complex. Asthikas who desire to get the blessings of the Puduvayal Divya Dampatigal and want to participate in the renovation and development of the temple complex may contact
Sri Varada Bhattar,
Sree Vijayaraghava Trust, 22/25 Kumaraswamy Nagar,
Villivakkam, Chennai - 600049 Tamilnadu, India.
Telephone: +91 (44) 26182143;
Mobile: 3102 4499.
The temple's address is:
Sri Kamalavalli Thayar Sametha Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal Thirukkovil,
Post Puduvayal - 601206
Sri Krishna Bhattar and Sri Santhanam Bhattar may be contacted here. If any seva is to be conducted, a week's time should suffice to make arrangements.
Asthikas are requested to donate generously to the cause of renovating and developing the temple complex. All remittances may be made by cheques/demand draft to "Sree Vijayaraghava Trust", payable at Chennai. All donations to the temple enjoy Section 80G tax exemptions.
Om Namo Narayanaya