One of the 108 Divya Desam shrines glorified by Azhwar Tamil saints in the ''Divya Prabandha'' Tiruvekkaa Temple or Yathothkari Perumal Temple of Kanchipuram close to Chennai city is a popular one. There are references to this temple in Patanjali Mahabharatham and Tolkāppiyam (3rd century BCE). Locally called Sonnavannam Seitha Perumal temple dedicated to god Vishnu, here his consort is Lakshmi as Komalavalli. It is said to have been built by the Pallava rulers of the late 8th century AD, with later contributions from Medieval Cholas and Vijayanagar kings. The temple's association with Kulothunga Chola I (1070–1120 CE) and that of Rajendra Chola (1018-54 CE) is highlighted by three inscriptions on its walls. Further Kulothunga Chola gifted villages to 32 brahmins to take care of the temples, etc. As per records Chola king, Parantaka I (907–950 CE) gave a gift of 367 kalanju of gold to the temple by an individual.
The architecture followed here is a good example of Dravidian style. This temple follows the traditions of the Thenkalai samprathayam (sect of Vaishnavite tradition) and vaikanasa aagama. The Vaishnavite priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and six Kaala puja on a daily basis. Mangalasasanam to this temple has 14 Paasurams; 6 paasurams are written by Thirumangai Alwar and 3 paasuram are written by Thirumizhisai alwar , 4 Paasurams are by Poigai Alwar and remaining one paasuram is by Nammalwar.
|Tiruvekkaa Temple or Yathothkari Perumal Temple, Kanchi. en.wikipedia.org|
Above image: Also known as Tiruvekkaa Temple, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, it is one among the three oldest Perumal temples in Kanchi; the other being Ulagalantha Perumal Temple and Pandava Thoothar Perumal Temple.
|Yathothkari Perumal Temple,Kanchipuram, TN, facebook.com|
Above image: At this 8th century CE Yathothkari Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram the presiding deity Sri Vishnu has a rare Ananthasaynam posture (reclining). Unlike other Sri Vishnu temples where the lord is recumbent on his right, here he is recumbent on the left. Originally lying left to right upon hearing Thirumalisai Azhwar's devotional soul-stirring hymns God turned his reclining posture from right to left. Famous historian Nagaswamy is of the opinion that the image (reclining posture in an unconventional way) made of stucco in this temple is one of the rarest representation of the deity. Yet another interesting fact is Poigai Azhwar, one of the azhwars Tamil saints of 7-10th century, was born at this temple lotus tank. Here, the lord gave darshan to goddess Saraswati and Thirumalisai Azhwar. ...........................................
As for legends, there are a few versions. According one legend Thirumalisai Aahwar, a disciple of Pey Azhwar with his mystic power once turned an old lady into a beautiful damsel through the grace of Bhujanga Sayana Perumal. Later the Pallava ruler of that region married that good-looking girl. When age was catching up with him while his wife remained young, he requested one Kanikkannan, a disciple of Thirumalisai Aahwar to sing in praise of him so that he could turn young brimming with youthfulness. When out-rightly refused to do so, the king was in rage and banished Kanikkannan from the country. Kanikannan explained what had happened to him to his Guru Thirumalisai, who in tern, prayed to Bhujangasayana Perumal. Further infuriated. king ordered all the three to to be banished.
|Location map, Kanchipuram. mapsofindia.com|
No sooner had the learned persons and divine power left the town of Kanchi than it fell under the cover of darkness, heralding a bad omen filled with dreadful apprehension and a sense of foreboding for the future. Realizing his grave mistake and folly and concerned about the welfare of the people living there, the king worshipped Bhujangasayana Perumal and requested him to return to Kanchipuram along with his two devotees. Since the presiding deity obliged to his devotees' wishes, he is called Yathothkari Perumal - Yathothka meaning as requested and kari denotes the person who accomplishes the task.
|Yathothkari Perumal Temple,Kanchipuram, TN,epuja.co.in|
Above image: Yathothkari Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram. Here God Vishnu is known as Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal implying the Lord had obliged the request of Azhwar. According to one of the legends Goddess Saraswati came to this place when she was angry with Lord Brahma..........
The presiding deity of the main west facing sanctum, "Sonnavannam Seitha Perumal" is in Bhuganja Sayanam posture. There are rare stucco images of various legends in the sanctum, one being that of goddess Saraswathi praying at Lord's feet . The roof of the sanctum is referred to as Vedasara Vimana with five kalasams There are separate for Poigai Azhwar located to the North of the flagstaff and lord Yathothkari's consort Komavalli (facing the central shrine in the Eastern side of the temple). The sanctum is accessed through pillared halls, Mahamandapam and the Ardhamandapam. The richly ornate pillars od Mahamantapa were built during the Vijayanagara period of 15-16th centuries. The temple has two prtakshana paths (/prakaram/precincts); the second one has tall granite walls pierced by a five-story rajagopuram ( main gateway tower). In the temple there are images of Rama Setha, Hanuman and Garuda.
Panguni Brahmotsavam is celebrated during April - May and Poigai Azhwar birthday during Aipassi Thiruvonam star are the two major festivals celebrated in the temple. Aipassi Thiruvonam, the birth star of Poigai Azhwar, is celebrated every year. ] To indicate the legend of Kanikannan, the festive image of Yathothkari, Tirumalisai Azhwar and Kanikkannan are taken in procession to Orikkai village to have a short stay during the Thai Magam festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Thai (January - February). The annual Azhwar Utsavam is celebrated annually during the birth date of the Poigai Azhwar based on Tamil calendar in the temple.
In the last two years due to COVID-19 pandemic, the conduct of festivals is very much restricted. So are the number of devotees entering the temple. The temple is under the administration of the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.