Unveiling the Marvels of Bhu Varaha Swamy Temple: A Journey Through Mesmerizing Stone Carvings
Sri Bhu Varaha Swamy Temple is dedicated to the third incarnation of the Lord Vishnu as Bhu Varahaswamy with the face of a wild boar. This temple is in Srimushnam around 40 Km from Chidambaram. First built by Cholas in 11th century this temple has significant contributions from the Thanjavur Nayak king Achuthappa Nayak.
The highlight of this temple is the sixteen pillared Mandapam (Hall) built by Achutappa Nayak. Each pillar is a monolith and sculpted with sculptures of Yali, musicians, dancers, miniature idols and Gods. There are 24 masterpieces on the ceiling and the Gopuram (a large pyramidal tower over the entrance gate to a temple precinct) of this temple is seven-layered studded with numerous sculptures.
The stand-alone sculptures of elaborately decorated women are the biggest attraction in this detail-oriented genius construction of mandapam.
The Legend Has It..
In the ten primary (i.e. full or complete) incarnations (avatars) of Vishnu, the third incarnation as Varaha. Hiranyakshan stole Bhudevi and took Her to the netherworld. When the Devas and Bhudevi prayed to the Lord, He took the form of wild boar (Varaha), dug the earth and went to the Patalam and killed the Asura. While dying, the Asura who was formerly the Dwarapalaka (guardian deities or the gatekeepers of the temple entrances) in Vaikuntam and was born as an Asura due to a curse requested the Lord to always look at him.
Hence while the human part of the body is turned in the west, the Varaha face is turned towards the South, where the Asura had fallen. The Lord’s sweat created the Nithya Pushkarni. Taking bath in this Pushkarni on the noon of Chithra Pournami is immensely beneficial as the Lord is believed to have His bath at that time in this place. At the request of Bhudevi, the Lord married Her. Since the devotees may be frightened with His boar face, Thayar requested him to display his normal face.
Since the Lord married the Thayar here, unmarried people pray here for getting married.
This temple sees festivals almost every month. One of them (Masi Magam) is interesting. During this festival, the Lord goes to the sea for Theerthavari. He goes via a Muslim dominated village called Thaikal. There, he is received with all honours by the local Muslims and He goes up to the Palace of the Nawab (the erstwhile Muslim ruler), before resuming his journey. The priests take the Aarathi inside the palace and go round and come back. There is a background to this process.
Once this area was under the control of the Thaikal Nawab. The Nawab was suffering from some serious disease. Despite the best efforts of all doctors including Unani (a system of medicine practised in parts of India, thought to be derived via medieval Muslim physicians from Byzantine Greece) there was no relief.
At that time, a Madhva devotee who was returning from Srimushnam heard about the Nawab’s problem. He gave the tulasi (Hindu holy leaves) and teertham (Hindu holy water) he was carrying from Srimushnam to the Nawab. The latter was completely cured. In gratitude, the Nawab constructed a mandapam at a place called Killai on the way to the sea and he donated a big endowment. Due to his affinity to this place, he came to be called Burra Saheb ( derived from Bhu Varaha).
For the Car (Ther)festival in Srimushnam, the flag is presented by the local Muslims. During the car festival, Muslims offer Kanikkai ( offerings) to the Lord and he also sends gifts to the local mosque. This is perhaps the only temple where Muslims can visit up to the Ardha Mandapam.