Rajagopalaswamy temple is a Vaishnavite shrine located in the town of Mannargudi, Tamil Nadu, India. The presiding deity is Rajagopalaswamy, a form of Lord Krishna. The temple is spread over an area of 23 acres (93,000 m2) and is one of the important Vaishnavite shrines in India. The temple is called Dakshina Dwarka (Southern Dwarka) along with Guruvayoor by Hindus.
The image of the presiding deity is 12 feet (3.7 m) tall. There is a big tank at the entrance of the shrine where rain water is collected. The temple complex has 16 gopurams (tower gateways), 7 prakarams (outer courtyard), 24 shrines, seven mandapams (halls) and nine sacred theerthams (temple tanks). The utsava (festival deity) is a bronze figure from the Chola period. It shows keshabanda type of coifure and restrained ornamentation, atypical of the Chola bronzes of the 11th century. The temple tank is called Haridranadhi, 1,158 feet long and 837 feet broad, making it one of the largest temple tanks in India
The temple was first constructed by Kulothunga Chola I(1070-1125 A.D.), with bricks and mortar, indicated by various stone inscription found in the site. The place Mannargudi is termed Sri Rajathi Raja Chathurvedhi Mangalam and the town started to grow around the temple. Successive kings of the Chola empire, Rajaraja Chola III, Rajendra Chola III and kings of Thanjavur Nayaks, Achyuta Deva Raya expanded the temple. The temple contains inscriptions of the Hoysala kings and some Vijayanagara grants, and many records of the later Nayaks and Marathas. The current temple structure, hall of 1000 pillars, main gopuram(temple gateway tower) and the big compound wall around the temple was built by the king Vijayaraghava Nayak(1532-1575 A.D.). Raghunathabhyudayam, a doctrine by Nayaks explains the donation of an armour studded with precious stones to the main deity by the king. He erected the big tower in the temple so that he can view the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple from the top of Mannargudi. The Nayaks were specially interested in music and it was promoted in both the temples. Instruments like Mukhavina, Dande, Kombu, Chandravalaya, Bheri and Nagaswaram were commonly used in the temple service.
Panguni Thiruvizha is a festival celebrated during the Tamil calendar of Panguni(Mar-Apr) and is attended by thousands of devotees. The festival is celebrated for 18 days and the second day has the enactment of the famous story of Krishna taking away the dress of bathing females, the females requesting the clothes back and Krishna singing the flute. The festival deity is placed in the pinnai tree, the branches of which are hung with garments and ornaments.
For 2013 following is the schedule of the festival (only important days).
- Mar 2 — Dwajarohanam, Kodi Chapparam
- Mar 3 — Punnaimara Vahanam, Veugopalan Thirukkolam
- Mar 9 — Rishyamuka Parvatham, Pattabiramar Thirukkolam
- Mar 10—Simha Vahanam, Raja Alankaram
- Mar 13—Vaira Mudi, Garuda Sevai
- Mar 14—Kalinga Nardhanam, Andal Thirukkolam, Hanumantha Vahanam
- Mar 15—Thirukkalyanam
- Mar 16—Choornotsavam, Palliyarai Sevai
- Mar 17—VennaiThazhi, Chettiyar Thirukkolam, Kudhirai Vahanam
- Mar 18—Thiruther Theerthavari
- Mar 19—Sabthavarnam / Dwadhasa Aradhanam
In addition to this, in the tamil month Aani(June–July), ‘Theppothsavam'(Boating festival) is celebrated. While the ‘Goddess’ festival namely ‘Adippooram’, i.e. ‘Chariot Festival is celebrated in the tamil month of Aadi(July-Aug).
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