Pazhaiyaarai very near Kumbakonam was once the capital of the Cholas in the 9th century. And the area around Pazhaiyaarai had many important temples built by the various Chola Kings during there time. Today there are few ruins of the then great spectacular temples in this once capital town of the great Chola kingdom. Sri Somanathar temple, Vadatali alias Vallalaar temple, Keezattai, Metrali is the few examples of the archeological value in the present Pazhaiyaarai. There are many temples which had been sung by the Sivet saints and are known as Tevara Talams. The temples at Patteeswaram, Satthi Mutham, Darasuram, Thirunalloor are few Tevara Talams adjusting the Pazhaiyaarai. Even after shifting of the capital to Thanjavur the kings of Chola dynasty had continued to show their interest in Pazhaiyaarai.
The area around present Pazhaiyaarai, Pattiswaram, Satthi Mutham, were the then Pazhaiyaarai Many temples had been built around the Pazhaiyaarai during ninth century and then twelve-thirteenth century by the Chola kings many of them had Lord Shiva as presiding deity, where is there was one temple built by them for Lord Vishnu.
One such spectacular and grand temple of yester year near Patteeswaram is Sri Gopinatha Swamy temple. It is said to have had seven raja gopurams (towers) in different directions, and was spread in huge area. The temple had been well taken care off and maintained by the different Cholas including Kolothunga III. Different kings other then Cholas had also added many structures and built additional mandaps (halls) to the temple. Even after the vandal of the temple by Malikaffur, the Vijayanagara kings had renovated the temple. Today the temple is in shambles. The main raja gopuram facing Patteeswaram is of two tire and remains of the original seven tire tower, and shrubs had grown on the towers. There is a structural remains of the another tower just in the back of the main temple. The main temple housing Sri Gopinatha Swamy along with His consort Sri Rukmani and Sri Satyabhama itself requires lot of repairs. The temple is under administrative control of Establishment Officer, Pattiswaram.
While much could be talked about the temple there an interesting legend to this place connecting Sri Anjaneya Swamy and Sri Bhima. This place once had a beautiful tank surrounded by banana trees. The tank is unique since here every day a water Lilly with one thousand petals use to bloom spreading the fragrance everywhere. Sri Anjaneya Swamy once was meditating Sri Rama nama tharagam sitting on the bank of the tank. Sri Bhima on the request of his wife Sri Drupathi went on search of such flower, and had traced the fragrance to this site.
He saw a monkey sitting with his big long tail on the way to tank and asked the monkey to give way to the great hero Bhima. Sri Anjaneya felt that Bhima is speaking in the tone of arrogance, he needs to be tamed down. Sri Anjaneya told that he is old and could not lift his tail therefore Bhima can help himself by putting the tail out of the way. Thinking that the old monkeys' tail could be lifted with ease, Bhima tried and failed once. He now had put all his energy together and tried and again failed. Bhima then realised that the monkey is no ordinary monkey, and could be Sri Anjaneya.
Seeing that Bhima had realised his mistake and in act of repentance offered pranams to Sri Anjaneya, Sri Anjaneya revealed to him, His roopa. Sri Anjaneya had then offered him the Sahasrathala Pankajam- flower with thousand petals to Bhima.
There are many temples with Sri Anjaneya as the main deity this temple has Sri Gopinatha Swamy as the main deity. But today this temple is known for the twin Anjaneya Swamy deity it houses. This twin Anjaneya swamis are housed in a separate sannathi for devotees to worship. The renovation of this huge temple is a big task involving efforts, convergence of man and material power. The main plank for which had been provided by the twin Anjaneyas of this temple. Probably since the effort required is more, Sri Anjaneya is present in the temple in twin. This is the kshetra where Sri Anjaneya had meet Bhima in dwapara yuga when Sri Gopinatha Swamy (Sri Krishna) was Bhimas' mentor. Therefore Sri Anjaneya probably found it to be befitting to originate the renovation of this ancient temple. Both the deities of Sri Anjaneya look alike, holding Sahasrathala Pankajam in their left hand while with their raised right had they bless the devotees of Abhya.
Sri Anjaneya of this kshetra is storehouse of energy, compassion, and kindness.
[Ed. October 2007]
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