Sholingur is a small town in Vellore district in Chennai city in South India. Lord Narasimha temple and Hanuman temple are located on top of two separate hills in this town and are the most popular Sri Vaishnaivite temples in India.
Located about 90kms west of Madras (and about 25kms from Arakkonam and 40kms from Tiruttani), atop a hill on a single rock is the Lord Narasimha Divya Desam in Sholingur, also called Chozha-Simha-Puram and Thiru Kadigai.
The Yoga Narasimha Swamy temple is situated on this hillock is at a height of 750 ft, and there are 1305 steps. This is also referred to as UtheeCheerangam(North Srirangam).There are two temples of significance here- the Yoga Narasimha temple at Periya Malai (the big hill) and the Yoga Chathurbhuja Anjaneyar temple at Chinna Malai (the small hill). Bhaktha Anjaneya also was doing thapas (penance) here. The Lord pleased with him gave His Shanku and chakram to him .This is the only place where Lord Anjaneya is giving darshan in sitting position as yoga Anjaneya adorned with sangu chakram in upper hands and with ,japa malai and counting with fingers on lower hands. Anjaneyars temple is just opposite to Lord Narasimha’s temple on a smaller hill.
After killing the demon named Hiranya, it is believed that Lord Narasimha reached Sholingur and settled down here. As he gave darshan to Sapta rishis(seven saints) for a kadigai time duration (24 minutes), the site is called as Kadigachalam. This place was also called as Chola Simha Puram, which later became Sholinga Puram and ultimately to ‘Sholingur’.
An interesting legend is connected with this holy place . In this HOLY PLACE Ghatikachalam there were two Sri Vaishnava brothers Swamy Periyappan and Siriyappan the descendants of Swami Mudaliyandan who was the nephew and disciple of Acharya Ramanuja. They were well versed in sasthras . They were doing kainkaryam to the devotees of Lord Narasimhar . Dhoddachar was born on auspicious star uthradasha to Siriyappan .
He learned Vedas and divya prabandam from Periyappan who was his acharya and mentor. Slowly with his steadfast devotion , He became an upasaka of Sri Sudarsanazwar.
He continued his upasana for twelve years Lord Sudarsana was pleased with his devotion and appeared before his devotee .
Lord said,” I am very much pleased with your devotion. What do you want?” Dhoddachar said,” I want to have darshan of Lord Nrusimhar .” Sri Sudarsanazwar told him to follow him. He took him to a cave and showed him Lord Nrusimha’s idol with His upaya Nachimar Sridevi and Bhoodevi .Dhoddachar was very happy to see Lord Nrusimha in yoga nishta pose in a calm and serene pose and christened Him as Akkarakani as described by our Azhwar ( Thirumangai Azhwar )
He decided to build a temple for the Lord and conduct all uthsavas and daily rituals.
King Achutha Devaraya who was related to Krishna Devaraya was ruling over Kanchipuram. He came to know about Sri Dhoddachar intention to build a temple to Lord Akkarakkani, (The Yoga Nrusimha.)
He came to Ghatikachalam and paid his obeisances to the great devotee Dhoddachar. He rode on his favourite high breed horse and to honour Dhoddacharya he arranged to carry him on a pearl palanquin. When they reached a village called Erumbi Achutha Devaraya’s horse suddenly fell on the ground and died. Achutha Devaraya felt very sad to see this. Dhoddachar saw this and he got down from the palanquin. He took out water from his Thirtha pathram and sprinkled it over the horse. Presto ! The horse got up as if it woke up from sleep.
Achutha Devaraya was wonder struck to see this and he prostrated before acharya and thanked him immensely for giving new life to his horse. He also gave Erumbi village and some other places nearby to him. Dhoddachar built a temple for Lord Nrusimha with the help of his disciples and also built a tank which is called Thakkan Kulam.
He was now happy that his wish to build a temple was fulfilled. He also made Thiruvabaranams (jewelery) to the Lord and started celebrating all the uthsavas with the help of his shisyas and Srivaishnavas. He visited Kanchipuram “PeraruLaLa PerumaL” who was his favourite Deity regularly . Every year he used to go to Kanchipuram on the third day of Brahmmothsavam when LORD VARADARAJAR PeraruLaLa perumal would give darshan on Garuda vahanam. But one year he was indisposed and so was unable to go to Kanchipuram.
On the day of garuda vahanam early morning he took a dip at thakkan kulam ( pond ) . He felt very sad and prayed to Lord Devaraja at the bank of the tank chanting his Holy names . Lord Devaraja was very much pleased with his deep devotion and he flew to Ghatikachalam on Garuda and gave darshan to his dear devotee . Dhoddachar was overwhelmed with emotion and his eyes were filled with tears of joy and gratitude.
He prostrated before the Lord repeatedly and praised the Lord with five slokas which is known as Devaraja Panchakam. Even now on Garuda vahana sevai day early morning when Lord Devaraja comes out of the entrance of the temple, he stops for a few minutes and He is covered by an umbrella to symbolize this incident marking the incident of LORD giving darshanam to his dear devotee . There is a temple for Lord Devaraja on the bank of Thakkan kulam where the moolavar is giving Darshan on Garuda Vahanam which is a very rare sight.
On Vaikasi visakam day in this place Ghatikachalam Garudothsavam for utsava murthi is conducted with due respects to the devotee Dhoddachar .
All glories to Sri Doddaachryar!
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Photos : Courtesy : Google Pics/varavaramuni