Sri Ranganatha Temple is a very famous for a rock cut cave temple, known as Sri Ranganathesvara temple. This cave temple is taken as a Pallava cave temple by most of the scholars on basis of its architectural style. Singavaram is located about 41 km from Viluppuram and 4 km from Gingee and comes under Viluppuram district, Tamil Nadu. From Chennai it would be around 162 km.
About The Temple
This east facing cave temple has been extended and renovated many times since its creation. It is located high above a hill and can be reached via steps of flights. There is a mandapa created in front of the original cave which obscure the view of the cave in its full. The front facade of the cave is supported on two pillars and two pilasters, as seen in other cave temples of Mahendravarman I. The pillars are with cubical top and bottom parts with an octagonal shaft in between.
Nothing much can be said about the cornice and front parts of the cave due to later mandapa addition. The pilasters on the corners are like pillars, having cubical top and bottom with octagonal shaft in between, only difference is that they are still in antis. This feature is similar to the Mandagapattu cave temple. In the niches formed by pilasters are placed dvarpalas, which are very similar to Thalavanur dvarpalas. Behind the front row of the pillars and pilasters is another row of two pillars and pilasters. Pilasters in this row are uniform from top to bottom, however pillars are similar to the front row. Most of the faces of the pillars front and back are shown with full lotus medallion similar to Thalavanur. The two rows of the pillars separate mukha-mandapa and ardha-mandapa within the cave shrine. From the style of pillars forming three bays and two rows of the pillars, this cave can be assigned to Mahendravarman I.
On the back wall of the shrine is a magnificent image of Vishnu as Anantashayana, which covers almost the whole wall. Vishnu is shown reclining on the coil of Sesha, whose five hoods are shown above the head of Vishnu such as to form a shade. Brahma, seated on a lotus, is shown issuing out of Vishnu’s naval. Vishnu’s left hand is in kataka mudra while the right hand is patting the coil of Sesha. Brahma is shown with four heads, three visible, and four hands.
In his upper hands he is holding an akshamala and a vessel, while one lower hand is in vyakhyana mudra and another hand is resting on his thighs. On right of Brahma is shown a flying gana, who could be one of ayudha-purusha, personified weapon, of Vishnu. His one hand is raised above, holding something, while another hand is pointing in the direction of the legs of Vishnu, where two demons are shown standing. On immediate left of Brahma is standing Garuda. His left hand is raised in suchi mudra, such as warning the demons, while his right hand is on his waist. His wings are shown behind his body.
On Garuda’s left are shown two demons, Madhu nd Kaitabha. One of them is holding a club while his other hand is stretched in the direction towards Vishnu, in suchi mudra. Another one is also holding his club but the club is shown resting over his thigh. It seems that both of them are planning how to attack over Vishnu. Seeing them planning and as Vishnu was sleeping, so Garuda is shown warning those demons.
In meantime Sesha also sees the demons approaching so he spits fire from his mouth to move them away. However later Sesha realized that he has not taken permission from Vishnu hence he is ashamed over his act. However Vishnu taps his coil in order to show his approval for his act of spitting fire to move away the demons. The best description of fire and movement of the demons is depicted in Anantashayana panel of Thirumayam. Below the coil of Sesha, on southern side, are shown four figures sitting on ground. Three figures are shown wearing kirita-makuta and raising a hand in adoration. The fourth figure is of Bhu-Devi, who is shown near the feet of Vishnu. This image has been redone many times since the original image of Pallavas hence the original image attributes is not very much clear.
There is a niche beyond the dvarapala niche on northern end. Durga is shown in this niche, standing intribhanga posture over a buffalo head. This buffalo head represents demon Mahishasura, hence this mudra of Durga is perhaps just after slaying the demon. She has four arms; in upper right hand is Prayoga chakra (discus) while upper right hand is holding a sankha (conch). Lower hands are resting on thigh and waist. She is shown with minimal ornaments, a characteristic feature of Pallava art. There are two devotees shown kneeling on the ground.
Devotee on viewer’s left is shown piercing his palm/wrist with a knife in order to offer his blood to the goddess. More violent depiction of the same can be observed in Draupadi Ratha, Mahabalipuram, of this sacrifice where the devotee is shown offering his head to the goddess. Another devotee is shown with one hand in kataka mudra, to hold a flower, while another hand is on his waist.
Legend and Stories
Demon king Hiranya Kashipu proclaimed a law that his subjects should worship only him and not any other Gods. Everybody obeyed except his own son Prahalada and opposed the order vehemently. The exasperated king used all the ways to eliminate his own son to establish his law. Lord Narayana (Perumal) destroyed the tyrant king, protected Prahalada and had him by his side. The temple is built on the philosophy that noble traits are not alien even to those born in a demon dynasty.
Perumal moves to Puducherry to grace the devotees on Masi Magam day (February-March). Special pujas are performed on Vaikunda Ekadasi day in December-January.
Those completing 60 years of age celebrate Sashti Apthapoorthi in the temple. Devotees offer Thirumanjanam and Vastras to Perumal.
How To Reach Sri Singavaram Perumal Temple, Gengavaram
The nearest airport is at Chennai Airport.
The nearest railway station is at Villupuram Railway Station.
Singavaram is 4 km from Gingee on the Mel Malayanur Road. Bus facility is available from Gingee. Singavaram is located about 41 km from Viluppuram and 4 km from Gingee and comes under Viluppuram district. From Chennai it would be around 162 km. This is a small village hence one might not get proper and regular transport, so it’s better to arrange a taxi from whichever town they start.
Sri Singavaram Perumal Temple,
Gengavaram - Gingee Main Rd, Singavaram,
Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu, Pincode - 604202.
Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-
- To celebrate Sashti Apthapoorthi or 60 years of age
Achutham Keyshavam Rama Narayanam Krishna Damodaram Vasudevam Harim Shridharam Madhavam Gopika Vallabham Janaki Nayakam Ramachandram Bhajey
Meaning -Oh Lord who cannot be perished, who also has names like Keshava, Rama, Damodara, Narayana, Sridhara, Madhava, Krishna, Ramachandra the beloved of Janaki, let me say your name regularly.
Vasudeva Sutham Devam Kamsa Chanoora Mardhanam Devaki Paramanandham Krishnam Vande Jagathgurum
Meaning -I bow to you O Krishna, the ultimate guru, Devaki and Vasudeva's son, and the destroyer of Kamsa and Chanur.
Adharam Madhuram Vadanam Madhuram Nayanam Madhuram Hasitam Madhuram Hridayam Madhuram Gamanam Madhuram Mathuraa Dhipate Rakhilam Madhuram
Meaning -Meaning - Sweet are Your lips, sweet is Your face, sweet are Your eyes, sweet is Your smile, sweet is Your heart, sweet is Your gait, O Lord of Mathura, everything about You is sweet.
Alokya Mathur Mukha Madarena Sthanyam Pibantham Saraseeruhaksham Sachinmayam Devam Anantha Roopam Balam Mukundam Manasa Smarami
Meaning -I think of this Balamukundan as the one who looks lovingly at his mother's face while taking milk from her, who has eyes similar to the red lotus, who is the embodiment of truth and intelligence and other forms.
The temple is open from 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m