- Sri Kumaranatha Swamy Aalayam
The temple has many unique features and the sthalapurana grows eloquent in the narration of its sanctity and antiquity. First
among them is - it is the lone extant Kurmakshetra of our Punya Bharat, renowned for its superb spiritual relies; it lies
,between two of the holy rivers Vamsadhara and Langali; it is quite ancient, said to have been built by Brahma first, and
renovated by Ganga dynasty in the eighth century; it was visited by the reputed Krishna bhakta Chaitanya in the 16th
century; it was only a Saivate shrine in the beginning, converted into Vaishnavate by Srimadramanuja, the illustrious founder
of Visishtadvaitha school; it is the Swayamvyakta icon existing since time immemorial; adoration confers the merit of visiting
holy kshetras, like Kasi, Amaravathi etc; the salagtama necklace, it is adorned with was neither donated, nor made, but was
found adorning the sacrosanct neck of the icon when it was found; it possesses two dwajasthambas; the compassionate
Lord frees the adorers from sins committed, if soulful prayers are offered, and above all, the Lord revealed Himself in that
form only at the instance of a devout bhakta called Swetamahipathi. The temple bears on its walls several inscriptions
throwing fight on its patrons and donors.
Let us have a peep at its past before entering the temple.
The sthalapurana narrates that once there lived a pious king by name Sweta in the Krita yuga. He ruled this region with a
righteousness of rare type and gods were pleased with his .spiritual activities. People lived a carefree life and the country
prospered. His queen was pious to the core and was always absorbed in the performance of vratas and danas. Once, when
she was observing Eakadasi vrata, the King sent message of his visiting her palace. She rightly guessed that her lord
wanted her company in the bed for the night. But it would tantamount to Vratabhanga - breaking of the due rituals and it was
against the tenets. At the, same time, she did not want to displease her loving husband. How to solve, or on whom to rely to
tiding over this perplexity? Would not mirages turn out into oases to the true devotees? She at once turned to the Lord of
Vaikunta for solution the benevolent Lord released a great flood from the nearby bamboo bush. The flood being unexpected
and moreover came all on a sudden, the king could not reach the queen's palace. Her vrata went on uninterrupted. And both
remained pure as before, and for ever.
Realising that it was all due to Maharani's austerities, he felt infinitely pleased and started penance to acquire supernatural
power duly propitiating Lord Siva. Narada came down at the instance of Maheswar and taught him Narayana mantra for
fulfilling his desire. Sri Mahavishnu emerging from Chakra thirtha gave dansan. That lord is called Kurmanatha. Elated at its
grandiose form, he prayed for his eternal presence. The lord said 'Amen!' Along with the King, one venerable sage called
Vakranga min; who was doing penance was also lifted by Bhagawan Kurmanatha. Pleased with the bounteous beauty of the
Nature, the Lord decided to dwell on the nearby hill called Swetaparvata. Taking the king and Narada, He started ascending
it, but the King weighed down by age and emancipated by penance could not follow the Lord. Thereupon Lord Kurmanantha
let out a terrible yell. Shivering all over, the hill at once reduced its altitude and came to ground level. They prayed to the
Lord to dwell there for ever: It was granted and since then the Lord is receiving prayers from the ardent theists and blessing
them magnificently. The Lord materialised a pond with the Chakra and it is called Chakra thirtha or Sweta Pushkarini or
Sudhakunda. Mother Kurmanayaki came forth from Sudhakunda joined her Lord. A temple was built by him and regular
ritualistic worship was introduced. With the miracles of that All-benevolent Lord, difficulties of the Bhaktas were tided over
and so it became a pilgrim centre of great importance. Later the old shrine received renovation work by many rulers of
repute, like Ganges etc. Archives supply inscriptions aplenty testifying to its glorious past.
Now enter to avail the darsan of that Archamurti of supreme divine significance - the tortoise form of Sri Mahavishnu.
THE TEMPLE AND ITS COMPLEX
It is fairly a big ancient temple provided with all the essential parts, like Pradakshanapatha, garbhagriha, antarala, bhoga
mantapa, pushpanjali mantapa, asthana mantapa, several mini-shrines etc. The sculptural designs bear striking semblance
to Pallava art both in exterior and interior parts. Its dimensions and architectural patterns are huge and display opulence and
No sooner do we enter the sanctum sanctorum, wee are greeted by the upraised tail of the tortoise icon - the worshipful
moola vigraham. Odd isn't it ? Seeing the rear at first sight itself evokes wonder in any; but it has a fantastic background.
According to local version, there was in the beginning a devout Bhill king, who was offering worship standing behind the
archamurti. Pleased with his steadfast piety, the lord gave darsan to him at that spot itself. Hence the fore of the icon is
westward, though the entrance faces east. Mother Kurmanayaki is also facing west. Would strangeness feel deficient, when
emerged from that strangest mysterious source! Hence, the near position gleams into sight on entering through eastern
gate. Proceeding a little further we see the grand visage of the holy image. It is superbly sculptured and wrings veneration
by the visitors. Adjoining the garbhagriha, there lies Bhoga mantap. The statues of Sankhanidhi and Padmanidhi are set up
on either side of the huge entrance. Next comes the Pushpanjali mandap utilised for performing various rituals to the icons.
Finally we see the asthana mandap built for congregational activities. All these are said to have been built at the instance of
Brahma, the Creator. Visiting all, we emerge from the interior into vast courtyards.
It lies in the Sri Kumaran town of the district of same name in Andhra Pradesh. accessible by four wheelers.