Thiruvakkarai is in Tindivanam Taluk and used to be a part of erstwhile South Arcot District of Tamil Nadu in 1983, when I was posted as the Collector of South Arcot. It is about 25 km south east of Tindivanam. We can reach Tiruvakkarai either from Perumbakkam on the Tindivanam - Pondicherry bus route and proceed 7 km towards south; or we can approach it via Thirukkanur from Villupuram and proceed 5 km towards north.
The village of Thiruvakkarai is situated on the northern bank of the river Sankarabarani also known in olden days as the Varaha Nadhi (the river of the crocodile). The Chandrasekarar temple with its majestic main tower, the Rajagopuram attracts one's attention as soon as we approach the village. Of the 32 important temples in 'Thondai Nadu' (the ancient name for the region) this is 30th in the order importance. As the name suggests everything in this temple defies the norm and that is how it is called Tiruvakkarai. This will be evident as you go around the temple and see that a deviation has been made in both creations of idols, in their installation as well as in observing the rules of Vastu Shastra laid down for temple architecture.
The Rajagopuram with its granite base is a nine-tier construction and the brick and the mortar have been used for the superstructure. The upper tiers have been adorned with beautiful stuccowork with the images of gods and goddesses and devotees, flora and fauna and the decorative figures. The inscriptions on the temple reveal that the Rajagopuram was named after 'Kandar Suriyan Sambuvarayan' who was responsible for its construction. The inscriptions also say that in 1193 A.D., during the 16th year of rule by Kulothunga Chola-III, Kandar Suriyan donated two five-tier Kuthuvilakkus (traditional temple lamps) weighing 1,182 palams (about 42 kgs) to the temple.
After passing through Rajagopuram one comes across another small and elegant tower called Kili Gopuram. Earlier to the construction of the Rajagopuram, the 'Kili Gopuram', was the main entrance tower of the temple.
The presiding deity is Lord Shiva in the form of Sri Chandrasekarar (the one adorned with the moon) with his consort Devi in the form of Vadivambigai (the beautiful mother goddess). In fact it is a temple complex containing shrines to various Shiva and Vishnu forms. The center of attention of this place is the temple of Vakkara Kali. This is not the biggest shrine but is one of the most potent goddess temples in the region and specially recommended for the persons with mental distress.
The temple is more famous for the unique temple of Vakkara Kali, which is one of the few well-known Kali temples of India. As we pass through the Rajagopuram, we can find the shrine of Vakkara Kali on the left. In front of this small shrine one can find the granite idols of two girls with their attractive hairstyle associated with 'Gandhara school of Art' (the Indo-Greek School of art, the specimens of which are very rarely found in South India). The sculptural beauty of these idols will lead one to think as though these are the divine creations.
The image of Vakkara Kali is of magnificent size with its inherent divinity. She is adorned with a crown with a skull mounted at the top of the crown, with a backdrop of 'flames' surrounding it. In her right ear the Goddess is wearing prethakundalam (ghost earring) and in the left ear a 'bhadra kundalam' (noble earring). The eight-armed vakkara kali's right side hands are adorned with weapons like Paasam (rope), Chakkaram (wheel), Vaal (sword) and Kattari (knife) and left side hands are adorned with Udukkai (hand-drum), Kedayam (shield) and Kabalam (human skull). The posture of one of the hands is with its index finger pointing towards the earth. The Kali is wearing a garland made of skulls of the vanquished enemies. The garland is worn in the form of a sacred thread worn by Brahmins like a cross belt, from the left shoulder down to the right hand stretched.
The garland of human skulls is three-dimensional and can be seen from the backside also. The Kali is having large sized teeth and big eyes with a sign of anger and is slightly looking downwards. The type of sculptural work adopted for this idol is similar to those of the period of Pallavas. The idols of Saptha Kanyas (seven virgins) are installed on both side of Vakkara Kali.
The Sthala Purana (history of the place) states that Vakkarasura, a demon, (who belongs to the tradition of Kundali Munivar (a sage) ruled this place. Goddess Vakkara Kali waged a war against this Demon and won it with the blessings of Lord Chandrasekarar. Since then the shrine of kali has been added to the temple of Chandramauleeshwar.
The Holy waters which purify the devotes coming to the temple flow in the rivers Sankaraparani and Thamrai Thotra Pushkarani. The Holy tree of the place is Vilva Maram (Bilwa tree). A visit to this temple is supposed to bring a lot of mental peace to those who are unhappy and discontented in life. This is supposed to be an ideal place for those who undergo hardships in life because of the unfavourable (Vakkara) position of the planets (Grahas). On the day of full moon those suffering from mental woes visit the temple for the solace and divine peace.
Opposite to the shrine of Vakkara Kali, there is a shrine facing west with a Shiva Lingham known as Kanda Lingam. This Lingam was the favourite deity of Vakkarasura and was worshipped by him. Since the Gomukam of the Lingham is in an awkward position it is known as the Vakkara Lingam. There is also a small Nandhi (bull of Shiva) guarding the shrine...
C K Gariyali IAS
Source : Chennaionline.com