Arulmigu Sri Rajagopalaswamy
Arulmigu Rajagopalaswamy Temple,
Thanjavur district is famous as ‘Koil Paathi, Kulam Paathi’ and this axiomatic saying applied into Mannargudi. Situated southeast of Thanjavur it has bus transport facilities connecting Thanjavur and Kumbhakonam. Mannargudi is the repository of all the accumulated trends of copiousness, of fertility of soil, water resources, educational facilities and cultural advancement. Gudi in Telugu means temple. As Raja mannar, viz. Rajagopalan abides in this temple, it is well known as Rajamannargudi.
It is indeed unique that in several cases in Tamil Nadu, why, in the entire country, we can come across with the name of the temple forming part of the nomenclature of the town. Sri Rajagopalaswamy is pre-eminent among the Vaishnavite temples of Tanjavur district. Mannargudi ‘the soil super’ is also another famous adage. Mannargudi, which is 4.6 sq.miles in area, abides in many temples. There are also temples of people following other religions and faiths. Many Sanskrit and Tamil scholars and expert musicians lived here and still do so.
Some of the eminent personages who brought about embellishment to this vibrant town were Srimad Ahobhila Matam Sri Azhagia Sringer, the traditional exponents and Acharyas of Vadakalai and Thenkalai ceremonial observances, Thyagarajamakhi also known as Raju Sastrigal, the great expert is music Mulavur Sabhapati Iyer, Chinna Packiria Pillai, Konnakkol Pichaiya Pillai, Sahityakarta Rajagopala Iyer and Sabhesa Iyer.
1. Morning – 06.30 A.m. to 12.00 P.m.
2 . Evening – 04.30 P.m. to 09.00 P.m
Much of the historical glimpses are easily perceivable when we look at the other names of this place, Champakaranya, Vanduvarapathy, Kulothunga Chola Vinnagaram. Rajadhi Raja Chaturvedimangalam. The antiquity of the historical details is rendered explicit by the inscriptions of Kulottunga I 1072 – 1122 AD. This great Chola king also known as Tiruneetru chola gave away gifts to several Vaishnavite, Buddist and Jain temples.
The Sanctum Sanctorum of Sri Rajagopalaswamy temple was constructed during his period and so it was widely known as Kulottunga Chola Vinnagaram. There is nothing surprising in this ruler in having built Vishnu temples because he as the crown prince has to his credit the title as Saptama Vishnu Vardhana. Kulottunga I was also famous as Raja Narayana. He was also responsible for the construction of the Sanctum Sanctorum, Ardhamandapam and the third gopuram also. Now let us see how some other temples by the name Kulottunga Chola Virinagaram were also famous in Tamil Nadu.
During the period of Kulottunga II 1133 – 1150 AD. There are inscriptions depicting gifts created by Madurantaka Pottappichola, chieftain to Kulottunga Chola Vinnagara at Nandalur, Cudappa district. Kulottunga Chola III-1178-1218 AD. named the Vaishnavite temple at Vellore South Arcot district as Kulottunga Chola Vinnagaram and gifted away a village Kulatunga Chola Nallur – 1181. Hence the sanctum sanctorum initiated by Kulottunga Chola and periodically expanded and renovated by successive kings to such as an extent that it attracted and captivated the minds of the kings that it came to be praised as Mannargudi.
The Nayak dynasty which ruled over Thanjavur – 1540 – 1675AD. saw the Golden Age of the growth of the establishment of temples in Thanjavur district and Sri Rajagopalaswamy temple is a proof of such dynamic activity. The Tuluva dynasty came to rule over the Vijaya Nagar Empire as the third dynasty. Achyuta Deva Raya of the dynasty appointed his wife’s sister’s husband Sevappa Nayak as the ruler of Thanjavur. Sevappa Nayak – 1540 – 1580 AD. was the founder of Thanjavur Nayak dynasty. This dynasty ruler over Thanjavur for about 150 years and reached the highest watermark of supreme grace and glory in Art, literature, Architecture and Sculpture. Achuthappa Nayak who hailed in this dynasty 1580 – 1600 made so many renovations and expansions to several temples with the able and masterly guidance of Govinda Dikshita. The doyan of the Nayak dynasty Raghunatha Nayak – 1600 – 1634 AD. established and renovated many temples. Some of the mandapas of Sri Rajagopalaswamy temple were raised during this period. Vijaya Raghava Nayak 1633 – 1673, also hailed as Mannar Dasa had this temples as the ancestral shrine.
The Gazetter of Thanjavur 1906 has some glorious remarks about him in that he arranged to bring granites from Trichy and established five mighty towers to this temple with plenty of profusely ornamental sculputures. The sculputural representations of Achyutappa Nayak, Vijayaraghava Nayak and his spouse Champakalakshmi are to be found with palms raised and joined at the base of the pillars just in front of the chamber of rest and repose of the Lord and the Divine Mother. During festivals when the Lord is taken around this place there will be a chorus of voice of thunder and grace on all side – Hail! Achyutha Vijayaraghava Mannardasa who reigned the entire world! The circumambulatory paths of the temple, flower gardens, the granite stepping-stones of the bathing ghats all along the Haridranadi were all established during the reign of Vijayaraghava Nayak. He worshipped the Lord by endowing Navaratna Kavacha and Diamond head-crest. Sri Rajagopalaswamy temple at Thanjavur was established during his period.
He got the insignia of Sarasvati embossed on his flag and fulfilled several works involving arts and crafts. Laksha Vipra Anna Data, Sahitya Bhojan, Virakamataipundan, Sangita Jyoti are some of the encomiums and titles with which he was glorified. Great poets, versifiers and dramatists often embellished his court and the most prominent among them were Kamaraju Venkatapati Samayaji of Vijaayaraghava Chandrika fame, Koneti Dikshita of Vijayaraghava Kalyana’, Kalakavi who wrote Rajagopala Vilasam; Purushottama Dikshita the author of Annadana Natakam and Kshetrajna of Padangal fame. Kshetrajana also wrote a padam on Sri Rajagopalswamy. Apart from these there were poetesses like Arangajamma, Champakavalli, Kasturi Sasirekha, Mohana Sundari and Kirshnaji decorating his court.It is noteworthy that Arangajamma was the royal spouse of Vijaya Raghava Nayak.