Sri Gajendra Varadha Perumal Temple is located in Kabisthalam village under Papanasam Taluk in Thanjavur district of Tamilnadu, dedicated to Lord Vishnu and also one of the 108 Divya Desam Temples. This temple is said to be built by the Chola Kings in the 8th century AD and was later contributed by Vijayanagar kings and Madurai Nayakars.
The legend says that the King Indrajuman, the great devotee of Lord Vishnu, involved himself in worshipping Lord Vishnu, and this led to lose his kingdom. Upon everything, he continued worshipping Lord Vishnu with an immense concentration on meditation. And he did not notice the Sage Durvasar who passed by, when he was in deep mediation. The sage got angry by the ignorance of the king and cursed the king that the he would be born as an elephant in his next birth. And when the king asked the sage to forgive him, the sage said that even as an elephant he would still be a devotee of Lord Vishnu and HE would relieve him of his curse.
Another legend is that,there was a demon named Koohoo who resides in the temple tank went on troubling the people by pulling their legs when they come to take bath in the temple tank. And he did the same for the Sage named Lord Agasthyar. The Sage got angry and cursed the demon to become a crocodile and said he would be relieved of his curse when the discus of Lord Vishnu hit the body of the crocodile (the demon Koohoo) to save an elephant. As the sage said the crocodile (the demon) grabbed the leg of the elephant (the king Indrajuman) when came to drink water in the temple tank, the elephant with unbearable pain cried and called Lord Vishnu by the name Lord Adhimoolam.
Lord Vishnu threw His discus on the crocodile (the demon) to save the elephant named Gajendra (the King). Both the elephant and crocodile attained salvation and turned to their original form by the blessings of Lord Vishnu. Hence, Lord Vishnu appeared to save the life of Gajendra (the elephant), He came to be popularly known as Lord Gajendra Varadar.
The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Gajendra Varadhar (Lord Vishnu), in a reclining posture. The other deities of this temple are Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu worshipped as Goddess Ramanavalli, Lord Yoga Narasimhar, Lord Sudarsana, Garuda (the vehicle of Lord Vishnu) and the Azhwars. The roof tower which is situated above the sanctum is popularly called as Ganganakrutha vimanam which represents the architecture of medieval period.
Unlike other temples, the Gajendra Varadha Perumal Temple is surrounded by brick walls enclosing all the shrines. The Rajagopuram (the temple tower) of the temple has a five-tiered structure, constructed in a Dravidian style of architecture. Sri Gajendra Varadha Perumal Temple is considered as one of the Pancha-Kannan Kshetram (five holy shrines) where Lord Krishna, an Avatar of Lord Vishnu given more priority than the presiding deity of the respective temples. The Pancha-Kannan Kshetras are:
- Sri Loganatha Perumal Temple, Thirukannangudi
- Sri Gajendra Varadha Perumal Temple, Thirukavithalam
- Sri Neelamega Perumal Temple, Thirukannapuram
- Sri Bhaktavatsala Perumal Temple, Thirukkannamangai
- Sri Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Thirukovilur
- Ushathkala Pooja – 7 a.m.
- Kalasanthi Pooja – 8:00 a.m.
- Uchikala Pooja – 12:00 p.m.,
- Sayarakshai Pooja – 6:00 p.m.
- Irandamkala Pooja – 7:00 p.m.
- Ardha Jamam Pooja – 8:00 p.m.
- Gajendra Moksha Leela – July or August
- Chariot festival – May or June
- Brahmmotsavam – May or June
- Chithirai – April or May
Thanjavur is well-connected with Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchirapalli, Karaikal, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Kumbakonam, Pattukkottai, Bangalore, Ernakulam, Marthandam, Nagercoil, Tirupathi, Thiruvananthapuram, Ooty and Mysore through regular bus services.
Thanjavur railway station is an important railway junction of Southern Railways. Thanjavur is connected by rail with most important CITIES and towns in India like Chennai, Bangalore, Mysore, Ernakulam, Trissur, Palakkad, Coimbatore, Erode, Tirupur, Tiruchirapalli, Salem, Karur, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Rameswaram, Tiruchendur, Karaikal, Dharmapuri and weekly trains to Vishakapatnam, Tirupati, Vijayawada, Goa, Vizianagaram, Nagpur, Jabalpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Bhubaneshwar and to all main cities.
A full-fledged Air Force Station is operational at Thanjavur which has several Fighter (aircraft) including Sukhoi jets. The Air Force Station is set to start function as a major Air base. The nearest INTERNATIONAL Airport is the Tiruchirapalli International Airport which is about 50 km from the city.
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