Architecture of Sri Bhuvarasvami Temple, Srimushnam, Cuddalore
The architectural splendor of this temple is mirrored in almost every corner of the shrine.
The chief sculptural feature of the temple is that the temple has several chambers in it. The main sanctum sanctorum of this temple facing west is square in shape and enshrines the captivating icon of Lord Bhuvarahasvami. This image is in a victorious standing posture with His hands on His hips. The image faces west, but His face is turned towards the south as He had just vanquished Hiranyakashipu. The Lord here has two arms and the conch (sankha) and discus (chakra) are inserted near His waist. This rare image, approximately two feet in height is made up of Salagrama stone.
(Last Updated on : 25/01/2009)
The exclusive architectural style of the contemporary period is also visible in the beautiful carvings of the images enshrined in the Temple. The processional image, placed in front of the main sanctum in the ardha-mandapa (a chamber in the main sanctum sanctorum), is a beautiful image of a four-armed standing Vishnu called Yajnavaraha surrounded by Sri Devi and Bhu Devi beside Him. A tiny metal icon of Varahasvami near these images enhances the antique magnificence all the more. The Vimana over the main sanctum is known as Paavana Vimana and is crowned with a gold-plated kalasha. There is a pillared circumambulatory passage, which is called pradakshinapatha around this shrine. The entirely planned structure of the temple and the separate sanctum, which are housing the idols, acknowledge the evidence of the exquisite architectural style of the contemporary period.
The system followed in the construction of the temple is no less important to lend a grandiose flavor to this antique architectural piece. The main sanctum right at its entrance through a mandapa is supported by sixteen pillars, which are known as the Purushasukta mandapa. This is because at this place on every morning the resonant Purushasukta hymn is recited when tirumanjanam (abhishekam) is performed for the deity. The sixteen pillars of this mandapa built in the Nayaka period of the 17th century A.D., as the historical researches speak of. The carvings of the pillars followed the traditional Vijayanagara style of architecture. Apart from this the images enshrined in the Sri Bhuvarasvami temple bears exquisite sculptures including numerous forms of Vishnu, Gajalakshmi, Garuda and Hanuman, some of which are of miniature size. Life-size sculptures of King Achyutappa Nayaka who is said to have constructed this mandapa, his brothers and other members of his family are found here.
Between the main gopura and the sixteen-pillared hall is the hundred-pillared mandapa belonging to the age of the Maratha kings of Tanjavur. There is a tiny shrine for Garuda facing the main sanctum in between these two mandapa and a sanctum for Nammazhvar nearby. It is in the second prakara of this temple that many of the other shrines are found. In this temple complex are also seen the sanctums of Ambhujavalli Thayar, the consort of Lord Varaha and Andal both facing east.
The shrine assigned for Sri Ramanuja (Udaiyavar) is seen near the Andal sanctum, is considered as an important chamber of the Sri Bhuvarasvami Temple. The Udayarpalayam mandapa is situated nearby of the Sri Bhuvarasvami Temple. The mandapa is so called because it was constructed during the period of the zamindars of Udayarpalayam. This mandapa is also known as kannadi arai because of the mirrors placed here. Moreover in this place the God and the Goddess are beautifully decorated and placed for the devotees to worship during Brahmotsavam. The other sanctums in the outer enclosure are for Sri Venugopala, Vishvaksena, Vedanta Desika, Tirumangai Azhvar, Manavala Mamuni and Tirukkacchi Nambi. There is also a shrine for Kuzhandai Amman, wherein the playmates of Ambhujavalli Thayar are enshrined. The wonderful artistic carvings over the images are the clear evidence of the temple architecture of the contemporary period.
Sri Bhuvarasvami Temple has two gopuras. The northern gopura of this temple is a medium-sized in structure and is a five storied building. The doorway of this gopura is opened only during Vaikunta Ekadasi day when the deity is taken out this way in procession and is called Vaikunta Vasal.
The main gopura on the west side is a splendid construction, seven storied high building. Well-wrought panels of miniature carvings articulating many stories from the epics and Puranas surround the main gopura. Those figures of dancers and musicians at the same time adorn the inner-side of the doorway of the Bhuvarasvami temple.
There is a tiny image of Srinivasa Perumal on the upper portion on the inner side of this gopura on the first level. According to the tradition of this Bhuvarasvami temple, devotees entering this shrine should first worship Lord Srinivasa by ascending the steep steps. The steep steps lead its way to the principal chamber and also His holy feet (Tiruvadi) on the ground. After reaching the holy feet of Lord Srinivasa, devotees have to offer their worship at the base of the steps. And after that they can proceed to see Varahasvami.
The structural design of the temple is the clear reference of the architectural craftsmanship of the architecture of the temple. Outside the temple, at a short distance in front of the gopura there is stationed a unique Garuda-stambha (pillar). The Garuda Stambha constructed here is a structure rarely seen in Vishnu temples in Tamil Nadu. The structure of the Garuda stambha itself exemplifies the architectural craftsmanship. This stambha is a monolithic stone pillar about eighty feet high, at the top of which is placed the figure of Garuda with folded hands in anjali pose facing the temple.
The tank at the side the temple is one of the chief attractions about the Bhuvarasvami temple. The sacred temple-tank known as Nitya Pushkarini is very large and is situated behind the temple. The sthala-vriksha or the sacred tree of this temple is the Ashvatha tree (Arasa maram in Tamil) seen near the pushkarini. The devotees of Vishnu consider the Ashvatha tree at the side of the Pushkarini sacred.
On the north side, outside the enclosure of the Bhuvarahasvami temple in the garden is a shrine for Lord Rama. This garden is called nandavana. In this temple, the idols are the specimen of the unusual architecture of the period. Enshrined in the sanctum-sanctorum are Lord Rama with Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Shatrughna and Hanuman, as seen in the coronation ceremony (pattabhisheka). There are also icons of the Matsya and Kurma Avatara here.
Thus the architecture and the sculpture of the Bhuvarasvami temple not only lend the temple a exquisite and antique splendor but at the same time makes it one of the magnificent Vishnu shrine in the South India.