Mahalingapuram Ayyappan Guruvayurappan Temple

About five decades ago, there existed in the Chennai metropolis no temple dedicated exclusively to Lord Ayyappa. In the absence of any institutionalized service, devotees proceeding to Sabarimala during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku seasons had to fend for themselves. Indeed, Ayyappan Vilakku used to be conducted in several areas of the City as an annual feature, enlisting the support of local devotees. One such area was Nungambakkam.

Here the annual Ayyappan Vilakku used to be conducted in the premises of a temple on Melpadi MuthuNaicken Street or in the precincts of AsalathammanKoil, later on North Mada Street in Nungambakkam.  During the celebrations in 1967 the organizers, seized of the problems encountered by the devotees undertaking pilgrimage to the Holy Hills, decided to launch an action plan to provide minimum facilities to them.  Leading lights including Sarvasri P.B. Nair, R.S. Kaimal, K. Bhaskaran, C.P.G. Nambiar, T.M. GopalaKurup, V.S. Mani Iyer, etc. were in the forefront.

The plan referred to above, took concrete shape with the registration of SREE AYYAPPA BHAKTHA SABHA, Nungambakkam on April 3, 1968 with Sri P.B. Nair as President, Sri R.S.Kaimal as Secretary, Sri K. Bhaskaran as Joint Secretary, and Sri V. Sankaran Nair as Treasurer, and seven others as members of the Executive Committee.  The declared objectives of the Sabha were: (a) to spread the cult of Ayyappa by doing selfless socio-religious services, (b) to endeavour to have a premises of its own to perform religious activities as programmed from time to time; (c) to render all possible help to pilgrims who take vow to go to Sabarimala for Mandalam, Makaravilakku and for the Vishu Pooja; (d) to include in its socio-religious services, items like (i) performing periodical poojas, bhajans, AyyappanPattu and other religious and social programmes; (ii) organize and celebrate with the co-operation of all Ayyappa Bhakthas the annual “Ayyappan Vilakku” in Nungambakkam; (iii) and conduct religious discourses with a view to help Bhakthas to practice “Bhakthi Yoga”.

To start with, the Sabha functioned from a small room at 34 Village Road, Nungambakkam – belonging to Sri C.P.G. Nambiar, – and later from 21-A North Mada Street, Nungambakkam. In line with the objectives, the Sabha conducted periodical discourses on Narayaneeyam, Bhagavatham, Ramayanam in Malayalam, Tamil and English.  The first discourse was conducted in 1968 by Sri P.D.M. Namboodiri at the AryaVaidyasala premises on Krishnamachari Road, Nungambakkam. This was followed by a series of discourses in 1969, by Sri Thattayoor Unni Namboodiripad, Srivatsa Jayarama Sharma, on Bhagavatham, Narayaneeyam, etc. at Agastheeswarar Koil premises.

Inspired by the response to the discourses and to the weekly Bhajans organized by the Sabha, the members felt that it was time that they looked for a place of their own to conduct such programmes in more conducive environments.  In order to raise funds for this venture, a grand Ganamela was conducted in November 1969 at Rama Raod Kalamandapam, T. Nagar, in which several luminaries of the musical world like K.J. Yesudas, Jayachandran, C.O. Anto, A.L. Raghavan, P.Leela, S. Janaki, Latha, etc. took part. Sri V.Dakshinamoorthy, the renowned music director, directed the programme and Sri Sekhar led the Orchestra. The net collection at the concert amounted to Rs.15,000/- then. Sri V.K. Eradi who presided over the function mentioned about the desire of the Sabha to possess a piece of land where they could hold spiritual programmes at will.  Lady  Madhavan Nair who was present at the function immediately responded, saying that a plot measuring two and half grounds in Madhavan Nair Colony (part of Mahalingapuram, Nungambakkam, was available and that she could consider donating it to the Sabha provided an assurance was given that a temple for Lord Ayyappa would be constructed there. The assurance was promptly given and Lady Madhavan Nair graciously gifted the land to the Sabha.  The part played by late Sri N.P. Prabhakaran Nair, who was an Engineer-Contractor and a close confidant of Justice Madhavan Nair and Lady Madhavan Nair in whose name the colony was named after, cannot be forgotten.

On January 26, 1970, a Sthala SudhiPooja was performed at the site by the then Thanthri (High Priest) of Chottanikkara temple. A small office room was constructed. Bhajans were being held at the venue every Saturday evening which attracted about 40 to 50 participants, mainly children from the neighbourhood. A plan for the construction of the temple was got prepared by Sri Kanippayyoor Sankaran Namboodiri in February 1970 and the civil works were entrusted to Engineer Sri T.G. Poduval. The granite works were executed by Sri SubramaniaSthapathy. Granite stones for this purpose were specially brought from Pattumalaikuppam.

A Panchaloha Vigraham of the Lord was made at Chengannur and brought to the site in a procession led by Sri K.K. Nanu. Brahmasri Kantaru Sankararu Thanthri who held the great distinction of having performed the Pranaprathishta at Holy Sabarimala temple, after the fire accident in the 1950s, conducted the Prathishta ceremony in our temple on March 25, 1974. Kumbhabhishekam was performed on March 28, 1974. With Lord Ayyappan as the main deity, Lord Vinayakar and Lord Subramanian with His consorts, Valli and Devayani, constituted the Parivaram. A mandapam with asbestos roofing in the front yard provided shelter for the devotees, who by then, had started pouring in large numbers. The daily worship and rituals were (and are being) conducted in traditional Kerala style. Namboodiri priests for conducting pooja and Marars for performing Vadyam and Kazhagam were brought from Kerala. The Thanthri prescribed that annual Utsavam at the temple should be performed in the Malayalam month of Dhanu, commencing with Kodiyettam on Makeeram star and concluding with Arattu on Uthram star.

Thus was born the first temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa in the city of Chennai. This long-cherished dream of the devotees was fructified through munificent donations received from well-wishers, door to door collections organized by volunteers, revenue realized through the publication of Souvenirs, etc. The service rendered in this regard by Sri V.K. Eradi – President, Sri R.S. Kaimal – Secretary and their team of dedicated colleagues including Sarvasri K.V. Thankappan Nair, K. Bhaskaran, K.K. Nanu, K. Balakrishnan, K.C. Menon, V.S. Mani Iyer, T.M. GopalaKurup, M.P. Govind, G.K. Nair, M.K.P. Nair, C.P.G. Nambiar, etc. remain etched in golden letters in the history of this temple.

After the opening of the temple, Vazhipadus were being performed regularly, right from 1974, facilities like Maladharanam, Kettunira and subsidiary services were being provided to devotees proceeding to Sabarimala during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku and also for Vishu and monthly Poojas. Daily Annadanam (initially for students of the nearby Corporation Schools, later extended to poor people in the neighbourhood) also commenced in 1974.  During the same year Sri K. Gopinath (affectionately called Gopichettan) assumed charge as the first Hon. Executive Officer of the temple. The Executive Committee of the Sabha was constituted through annual elections (now once in three years).

In June 1975, the first floor of the office building was constructed and occupied. That year the Sabha took up the humanitarian task of supplying note books and uniforms to the under-privileged sections of students in the Corporation Schools for boys and girls in Nungambakkam, which continues unabated till date as an annual feature. This has now been extended to the students of  an UP School in Kattur-Venbedu Village, near Tirupporur. The students are selected on merit-cum-means basis by the school authorities themselves. Scholarships and cash awards are also given to the best outgoing students of these schools.

During 1976 the Executive Committee decided to construct a Gopuram and a Nadappura. In order to raise funds for this purpose another Ganamela was conducted in the University Centenary Auditorium in October 1976. Necessary plans for the proposed construction were obtained from Sri Kanippayyur Krishnan Namboodiri. However, actual construction could be commenced only in February 1978. The massive gopuram door made at Kozhikode was transported to the site in November 1980.

In the meantime, the Sabha launched a Medical Mission in aid of the poor and the needy.  The mission was inaugurated by H.E. Sri PrabhudasPatwari, Governor of Tamil Nadu on July 11, 1977. To start with, the Mission functioned in a rented premises at Periyar Road, Kodambakkam. Dr. SaralaBalakrishnan rendered free medical advice daily from10.00 a.m. to 12 noon.  Later in December 1980 the Sabha shifted the Medical Mission to its own premises in Pushpanagar, Nungambakkam. A well-equipped clinical laboratory and a Diagnostic Centre with modern facilities were set up at the Mission Centre in July 1982. A spacious new building for the Mission came into existence on February 1, 1986 and the magnificent Sasthalaya Hospital with facilities for in-patient and out-patient treatment, preventive health care, state-of-the-art devices for diagnosis and patient care, etc. was inaugurated on April 14, 1996.

The plan for the installation of a Dhwajasthambham in re-inforced cement concrete was approved in September 1979 and the work was entrusted to Sri T.G. Poduval – our Architect and Engineer. The Dhwajaprathishta to Lord Ayyappan and Vigraha Prathishta of Malikappurathamma were performed on June 25, 1980 followed by Maha Kumbhabhishekam on June 28, 1980. MahaKumbhabhishekam of Rajagopuram and a Sahasrakalasa Abhishekam were performed on June 3, 1984 by Brahmasri Neelakantaru Thanthri who had assumed charge as our Thanthri, consequent to the demise of Brahmasri Kantaru Sankararu Thanthri on January 9, 1983.  A library consisting of books on religious subjects and spiritualism was declared open by Sri H.V. Hande, Hon’ble Minister of Health, Govt. of Tamil Nadu on March 26, 1985. The Thazhikakkudams (stupikas) of the Sreekovils and Rajagopuram were gold-plated and re-installed on December 6, 1985.

The first Bhagavatha Sapthaham was conducted in the temple by Sri Anjam Krishnan Namboodiri during the week commencing from October 11, 1987. Sapthaham offering became an annual feature thereafter.

The plot adjacent to the temple premises measuring two and half grounds was purchased by the Sabha in 1986. Foundation for a temple for Lord Guruvayurappan was laid at the site on June 4, 1989. The unique idol of Lord Guruvayurappan made in Krishna sila, at Guruvayur was brought to the site on May 24, 1990 in a grand motorcade with the Vigraham in a tastefully decorated float. Prathishta Karmam was performed on June 4, 1990 by our Thanthri (late) KantaruNeelakantaru.  That marked the fulfillment of yet another great dream of the devotees.

While Laksharchana was being performed every year, the first KotiArchana Mahayagnam to Lord Ayyappa was performed from November 15, 1986 to December 14, 1986. Subsequent Koti Archanas were performed as follows:  1992 to Lord Guruvayurappan; 1997 to Lord Ayyappan;  1998 to Lord Guruvayurappan;  1999 to Lord Ayyappan and 2000 to Lord Guruvayurappan.

The desire of the Sabha to bring out a spiritual magazine for the benefit of devotees and discerning public was fulfilled with the launching of Pushpabhishekam in 1989. The first issue was released by Justice K.S. Bhakthavalsalam on November 10, 1989.  Started as a quarterly, the magazine was soon converted as a monthly periodical.

Twenty acres of land were purchased by the Sabha at Kattur-Venbedu Village (near Thirupporur) in 1986-87 to which eight more acres were added through piecemeal purchase between 1990 and 1998. A pucca building measuring 1400 area was constructed there.

A full-fledged information Centre of Travancore Devaswom Board was opened within our temple complex on July 31, 1993.

Idols of Nagaraja and Nagayakshi were installed in the temple premises on March 25, 1998.  Yet another major dream of the devotees came to fruition with the installation of Swarna Kodimarams at the Sannidhis of Lord Ayyappan and Lord Guruvayurappan. Simultaneous installation of gold-plated Dhwajasthambhams at two sannidhis in the same temple complex was a unique achievement, perhaps not accomplished elsewhere hitherto. Gold-plating of the two Dhwajasthambhams was carried out by expert technicians at the cost of Rs.75 lakhs. The Prathishta and Kumbhabhishekam of the Swarna Dhwajams for Sree Ayyappan and Sree Guruvayurappan at the Mahalingapuram Temples were performed on the morning of 25th February 2004 by the Thanthri of Sabarimala, Brahmasree Kantaru Mohanaru, under the immediate guidance of the Senior High Priest of Sabarimala Thanthri Brahmasree Kantaru Neelakantaru of ThazhamonMadom. The Thazhikakudoms on top of all the Sreekovils as well as both the Gopurams were also gold plated and Kumbhabhishekam was performed for them too.

While the ‘Spiritual Study Circle’ conducting Sampoorna Narayaneeya Parayanam every month and also on special occasions at the Temple, Bhagavatham and Narayaneeyam Sapthahams, discourses on Narayaneeyam, Ramayanam, Gita, etc. (in Malayalam, Tamil and English) were being conducted periodically. Yet another important and spiritual event the SABHA could venture into was organizing annual ‘Srimad Bhagavatha Sathrams’. The 1st Srimad Bhagavatha Nava Sathram was conducted (first time in Tamil Nadu) under the auspices of the Sabha from February 3, 2012 to February 12, 2012 at the SOPANAM Hall adjacent to the Temple complex. Over 35 Acharyas under Mukhya Yagnacharyan Brahmasri Venmani Krishnan Nambudiripad and other eminent scholars, participated and gave Prabhashanams in the Sathra Yagnam. The 2nd Srimad Bhagavatha Navaha Sathram was conducted from 16th to 24th February 2013 – again with Brahmasri Venmani Krishnan Nambudiripad as Mukhya Yagnacharyan and over 30 Acharyas participating. The 3rd Srmad Bhagavatha MahaSathram, which was an ‘Ekadasaham’, was conducted from 29th January to 9th February 2014 with Bramhasri Thottam Shyam Namboodiri as MukhyaAcharyan and over 25 Acharyas participating. In deference to the wishes of the devotees and other well-wishers, we have decided to conduct the Sathrams regularly as an annual event.

While the Sabha continued with its religious/spiritual, social and charitable activities, it took up several other projects also.

Ornamental Arch: An Ornamental Arch was constructed by the Sabha at the inter-junction of Mahalingapuram Main Road-40 Feet Road (Scheme Road).  This was inaugurated by Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna on 26th March 2006, in the presence of Brahmasri Kantaru Mohanaru Thanthri.

Sopanam:  SOPANAM Hall constructed by the Sabha at the site adjacent to the temple complex, was inaugurated on 17.08.2006 by Sri R. Gopinathan Nair (ADGM, S. Rly) and Dr. V. Mohan, Chairman, Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre.  This Hall is being used for conducting ‘Sapthahams’, “Sathrams” and various other functions, and also for conducting marrtiages.

Staff Quarters:  10 flats constructed on the 2nd floor of Sopanam building were allotted to our employees for their accommodation.

20th Anniversaery of the Temple Magazine PUSHPABHISHEKAM was celebrated on 12.07.2009  Eminent personalities, like Dr. H.V. Hande (former Health Minister), Sri T.V. Venkataraman, IAS (Retd) and Dr. Suvarna Nalapad, were special invitees on the occasion.  A Special Issue of Pushpabhishekam was released at that function.

Prominent among the widely appreciated services is extending assistance/advice to people in performing obsequies and the connected rituals.  A ‘Karmi” has been appointed specially for this purpose.  This special and free service started in 2011 by the Sabha is widely utilized by people in and around Chennai.

Every year, facilities for Karkitaka Vavu Bali Tharpan at Marina Beach, are provided by the Sabha.  Thousands of people have been availing this free service (under the supervision of our Karmi).  This was also started from 2011.

Free Marriage Data Bank is functioning from Sopanam Hall.

Guruvayur Guest House – owned by SABS – provides facilities for their short-stay in Guruvayur.  It has 8 spacious rooms, and is very near to the Guruvayur Temple.

Gold-covering of Sreekovil Roofs:

As early as in 2004, devotees and well-wishers of the MahalingapuramAyyappan-Guruvayurappan Temples expressed a desire to told-plate the Sreekovil roofs of the main Sannidhanams (Ayyappan and Guruvayurappan) and also the Sannidhanams of Vinayaka, Murugan and Devi   As the project proposed involved investment of huge funds and since the funds of the temple have already been drained out as a result of installation of the golden Dhwajasthambhams, the idea was shelved then.  However, the long felt urge of the devotees – and also our commitment to cover the roofs of the Sreekovils with gold, continued to persist, and finally we were inclined to have a second and closer look at the issue.

The contract for gold-plating was finally awarded to Sri Balakrishnan of Vishwakarma Metals, Madurai, who was associated with the gold-plating of the two Dhwajasthambhams in 2004.  After obtaining ‘Anugnya’ from our Thanthri, the work was started on 03.03.2014.  Thus the long-cherished desire of the devotees of MahalingapuramAyyappan-Guruvayurappan Temples became a reality when our Thanthri Brahmasri Kantaru Maheswararu along with Brahmari Kantaru Rajeevaru and Brahmasri Mahesh Mohanaru of Thazhaman Madom – the Hereditary High Priests of Sabarimala Temple – performed the “Ashtabandha Kalasam’ and Maha Kumbhabhishekam of the Golden Temples simultaneously between 7.46 and 9.10 a.m. on 27th August 2014.

A SahasraKalasam was performed at both Sri Ayyappan and Sri Guruvayurappan Temples from 22nd to 26th November 2016.

50th Sapthaham:  The 50th Sapthaham – which was a Srimannaryaneem Sapthaham – was conducted in our temple from 2nd July to 9th July 2016.  The Mukhya Acharyan was Brahmasri Udit Chaithanyaji.

Guru Chemancheri Kunchiraman Nair – the 100 year old Kathakali Acharyan was honoured by our SABHA on 22.12.2016

Publication:     Poonthanam’s ‘Jnanappana’, translated into Tamil  by Prof.C.S.Krishnadas was published by SABS in March 2016.

Poonthanam’s ‘Jnanappana’, also translated into Telugu by Sri. L.R.Swamy was published in February 2018

Other events organized by the Sabha :

  • Staffs and Volunteers family gettogether started from 2013.
  • Our Temples were awarded ISO-9001-2008 Certificate in August 2014.
  • Purchase and distribution of grocery items to about 4 NGOs in the City, every month; Since 2014;
  • With the help of Metro Transport, ‘Small bus’ services started from Mahalingapuram to various destinations since July 2015;
  • On-line’ Vazhipadu booking and Mobile Apps was introduced in December 2016’
  • Free Astrology service introduced by the sabha.

Our next project on the anvil is construction of a Sivan Temple in the adjacent Property purchased by the Sabha recently. Preliminary work on this project will start very soon …..