Kothandaramar Temple at Punnainallur What is so special about this temple? This is probably the only temple in India where Lord Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Sugriva are made of a Saligrama.

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When one visits the Thanjavur belt, one realises the immense work that has gone in consecrating every street possible with temples. Each temple has a unique flavor, purpose, design and caters to different aspects of human endeavour. One can spend a month in a town and not have enough time to visit all the temples. Such is their number.

Sometime back I had shared my experience at the Punnainallur Mariamman temple. Another significant temple that is located in the same town is the Kothandaramar temple. The temple complex was extremely beautiful and filled with paintings (painted recently) depicting the Ramayana. We experienced a rare sense of calm being in this temple.

Saligramas are fossilized shells representing Lord Vishnu. They are collected from the Gandaki river bank in Nepal. Palaeontologists say that Saligramams are fossilized ammonites that lived in the oceans about 240-65 million years ago and disappeared with the dinosaurs. Having lived and fossilated for such a long time, these Saligramams have been a witness (in a certain way) to several million years of evolution and hence very significant. Worship of the Saligrama is quite common in many households. Strict discipline is adopted by the worshipper and the Saligramam is kept in a protected place (Shaucham is of utmost importance).

The King of Thanjavur, Pratap Singh was gifted with 4 large and rare Saigramams by the King of Nepal. These Saligramams were then consecrated as Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Sugriva. Normally one finds only the murti of Hanuman. This is one of those unique temples that pays tribute to Sugriva for helping Rama find Sita.

The Panchaloha Utsava murtis that are about 1400 years old were unearthed and installed there.

An important aspect of every temple is the Sthala Vruksham. The sthala vruksham of the Kothadaramar temple is the Punnai which in recent times is famous for its bio-fuel properties.

A few minutes of closing the eyes inside the temple gave a glimpse of the calm and composed attitude with which Rama approached his life. May Karuna Sagara Rama shower his grace upon all of us!