Soumyanatha Swamy Temple, Nandalur (Pearls Across Pennar Series) #Day 2 #Part5  ©Sangeeta Venkatesh 

After a beautiful darshan at Tallapaka, our next stop was at the Soumyanatha Swamy Temple at Nandalur which is a mere 15 minutes drive.

The temple is situated near the Cheyyuru River ( a confluence of the Bahuda River and Punch River) in the Kadapa district. The presiding deity is Lord Balaji in the divine form of Soumyanatha Swamy and is seen here with His consort Sri Maha Lakshmi Ammavaru.

As we entered the precincts, we were struck by the vast area that surrounds the temple, parts of which are beautifully landscaped with grass. We are told that it is about 10 acres that surrounds the temple. The Soumyanatha Swamy Temple dates back to the period of 11 century and is built on 108 sculpted pillars. he temple is famous for its architectural marvel which is built in old Chola style by the Matli kings, the then rulers of Kadapa district. 

Deepasthambam with four lion-heads

The temple has four Rajagopurams overlooking the four directions. The mahadwara gopuram is on the eastern side while other gopurams are on the west, north and southern directions. There is a deepasthambham with four lion-heads sculpted on it. There is also a high dhwajasthambham, a balipeetham, and a water tank called koneru and a huge yagnashala. The temple is constructed using red-stone. The temple has several inscriptions in Tamil on its walls, as is seen the picture below.

The sanctum sanctorum has a seven foot-tall idol of Sri Soumyanatha Swamy. He stands majestic as the chaturbhuja (with four arms) Salagramadhara (the one with the Saligrama stone) holding a Sudarshana Chakram (disc) in one hand and a Paanchajanya Sankham (conch) in the other. The east-facing idol looks exactly like Lord Venkateshwara in Tirupati. Incidentally, Tirupati is east of Nadalur. The only difference is Lord Bajali is seen with Kati Hastham, (the Lord’s Left Hand rests on His waist) in every temple including in the Tirumala Hills; while in Nandalur the Lord stands with the Abhaya Hastham posture (holding His Right Hand in an assuring posture).

It is amazing to note is that the sun rays directly fall strategically on the presiding deity Lord Sri Soumyanatha Swamy and hence no artificial light is required to see the idol. More fascinating is the fact that you can see the Lord, even if you move away several hundred metres from the door. During the equinox, the sun’s rays fall directly on the feet of the Lord! And on a full moon day if a water vessel is placed at the doorway of the sanctum sanctorum, the image of the Lord is mirrored within the water even at a distance of 100 feet. Just amazing, isn’t it?

There are shrines outside for Lord Narasimha, Lord Hanuman, and Lord Garuda too. Annamacharya is said to visited this temple and composed ‘Shrungara keertanalu’ for the Lord. On the walls of the temple there are images of fish, the Sun and the Moon. There is also a carving of a huge fish on the ceiling of the temple. A local legend says that believe one day the the fish will come to life and disappear into the ocean. 

It has been chronicled that the Soumyanatha Temple was built during the reign of the Cholas. The king Kulottunga I was a Chola king who reigned from 1070 to 1122 A.D is said to have initiated the construction of the temple- as he was known to be a patron of the arts. Later, till the 17th century, the temple was patronized by the Pandyas, Kakatiyas and Vijayanagar kings.

After this visit, we were then on our way to Vontimitta to see the Kondandarama temple.

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