Here comes the most awaited grand festival of Athi Varadhar utsav, which happens once in every forty years. We all knew that “The city of Silk” Kanchipuram is world renowned for its pure rich silk sarees, yet another feather in the hat of Kanchipuram is this 2000 years old Athi Varathar temple. Varadharaja Perumal Temple or Hastagiri or Attiyuran is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu located in the holy city of Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India. This temple is one among the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu. Being a very old temple, it is revered greatly and visited by thousands of devotees every day. This particular festival “reappearance of Lord Athi varathar” is commemorated in an awe- inspiring manner. People from all over India and even from overseas throng at this temple during these 48 days of festival to seek the immense blessing of Lord Athi varathar.
This temple is one of huge Vishnu temples like Srirangam Ranganathar temple in Tamil Nadu, covering an area of 23-acre (93,000 m2) of prime land. It was first built in 1053 AD by the great Chola rulers and later Kulottunga Chola I and Vikrama Chola were instrumental in expanding the temple. The 14th century Chola rulers, later, built the gopurams – towers and the huge walls.
Among the fascinating wonders of this temple is the most astonishing huge stone chain. It is simply an architectural and artistic masterpiece entirely made of a single stone with a series of rings strung together without breaking the continuity.
The significance of this festival is that, Lord Athi varathar who is carved out of a huge Athi tree (fig tree) is residing inside the four pillar Mandapam of Pushkarni called Anantha Saras. He is taken out once in 40 years and is worshipped for 48 days. It is believed that worshipping this Lord Athi varathar once is our life time is very precious. On these 48 days, Lord Athi Varadar offers dharshan to the devotees both in reclining and standing posture and it is expected that about 50,000 people will visit this temple every day of this eve.
Lord Athi varathar is one among the four Brahma Karachita Varadaraja Moorthies (i.e. worshipped by Lord Brahma). It is also said that the idol of Athi varadar is carved by the great Vishwakarma who is the man behind the creation of the Celestial World “Devalokha“. Varadaraja means “the King who gives benedictions”, where Varada means “bestower of benedictions and raja means “King”.
The legend has it that once goddess Saraswathi asked Lord Brahma to announce the greatest between herself and goddess Lakshmi. Brahma without a second thought declared that goddess Lakshmi was the greatest. This aroused the anger of Goddess Saraswathi and went in rage. In meanwhile Lord Brahma was about to perform a Yajna and asked goddess Saraswathi to accompany him, but She refused. Even then Lord Brahma performed his Yajna without Goddess Saraswathi. This Again triggerd the anger of the Goddess Lot more. In order to cease the sacred sacrifice of Lord Brahma, She took the form of river Vegavathi and reach the Yajna spot. To stop her Lord Vishnu Himself interfered in the course of Vegavathi and changed her course. In the form of reclining Vishnu. The yajna ended well and in the end Lord Brahma thanked Lord Vishnu and asked him to stay at Kanchi. Thus Lord Vishnu stayed at Kanchi and blesses the devotees.
Until 16th century, this Moorthy was worshipped as the presiding deity inside the sanctum. During the Mughal invasion the statue was partially damaged and owing to that it was immersed in the temple tank (damaged statues should not be kept in the grabhagraha). The present Lord that graces from the sanctum was brought from Pazhaya Seevaram which is about 20 kilometres from Kanchi. In memory of this, the Utsava icon of Lord Varadarajan is taken on a procession once a year, during the Tamil month of Thai (Jan-Feb) to Pazhaya Seevaram.
In before years this festival took place in 18.8.1854, 13.6.1892, 12.7.1937, 2.7,1979 and now it is going to take place from 1.7.19 to 17.8.19. From these dates, it is obvious that, we can get the dharshan of Lord Athi Varathar only once or maximum of twice in our life time. Kanchipuram District is getting ready for this grand festive. The city government is taking great measures for the safety and easy dharshan for the devotees. Lots of busses and transport facilities had been arranged for the Bakthas. As it is expected that many thousands of people from different region and countries will throng here, sings boards in five different languages had been placed all through the city.
You can experience a great celebration at Kanchi. There will be daily aradhanas and poojas done to the lord. Apart from that there will be lots temple fare stalls where we can shop and eat. It is a great chance to get engaged with different kinds of people from different region.
Varadharaja Perumal temple is situated at the heart of the city. It is 75 kilometres away from Chennai, 35 kilometres from Chengalpet and just 30 kilometres from Arakonam. The city officials are taking great measures for the safety and easy dharshan for the devotees. Lots of buses and transport facilities have been arranged for the people thronging to worship him. As it is expected that more than thousands of people from different regions and countries will arrive at the city, sign boards in five different languages have been placed at strategic locations across the city.
There is continues electric train facility to Kanchipuram from Chennai Egmore.
By Bus: Transport in Kanchipuram is active throughout twenty-four-seven and buses to all important cities are available.
By Air: There is no airport in Kanchipuram, and the nearest airport is in Chennai, which may take two hours to reach.
By Railway: Kanchipuram is well connected by rail, and has railway station inside the city. Trains from Chennai, Madurai and Trichy arrive often.
So wait no more, plan a trip to Kanchipuram and get the rarest and unique experience of worshiping Lord Athi varathar, an undoubtedly significant moment of your life!