Sri Varasiddhi Vinayaka Kanipakam Temple – The Shrine of Miracles
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A hamlet on the banks of river Baahuda, Kanipakam Temple, is one of the holy abodes of Lord Vinayaka – the beloved son of Shiva and Parvathi, the controller of ‘Ganas’, the remover of obstacles, and the Lord of intellect and wisdom. The word ‘Kanipakam’ originates from two Tamil words – ‘Kani’ meaning ‘wetland’ and ‘Pakam’ meaning ‘flow of water’. The village is in Irala Mandal of Chittoor District in Andhra Pradesh.
The idol of ‘Swayambhu’ Vinayaka is inside ‘Kalyani’, a lake in which the idol was originally found. ‘Swayambhu’ means that the idol was not carved out of stone to be reinstated at a temple, but was found as it is. The kanipakam temple has Chola architecture, with a simple yet elegant Gopuram for the temple complex that houses temples of two other deities – Sri Manikanteshwara and Sri Varadaraja Swamy. In the first half of the eleventh century, the temple was built by the Chola emperor who then ruled the region – Kulothunga Chola I. Further in 1336, the rulers of Vijayanagara Kingdom, Harihara and Bukka.
Kanipakam Temple History
- The place has an interesting tale associated with the discovery of the idol. The legend of the kanipakam temple can be traced back to the times when farmers used to plough the lands by manual labor and used a system that was then known as ‘Picota’ to irrigate the land. This system comprised of drawing water from a well and channelizing it into the fields. Once upon a time, there were three brothers – one was deaf, the other deaf and another dumb. These three brothers earned their bread by farming on a small piece of land.
- To draw the water from the well, one of them irrigated the land and the other two harnessed the ply on the Picota. One fine day, they observed that the water in the well had dried up and so, decided to get into the well and dig it up. But to the enormous surprise of the brothers, they hit a stone-like formation and blood oozed out of the ground. Within a short span of time, the entire well got filled with the red blood, when all the brothers hoped to dig up was water.
- The three brothers, witnesses to the miracle and startled by the divine sight, lost their disabilities. The villagers, seeing the brothers in perfect health, were utterly perplexed and tried to dig up the well further. But their attempts were in vain because a ‘Swayambhu’ idol of Vinayaka swirled amidst the well.
- Amazed by the miracle unfolding in front of their eyes, the villagers offered prayers to Lord Vinayaka by performing Aarthi to the newly found idol and offering tender coconuts, as Lord Ganesha is fond of them. The tender coconut water flowed into a channel to a distance of more than one and a quarter acres. Thus originated the name of ‘Kanipakaram’ – which evolved to get modified as ‘Kanipakam’
- To this very day, the idol has been retained in the well it was originally found in and the springs in the well are perennial and eternal. The holy water overflows during the rainy season.
- Yet another strange feature of the idol is that it is still growing in size! A ‘Kavacham’ offered by a devotee in 1945 no longer fits the idol. This testifies that the idol is gradually growing in its size and dimensions, says Chandramouli Gurukkal, the eleventh successor of the chief priests.
Significance of Kanipakam Temple
- All of our rituals and ceremonies begin by invoking the blessings of the Almighty Ganapathi, the Lord who removes obstacles from the paths of his devotees and enables them to embark on a journey towards successful endeavors. Devotees throng in thousands in this holy abode, to bow to the son of Shiva. The Lord here is referred to as ‘Varasiddhi Vinayaka’ because he fulfills the ardent wishes of his devotees when they offer prayers with devotion and sincerity.
- This sacred shrine of kanipakam temple is widely believed to be an upholder of truth and justice. The aura of the Divine Almighty is such that, there are several occasions in which a person accused of a sin voluntarily admits to wrong-doing and sinful acts when he enters the temple premises or takes a dip in the holy water. It is as if the Lord evokes a sense of fearful guilty conscience in the mind of the person and makes him genuinely repent for the same.
- Even the pragmatic Western minds of British folks surrendered to the Lord at this sacred altar – During the pre-independence era, the British jury at the Chittoor court used to acquit an accused person if he were to swear at the holy shrine proclaiming his innocence in the issue!
- To this day, everyday quarrels between villagers are resolved by the two people involved taking a ‘Pramanam’ – a special oath in which they take a dip in the Pushkarini and testify before the Lord, is believed to be the gospel truth! It is believed that the Almighty casts His divine spell on the parties involved, purifies their hearts of anger, lust, jealousy and envy, thereby making the guilty pray to Him to seek forgiveness. The issues are thus resolved, without the interference of police or middlemen.
- Devotees who wish to give up bad habits like smoking or excessive drinking – take a bath in the holy place and take an oath in the kanipakam temple by contributing Rs. 516/-. This is a Seva called ‘Pramanam’ and hundreds of devotees have reaped the benefit of this special seva at the Kanipakam temple.
Kanipakam Temple Timings
Kanipakam Temple is open for darshan from 6 am to 9:30 pm with breaks in between for poojas.
- Ordinary queue line: Free
- Nijaroopa Darshan: (Morning 5.00 to 5.30,7.00 to 7.30,8.30 to 9.00,10.30 to 11.00 and Evening 4.30 to 5.00): Rs. 50/- per head.
- Special Entrance Darshan: Rs. 10/- per head.
Kanipakam Temple Food Timings
Every day, Annaprasadam is served from 1.:30 PM onwards to around 150 devotees. It is offered is free of cost to all the visiting devotees and is a must have for any visitor. The devotees are required to obtain tokens for the same at the kanipakam temple complex, by 12:00 PM.
Festivals celebrated at the Kanipakam Temple
One of the main annual attractions of the place is ‘Brahmostavam’ held for a duration of twenty-one days. It starts from the day of Ganesh Chaturthi and continues for twenty days with festive pomp and vigor. All days begin with ‘Suprabhatam’ or awakening the Lord from the slumber at dawn, followed by numerous rituals throughout the day. During the evenings, the ‘Utsava Moorthi’ is taken into the town in different kinds of colorfully decked Vaahanas (vehicles) on all days – Hamsa vaahana (Swan), Mayura vaahana (Peacock), Mooshika vaahana (Mouse), Shesha vaahana (Snake), Vrishabha vaahana (Bull), Gaja vaahana (Elephant), Pushpa Pallakki (Flowered palanquin), Vimanotsava (Airplane), to name a few. Devotees participate in the festivities soulfully and offer their prayers with sincerity and devotion. ‘Deepotsava’, the celebration involving floating of lighted lamps in the Kalyani is another important festivity and the temple looks magnificent amidst hundreds of floating lamps, under the starry skies.
Poojas and Rituals at Kanipakam Temple
- Ganapathi Homam (9:00 AM to 12:00 PM)
How to reach Kanipakam Temple – Road, Rail and Air
- Air – Direct flights to Tirupati are available from Hyderabad and Chennai only.
- Rail – Mysore – Tirupati Fast Passenger operates daily, departs Bangalore at 8.15 PM and reaches Chittor at 2.30 AM.
- Road – Chittoor is 185Kms from Bangalore (via Kolar). The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) runs daily buses between Bangalore and Chittoor, from Chittoor APSRTC runs buses regularly at the interval of 5 minutes. APSRTC Runs daily Express, Luxury, and Hi-Tech buses from Bangalore to Tirupati and every Bus has Stopping at Chittoor. The buses are run at frequent intervals around the clock. The journey time 5hrs 30 min. Return journey tickets can also be bought at Bangalore Bus Station.
Where to Stay near Kanipakam Temple – Hotels in Kanipakam
The Temple Management runs 6 guest rooms and Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams Trust runs the operations of 14 rooms for devotees. Another accommodation complex with 100 rooms is under construction. Besides the Temple accommodation, several private hotels and lodges also provide good quality accommodation to the devotees, in Chittoor city.
Where to eat
The Annaprasadam offered free of cost to all the visiting devotees is a must have for any visitor. The devotees are required to obtain tokens for the same at the kanipakam temple complex by 12.00 PM. Several small vegetarian hotels can be visited around the temple and in Chittoor. The cuisine is mainly South Indian and Andhra style.
- Manikanteswara Temple: The ancient temple of Manikanteshwara can be dated back to the times of the Chola King Kulothunga Chola. He is said to have built 108 temples of Shiva, to obtain relief from the sin of killing a Brahmin – “Brahma Hatya Papam’. Famous for the Chola architecture, the exquisite sculpture of the idol adds on another striking feature to the divine altar.
- Varadaraja Swamy Temple: This Kshetram of Lord Ayyappa, also known as Harihara is a landmark in the surroundings, owing to the vast temple compound structure and the architectural marvel in the temple complex, that also houses two other deities – Sri Anjaneya Swamy and the Nava Grahas.
- Ardhagiri Sri Veeranjaneya Swamy Kshetram – Located at a distance of 15 km from Kanipakam, this holy shrine dates back to Threta Yuga or the times when Lord Rama fought against Ravana the abductor of Sita. In this epic battle when Lakshmana fell unconscious, Lord Hanuman carried the Sanjeevini Parvata to the battlefield, to revive him. During this journey, a piece of the Parvata fell off in this place that later came to be known as Aragonda. The Pushkarini here called Sanjeevaraya Pushkarini never gets dried up. Water from the pond is believed to have curative effects on devotees for cases of Psoriasis, initial cases of Tuberculosis, Asthma, Cancer and joint pains. The experiences of cured devotees have been recorded and they stand as testimony to it. An important feature of the Moola Vigraha is that it faces towards the north, which is extremely rare. At dawn, the first rays of the Sun fall on the feet of the Lord and gradually move upwards, to illuminate the head of the Lord. It is also believed that the ardent devotees can hear the chanting of ‘Omkara’ at midnight! The Lord is believed to be safeguarding Lakshmi Narayana who dwells there. Full moon day attracts thousands of pilgrims to this sacred place. It is said that prayers offered overnight on a full moon day are always fulfilled by the Lord. Cultural programs are held out throughout the night for the benefit of the devotees.