Ulagalanda Perumal Temple
Ulagalanda Perumal means the Perumal – Lord who measured the universe. The Whole earth was measured by one step and the sky was measured in another step. And for third step there was no place as promised by Mahabali to the Lord Vishnu in the guise of Vamana (Bachelor Brahmin). So to fulfill his promise Mahabali sat on the ground and request the Lord to keep the 3rd step on his head. The Lord Vishnu gave darsanam to Mahabali and kept his foot on the head of Mahabali and pushed him to the Patala Loka and made Mahabali the ruler of Patala and the lord himself served Mahabali there. Since he measured the world, he is known as Ulagu Alantha Perumal (Lord who measured the universe) and gave darsanam to the devotees as Ulagalanda (he who measured world) Perumal. The measuring of the world was supposed to have been done at Vedhapuri. The name Vedhapuri was later changed to Singanallur. It is said that this place was called as Vedhapuri originally as Vedas were chanted and taught here at ancient times.
Ulagalanda Perumal Idol
The idol in the sanctum sanctum is believed originally to be in the Ulagalanda Perumal temple of Kancheepuram of the Pallavas. It is said that the idol was looted by Tippu Sultan and the idol somehow changed hands and was later brought to the Vedhapuri and was kept in a temple built there. Some other opinion is that this bronze idol belongs to the Pandya period. This was brought to Vellalur and later from there it was brought to Singanallur for safety of the idol from the invasion of Kancheepuram. The idol worshiped here is a beautiful panchaloha one. This is supposed to be the oldest panchaloha icon in India. Some experts have expressed the opinion that the idol belongs to the 8th century as they feel that the idol was made in the fashion of that period. The deity is Thrivikrama (Lord Vishnu as Vamana in the posture of measuring the entire universe). The left leg of the lord is in the raised posture measuring the sky with 8 hands with holding weapons in each. There is no stone (granite) idol in this temple. There is another Panchaloha idol in the temple for festival purposes. This is the utsava murthy. There are Pancha Loha idols of Ramanujachariar, Chakrthazhvar, Andal and Anjaneya installed outside the sanctum on the left side when we face the Perumal in the temple. These must have been added recently by the archakar along with the names of the priests as the hereditary trustees.
Festivals of Ulagalanda Perumal temple
Brahmotsavam will be conducted every year in the month of Avani (around September of English calendar). The festival starts with the hoisting of the temple flag on the Vinayagar Chathurthy day. The festival is celebrated for 10 days. On the day of Vamana avathara which is on the Thiru Onam (Sravana star) day of Avani month, car festival (chariot procession) is taken out through the street. It is believed that this is the day Vamana in the form of Ulagalanda Perumal sent Mahabali to the Patala loka. Another day of grand celebration is on the Vaikunta Ekadasi day. On that day all the Vaishnav temples will specially decorate the main entrance to the inner praharam as Swarga Vaasal (door to heaven). There is a belief among the devotees that those who walk through this Swarga Vaasal on Ekadasi day will be taken to Vaikunta (Swarga – heaven) as and when the devotee dies. Another yearly festival is during the Navarathri (Dussera) days. Most of the day evenings Sahasranama Parayanam (recital of Sahasranamam – 1000 names f the Lord) will and every Sundays Bhajans are done by the devotees during 6 to 7.30 pm.The daily rituals of the temple are taken care by the priest Sri Rajagopala Iyengar (0422 2595281) (a Vaishnava Iyengar Priest). According to him he is the 7th generation priest of the temple from his family.
There are several regular devotees visiting the temple everyday as a daily routine since 50 years. According to the locals residents one of the resident here is visiting the temple since the last 28 years. Another devotee is visiting the temple regularly from her age of three for the last 55 years.
The temple and the sanctum sanctorum are facing the North. It is guarded by Garudalvar and Anjaneya (Hanuman). The temple opens at 6 am. Everyday there will be special poojas at 7 am and at 9 am. At 11 am the temple will be closed for the morning session. Again in the evening at 4.30 pm the temple will open for evening pooja. At 6 pm evening pooja is performed. Everyday Vishnu Sahasranama is chanted from 5 to 6 pm. Similarly the songs of Thiruoppanazhvar – Alamarathin elaimel Balaganai (the child on the peepal tree leaf), Thondan Vannanai are sung. The goddess of the temple in an adjacent shrine is Goddess Mahalakshmi and this idol is also facing north. The idol of the goddess is also made of panchaloha (a combination of 5 metals mixed and moulded) metal. The goddess shrine is a recent addition and everyday poojas are done along with the poojas of the Perumal.
Upa devathas (subsidiary deities)
Near to the South side entrance of the temple on the South West side there is a shrine for the Prasanna Maha Ganapathi. The shrine is under a Neem and Pipal tree. There is also a vahnni tree (Prosopis Spicigera) here. Which is the Sthala Vriksha (sacred trees of the temple) not known. Poojas supposed to be done to Lord Siva like Pradosha Poojai are offered to this Prasanna Maha Ganapathi. Poojas for special festivals of Ganapathi like Sangadahara Chadurthi are done regularly. Normally there will be Siva temple in all places. But in this place there is no Siva Temple. There is a belief that the Vedhapuri (present Singanallur) was a Vaishnava Sthala with Lord Vishnu as the presiding deity.
Age of the Temple
The temple of the Perumal is a very old one in the Singanallur suburb of Coimbatore City. Earlier it was an independent Agraharam village. The temple is several hundred years old. In fact the main road of Singanallur is known as the Koil (temple) street. The temple is at the South West end of the Agraharam and at the West end of the Koil Road. The Road branching from the Coimbatore – Trichy Highway goes by the side of the Singanallur Police Station towards Vellalur. The temple stands abutting this Road. The temple is a small one. Few years back a Raja Gopuram was consecrated. There appears to be some records suggesting that the temple was administered by a village committee. The original village people migrated to other places for jobs or other purposes. Except for few original dwellers, others are later settlers her. There is a granite stone with inscription of the names of the priests as the hereditary trustees have been fixed to the wall of the sanctum sanctorum. There seems to be a note of 1835 from the then Dy collector of Coimbatore to the effect that the Singanallur area was given as Inam Zamin (free land) by Karaikal Cholan. Incidentally it is the same Cholan who built the famous Pattiswarar Koil in Perur. That means that the Singanallur temple was in existence much earlier to 1835 so as to warrant the gift from the Cholan.
As mentioned earlier Singanallur was a village known as Vedhapuri few years back. It was one of the two known Agraharam (Iyer Brahmins settlement) and the other being Perur. Perur Agraharam was having the settlement of Saivaites (followers of Lord Siva). The Singanallur Agraharam was that of Vaishnavites (followers of Lord Vishnu). Of course both group worship all gods and goddesses and there is not much difference. One difference is that the Saivaites will have the family deity of Siva. The followers of Siva smear vibhuthi (sacred ash) on the forehead, chest, upper arms etc. The Vaishnavites apply sandal paste. There is a reference about the Singanallur Agraharam in the Glossary of the Madras Presidency edited by one C. D. Maclean.There is a big lake in Singanallur on the side of the Highway going from Coimbatore to Trichy. Singanallur is a suburb of Coimbatore city is 9 km. Buses are available from all parts of Coimbatore. Near to Railway station Bus route 1-c goes via Singanallur. There are many other routes from all parts of Coimbatore. Get down at Police Station bus stop. Cross the highway and go to the Agraharam Koil (temple) about half km.