There is a small hamlet called Aandankovil between villages Valangaiman and Kodavasal near Kumbakonam. The place is 15-16 KM from Kumbakonam and three kilometer away from Valangaiman. Next to Aandankovil village is Santhaveli village where a small temple for self manifested Lord Anjaneyar exist. Shanthaveli means peaceful open area. The temple in Shanthaveli is small but locally a very popular shrine for Lord Anjaneyar behind which the Samadhi of Karai Siddhar too co-exist. Both are constructed under a huge banyan tree besides several banyan trees sprang from the mother banyan tree occupying the vast land in that area. The place is surrounded on both sides by two rivers called Kudamurutti and Ponni.
The intricately carved rock statue of Lord Anjaneyar enshrined in the temple indicates that it may belong to few thousand years back statue when the entire Cauvery belt was under the control of Chola rulers during whose reign many temples were constructed. The present statue enshrined in the temple could have been part of intricately carved panels in one of the several temples built during Chola period and some of which have been destroyed in fights between rulers and natural calamities. Interestingly hundreds of similar statues of Lord Hanuman in standing posture have been installed in many places in South India during the period of Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagaram- erstwhile rulers of Karnataka. This could have also been one in them. Though the origin of the statue of Lord Anjaneya enshrined in this temple and how it mysteriously appeared is not known, it can only be presumed that thousands of years ago it may have been worshiped in some shrine before disappearing by getting buried only to again resurface at the will of Lord Anjaneyar for some reason. However the history and construction of the four hundred years old shrine as told by the locals, constructed below the sprawling huge banyan tree both sides of which two rivers Kudamurutti and Ponni flow is amazing.
According to the local lore, several hundred years ago most of the inhabitants in that village were poor farmers, peasants, cow and cattle herds some of whom took their cattle to adjacent lands for grazing and brought them back since they could not afford to buy fodder to feed the animals. Their main source of income was from those cattle only. One such grazing land for the cattle was the present site of sprawling banyan tree (present temple site). One of the herds who resided across the Kudamurutti River regularly brought his cattle and cow here and took them back after grazing. One day after reaching home he found one of the cattle was missing which was in the advanced stage of pregnancy. It was pitch dark and therefore from next morning he began to search for the missing cow all over the places wherever he took her for gazing but nowhere the cow was found. Even after three days of search when he failed to trace the missing cow, he slept in the night utterly distressed and tired. An elderly gentleman appeared in his dream to tell him that after dawn if he go and search for his missing cow near the sprawling banyan tree, he will find it.
His sleep got disturbed and he woke up at midnight and waited for the next day to dawn. As it dawned, he ran towards the sprawling banyan tree and to his utter surprise found the missing cow sitting by the side of a rock which had sculpted image of Lord Hanuman in standing posture. A newly born calf was also seen by the side of the missing cow drinking milk from her udder. The statue of Lord Hanuman was under the mother banyan tree but was not there before.Then how did it come there was his confusion? The face of the Lord resembled to that of the elderly person who appeared in his dream. He wondered whether Lord Anjaneyar has self-manifested there? In panic he ran back to the village and informed the people on the strange phenomenon and all of them rushed there to see what has happened. They were speechless seeing the self-manifested Lord Hanuman below a huge Banyan tree from whose branches several banyan trees had sprang occupying the whole area. What a wonder?
Hearing the unbelievable news, several people from the adjacent villages too began to visit Aandan Kovil to witness the miracle and offered worship there. Slowly people when got relieved of their problems and ailments after offering prayers to the Lord there began to regularly offer Pooja and other forms of worship in belief that the Lord cures all. Many believed that offering worship to Lord Anjaneyar in Shanthiveli removed obstacles in their life. As days passed, when the villagers with an intention to construct a small shrine to house Lord Anjaneyar, they attempted to shift the statue from the present site but could not move the slightly tilted rock from its original position below the magnificent mother banyan tree. Even after digging the space around the rock to take it out failed to take out the rocked statue of the Lord. which refused to move an inch out from its original place. Therefore unable to shift it, the villagers gave up their efforts feeling that Lord Anjaneyar was not willing to move away from the place where he manifested and therefore continued to offer worship on the same open spot below the banyan tree. It is still a mystery as to how and from where did Lord Anjaneyar appear there. The statue is almost three feet in height and two feet wide. The Lord has his left hand raised while a maze was also seen lying below his leg. His eyes are open and he faces the right side.
In the midst of such dramatic events, in a swift turn of development a highly elevated spiritual intellect came to that village after hearing the news. He was a Siddha Purush (a class of ascetics or supernal with mystic power) which was initially not known to anyone for first few months. When he reached the site, with his mystic power he understood that the Lord was actually waiting for his arrival to construct a temple for him and secondly he wanted the highly elevated spiritual soul get glorified through his temple. The stranger was indeed Karai Siddhar. Probably for such a reason, till the arrival of Karai Siddhar Lord Anjaneya kept on blocking the efforts of the villagers in constructing the temple. Initially the mystic powers possessed by Karai Siddhar was not known to anyone and many thought that a stranger has come to their village to settle down, but as the days passed, when he randomly displayed his mystic powers and redressed the grievances of some of the villagers who sought his advice, many of those who offered prayers to Lord Anjaneya in the open shrine began to meet him him too seeking his intervention in getting their personal problems solved. Their trust and faith grew stronger as the days passed. Slowly he revealed his intention to construct a shrine for the self-manifested Lord Anjaneyar. Donations poured from different places even unasked for and soon sufficient fund for the construction of the temple was collected.
With enough funds in hand, the preliminary temple rituals were held, worship hall before the sanctum of Lord Anjaneya was constructed and it was decided to perform opening ceremony of the same on 08-09-1960. Close to the ceremony, suddenly both the rivers –Kudamurutti and Ponni- were over flowing and flooded due to heavy downpour of rains and it became impossible for villagers to cross over the Kudamurutti river to attend the ceremony. When everyone remained puzzled not knowing what to do, calm and cool Karai Siddhar called for the supply of enough thick bamboo sticks and wooden planks to construct a wooden bridge. As soon as the supplies were arranged by the local people, immediately Karai Siddhar took up the construction of a strong bridge and within two days covering over 300 feet, a bridge was constructed connecting two ends of Kudamurutti River. Their work was not hampered in any manner by the overflowing water even as some of them including Karai Siddhar had to work for the construction of the bridge freely moving over the flooded water as if they were working on a plain land. Only after the construction of the bridge was completed those who participated in the construction realized that they had actually worked moving over the water as if they had walked on plain land. The local authorities who heard of the unbelievable fete, rushed to the site only to remain speechless to find the fully manually constructed 300 feet heavy bridge without aid of local authorities and other construction equipment needed for the construction of a bridge over the river connecting two ends.
Welcoming the officials who rushed to the site, Karai Siddhar took handful of sand from the river bed and offered it as prasad to the officials who reluctantly accepted it. Alas, they were shocked when the sand offered to them turned into Jaggery once they received it in their hands. They realized that the person cannot be an ordinary soul and must be a highly elevated spiritual personality and felt that the temple must also be very sacred one. Without asking a word, they instantly accorded Govt’s approval to the bridge constructed and attended the opening ceremony performed with grand rituals. The rituals needed for the opening of the worship hall of the temple was also completed and simultaneously threw open the bridge to the public for attending the function. Since the idol of Lord Hanuman could not be shifted from the original spot in which it sprang up, the building had to be raised surrounding the idol thus allowing the idol remain in the original spot. The rock remains slightly tilted and could not be straightened.
Slowly people understood that Karai Siddhar was indeed highly elevated spiritual soul (Siddha Purush) and slowly his fame spread far and wide. People visited him seeking his intervention to resolve their personnel suffering. A lady devotee called Mrs Ambujammal of Siddashram in Chennai, a devotee of Karai Siddhar, who happened to personally witness several miracles performed by Karai Siddhar recorded the miracles in a small booklet released by Siddashram in the year 1961. One of the devotees of Karai Siddhar who had seen the miracles of Karai Siddhar and lived in his time turns emotional while narrating many of the miracles of Karai Siddhar as witnessed by him along with his own personal experience.
The locals considered Karai Siddhar as the living God in their area as long as he was alive. Whenever he extended his bare hand towards his devotees to bless them they would find pure Sandal paste in his palm which will be received by them as prasad of Lord Hanuman. The whole area will be filled with exceptional fragrance of Sandal, the smell of fragrance rarely one would have experienced. Whoever received the Sandal Paste would be advised to apply the same on their forehead praying for relief whenever they fall sick or faced personal ordeal. Acting as advised in the next few days, they would see that their personal problems had vanished leaving no trace. Several such chilling personal experiences of the devotees have been reported to their friends and relatives.
Once when Karai Siddhar visited a fund crunched Vaishnavite temple in Thirumullaivayil on an important festive day, the temple was full of devotees and Karai Siddhar requested the priest to perform the archana (ritual done by slowly throwing few flowers on to the deity chanting mantras) with more flowers plucked from the temple tree. The poor priest replied that it was not possible to accept his request since enough flowers were not available in the temple tree and even that very morning he could get only two flowers. But Karai Siddhar smilingly refuted the views of the priest stating that before he entered the temple he saw the tree full of flowers and therefore he can definitely use them. He had to request the priest to get flowers from the temple tree as others are not allowed to pluck flowers from temple trees, lest they would attract sin. Unbelieving Karai Siddhar’s statement hesitant priest went out from the sanctum to check the tree. He was completely shocked to find the tree filled with full of flowers even though only few hours back he could get only two flowers from the very same tree. He plucked enough flowers from the temple tree and rushed back to perform Pooja as requested by Karai Siddhar, but before everyone came to their senses to look at who the person was, he had already vanished from there.
Read another interesting incident. It was 10 in the morning when some devotees were discussing something in the temple premises with Karai Siddhar. In the midst of their discussion suddenly Karai Siddhar commented “Oh I should have gone to the Railway station by now to meet some of my important friends. It has totally slipped out of my mind. Just wait here till I come back, don’t go away’. Saying so he went out. The Railway station was 15 Kilometers away from that place and in the midst of no proper conveyances available in those days, it would take not less than 3-4 hours if one had to go to Railway station and come back. The devotees who were asked to wait till he returned were restless. However Karai Siddhar came back within an hour and continued the conversation.
In the evening when the devotees were discussing some other issues with their friends, two of them casually remarked that they happened to meet Karai Siddhar in the Railway station at 10.30 in the morning. The devotees could not believe the news and wondered how could Karai Siddhar travel to the Railway station and come back within half an hour? They were puzzled and out of anxiety decided to seek clarification from the Siddhar himself. When they met the Siddhar and requested him to clear their doubt, smiling Siddhar confirmed his visit without hesitation. After witnessing many such acts with personal experiences, everyone were convinced that one should not cast doubts on such acts since several highly spiritually elevated souls and believed to be manifestations of Lord Dattathreya such as Shirdi Sai Baba, Samarth Maharaja of Maharashtra, Manik Prabhu of Bidar have all displayed such fete many times as found in their life histories. A highly elevated spiritual soul have such extraordinary powers to move from one place to the other in fraction of a second.
The fame of Karai Siddhar who lived in a small hut behind the very same temple which he established for Lord Anjaneyar under the banyan tree in Aandan Kovil continued to spread far and wide till he attained Samadhi. Many have benefited from his mystic power. Shri Karai Siddhar was born in the year 1918 in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala though he was native of Nagarasampettai, a small hamlet near the same River Kudamurutti in Kumbakonam district. Due to family compulsion he got married when he was very young and had two children from his wife before he took up to Sanyas after parting the company of his wife at a very young age. While traveling through the northern parts of India, he met his Guru in Lakshmanjula in Hardwar – Rishekesh area and attained lots of extraordinary powers from his diksha. Perhaps Lord Anjaneya of Aandan Kovil wanted the presence of Karai Siddhar to built a temple for him in Aandan Kovil and hence manifested and attracted him to come and settle there at appropriate time.
People visit this temple praying to beget child and to get cured from their incurable diseases. Most of their prayers are certainly heeded by the Lord; hence it attracts lots of devotees from several areas. A word of advice to those desire to visit the temple. One should get in touch with the priest of the temple before visiting the temple since such shrines in the remote villages are not kept opened through out the day. However the temple is open from 6.00 AM to 1.00 PM and from 4.00 PM to 9.00 PM on Saturday when hundreds of devotees come there and offer archanai. The temple pooja rituals and other affairs are managed by the third generation Shri Shanmuga Sundara Gurukkal who is called by locals as Shri Prabhu Gurukkal. Earlier his grand father Shri Nataraja Gurukkal followed by father Shri Nagamani Gurukkal were managing the Pooja rituals and temple affairs after which the present Shri Shanmuga Sundara Gurukkal has taken over. According to the temple priest not less than 500 to 600 archanais are done on every Saturdays.
The contact No of the priest is: 9384144497.
Photographs of the temple