The bustling town of Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu is home to a number of temples and is an important pilgrimage centre. While the soul of the town is the renowned Thillai Nataraja temple, there are a number of rare and stunning temples in and around the town.
One such unique temple is the Bhoovaraga Swamy temple in Srimushnam. The temple is about 25 km from Chidambaram and is considered sacred for Hindus and Buddhists. It is one of the most rare temples in South India where the main deity, Lord Vishnu, is represented in the form of ‘varaha’ or wild boar. The latter is considered as one of the holiest avatars of Vishnu in the ‘Dasha Avatar’.
There is a resplendent tower or gopuram at the entrance of the temple that is beautifully adorned. The door with its elaborate patterns and the entrance with intricate sculptures is equally grand too.
An interesting feature of the deity is that while its face, which is in the form of a boar faces south, the rest of the body, which is in the form of a human, faces the direction of the devotees in west. It is believed that the confines of the temple are extremely sacred and a visit to this place can help one attain salvation. Also childless couples are believed to beget a child after offering prayers here.
The structure of the temple is elegant with a hall or ‘purusasuhara mandapam’ in the centre.
The pillars have some absolutely ornate and remarkable sculptures with an incredible level of detailing.
Another interesting fact associated with the temple is the spirit of camaraderie that its festival demonstrates between Hindus and Muslims. There is a tradition in the Tamil month of ‘Maasi’ (which falls during the month of February and March) where the deity of the temple is taken out on a 20-day procession to nearby villagers.
During this time, the Muslims of this area offer prayers to the deity and take back flowers from it and offer them to Lord Allah. This wonderful gesture of unity is said to take place each year till date.