The Pillaiyarpatti temple is located in the township of Pillaiyarpatti and is also known as Karpaka Vinayakar temple. Unknown to many, it’s one of the oldest rock-cut cave temples in Tamil Nadu. Located between Pudukottai and Karaikkudi towns in the Sivagangai district of Tamil Nadu, the town is named after Ganesha – with ‘Pillayar’ meaning Ganesha in Tamil. The word ‘Vinayakar’ here also means ‘incomparable leader’. He is also known as the Lord of wisdom. He is believed to have fulfilled the prayers of his devotee, the ‘Karpakam’ tree, hence he is known as Karpaka Vinayakar here.
This ancient temple is located within the heartland of the famed Chettinad region and is believed to have been built in the fourth century AD. There are more than 15 inscriptions in this temple that help in establishing its age. The temple was added to in later years and it grew over three distinct stages. The last phase was quite recent and involved renovation and refurbishment of the entire temple complex, including the temple tank. The entrance to the temple is very attractive with the two looming Raja Gopurams (main gateways) and the temple tank.
The Pillaiyarpatti Nagarathar community has been traditionally caring for the temple and its activities and festivities over the centuries. A 6-feet tall bass image of Ganesha in the form of Karpaka Vinayakar is the main deity here. It sits in an excavated cave temple carved out of a hill in the nearby precincts of the temple. Here Ganesha is portrayed with two hands instead of four hands and his trunk is seen curling towards the right in the valampuri mode. It is believed that when devotees worship Valampuri Vinayakar facing the north, they will be blessed abundantly with wealth.
There are other deities also placed here. You will find that unlike any other place, here all three forms of the lingam (Thiruveesar, Marudheesar, and Senchadeswarar), as well as all three goddesses – Sivagami Amman, Vadamalar Mangaiamman and Soundara Nayaga Amman appear together in one place to bless their devotees. According to local legend, women who are having problems in getting married should worship here, to get rid of the sevvai dosham.
There are several other shrines within this temple dedicated to other deities too. To visit this temple that is steeped in the vibrant temple culture of the Tamil community, you could either use the nearby Trichy airport or the train station at Karaikkudi. There is excellent highway connectivity too. You could stay over at the heritage Chidambara Vilas hotel and experience the authentic Chettinad way of life as well!