The southern state of Tamil Nadu is known as the land of temples and the Chettinad region located in its heartland is no less. There are numerous famous temples here with the then Tirupati Ariyakudi Perumal Kovil being one of the outstanding ones.
This 500 year-old-temple is located in Ariyakudi and is the biggest Vishnu temple in the Chettinad region which includes the Sivaganaga and Pudukottai districts. The temple is also believed to be one of the earthly homes of Lord Balaji. The presiding deity here is Lord Venkatachalapathi (also known as Thiruvenkatamudaiyaan) and has been brought from Srirangam Ranganatha temple; the ‘shatari’ (padukas) is brought from Tirupati Balaji temple and the sacred flame or ‘agni’ is from Thirukoshtiyur.
The temple that recently underwent renovations is located on 3.5 acres of land about 4km away from the Karaikudi railway station. The temple has a spectacular 7-tiered Rajagopuram measuring 80 feet and sculptured with amazing intricate figurines in various poses. They are an absolute delight and their unmatched beauty can be quite engrossing. There is an absolutely intriguing legend associated with this temple and it goes like this:
Sevukan Chettiar of Ariyakudi was a devotee of Tirupati Tiruvengadam Udayan / Srinivasa Perumal and would walk to Tirupati on the auspicious Thiruvonam day for darshan every year. However, with advancing age and ill health, his pilgrimage to the hill temple was finally interrupted one year while attempting to go there. He was very upset about his inability to fulfill his annual visit. But soon he heard the invisible voice of Lord Srinivasa Perumal telling him that he, the Lord, would provide darshan to his devotee instead and guided him to a spot. He further instructed him to collect the ‘Abhishekha Murthy of Ramanuja from the Sriranganatha temple and build a ‘prakara’ (boundary wall) around it there. And this is where the Then Tirupati Perumal Kovil now stands. To honor Sevukan Chettiyar, his sculpture can be seen on the main pillar inside the first prakara. There are enchanting herbal paintings inside the temple that is still so colorful.
Till date, those people who are unable to travel to Tirupati visit the Then Tirupati Ariyakudi Perumal temple instead of the fulfillment of their vows. Getting to this temple is easy. You need to get to Karaikudi or Pudukottai which is well-connected with excellent highways and trains. Neighboring Trichy offers the nearest airport too. You could stay over at the heritage Chidambara Vilas hotel which is an enchanting century-old renovated palace and experience authentic Chettinad culture and hospitality!