English collector’s vision of Rama in Madhurantakam

CHENNAI: Madurantakam near Chengalpattu, is home to the Kodandarama temple, popularly known as the Eri Katha Rama temple.

The large stucco images in the principal sanctum are Kodandarama, Lakshmana and Sita, seen in a standing posture under the Pushpaka Vimana. In the outer prakaram is the important shrine for Sita, worshipped as Janakavalli, constructed in 1798 on the orders of Colonel Lionel Place, the Collector of Chengalpattu.

The story of his association with this temple is fascinating. Colonel Place decided to stop the flooding of this town due to breaches in the large irrigation tank in Madhurantakam which damaged the crops.  He was told that the villages were unable to build the shrine for Sita as they had no funds.

The Collector said that if Lord Rama would prevent the breaches in the irrigation tank, he himself would construct the shrine for Sita.

Subsequently during heavy rains, the Collector, wanting to see if the arrangements for preventing the breaches were intact, walked near the tank when he saw two Divine Beings with bows and arrows guarding the bund.

He knelt down and prayed to Rama and later said that he had a vision of Rama and Lakshmana. The tank did not breach that year and the crops were saved. Colonel. Place kept his promise and arranged for the construction of the sanctum for Janakavalli.

There is a Tamil inscription recording that Col. Place built this shrine. Other sanctums in this temple are for Andal, Sudarsana, Azhvars (Vaishnavaite saints) and the famous preceptor Vedanta Desika. Ramanuja the illustrious Srivaishnava preceptor (Acharya) also visited this temple and his meeting with Periya Nambi, a great Vaishnavite from Srirangam took place here.