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Ancient White Ganesha Temple – Vellai Vinayagar – Ganesha Murti Made From Sea Form

The ancient white Ganesha Temple is located at Thiruvalanchuzhi about eight kilometers from Kumbakonam on the way to Swamimalai in Tamil Nadu. The shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva but Ganesha who is known as Shwetha Vinayaka or Vellai Vinayagar or Norai Pillayar – is more famous. It is believed that the Ganesha murti was made from sea form.

The Vellai Vinayakar murti worshipped is pure white. No offerings are made directly to murti as the deity is made of soft white foam. All offerings and decorations are performed on silver and gold frame.  

The only offering made directly to the deity is edible camphor, which is crushed and sprinkled on the white Ganesha.

Story Of Thiruvalanchuzhi Vellai Vinayakar

There were too many obstacles during the famous churning of ocean (samudra manthan). Sage Narada told the Devas and Asuras that they had not offered prayers to Ganesha in the beginning and therefore they are facing various obstacles.

Immediately Devas and Asuras scooped out foam from the ocean and made a Ganesha figure and worshipped it.

After the samudra manthan, Indra, the king of Devas, worshipped the murti.

Indra was forced to visit Shiva temples on earth to overcome a curse of Ahalya. He carried the Ganesha murti with him. Indra arrived at the Thiruvalanchuzhi Shiva temple and decided to take bath in the Jada Theertha in the temple.

But Indra could not put the Ganesha murti on the ground. Shiva was worshipped here Kapardiswarar or Jadaimudinathar. He took the form of a little boy and agreed to hold the Ganesha murti. But he put the condition that he will call out three times if he has to go away and if Indra does not return he will put the murti down.

A devotee arrived in the temple and called out Kapardiswarar. Shiva now had to go away, so he called out thrice but Indra did not return. So he placed the Ganesha murti down.
When Indra came back he was unable to move the Ganesha murti. Indra decided to leave the murti on earth but comes back annually during Ganesh Chaturthi to perform pujas.

Some other facts
  1. Shiva is the main deity and worshipped as Kapardiswarar.
  2. Goddess Parvati is known as Goddess Periyanakai.
  3. Kaveri River makes turn near the temple.
  4. The temple complex is located in an area of 7.25 acres with 5 mandapams.
  5. A huge grilled stone window with 111 holes in front of white Ganesha is mysterious and believed to have hidden symbolism.
  6. There are four stone pillars 6 feet high in front of the white Ganesha.
  7. Ashtabhuja Mahakali or Goddess Kali with eight arms is another important murti in the shrine.
  8. The temple has numerous Shivlings believed to have been installed by the Rishis who participated in a yajna conducted by Sage Durvasa.
  9. The temple faces east and has a five tiered gopuram.
  10. The mandapam next to the sanctum of white Ganesha is called Gayathri Mandapam. The mandapam has 24 intricately carved pillars. Each pillar represents an akshara in the Gayatri Mantra.