Girivalam shrines – Vallalar Mantapam and Kovil
Vallalar was a saint who lived in Vadalur near Chidambaram during the early half of the 19th century. This is the legend of his life and teaching: “Vallalar is believed to have realized the supreme and universal Divine integrally and his body became transformed and filled with Light so much so that it did not cast its shadow on the ground. He eventually attained a transformed and divine golden physical body, deathless and ever indestructible, shadowless and sleepless, and full of Light, Amrita and blissful energies and with a potential power to resurrect the dead into the body. He preached deathlessness of the body and said that it was by an error that people were consenting to death. After about a year or two of attaining the Deathless body, he sacrificed it by dematerialization in 1874 in the very concrete Presence of the Divine at his place in order to make the God of Vast Grace – Light manifest so as to stay on and directly rule the earth and to enable him to enter into all the physical bodies universally”.
The shrine to Saint Vallalar can be found on the right side on the outer girivalam road about a hundred metres after the Nirudhi Lingam. It is set in a modern concrete structure with enclosed rooms and open areas. One of the rooms houses a shrine to the saint and also a small shrine to a Shiva Lingam and Nandi. There are also some statues of the saint in the open areas where one can sit and meditate, facing the hill. Within the courtyard, inside another room which is fully tiled with polished granite, there are shrines to the Ashtalingams, and the Navasakthi goddesses. On the walls of this room are gaudy modern cement sculptures of many gods and goddesses from the hindu pantheon. The arrangement of the deities seems to have no rhyme or reason and just seem to be placed here and there with no adherence to vedic rules regarding the placement of deities in a temple nor to any taste of interior decor. Beside the entrance, under a neem tree, is a cement sculpture of a huge 5 headed serpent on which a female goddess figure is portrayed. There seems to be a sad lack of local flavor and devotion and the whole place looks sterile and devoid of energy. However on Sundays and full moon days, this shrine is jam-packed with people because of the huge amount of free food which is cooked and distributed there to one and all !