Manakula Vinayagar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ganesa, it is a popular pilgrimage site and tourist destination in the Union Territory of Puducherry. The temple belongs to ancient times and screams antiquity and predates the French occupation. There were attempts to destroy the temple, but owing to the strong protests from the Hindu population and threat of British and Maratha invasion of the territory.
In Tamil, ‘Manal’ means sand and ‘Kulam’ means sea which thereby, implies that the God resides near the pond of sand.
Long long ago when the Europeans ruled Pondicherry, there lived an atheist who was a bosom friend of the Governer of the state. No one knows till date if the governer was English, French, Potugeese or Dutch. To come to the story, the atheist behaved like a despot and quite often ill-treated the natives. The governor neither questioned his attitude nor lent his ear to the grievances of the natives. Since none dared to question him, the atheist poked his nose into the worship of Hindu idols.
He had often seen the natives going to a temple, very near to the sea. He had nurtured a strong desire to throw away the idol of the temple into the sea and demolish the temple. One day the atheist went with his followers to see what the natives did in the temple. He was taken by surprise when he entered the temple. Some people prostrated themselves before the image; some lit camphors and broke coconuts against the stone slabs; some closed their eyes and recited mantras while some stood silently praying to the Lord. What was more surprising to the atheist was the curiously shaped image which the natives called God.
The image had a big and oval face with a long trunk for a nose. It had a pot like belly and its colour was pitch black.
“What the hell is the name given to the half elephant and half glutton?” the atheist enquired of his men.
“They call it Pillaiyar,” replied one from his gang.
The atheist laughed and his laughter brought utter silence in the temple. Everyone shivered.
“Go and lift that stone which they call God and throw it into the sea,” he commanded his gang men.
The unruly gang immediately jumped into action. Helpless, the natives stood watching the evil action of the thugs. With great difficulty they lifted the image and carried it to the seashore. They boarded a catamaran with the image, while the atheist stood on the shore happily watching their movements.
The Golden Chariot
The golden chariot was made purely by the donations of devotees and pilgrims. It is estimated that the total weight of the gold used is 7.5kg with encompassing around 35 lakhs. It has a height of 10 ft and breadth of 6 ft. Mostly, the devotees are interested to fulfil their prayer by pulling the Golden Chariot inside the temple premises on payment of fixed fees. On the occasions of Vijaydashmi, which takes place once in a year, the Golden Chariot is run outside , only in the maada veedhis.
Location: The Temple is siuated in the Union Territory of India, Puducherry in the southern sub-continent, 400 metres west from Bay of Bengal.
Built In: According to the studies, it is believed that the temple was created before the French invasion in Pondicherry, before 1666
Dedicated To: The temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesa.