Ucchi Pillayar Temple, Rockfort, Tamil Nadu

Ucchi Pillayar temple, built in the 7th century dedicated to Lord Ganesha, is situated atop of Rockfort in the city of Trichy in Tamil Nadu. A myth associated with the temple states that, this is the rock, Lord Ganesha came running from King Vibhishana, after establishing the deity of Ranganathaswamy in Srirangam.

The Rock Fort temple stands at a height of 83 m, on the top of the rock, which was first cut by the Pallavas, but the construction of the temple, was completed in the period of Vijayanagara Empire, by the Nayaks of Madurai. The temple creates a mystic nature atop of the rock, inspiring the rock architecture of 7th century. From the base of the rocks there are 417 steep steps carved out of rocks, which travels to the small Ganesh temple. The temple provides a spectacular view of the rivers Kaveri, Kollidam an also the cities of Trichy and Srirangam. The temple is now maintained by the Archaeological Department of India, and is an impressive example of ancient architecture designed by Pallavas.

Like every other ancient Hindu temples, there is an interesting legend in egard of Lord Ganesha connected to the Ucchipaliyar temple. The legend is related to King Vibhishana and Lord Ganesha. The legend states that, the wife of Lord Rama, Sita devi, was kidnapped by the evil king, Ravana, who was ruling Sri Lanka. With the help of Hanuman Sugriva, and their monkey army, Lord Rama won the battle against King ravana, and rescued Sita Devi. Even though Ravana was his brother Vibhishan provided a lot of help to Lord Rama, to help him win the battle. As a token of thanks, Lord Rama provides Vibhishan with an idol of Lord Ranganatha, a form of Lord Vishnu.

Even though Vibhishan was kind hearted and peaceful, ultimately he was an Asura, and according to the Hindu mythology, the Devas and Asuras are lifelong rivals, and so the Devas were not so happy about Lord Rama giving the idol of Lord Rangaswamy to an asura. The Devas seeks the help of Lord Ganesh, who is known as the remover of obstacles, accepts the plan and decides to help them. While Vibhishna was travelling back to his kingdom in Sri Lanka, through Trichi, he decides to take a dip in the river of Kaveri. But he was worried about the deity of Lord, as if the idol is kept on the ground, then it will be fixed there forever.

As a solution to the problem he decides to find someone to hold the deity for him while he is taking the bath, and he finds a cow herd boy, who is none other than Lord Ganesh disguised in the form of a cow herd boy. When Vibhishna was completely concentrated in his bath, Lord Ganesh, attachs the idol firmly onto the bank of river Kaveri. Vibhishan sees this and gets ferocious. He chases the boy, who runs away and climbs on a rock situated on the banks of river Kaveri. Vibhishana, climbs on the rock after the boy and finally gets him. Furious Vibhishana hits the boy in his head, the mark of which can be seen even now on the forehead of Lord Ganesh idol kept inside the temple. On this Lord Ganesh reveals himself, on which Vibhishana apologizes to the Lord, and asks for his forgiveness. Lord Ganesh forgives him and blesses him. He explains to Vibhishana that, the idol is destined to be located in Sriranga. The story has similarities with the legend of Lord Ganesha in Gokara with King Ravana.

Srirangam, at where the idol was located later became a forest, as it was not well maintained. The forest was the n cleared by a Chola Kind, when he accidently found the idol of Lord Ranganathaswamy in the forest. He created the Ranganathaswamy temple comple in Srirangam, which is now one of the largest temple complexes in the whole world. At the same time atop of the rock at the bank of Kaveri, which was used by Lord Ganesha to escape Vibhishana, the Pallava rulers built a Vinayaka temple, and also the Thayumanaswamy temple.

Thayumanaswamy means the God who turned to mother, which is dedicated to Lord shiva. The legend says that, a middle class lady, the pregnant wife of a merchant, Rathadevi, who was also a keen devotee of Lord Shiva. On the day o delivery, she was eagerly waiting for her mother to come help her in the delivery, but her mother was caught up on the way due to the flood in Kaveri River. It is believed that God himself came in the form of her mother and acted as mid-wife in the time for her delivery. When the real mother came, both the mother and daughter was confused, suddenly the Lord disappeared and appeared in the skies with his consort Parvathi.

The city of Trichy, is just 2 km away from the temple, and the nearest railway station to the temple is the Trichy railway station, which is an important station connecting the South India. The nearest airport is the Trichy airport which is located 7 km away from the temple, and there are regular fights to the airport from Chennai, Bangalore and also Trichy. The roads of the temple are all well connected to the major cities, Chennai (320 km), and Madurai (124km), with regular bus services.