A visit to Salem in Tamil Nadu is incomplete without a visit to Namakkal. Besides being a business centre, Namakkal is one of the foremost ‘Narasimha Kshetras’. It is also called Saligrama Parvatham and Srisailam. Let us peep into its puranic lore.
The fourth avatar of Mahavishnu is Narasimha. After killing the demon Hiranyan, it was very difficult for anyone to appease the God. Only Prahaladha was able to calm the Lord down by praying; Narasimha at once came back to normalcy and posed as ‘Shanta Murti’ in Saligrama form in Kandaki river in the Himalayas.
His consort Lakshmi was upset without him and wanted to be reunited with him. Thus she performed penance in Kamalalayam, propitiating Narasimha.
Shifting to another Yuga, in Ramayana, Hanuman carried the ‘sanjeevi malai’ from the Himalayas to Lanka. Along with it he also carried the Saligrama Narasimha from Kandaki river. En route, Hanuman felt very thirsty and quenched his thirst by drinking water from Kamalalayam. But he had rested the sanjeevi malai and Narasimha on the banks of Kamalalayam! When Hanuman tried to lift the Lord after finishing his chores, the Lord refused to budge from that place and decided to stay there. Since Lakshmi was already meditating in this sacred place, Narasimha and Lakshmi united together to bless the devotees as Lakshmi Narasimha. It is believed that Kamalalayam later came to be called ‘Namakkal’.