Vathapi Ganapathy is an incarnation of Lord Ganesha. It is a statue made from stone in the form of elephant face and human body. Ganesha is at times also referred to as Ganapathy. The idol was transported from Vatapi to Tamil Nadu which is located in northern Karnataka. The temple as well as the statue to Vathapi Ganapathy is situated in Tiruchenkattankudi in the Tiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu. This idol is human-faced and is situated in Chidambaram. It was also found in Thiruchenkattankudi.
It is with Nayanmar Siruthondar Nayanar of the seventh century that the temple is associated with. He was in his purvashrama days also a "Paranjothi" and he was the captain of the Pallava forces under King Narasimhavarman I. The idol of the controlling idol Ganesa is extraordinary since it is the only known one all over the world to portray Lord Ganesa in human form. Other than the main shrine, you will come across numerous smaller shrines all of which is devoted to Vathapi Ganapathi. The Ganesa idol here was apprehended and brought by Siruthondar when he conquered Vathapi which was Chalukya kingdom's capital.The chola minister Paranjothi battled against the Pallavas. In order to memorialize his gains, he brought from their land the Vathaapi Ganapathi statue and had it installed here. Very soon, he became one of the 63 nayanmars who are also known as Chiruthonda Nayanar. The house of Chiruthonda Nayanar can be seen here.
Gajamukhasura was an elephant faced demon, who was blessed with a wish of immortality from Lord Shiva, which caused untold painful suffering to the entire humans from his self made capital known as Matangapuram.Ganapati who was an elephant God with his broken right tusk defeated the demon. The place where the demon's blood spilled was at this very spot and is said to have turned red. This is how the place came to be known as Thiruchengattankudi in Tamil. In this temple the main deity is that of Lord Shiva, but it is lord Ganapati who mainly gets the initial place of honor. In the Margazhi Masam of Tamil month, Ganapati's worshipping Shiva is perfectly enacted as a large scale festival by the villagers.
The story of Ganesh having the head of an elephant has been told in many different ways. One account of his birth is that it was his mother Parvati made him guard the door as she took her bath. On approaching, Shiva was unaware that it was his son, he got angry at being kept away from his wife and proceeded to chop off Ganesh's head. To give goddess Parvati some relief from her grief, Shiva agreed to chop off the head of the first living thing he saw and connect it to Ganesh's body. This first creature was an elephant. Ganesh was in this way brought back to life. He was rewarded for his courage as he was made the guardian of entrances and the lord of the new beginnings.