I am attaching a photo of Vathapi Ganapathi at Tirucchenkatangudi taken by my father.
Vathapi Ganapathim Bhajeham by MD is in praise of the Ganesha at Tiruvarur as stated in the kriti "mUladhAra kshEtra stitam".
I am also copy+pasting a write-up about the Vathapi Ganapathi from viswacomplex.com..
It is generally assumed that Ganesa was brought to Tamilnadu by Siruththondar.
The rock-cut Ganesa - the Karpaga Vinaayagar of PiLLaiyaarpatti fame is earlier than the period of Siruththondar. Furthermore, Appar's 3rd Thevaaram hymn staring with, "CuNNa veN chandhana sAndhum sudarth thinggaL sULAmaniyum..." is one his earliest hymns.
Appar was born a Saivite. But he became converted to Jainism. Among the Jains, he was great scholar and weilded a lot of influence. Due to the prayers of his sister, Thilakavadhiyar, intervention of Siva took place. Appar became a Saivite again.
Among the three thousand odd Thiruppadhigams of Appar which are extant at present, the first hymn to be sung was 'kURRaayinavaaRu'.
The conversion of Appar angered the Jains who instigated the Emperor Mahendravarma Pallavar.
Appar antagonised the Jains and the Pallava emperor, Mahendra Varman I. He called forth Appar to present himself before the emperor. But Appar refused and sang the hymn, 'nAmArkkum kudiyallOm, namanai ancOm'.
This angered the emperor further, who at the instigation of his Jain advisors, made Appar eat poisoned milk rice. But Appar escaped death. Then the emperor had a mad elephant driven to a high-pitch of frenzy and made to run amok at Appar and thus trample him.
It was at that instance that Appar sang a padhikam hymn- â€˜CuNNa veN chandhana sAndhum sudar thinggat sULAmaNiyumâ€¦â€¦â€™
It was sung within a few days after he became a full-fledged Saivite. As such, it is one of the earliest hymns which was sung by Appar.
The hymn, 'CuNNa veN santhana chaandhum' has the refrain, 'ancuvadhu yAdhonRum illai; ini anca varuvadhum illai'.
At which, the mad elephant became tame and subservient and kneeled at the feet of Appar and lifted its trunk in humble obeisance and salutation.
This hymn is recited by Saivites who are in a state of fear to allay, alleviate, and dispel their fears.
The 3rd verse of this hymn has the lines.... "kalamalakkittuth thiriyum Ganapathiyennum kaLiRum".
Mahendravarman, he was succeeded by his son Narasimhavarman. In the thirteenth year of Narasimha's reign, he sent an invasion army to VAtApi, the capital city. The army went under the command of his commander-in-chief ParanjOthi. The successful ParanjOthi ransacked VAtApi and set fire to it..
Among the loots taken from VAtApi, he brought a statue of Vinayaka. This statue, he placed in the Siva temple of his home town - Thiruchenggaattangudi.
The 'ancuvadhu yAdhonRum illai' hymn predates Siruththondar's invasion of VAtApi by at least 30 years.
The rock-cut PiLLaiyaar of MahipAlanpatti is also very ancient and is quite unique. There is no other statue like it, in Tamilnadu.
MahipAlanpatti is the PUngunRam of Sangam Age - the home-town of KaNiyan PUnggunRanAr of 'yAdhum UrE, vAyarum kELir' fame. It is now in the PudukOttai District.
The VAtApi theory got strengthened only lately, mainly because of two factors.
One was the "SivagAmiyin Sabadham" novel by Kalki.
The other is the practice of starting every Karnatic Music session with Dikshithar's "VAtApi Ganapathim bajE".
The VAtApi Ganapathi that Muthusami Dikshithar sang of, is in ThiruvAruur. He is also known as the MUlAdhAra Ganapathi.
The second one is in ThiruchengAttangudi. This was placed there by Siruththondar himself.
It is true that Siruththondar brought a Ganesa from VAtApi. But that does not necessarily mean that he brought it here first. People bring all sorts of trophies. Some get famous. Some don't -just like the Durga statue which was also brought from the Chalukyan country by an invasion of the Cholas.
Incidentally, RAjEndra ChOlza himself did bring a statue of Ganesa from the shores of the Ganges River. It is in Gangai Konda ChOlzaPuram and the Ganesa is appropriately called "Gangai VinAyagar". (Actually his C-in-C did it. Rajendra was in Chidhambaram building a new capital city).
ParancOthi alias SiRuththoNdar had brought a statue of Vinayagar from VAtApi.
But before that Ganesa worship was already present in Tamilnaadu. There were certain communities who were having Ganesa as a their primary deity.