Happy Shree Jayanthi – Krishna Jayanthi.
Read the full book here -> http://www.gcmouli.com/ps
Happy Shree Jayanthi – Krishna Jayanthi.
Read the full book here -> http://www.gcmouli.com/ps
This is part 2 of my Summer of 2015 series. Part 1 is here.
I had a list of 5 temples to cover this weekend, and was able to succesfully cover them. I do not intend to hurry on this at all. While I am attempting to cover the 276 thevara paadal petra sthalams, 276 is after all a number. My intention is to savour the Thanjavur jilla, the different forms of Lord Shiva, the beautiful Chozha architecture etc. So yeah, no hurry.
Saturday morning, I set off on the trusty wagon-R of my brother-in-law. First stop was Konerirajapuram. Take the Kumbakonam Karaikal road. In about 19 km, you will reach a town named S.Pudur. Take a right here and you will see a signage for vadamattam. Take the road for another 2km, you will hit the temple tank and you will see the Shivan temple.
Legend: The Raja wanted the sculptors to make the largest Nataraja possible. He had said, atleast 6-7 ft. Typically Nataraja is made using a 5 metal alloy called Panchaloham. The sculptors kept trying, but they could reach 2.5ft, 3.5ft, but never more than that. Lord Shiva appears as a thirsty brahmin in front of these frustrated sculptors and asks for water. The irritated sculptors give Lord Shiva a glass of Panchaloham. Shiva drinks this and becomes the 7 foot Nataraja that we see today in the temple. The sculptor gets very psyched and goes and tells the Raja, who refuses to believe this story. He comes and hits the idol using a chisel, and blood starts oozing out. The Raja then begs forgiveness to the Lord and asks how to cure the wound that he has created. Lord Muruga comes in the form of Vaidhyanathar and cures the cut. On the right side of the moolavar sannidhi, there is a Vaidyanathar sannidhi and facing him is Muthukumaraswamy (Muruga).
Very quaint little temple. The temple was getting ready for Kumbhabishekam. Another highlight of the visit to this temple was the temple dog, which kept playing with me the entire time I was there.
There is also a famous Perumal temple here. I tried going them, but the temple was locked. I could only peek from the doors. I could get a faint glimpse of the Lord only.
Next on the list was Vaikal Maadakovil. Maadakovil is a class of temples built mostly by Kochengat Chozhan where he built the main temple on a platform which was about 4-5 above the ground (some of them even higher). This is because of a legend that he was a spider that reborn; and in the legend there is an elephant which kept destroying the spider web. [Read legend here]. So even in the next birth, he is supposed to have hated (or afraid of) elephants, and built most of his temples on a raised platform so that elephants cannot reach the sanctum sanctorum. Anyway, back to Vaikal. The road to here is a bit on the narrow and wild side. The road twists and winds through paddy fields and thick bamboo thickets. I used Google Maps to reach there. You will not find too many people to ask directions to here either. Temples was open. No priest. Apparently the priest comes in the morning, performs puja and leaves. Beautifully peaceful temple. Nice temple pond also.
Next on the list for Saturday was Thirukozhambam (earlier called Thirukozhambiyam). Head back to the Kumbakonam-Karaikal Road. There is a new bridge that connects Vaikal with the highway, which Google maps does not know about. I found it by accident. Head back towards S.Pudur. You will pass the right turn that we had earlier taken (to Vadamattam). Right after that, you will see an arch on the left. The arch will say “Sanathkumareswarar”. Head into the arch and head down for about 3-4 km, and you will reach Thirukozhambam. Again, no priest. Temple was open. Went in, had darshan and came out. It has a become a popular joke with my father-in-law. Every time I head back home, he asks me, if there were any other people other than me, in any of the temples I had gone to, and the answer usually is no.
On the way back, I saw the Sanathkumareswarar temple. Seemed to be well maintained, and I also remembered the arch. So I went in. We, Indians have a penchant for wealth, Gods, and Gods who help us create wealth. This temple proof. The legend is that Kubera (the God of wealth) had been cursed by a sage, and had lost everything. He came here and prayed to the Shivan here (Sanathkumareswarar) and he regained back his wealth. This makes the temple ‘famous’. There is also an interesting story about the Guru (Dakshinamoorthy) sannidhi at the back. He has 6 raashis on his left thigh and 6 on his right (you can see the engravings). Apparently, if you come here for 12 thursdays in a row, God will grant whatever you were praying for. The priest here told me that this shrine is famous even among Christians and Muslims. After that I headed home. Total time ~ 3 hours.
Sunday morning – I had two nearby temples. Started around 930AM. First temple was Kottaiyur. Shivan is called Kodeeswaran. Simple small temple. The priest was there in the Ambal sannidhi only. To reach here, cross the kaveri, using the new bridge (the old bridge is closed for construction now). Once you cross the river, you will hit SH66. Head towards Swami malai. You will cross Melakaveri first and then you will hit Kottaiyur.
Next on my list was Innambur. To reach here, continue for about 3 km on SH 66 towards Swamimalai. You will see signage for Innambur. You can either take the right towards Thiruppurambiyam and then left into Innambur, or head a little forward for signage directly to Innambur. Very nice Shiva temple. Two devis – one with a very traditional tamizh name (Sugandha Kundalaambal) and one with a very trendy modern name (Nitya Kalyani). Both these temples took around one hour only.
To see the full beauty of the Thanjavur jilla, you need to hit the back roads. The scenery on the side of the highways do not depict the true reality. For instance SH66 scenery is drab. Once you take the road towards Innambur or Thiruppurambiyam, it will blow your mind. Lush green fields. Lone palm trees. Small temples in the middle of the field. Canals. The works.
Reached Kumbakonam on Saturday morning (Bangalore-Mayiladuthurai Express).
Saturday evening started around 5PM. Original idea was to do Thiruppurambiyam, Eenambur, and Kottaiyur – all within a few km from each other. Kottaiyur is closest to Kumbakonam. Then comes Eenambur and then Thiruppurambiyam. Two temples on my stretch list was Thiruvaikaavoor and Thiruvijayamangai.
I did Thiruppurambiyam first and then for some reason decided to do Thiruvaikkavoor and Thiruvijayamangai on that day. One thought I had in mind was Kottaiyur and Eenambur are relatively closer to Kumbakonam and can be done yet another day.
Sunday morning decided to Thirupanandaal with my brother in law. He had gone to college here. Nice large temple. Well maintained. It has its own aadheenam – so not very surprising.
On the way back from Thirupanandaal, my brother in law was mentioning about a temple which had been recently built dedicated only to the 63 nayanmaars. Interesting small temple with just utsavars for the 63 saints.
So that ended my first weekend trip in the Summer of 2015. More coming up in the weekend of April 25.
Story so far: Nambi Arooran of Thirunaavalur had almost gotten married. Lord Shiva in the guise of an old Brahmin comes and stops the marriage, and reminds him of his duties to be fulfilled on earth. [Part 1] [Part 2]
Nambi thought back to his time in Kailasa.
Lord Shiva was once admiring his own beauty on a mirror. He was so pleased at his own beauty, that, without realizing what he said, he said – “Sundaraaa vaa” (Come here, my beautiful one). The powers that Shiva had, his reflection stepped out as a person from the mirror. From that day on, Sundarar had become a constant companion and servant of the Lord (anukka thondan).
On a fine summery morning, he was out plucking flowers for the Lord, he happened to see two maidens (Kamalini and Anindhithai) also in the garden. They were maidens of the Supreme Goddess Parvathi. In a spontaneous minute of love, he fell for both of their beauties. Lord Shiva got to know and did not approve.
“There is a time and place for everything, and this is not it. You would need to go down to earth for this and finish what you started. You will enjoy your time with these two maidens, who will also descend to earth with you. I also want you to go to the Southern part of India, and sing about me. “
Sundarar had realized his mistake and was ready to accept the punishment, but he made on request of the Lord – to come and remind him of this very moment, in case he got lost in the the pleasures of earthly living.
All these thoughts came flooding in as he stood in front of the blinding light, now feeling thankful that the Lord had come and reminded him of his past.
But, I do not know how to sing, or compose, or any of that, my Lord, How am I supposed to sing about you?
The Lord still loved him very dearly. He said, “Talk to me, swear at me, admonish me, like you just did a few hours ago. Remember you called me a senile old fool. It will still sound like music to my ears.”
Lord Shiva also added – you will always be my Sundarar, my beautiful self. So I do not want you to renounce anything. I want you to always dress up like what you are now – in true wedding dress (kalyaana kolam). You will also be called Van thondan – the argumentative follower. And he vanished.
Over the course of the next 2 years, he meets Anindithai and Kamilini as Paravai Naachiyar (from Tiruvaaroor) and Sangili Naachiyar (from Thiruvatriyoor). And in these 2 years, he makes dozens of temple tours, singing on Lord Shiva, as he moved from temple to temple. Anecdotes abound on how the friendship of the Lord and Sundarar are played out. The Lord pulls out all stops to keep Sundarar, his friend, happy. Sundarar on the other hand, continues to admonish the Lord, never being satisfied with what he is given.
A peculiar friendship based devotion plays out in this Nayanmaars life. The story is meant to personify how devotion to God should not be of fear, but of trust and respect.
Story so far (link): Nambi Arooran of Thirunaavalur is getting ready to get married. An old gentleman comes to the wedding venue and claims Nambi as his slave. He shows a parchment showing that his grandfather had indeed agreed to make his entire clan slave to the brahmin.
The village elders of Vennainallur gathered in front of the temple – where most disputes were settled. The elderly brahmin brought forth the original manuscript.
The brahmin turned to the village elders and said – “Please make sure this young fellow does not tear up this document also. It is your responsibility. “
The contents of the manuscript were verified. The signature matched of some other records that had been preserved by the village authorities, and the case was settled. Nambi was now the old Brahmin’s slave, and there was nothing he could do about it.
Sadness was wrought on Nambi’s face. All of 16 years old, he was looking forward to the marriage and settling down to Grihastaashrama. He followed the old man towards the local Shiva temple, where he was to witness the miracle of miracles. The old man vanished into a blinding light as he approached the main sanctum sanctorum (garba griham).
It was then Nambi realized that the old man was none other Lord Shiva himself, and that the Lord had come down to earth to remind Nambi of his past at Kailasa and fulfill his task on earth.
To be continued ….
It was marriage day. It was celebrations all around. Nambi Aaruran looked around his familiar town of Thirunaavalur with its festivities. It was a time, when a marriage in town meant celebrations for the entire town or village. It was getting closer to the Muhurtha time – the time when he would tie the maangalyam, and officially declared wedded.
There was a commotion in the crowd, and Nambi saw someone walking in from the entrance towards the dias. It was an old man. He walked with a stick. He was brisk though. The age did not show in his pace. Something about him was divine, but Nambi could not figure out what it was. Nambi wondered who this mysterious fellow was, and why he was causing a ruckus here.
He stood in front of the crowd and with a booming voice said –
Hear Ye, one and all. I have something to say before the wedding happens. This man here, and he consulted his olai (leaf scroll) and paused for a dramatic effect, Nambi, is a slave to me.
He let the confusion sink in for a while. A fine orator he was, for he knew, when to get the audience engaged and when to stop. In his booming voice he continued, “So it says, in this parchment, which was signed by his grandfather.”
Nambi was furious. He hissed at the old man – “Who are you, and where are you from?”, to which the Brahmin responded, he was from the adjoining village, Thiruvennainallur. Nambi then roared in laughter, “You, my dear friend, must be stark raving mad (afflicted by pitthu).” He sized the old man up and down, and hissed – “perhaps senility has set in at this old age of yours.”
The old man smiled and responded by showing Nambi the parchment. Nambi’s smile vanished on reading the parchment, which clearly mentioned that he was his slave. Nambi smile returned with an even more evil twist to it, and in a fit, he tore up the parchment, thinking he had destroyed all evidence.
The old man, in his booming voice, said – “This young whipper snapper thinks that, by destroying that parchment, he has gotten rid of the evidence. I knew this would happen, and that is why I brought a copy of the parchment, and not the original itself. The original is in Thiruvennainallur. The only way to settle this argument is to settle it in front of the elders of vennainallur.
Nambi did not have a choice. The entire crowd, along with Nambi followed the elderly brahmin to the adjoining village, where a village hearing was organized.
The second day in the Jilla, we did a short visit with the family to Uppilliappan and adjoining Thirunageswaram. There was not much of a rush at Uppilliappan kovil. One good thing about this temple is the massive size of the Perumal and the unobstructed view you can get of the Diety from afar.
By the time, we got to Thirunageswaram, the sun was at its peak – fuming at 40 Deg Cel. Having toasted our feet effectively by running on the solid granite pathway to the temple, we found the situation not very surprising. The main Shivasthalam – Naganatha Swamy had absolutely no crowd. The full crowd was only at the Raahu deity.
Had a good dharshan and returned back to Kumbakonam. A quick 2 hour trip for both temples together.
First day in the jilla itself saw wheels sprouting below my feet :). Had planned the first three temples from Bangalore itself.
Aduthurai is hardly a 15-20 minute drive from Kumbakonam. Most people do not even know there is a famous Shivan temple here. This temple is of the Ramayana ages, where Sugriva worshipped the Shiva lingam. The original name of this temple town is “Ten-Kurangu-aduthurai”. The temple was renovated and rebuilt by funds from Sembiyan Maa Devi – Raja Raja Chozhan’s grandmother. In the days of the Chozha period, Ladies of the royal family also took active interest in social constructions like temples, hospitals etc. As expected, the grand total of people in the temple was 2 – me and the Shiva Bhattar.
Thiruneelakkudi – This small temple town is about 4 km from Aduthurai on the road that connects the Kumbakonam-Mayavaram road to the Kumbakonam-Kariakal Road. You cannot miss this road. You can just ask for the Thiruneelakkudi road. Qaint little temple. The lad Markandeya clung to the Shiva lingam when Yama came to grab him. Shiva was upset and kicked Lord Yama away. Shiva then asked Markandeya to go to this place – Thiruneelakkudi and do penance. After a while, Lord Shiva gave Markandeya eternal life here. The temple pond is called Markandeya Theertham.
Thirumangalakkudi – is 2 km North of Aduthurai. Just ask for route to Suriyanaar Kovil. Just before you hit Suriyanaar kovil, you will hit a fork – you go left for Thirumangalakkudi and right for Suriyanaar Kovil. This temple is well frequented – partially because of a tradition of starting your Navagraha temple tour by first going to this temple. The Shivan is famous for reducing any mental stress. The bhattar also told me that, the Shiva lingam can absorb any number of litres of oil poured on it.
Also visited Suriyanaar kovil. Did not take any pictures there. The temple is a fully commerical temple now – catering the Navagraha tour circuit tourists only. There are two things that are unique about the architecture of this temple though. Suryan (Sun) is at the centre, and there are shrines for 8 planets all around the Sun. These guys knew their astronomy quite well. The other bigger thing is that, the temple is built such that, only on one specific day which is famous for the Surya God, the sun’s rays fall directly on the deity.
All images were shot using a Samsung Galaxy Grand and post processed using SnapSeed app. Common filters were drama and hdrscape.
Another mini visit to Thirubhuvanam and Thirividaimarudhur – both fairly close to Kumbakonam – about half hour drive tops.
All images were taken by Samsung Galaxy Grand (yes, you read that right) and post processed using Snapseed. Commonly used filters were drama and hdrscape.
Did a mini trip to Patteeswaram and Pazhayarai in March 2014. We all know about Patteeswaram, but not too many of us know about Pazhayarai. It is a Thevarasthalam, and more importantly a historically significant place.
During a period of time, the Chozha kings used Pazhayarai as a temporary capital, while building/rebuilding the Tanjore fort. The semi-fictional story of Ponniyin Selvan describes Pazhayarai as a grandiose capital city with huge maaligais (palaces). During the ages when Buddhism was rampant in the South, it is said that the Buddhist monks had sealed this temple and raised their monasteries along the tall walls of this temple. The great saint Appar sang and sat in ‘dharna’ outside the temple, until the then-emperor re-opened the temple. Pazhayaarai is also the birth place of one of the 63 Naayanars – Mangayarkarasiyaar. She also plays a big role in Periya puranam – by inviting Sambandhar to come and influence her husband (the then Pandiya king) back to Hinduism from Buddhism.
It is sad that the temple is almost in ruins now. I did see some development though. It looks like there is some renovation happening. Sivan here is named Somanathaswamy.
Main gopuram – half razed
The road to Patteeswaram and Pazhayarai are typical of Tanjavur Jilla roads. One FB friend of mine described my travel in these roads as the “Travels of the modern day Vandhiya Devan” – Read the Ponniyin Selvan to get more background 🙂
The Road Ahead
All images shot with the Samsung Galaxy Grand (yes, you read that right!). Images were post processed using the Snapseed app. Commonly used filters were Drama and HDRScape.