Kumbakonam – Summer of 2015 – Temple Trip 2

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.

Konerirajapuram - Shivan temple
Konerirajapuram – 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.

Konerirajapuram - Agraharam
Konerirajapuram – Agraharam

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.

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Vaikal Maadakovil
Road to Vaikal - through lush fields and thick bamboo thickets
Road to Vaikal – through lush fields and thick bamboo thickets

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.

Thirukozhambam
Thirukozhambam
Thirukozhambam
Thirukozhambam
Temple tank - Thirukozhambam
Temple tank – Thirukozhambam

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.

Kodeeswarar kovil, Kottaiyur
Kodeeswarar kovil, Kottaiyur
Carving of the story of Manu Needhi Chozhan (Equal Justice to all) - Kottaiyur
Carving of the story of Manu Needhi Chozhan (Equal Justice to all) – 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.

Innambur
Innambur

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.

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Enroute to Innambur
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Enroute to Innambur
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Enroute to Innambur
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Enroute to Innambur
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Enroute to Innambur
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Irrigation canal

 

Mannaar from Mayavaram – A Short Train Story for Kids

Mannaar was the friendly diesel engine driver from Mayavaram. He drove the Mayavaram Mysore Express every other day.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/abhinavnfr/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/abhinavnfr/

One day, as usual, he finished his evening snacks, took his nap, and then boarded his familiar blue diesel engine locomotive. It was late as usual, but he knew he could make up time on the way.

By the time he got to Kumbakonam, he was very tired and sleepy. He had not slept well the previous night. He found Singaaram, another engine driver friend lounging at the Kumbakonam station.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/floydgal

“Will you help me drive the loco until Trichy? By that time, I can have a small nap. You can catch the Trichy Kumbakonam passenger back.”

Singaaram was a helpful friend. He agreed and took on driving the blue diesel loco. The track between Kumbakonam to Trichy through Tanjore has lots and lots of level crossings. So Singaaram was honking all the way to Trichy.

When they reached Trichy, our friend Mannaar had just fallen asleep. He pleaded with Singaaram – “Please, my friend. Can you please drive on until Salem? I could not sleep a bit with all the honking.”

Singaaram did not have any other plans. So he agreed. After all, Salem was not too far away. The blue diesel loco chugged through Karur and Erode and eventually reached Salem.

By that time, our dear friend Mannaar was deep in slumber. So deep in sleep he was, that Singaaram could not even wake him up. Singaaram did not have any other choice than to drive on.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/abrinsky/

It was day break by the time they reached Hosur. Mannaar rose from his deep sleep, fresh as a daisy. “Singaaram, my friend, let me buy you a coffee”. He jovially said, “Since you have driven all the way to Hosur, and there is no return train right now, come, let us ride to Bangalore, which is only one more hour away.”

Singaaram realized that Mannaar had been fooling with him all along. But then they were friends, and Singaaram did not mind helping friends. The Mayavaram Mysore Express chugged in to the Bangalore Central station.

 

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Singaaram got off the train. Mannaar bade him good bye and went on his way to Mysore.

PS: I told this improv story to my kid last week, and he totally enjoyed it. Hence I thought I would share it here.

 

Aduthurai, Thiruneelakkudi, Thirumangalakkudi, Suryanaar Kovil

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Misc Kumbakonam pictures – March 2014

Some miscellaneous Kudandhai (Kumbakonam) pictures from last trip.

Ramaswamy kovil

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Mahamaham kolam – panorama

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Typical Kurukkal home – Near Mahamaham kolam

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Kumbakonam Railway Station

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All images taken with my Samsung Galaxy Grand (yes, you read that right!) and post processed with Snapseed. Common filters were drama and hdrscape.

Pixlr O-Matic

When I read the Pixlr-o-matic post on @NimishDubey’s CellShutterbugs.com, I was pretty impressed with the screen shots. The post was on the android app. Out of curiousity I just googled pixlr o-matic, and it looks like they have a standalone web app as well. And it produces gorgeous results. See for yourself below.

I made:

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into:

Oldish

Exactly the same image. Added a filter, an overlay, and a dirty border. It looks like an authetic b/w photograph taken in the 70s and accidentally found in a Kumbakonam loft.

Kumbakonam temples (part deux)

After all the near-by Kumbakonam temples, I spent an evening and an early morning visiting 6 local temples. (My other posts on the Kumbakonam visit are here, here, here, and here.

1. Kasi Viswanathar temple

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The temple is getting ready for Kumbabishekam. So mural on the rajagopuram freshly repainted.

Bang next to the Mahamaham kolam (tank), this temple has two pieces of interesting information attached to it. The nine great rivers of India went to Lord Shiva in Kasi and said –

“Everyone takes a dip in our waters to get rid of their sins. Where do we go to get rid of all those sins?”

Lord Shiva said, the waters of the Mahamaham tank are so pure, you can wash off your sins there. After their bath here, Lord Shiva is said to have given dharshan as Kasi Viswanathar here.

There is also a main Shiva lingam in the outer praharam under the Sthala vriksham. This is said to have been worshipped by Lord Rama and Hanuman on the way back from Lanka, where he begged forgiveness for any sins committed during the war.

The temple is a nice small temple. The Shiva lingam can be beautifully seen right from the road through the raja gopuram. There is some confusion about whether this was Kudandhai Kaaronam (one of the padal petra sthalangal). But I get to hear from reliable sources that this is fake data, and was conjured up to get some moneys from the endowment board. (This is what happens when you bring temples under Government control).

2. Kumbeshwarar

This is one of the main temples of Kumbakonam – from where the town gets its name. It is said this lingam was made of Lord Shiva himself mixing the immortality nectar and sand. Since the lingam is of sand, no abhishekams are performed.

I went in at sunset time. And they were doing Saaya Raksha (evening rituals) to Soma Skandar. Very nice program for about 20 minutes. Soothing and Relaxing.

And then ofcourse, when I was going around the outer praharam, the amateur photographer in me, took over.

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3. Ramaswami temple

This is a great temple. I have already written about this temple here. This time I noticed that they had spruced up the Ramayana murals on the inner walls of the temple. They look fantastic. Take a look yourself.

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4. Nageswarar temple

Again, I had written briefly about this earlier here. Adding a few more photographs here. Also, in my more recent quest for Tevara Sthalangal, this is one. This used to be called Thirukudandhai Keezhkottam.

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5. Someshwarar temple

I had briefly written about this earlier as well here. Visited again because, this is another thevara sthalam. This is the original Kudandhai Kaaronam.

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6. Sarangapani temple

Ofcourse, no visit to Someshwarar is complete without visiting his neighbor – Sarangapani (pictures here). Beautiful majestic Vishnu in lying down pose.

Saranga

(Looks beautiful in Black and white – doesnt it?)

So that is the end of my Kumbakonam Weekend travelogue of 18-21 April. I might do a couple of more this summer. Will update.

My count of Thevara sthalangal is now 6. Yaay.

Thirukolakka

This qaint little village is about a kilometer from Sirkazhi. You should ask for directions. And not too many will know the name Kolakka. You should ask for Osai Nayaki Temple. They will give you directions to get to a road (depending on where you ask), and then tell you, just follow the road until you hit the temple. Just do that. You need to follow the winding road for about a km, and this little temple pops out of nowhere. There is no big Raja gopuram – so do not use that as a landmark to search for.


View Larger Map

This beautiful little temple, which is the 15th in the Paadal Petra Sthalam list,  is one of the cleanest temples I have seen. Very nicely maintained. When we entered, there was a young man (barely in his early twenties), who was the Sivacharyaar. He was going around to the various sannidhis and doing Neivedhyam with one small brass vessel. From the old ages, this has been the practice. The Sivacharyaar brings the food to be given to the God from his own house. And in a lot of not-so-well-to-do Sivachaaryar families/temples, that is their food for the day/meal.

The temple itself looks super old. At the minimum proof, we know it is atleast 1300 years old (since Sambandar lived in the 7th Century). The temple existed at that time. So it should be older than that. Unfortunately, the age is showing. It looks like the temple has not had a kumbabhishekam in a while. Paint is peeling off. There are parts of some walls that are in rubbles.

The Shivan is of course majestic. Big lingam. Ambal is even more majestic. Draped in beautiful 9 yard saree, She just looked amazing. There are other sannidhis around the temple. There is Somaskandar (Muruga in kid form between Shiva-Parvathy), Saneeswarar, Suryan, and Mahalakshmi.

Sthala Varalaaru (Story of the place)

This is the first paadal petra sthalam for Gnana sambandhar, our child saint. He walked with this father to this shrine from Sirkazhi. On reaching here, he started singing on the Lord (who was then called Sapthapureeswarar). The Lord, feeling sorry for the little child (on a big mission) clapping his hands and singing, gave him a pair of Gold Cymbals (Jaalra). Gold cymbals do not produce much of a sound (due to its malleable nature). The Goddess interjected and gave it divine sound. It is due to this, the Lord became known as Thaalapureeswarar. And the Goddess as Osai Kodutha Nayaki (or Osai Nayaki, as the locals have shortened it).

The other mythological story for this temple is about Mahalakshmi. She is believed to have done tapas here to get reunited with MahaVishnu. And when that happened, the God and Goddess gave all devotees here dharhsan in Thirumana kolam (Marriage form). Hence the name of the temple as Kolakka.

Some photos:

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To be continued —

Coming up – Thirukadayur, Thirukudandai Keezkottam (Nageswara Swamy Kovil – Kumbakonam – #27), Kudandai Kaaronam (Someswara Swamy Kovil – Kumbakonam – #28).

More information about Kolakka can be found here.

 

Sirkazhi

This is part 2 of the Kumbakonam April 18-22 travelogue. Part 1 is here.

We started off bright and early at 6:30AM for our first pilgrimage. The original plan was just Thirukadayur with the whole family. The wife had been reading Abhirami Andhadi for a while, but had never really been Thirukadayur and seen the Goddess Abhirami. I was going to slug out Sirkazhi and Thirukolakka solo. But then, it looked like a better plan to do these two together. The latter two temples are 21km from Thirukadayur. And it helped that I had told the awesome sthala varalaru (literal translation: story of significance of the shrine) to her, and she was hooked too.

So back to the journey. We had hired an Indigo. We hit Sirkazhi first. The route from Kumbakonam is pretty straight forward. Take the Mayavaram road. You will pass Thirubuvanam (famous for silk sarees), Thiruvidaimaruthur (famous for the Brimhahathi gopuram – Mahalinga swami temple), Govindapuram (famous for the Vittal Krishnar temple), Adhuthurai, Madhirimangalam, Kutthalam,and you hit Mayavaram. This stretch is about 32km. The road quality is decent. But it is the typical Tanjore delta roads, where the roads meander as much as the Kaveri itself.


View Larger Map

When you get into Mayavaram, just go straight. Pass the railway station. Pass the bus station. Until you hit a T-junction. Look to the right, and you will see the third building on the left — Kaliyakudi. How can you get to Mayavaram and not have food at this place. It is a third generation run hotel. Now modernized with A/c. Food is decent as well. Just dont get there too early (like us – we were there at 7:15AM). The dosa kal (literal translation: dosa stone) was not hot enough, and hence no dosa was available. So a hearty breakfast was had.

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Once done with breakfast, take a U-turn, and head the other way down Pattamangalam Theru. This road leads to the  Chidambaram road if you dont take any turns. Just keep following the main road. You will reach Sirkazhi in about 22 km. You will pass Vaitheeswaran Kovil on the way. So in case, you want to make a quick stop you can. We did not, in this trip.


View Larger

Before we get into the sthala puranam, I will give you two tips to soak into the local culture.

  1. Somehow get someone local to say the name Sirkazhi. Anyone local to the Tanjore/Mayavaram/Kumbakonam area should be fine. They will always say it as “Seeezzhazhii”. The ‘ra’ and the ‘ka’ are conspicuously absent.
  2. When asking for directions, or for help, address the person as ‘ayya’. You will get a much better treatment. Thats how the locals call each other. (Kinda like using ‘boss’ or ‘guru’ in Bangalore ; and ‘anne’ in Chennai).

Sirkazhi Sthala Puranam (or alteast parts of it)

In general Sirkazhi has a very rich historical lineage. It is said to be that Brahma came and worshipped in this temple. So the city at one point in time used to be called Brahmapuram. In fact the main deity is also called Brahmapureeswarar. The city is also referred to as Kaazhi in a lot of the tamil scriptures.

Back to the Periya puranam story, Sirkazhi is the birth place of one of the Naalvar – Thiru Gnana Sambandhar – the child saint. The sprightly young lad of 3 years, followed his father – Sivapada Hrudayar to the temple tank. It is also significant to note that, before conceiving Sambandhar, Sivapada Hrudayar and his wife prayed to Lord Shiva to be endowed with a son, whose sole aim in life would be to spread Shaivism and make it win over other competing principles at that time. Jainism and Buddhism was dominant at that time, and had political patronage. There were some religious fanatics of these two religions who went to great length to destroy Shaivism and prevail over. It was not too different a time than now.

So Sambandhar went to the tank with this father. While the father immersed himself in the temple tank, the child felt lonely and started crying. It is said that, on the request of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvathi fed the child with her own mothers milk, extracted in a silver cup .The father came out of the tank, and saw the child with milk on his lips, and silver cup in his hand, and got pretty cross. On questioning the child, the child pointed to the Gopuram of the temple and alluded to the fact that, it was the Lord himself. It is my understanding this is the Sattainathar Sannidhi that we need to walk up a flight of stairs to see even today.

When the father did not believe him, the child who had barely started speaking a few words (he was 3 at that time), sang is first pathikam (decad). The father was shocked and realized instantly, that his wish had been fulfilled.

In the next 15 years, Sambandhar travelled to 100s of shrines and sang beautiful decads on Lord Shiva. It is also of note, that in almost all of his decads, there would be a venomous sarcasm against the Jains and the Buddhists of the time, in the 10th stanza of every decad he sang.

I did not take too many pictures of Sirkazhi. You can get tons of pictures on Google Image search.

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The Brahma Theertham – where Gnana Sambandar got Gnana Paal (Literal translation: Knowledge milk).

Note: As I had said in an earlier paragraph, most of the literature that I read on the web, does indicate to the fact, that it was not the Buddhist religion or Jainism that was the culprit, but a subset of religious fanatics, who misinterpreted a large portion of the religion to their advantage. Or, so, I would like to keep my opinion.

 

Kumbakonam Weekend (April 19-21 2013) – Part 1

I had been looking forward to this trip for a while. The wife and kid typically go to their home town (Kumbakonam) for a few weeks for the summer vacation. We had taken the Mayiladuthurai express. This is a very elusive train – the one train, the Mysore Mayiladuthurai Express that connects the Bangalore to Trichy, Tanjore, Kumbakonam, and Mayavaram (this is how the local refer to Mayiladhuturai). And it does so happen, that there are a large number of techies who are from this area. So there are only two ways of getting into that train:

  1. Book 4 months in advance (and book all the tentative dates that you want a booking) – cancel the unwanted ones later.
  2. Book even a waiting list ticket, and pray to your isht devata (Literal translation: God of your pleasing) that one of the tickets I cancel in step (1) gets allocated to you.

Of course, if you have an isht devata for whom you are his/her favourite devotee, and you enjoy special status of being granted boons by the God, then you can try tatkal as well.

So we headed off to the Majestic Railway station on a warm thursday evening. The train arrived half an hour late (it comes in from Mysore). Having lugged in our luggage into the train, we started off. The train journey was large uneventful.

Morning welcomed us with this:

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Woohoo. The sweet smell of the Tanjore delta. My paternal roots are in this district, and hence I get a big kick whenever I visit this region. For some reason, I get this warm fuzzy unexplainable home feeling. And am I glad, my wife is from Kumbakonam, and I can visit here fairly regularly.

I had an agenda this time though. More recently, I have started reading the Periya Puranam (and also listening to some tapes of lectures on this by Shri RBVS Manian). Needless to say, that I have been captivated by this single piece of Tamil literature. Couple of reasons (actually three) stand out for me liking this scripture so much:

  1. The scripture is in beautiful Tamil. I did not study Tamil in school, and I cannot make out very complicated classical Tamil. But it just sounds so sweet. It really is.
  2. It has proof of a very rich cultural heritage in the Southern parts of Tamil Nadu.
  3. And of course, the main reason has got to be that, most of the tales and historical anecdotes happen in this beautiful Tanjore region.

So, with this new found interest of mine, I had decided to seek out as many temples as I can, that are referenced in Periya Puranam, in this area. These are also called “Paadal Petra Sthalangal”. Literal translation: Places where songs had been sung. Songs sung by the great moovar (the three apostles of Tamil Literature) – Appar, Sundarar, and Gnanasambandhar. Manikkavachagar does not figure in the Periya Puranam Compilation, though he has given us some fantastic works. Sometimes, they are also collectively referred to as the Naalvar (the great four).

Of course, Kumbakonam, being the temple city, I will visit other incidental temples, and document my visits to those as well. One more observation to make is that, being a Smartha (neutral towards Shaivites (Shiva worshippers) and Vaishnavites (Vishnu worshippers), I have a greater variety on my plate to go discover.

This post is the first of many, which will document my visits to several of the temples in this historically significant area. I will try and provide as much data about how to get there, and as much historical/mythological data that I can garner.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – for the temple visits to actually start, where I visit Sirkazhi, Thirukolakka, and Thirukadayur.

1000 km in a week

Just got back from a 1000km roadtrip. Phew. That was one good road trip.

1. Bangalore to Kumbakonam: Took a new route this time. Bangalore -> Salem -> Attur -> Veppur -> Vridhachalam -> Jayamkondan -> Kumbakonam. Except for the last stretch, which was a little bad, the road is very good. Much better than the Kulithalai route that I took the last time.

2. Kumbakonam to Pondicherry: Never done this stretch before. Decent roads. It is mind boggling to see the number of wine (alcohol) shops on the sides of the road, right after you enter Pondicherry state. This, I am told, is because of the reduced rates – since it is still an Union Territory.

3. Pondicherry to Chennai: Fantastic stretch. Road upto Tindivanam is as good, if not better than the Golden Quadrilateral stretch from Tindivanam to Chennai.

4. Chennai to Bangalore: I have done this numerous times, but there was a twist this time. I was attending a family function in Pozhichalur (close to Pammal). I was told that there is a direct road from Pozhichalur through Kundrathur to Porur, and I can catch the usual Bangalore road from there. Right after Kundrathur and Anagaaputthur, I found a sign saying Sriperumbudur. I took a risk, and we took the route. Surprisingly awesome road. Takes you right to the highway just before Sriperumbudur bypass. The only bummer was the 100’s of speed bumps (and no, I am not exagerating with the number). Did Chennai to Chinnaar (A2B) in decent time – 4 hours. Chinnaar to Bangalore was just horrible. With the 6 laning effort that is happening, there are quite a few diversions, where 4 lanes become 1 lane. And with the ‘impatient’ bus drivers we have, these diversions quickly become a quagmire. It took us a good 3.5 hours to do what we usually do in 1.5 hours.

Anyways, in all, a good trip. The Skoda Fabia did a pretty darned good  job.