By the time we finished worshipping at Melkote it was 7.30 pm and we drove off towards Bangalore – it took us about an hour to reach Mandya on the National Highway & then at sped away via Chennapatna – Ramnagaram – Bidadi and finally reached Bangalore @ 10.30 pm and checked in at Woodlands. The drive on the multilane NH was excellent – we could drive at speeds of 100-110 kmph & average 80 kmph plus.
Next day I had some official business to attend at Bangalore – we took time off to visit Gopu – Pushpas & also the Rosarios. Shonali (who had come home for Christmas) & Kavitha with cute bonny baby Kavya were present when we visited. I could snap up some adorable pictures of Kavya !
Our original plan was to depart the same day after noon – but it had become late and we deferred the departure to next morning. We left @ 6.00 am & reached Dharmapuri around 9.30 am just in time for a wholesome breakfast at the newly opened Adhiyamaan Palace Hotel. The hotel provides good rooms at reasonable rates & is a convenient place for a night halt – thundering Hogenekal falls is hardly 40 Kms from this town. The road upto Hosur was bad due to heavy construction activity of new flyovers. After we entered the Toll Rd we had a smooth drive for about 50 Kms before the road degenerated upto Dharmapuri. The condition of the road continued to be miserable so we took a diversion before the Thoppur Ghat ( 40 Km before Salem) & travelled via Mettur & Bhavani and bypassed Salem completely. The view of the Stanley reservoir was breathtaking. From there we went downhill towards Mettur town – had a gorgeous view of Mettur Dam & the the river Cauvery in full flow downstream – an awe inspiring sight. Besides providing precious water for irrigation,the Dam is also a source of Hydel Power. Built in 1934 it is one of the oldest dams in the country and also a premier tourist attraction in this region. Upstream from the Dam is the famous Hogenekal falls.
We continued on our journey towards Bhavani – travelling alongside the Cauvery and witnessed fertile land with rich cultivations of bananas, paddy, sugar cane & coconut palms. It was indeed a rare, rich & refreshing rural experience which we city dwellers seldom get to see. As we crossed village after village we witnessed many rural temples with local gods (Ayyanar or Karuppurayan), erected & worshipped to provide protection to the farmers. I stopped by to take a snap of one such temple.
We finally reached Bhavani and went directly to the celebrated Sangameswaran Temple. This Thevara Sthalam in Kongu Naadu ( praises sung by Tiru Gnanasambandhar), is a shrine at the confluence of Bhavani, Kaveri & Amrutavahini (Mukkoodal). Other Sanskrit names associated with this shrine are Dakshinaprayag, Dakshinabadri, Triveni Sangamam. The temple campus is large & sprawling (four acres) and has sanctums for Sangamesawarn, Ambal Vedanayagi, Subramaniar in the center ( Somaskandar) flanked by Sanewarar & Jorahareswarar. When water or milk is poured on the two identical stone statues in front of ‘Ambal Sannathi’ one smiles at you, while the other sheds tears at you. Besides the navagrahas is the sanctum of Kalabhairavar. The temple also has shrines for Soundaravalli Thayar, Lakshmi Narasimhar, Adikesavaperumal & Venugopal. Outside the sanctum of Perumal are stone images of Krishna, Ramanujar, Anjaneyar. Outside the Venugopal sannithi is a stone image of Krishna flanked by Rukmini & Satyabhama. We saw and photographed the Temple elephant Vedanayaki aged 31 years who was tethered in her shed. We exited the temple through the Swarga Vashal (considered auspicious) which was open because of Vaikunta Ekadesi.
This temple is surrounded by the 5 hill shrines located at Sankagiri, Tiruchengode, Padmagiri, Mangalagiri and Vedagiri.
There are bathing ghats at the confluence point, located adjacent to the Sangameswarar Sannithi, and the water here is nice, cool, refreshing & invigorating.
Kubera, Rama, Arjuna, Viswamitrar and Parasarar are said to have worshipped here. The remnants of the celestial nectar, drawn from the milky ocean and buried here by Parasarar,turned into the Shivalingam.
True Incident :
During British Rule, Coimbatore Collector W.Garrow visited Bhavani on official work & was resting at night in the Inspection Bungalow. It rained heavily that night with heavy thunder & flashes of lightning.In the middle of the night a young girl child came in, took him by his hand & pulled him outside the IB. The next moment the roof of the IB collapsed. The collector looked back & saw the girl hurrying away. He followed her but she entered the temple premises & disappeared. He realised it must have been the Goddess Bhavani, in the form of the little girl, who had rescued him. Since he was not a Hindu he could not enter the temple. So he had two viewing ports created on the temple wall facing the Ambal Sannithi to enable him to see her divinity . The Collector also gifted an Ivory palanquin to the Temple.