Sunday,3 Feb’08 :Visit to Avinashi & Tirumuruganpoondi
Left Coimbatore around 6.40 am & reached Avinashi by 7.30 after covering a distance of close to 60 Kms – The Avinashilingeswarar temple is just off the highway. This is a Tevara Sthalam - one amongst seven in Kongunadu - sung by Tamil saint Sundarar. The tirthams associated with this temple are Airavata Theertham & Kasi Gangai Theertham. The stone Dwajasthambam outside was partially covered & the majestic Rajagopuram fully covered for tirupani (renovation). The base of the Dwajasthambam carries sculptures of the legend associated with this temple – the crocodile regurgitating a fully grown boy & Sundarar praying to Siva. Entry into the temple is through the huge doors of the Rajagopuram. Just before entry is a Pillayar on your left & an Uchi pillayar etched in the Rajagopuram just above the doors. You walk through the Rajagopuram into the Navaranga mandapam which carries exquisite sculptures on pillars – Urdhvatandavar, Alangattu Kali, Veerabhadrar. There is a second Dwajasthambam inside the prakaram. Then you enter the inner sanctum & pray to Moolavar – Avinashilingeswarar who is east facing ( Avinashi means non destructible).To the North on a raised manadapam is the Kanakasabhai with Natarajar in dancing pose with his feet firmly crushing Muyalavan.
The Ambal Karunambikai sannithi also east facing, is situated on the southern side – to the right of Avinashi Appar. There is a separate gopuram for Ambal sannithi. The multi-pillared mandapam outside Ambal sannithi also has many fine sculptures. Behind the Ambal Sannithi (near koshtam) you can see a sulpture of a scorpion – said to effectively cure you of poisonous bites. This is a unique feature.
There is a theppakulam (completely dry when we visited) outside (opposite Ambal sannithi) with a Nandi mounted at the entrance. A little distance away is a separate shrine for Sundarar.
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Our next destination was Tirumuruganpoondi around 5 Kms frm Avinashi on the Tiruppur Road.(Enroute we saw the Koopidu Pillayar shrine pointing out the direction of the temple to Sundarar - visible from the road, situated on a small hillock to your right.)
Moolavar is Tirumuruganathaswamy (Skanda Natheswarar) & Ambal is Avudayanayagi (Lingabhooshana Stananbika). This is another of seven Tevara Sthalams in Kongunadu & sung by tamil saint Sundarar. There are many legends associated with this temple. According to one legend, Lord Murugan got Brahmahathi dosham after killing the demon king Soorapadman. To get rid of this dosham, Murugan erected a Shivalingam at this place and worshipped Lord Shiva. Durvasar is said to have brought the Madhavi tree sthala vriksham from Karpaka Lokam. Sundarar & Cheraman Perumal upon arriving here lost their wealth to a group of hunters; upon singing his patikam recovered the lost wealth. There are 2 images of Sundarar here depicting his state of mind prior to and after the incident with an image of Lord Shiva watching.
This temple is west facing and there is no gopuram in front as in other temples. Before you enter the moolavar sanctum you see Vinayagar to your left & statues of Sundarar to your right. To the right side of the sanctum there is a statue for Shunmugha with consorts Valli & Devayani. There is a mirror behind the idol for viewing the 6th face of Shunmugha.To the left side of the moolavar lies the shrine for Ambal Aavudainayagi.
As you circumambulate the outer prakaram on the North East corner you find sanctums for Saniswarar & Navagrahas west facing, Bhairavar (facing South) & vetupari in front ( the stolen wealth was hidden here by the Lord), Suryan west facing, separate shrine of Dakshinamurthy south facing (this is a unique feature), Bhavaniswarar east facing, & finally 63’ars on the West side.
The Dwajasthambam, as you enter the temple,has sculptures depicting Siva as the hunter (vettuvan) with bow & Sundarar.To the South of the temple lies the Gnana Tirtham in picturesque settings. Natarajar is in Brahma Tandavar pose - the Kanaka Sabhai was closed hence could not view Natarajar. There is a second dwaja sthambam inside.
This temple is under the administration & maintenance of Archaelogical Society of India. There are several inscriptions on the sanctum walls which is a unique feature.
Close to this temple, a few yards away, lies the Maadeswarar - Mangalambika temple - considered to be the original Tirumuruganpoondy temple; Sundadarar is said to have sung praises of this temple. A large Nandi - visible from a distance substitutes the traditional gopuram atop a mandapam situated in front of the shrine. The moolavar is east facing & Ambal is on the north side also east facing. On either side of moolavar sanctum are Vinayakar & Balamurugan. Behind the Shivalingam on the granite wall is a stone sculpture of an elephant offering prayers to the Lord. The archakar took special pains to explain this to us. As you circumambulate the prakaram you see Vinayakar Sannithi east facing on south west corner & a Ketu Sannithi also east facing on the north west corner & Navagrahas shrine in north east corner.
The Vimanan of moolavar has many colourful sculptures displaying several legends.
a) Sundarar with blissful expression having received his lost belongings b) Durvasa Muni offering prayers c) Ketu offering prayers to Siva.