Saturday, February 9, 2008

North Kerala Tour

Fishing Boats at Mahe Harbour
Thalayi beach - Fishing nets under repair

Thalayi Beach - Boat with fishnets ready to take off

Thalayi Beach - Tellicherry

Muzhappilangad Beach

Muzhappilangad Beach

Monday, February 4, 2008

Avinashi Tours - Avinashilingeswarar - Tirumruganathar

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.

Trichy Tours - Tiruparaithurai-Pasupatiswarar-Vennaimalai

Mukkombu : This was the final day of our temple tour. After yet another round of Murali coffee,we left Trichy around 6.30 am back on the Karur Road. We reached Mukkombu a picnic spot 18 kilometers from Tiruchirappalli. It is the place where the River Kollidam branches off from the river Cauvery. The place is also known as Upper Anaicut. The dam is about 685 meters long. It was constructed in the 19th Century across the Kollidam. The place attracts tourist because of the park, greenish garden science park, toy train, merry go round, fishing facility, and boating facility.
Tirupparaitturai : Located around 7 Kms from Mukkombu, we reached the abode of Paraitturai Nathar or Dharukavananathar, a tevara sthalam of Chozhanadu South of Kaveri. Praises sung by Sambandar & Appar.The Ambal is Pasum Pon Nayaki or Hemavarnambika. This shrine is located on the banks of the Akhanda Kaveri -the widest point in the course of the river. Kubera, Saptha Rishis & Indra have worshipped Shiva here. The Lord is said to have crushed the ego of the rishis in Dharukavanam here. The Shivalingam is said to have been dug out of an ant hill by a devout Chola King, upon his seeing a golden bird frequently flying by it.
you enter the temple through the raja gopuram at the entrance, There is a stone mandapam & the tell dwaja sthambam is right in front. The mandapam carries scultures of Appar,Sambandar, Manickavasar & the Chettiar who renovated the temple. There are shrines for Vinayakar & Dhandapani in the outer prakaram. You enter the prakaram through a second gopuram & reach the east facing moolavar. Innner prakaram contains shrines/idols - Valamburi Vinayakar, Sapta kanyas, 63'ars, Somaskandar, Mahaganapathy,Panchalingam,Arumughar,Bhikshadanar, Brahma, Durgai,Gajalakshmi, Shanmughar seated on a peacock, Navagrahas, Bhairavar. In the Koshtam you have sculptures of - Vinayagar, Dakshinamurthy(South), Ardhanariswarar(West), Brahma,Durgai (North) & a sannithi for Sandikeswarar. Ambal is south facing. The pillars opposite ambal contains sculptures of Urdhvathandavar & Kali in dancing pose.
Karur Pasupatiswarar : This temple is regarded as the 7th of the seven Tevara Stalams in the Kongunadu. Saint Tirugnana Sambandar, the great Siddha, Karuvurar and Saint Arunagirinathar have sung in praise of the deities at this Temple.The moolavar is a Swayambhu lingam - Pasupateeswarar or Anilaiappar. The Lord has two consorts, Goddess Kripanayaki (Alankaravalli) – the Adinayaki with a Srichakra Pitham at Her feet and Goddess Soundaranayaki (Vadivudaiyal), a great devotee who is believed to have merged with the Lord on the 7th day of the Panguni Uthiram festival.
The Sthala vriksham is vanji & tirtham is Amaravati.
Kamadenu (divine cow) worshippped the Lord here. During the worship, the feet of Kamadenu touched the Lord’s head, the symbol of which is still on the Linga. The Lord was also worshipped by Brahma who did penance here in atonement for his haughtiness as the primordial Creator.
It is believed that Siddha Karuvurar dissolved himself with the Lord. He has a shrine in the Southwest corner of this temple.
This Sthalam is associated with the two great Nayanmars Eripatthar and Pukhazcholar. They worshipped here and their history is very well detailed in Periyapuranam. Arunagirinaathar sang about 9 'Thirupugal's’ in praise of beautiful Lord Muruga here.
Emperor Musukunda, belonging to the Skanda Mahapurana period is believed to have undertaken renovation of the temple.
Vennaimalai :The Balasubramanyaswami temple at Vennaimalai is an ancient one, revered by the Tiruppugazh hymns of Arunagirinathar, although its current structure is a recent one.
Vennaimalai is located near Karur near Tiruchirappalli. The temple is built on a small hill and it enshrines Balasubramanyar, Kasi Viswanathar and Visalakshi. The festivals of significance here are Skanda Sashti in the tamil month of Aippasi, Thai Poosam and Aadi Krittikai.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Trichy Tour - Kallanai-Tiruverumbur

Kallanai : After Koviladi we returned & reached the Kallanai, an ancient dam built by Karikala Cholan in the 1st Century AD, on the Cauvery in the state of Tamilnadu. The dam on the border between Tiruchirappalli and Thanjavur constructed by him is a superb work of engineering. Built with earth and stone it has stood the vagaries of nature for hundreds of years. In 19th century, it was renovated and the name of the historical dam has since been changed to “Grand Anicut”. It stands as the head of great irrigation system in the Thanjavur district. After Grand Anicut, the Cauvery divides into numerous branches and cover the whole of the delta with a vast network of irrigation channels and gets lost in the wide expanse of paddy fields. The mighty Cauvery river here is reduced to an insignificant channel and falls into the Bay of Bengal at the historical place of Poompuhar. For detailed informstion log onto :
The Kallanai serves as an excellent picnic spot & offers a very scenic view of the reservoir, the dam & the branching off of the rivers & canals downstream.
Tiruverumbur : after relaxing at Kallanai we headed for Tiruverumbur - another of the Tevara sthalas in chozhanadu -the temple, is located about 15 km east of Trichy. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple enshrines Erumbeeswarar or Madhuvaneswararas the presiding deity along with his consort Saurabhya Kudalaambal or Madhuvaneswari. Appar has sung praises of this temple. This Shivastalam is a hill temple with a flight of granite steps. This temple has 2 prakarams, and the entire temple, and the mandapam at the foot of the hill are replete with inscriptions from the Chola and the Pandya period. As per legend, Devas in the form of ants are said to have worshipped here. To facilitate the ants to climb the lingam & offer worship the lord has manifested himself in the form of an anthiill & also tilted to one side. The teppa kulam is at the foot hills - a fascinating tirtham full to the brim with water.
For legends & other information log on to :
Noon : After Tiruverumbur we returned to Trichy for lunch, relaxed for a couple of hours in the room & went back to Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple for a second time for a more detailed & relaxed visit. The Garudan Sannithi was awesome - it is said to be the biggest Garudan ever existing in any temple. Other sannithis visited - Andal, Venugopalr, Chakrathalwar, Ramar, Pattabhiramar,Ramanujar,Dhanwantari,Vasudevar,Mettu Azhagiya Singar. We also saw the paramapada vasal or swarga vasal, 1000 kal mandapam, Chandra Pushkarni, Vella Gopuram. There sculptured pillars everywhere & one spend days on end study the skill & beauty of these.
We were fortunate to witness Namperumal,the processional image, being carried on the shoulders of volunteers (to circumambulate the Chitra Veedhi) with the temple elephant Andal leading the procession & followed by a huge crowd of devotees singing praises of perumal.
Next we proceeded to Tiruvanaikaval temple & here too we reached just in time to see the panchamurthies - Jambukeswarar, Akhilandeswari, Muruga,Vinayaga & Sandikeswarar leaving for a procession around the veedhi outside the Vibhuti prakaram. We really felt blessed at such good fortune. After that we had nice long & peaceful darshan of the moolavar (appu lingam) & Ambal. This temple really gives you tremendous vibrations.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Trichy Tours - Thaayumaanavar-Tiruparturai-Koviladi

16-1-08 :
We left early morning to the Rockfort after a quick gulp of invigorating Murali's coffee. The Rock Fort Temple complex in Tiruchirappalli is a collection of three temples - the Manikka Vinayakar temple at the foot of the hill, the Uchhi Pillayar Koyil at the top of the hill and the Taayumaanavarswamy Tevara sthalam on the hill. The rock is reported to be more than 3500 billion years old. Shiva is revered here as Taayumaanavar (Swayambu) or Matrubhuteswarar & Ambal is Mattuvaarkuzhali, Sugandha Kundalambika.
All the famous saints Sambandhar, Appar & Sundarar have sung here besides Iyadigal Kaadavarkon, Arunagirinathar, Thaayumaana Swamy. The Brahma Theertham is where Theppa Utsavam (float festival) takes place. It was dug by Karikal Cholan, it measures 611 feet width and 330 ft length. The Sthala Guru is Sri Mouna Guru Swamy & Shiva Lingam is the 4th biggest Lingam in T.Nadu. Lord appeared as Mother and helped a woman in child-birth hence the name Taayumaanavar. Tiruchirappalli is hailed as Dakshina Kailasam, as the hill is said to be one of the three pieces that flew off the Himalayas in a fierce tussle between Adi Seshan the mythical snake and the Wind God Vayu. The other two are Triconamalee & Sree Kalahasti.
After offerring prayers to Manikka Vinayakar we climb up to the shivasthalam. After climbing 200 steps you turn West for shiva temple & right to go Uchi Pillayar. We turn left through a small passage which carries pictures depicting the legend of Taayumaanavar. We reach a big hall with a tall Dwaja sthambam, arupathi moovars on the left, Meenakshi & Sundareswarar on the other side. Then we climb up to the Ambal Sannithi which is one level below Siva sannithi.
We climb up another flight of stairs to reach the main prakaram - entry is from East side & Siva is facing West.
Along the Eastern wall you see idols of Chandran,Naalwars, & along the South wall are 63'ars (utsavars). South West corner - Tripurasundari. West side - Mahisasa Mardini,Sevvanthi Vinayakar, Somaskandar. To the North prakaram - Subramaniar,Valli & Devayani, Chandrasekhar & Anandavalli. North East corner - Jorahareswarar . Kosthtam - Dakshinamurthy, Bhikshadanar.
In the same level is the Chitra Mandapam adjacent to the prakaram- beautiful hall which contains exquisite paintings of gods & goddesses & tells many legends. The top of the Ambal Sannithi Vimanam projects into the chitra Mandapam. The Vimanan carries superb sculptures & is multicoloured.
For legends and other details log on to :
Tirupaalthurai : 10 Kms from Tiruvanaikaval on the Kallanai Road - into Panayapuram village This is a Tevara sthalam (sung by Sambandhar) located in a remote village. The road is kuccha & one can easily get lost. Shiva: Aadi Mudalvar, Moolanathar & Ambal: Moga Nayaki, Mekalambikai.Tirtham is Kollidam,sthala Vriksham is vilvam. Markandeyan & Suryan have worshipped there. Shiva pleased with Markandeyan's worship showered him with milk - hence the name Tiru paal thurai. The sun's rays illuminate the sanctum on both the summer and winter solstices. The Vimanams were looking bright & it appears some renovation work (tiruppani) was in progress as was evident from a crude but ingenously assembled ladder that was found there. Maintenance was poor - the temple appears to be sufferring from a paucity of funds. Many of the lesser sannithis were closed - probably pujas are not done on daily basis. Even the temple priest was not available at the time & we had to go to his house and fetch him for doing the karpooram. He appeared to be nonagenarian who was totally deaf. Not withstanding all this we enjoyed the drive through the rural setting to this much neglected thevara sthalam.
Koviladi :Located about 25kms East of Trichy on the Kallanai -Thiruvayaru road, Koviladi AppaKudanthan temple in ThiruPer Nagar is situated right on the banks of Cauvery. This is a temple that dates to a period before the Srirangam Ranganatha temple. In centuries gone by, people used to visit Koviladi and walk 2 kms across the Coloroon to reach Anbil Divya Desam.It is said that Appaala Ranganatha measured the steps for Srirangam Ranganatha and hence the name ‘Kovil - Adi’ (Srirangam is called the ‘Kovil’ among the Divya Desams, Adi is ‘steps’)

The Lord can be seen blessing Markandeya with his right hand & the silver appakudam is behind the rishi. The left hand is held upright with fist closed to represent garva bhangam of Indira. Bhoomi Devi is near his feet. This is only Divya Desam where Appam is offered daily to the Lord. Thirumangaialwar, Nammalwar & Thirumazhisaialwar have sung praises of Appallaa Ranganathar. It is believed that Namazhwar attained Moksha at this place. Perumal is Bhujanga sayanam west facing & Thayar is Idira Devi or Kamalavalli. This is one of Pancharanga Kshetrams. The tirtham is Indira tirtham,Kollidam. For legends & trivia log onto : Sri Appakkudathaan Perumal Temple (Thirupper Nagar) - Wikipedia ...


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