ELUR KAILASANATHAR TEMPLE

Sri Kailasanathar temple in Elur near Namakkal in Tamil Nadu is a Thevara Vaippu Sthalam. It is also called as Theneeswarar Temple.

Visiting the temple which is located around 20 kms from Namakkal, one has to take a detour from the main National highway NH 44.

The Temple

Kailasanathar temple Elur,namakkal
Sri Kailasanathar temple Elur,namakkal

The temple is a small village temple. At the entrance there is no kodimaram or flagstaff but a stone vilakku sthambam –deepasthambam, which is unique to the temples of Kongu nadu is seen.

There is an idol of Nandi in the outer courtyard. On entering the temple there is a pillared mandapam. Directly in front is the Sivalingam of lord Kailasanathar – Theneeswarar and to the right is the shrine of Ambigai Visalakshi – Thenukambigai.

Sri Kailasnathar ,Elur
Sri Kailasnathar ,Elur

It is a very large and beautiful sivalingam. A Suyambu lingam, at five feet in height with a large Aavudai measuring 9 feet in length it takes your breath away!

The Sivalingam of Lord Kailasanathar can only be described as the gurukkal said, as “Brahmandam”. The Garba griha is suitably big to house such a large Sivalingam.

In many temples visitors get to worship the Sivalingam in the sanctum from the mahamandapam, but in this temple you can see the lingam up close. The Gurukkal patiently performed morning abishekam and alangaram and deeparadhanai.

Sri Kailasanathar -Elur,namakkal dt
Sri Kailasanathar -Elur,namakkal dt

The shrine of Visalakshi is small and the idol of ambigai is small and beautiful.

Sri Visalakshi aka Thenkambigai, Elur, namakkal dt
Sri Visalakshi @ Thenukambigai, Elur, namakkal dt

There are sannadhis for Suryan, Chandran, Vinayagar, Panchalingam, Balamurugan, Durgai,dakshinamurthy, chandikeswarar, navagrahas, and Kala bhairavar.

Elur Kailasanathar temple 2

Elur Kailasanathar temple (2)

History

Elur as the village is called today was known as Ezhur (ஏழூர்) in the past. It was the head of seven nadus or counties in ancient Kongu nadu region of Tamil Nadu. The seven nadus were Perumpaalapatty, Perumaakoundanpatty, Vandipalayam,Veppampatty, Pudupatty, Kannanpatty,and Ezhur.

The temple is mentioned in the pathigam of Tirunavukkarasar (Appar), in the 6th Tirumurai (ஆறாம் திருமுறை)

6.70 க்ஷேத்திரக்கோவை – திருத்தாண்டகம்

        ( ஆறாம் திருமுறை)

705 கொடுங் கோளூர்  அஞ்சைக்களம் செங்குன்றூர்

       கொங்கணம்  குன்றியூர்  குரக்குக் காவும்

       நெடுங்களம் நன்னிலம் நெல்லிக் காவும்

       நின்றியூர் நீடூர் நியம நல்லூர்

       இடும்பாவனம் எழுமூர்  ஏழூர்  தோழூர்

       எறும்பியூர்  ஏராரும்  ஏமகூடம்

       கடம்பை  இளங்கோயில்  தன்னினுள்ளும்

       கயிலாய  நாதனையே  காணலாமே.          6.70.5

Saint Arunagirinathar has composed a Tirupugazh hymn on the Murugan of this sthalam.

The temple has only one kalvettu (Stone inscription).

stone inscription Elur temple,namakkal dt.
Stone inscription Elur Kailasanathar temple,namakkal dt.

The temple was destroyed and probably looted when Tamil nadu was under the rule of the Nawabs. Only the imposing Sivalingam of Kailasanathar aka Theneeswarar, the idol of ambal Visalakshi and the idol of pancha naaga devadhai remained. A sanyasin continued the puja and worship of the deities.

Pancha naga devadhai, Elur Kailasanathar temple
Pancha naga devadhai, Elur Kailasanathar temple

The foundation stone of the present temple was laid by Thiru Muruga Kripaananda Vaariar on 13. 4.1981, and the temple was built by the villagers after which kumbabishekam was performed in 1990.

How to reach

Since we were travelling from Salem on NH 44, at Puduchatram on the Salem –Namakkal stretch, we left the four-way and took the service road into Puduchatram and then turned on to Elur road. A lovely drive along the village road for 8.6 kms and we had arrived at the temple which was right beside the main road.

The gurukkal’s house is just outside the temple and outstation visitors can call on him in case the temple is closed when they arrive.

There are no shops near the temple selling puja articles. You can buy flower garlands and puja offerings in Rasipuram or Namakkal.

Contact

Soundararaja gurukkal

Mobile number : 98650 13481

Address

Arulmigu Kailasanathar Koil,

Main road, Elur,

via Puduchatram

Namakkal district,

Elur – 637 018

Note: Google maps refers to the Elur Siva temple as Theneeswarar temple.

 

Kaala Bhairavar Temple – Adiyamaan Kottai

The village called Adiyamaan Kottai (அதியமான் கோட்டை) is located eight kms from Dharmapuri in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu. It was once the historic fortress of the Adiyamaan kings – a line of Tamil Velir(வேளிர்) kings who ruled over Dharmapuri, Salem and surrounding regions.

Some ancient temples are located within this area. One of them is the temple of Lord Kaala Bhairavar, the God of Time. It is a small and beautiful temple with only one shrine –the shrine of Kaala Bhairavar. There are no shrines for other deities not even for Lord Vinayaga. It is thought to be as important as the Kaala Bhairav temple in Varanasi, one of the holiest cities in India.

Kaala Bhairava swamy temple, Dharmapuri, TN

History

Originally believed to have been built in the Sangam era(4th century BC to 2nd century CE) by Adhiyaman Neduman Anji,( அதியமான் நெடுமான் அஞ்சி) the most famous king of the Adhiyaman dynasty, this famous king was also one of the seven great donor kings of ancient tamilagam –the kadai ezhu vallalgal(கடையேழு வள்ளல்கள்).

It is said that holy men and sages were sent to Kasi/Varanasi by King Adiyamaan to bring the idol of Kaala Bhairavar which was duly consecrated in a temple in his fort. The reign of King Adiyaman Neduman Anji  spans a turbulent period in the history of Tamilagam which was rife with wars between the kings known as kuru nila mannargal(குருநில மன்னர்கள்). The temple was built by Adiyaman Anji to ensure victory in the many battles he fought.

It is believed that when King Adiyamaan was killed in battle by his foe – the Chera king Peruncheral Irumporai, the royal ladies and children used a secret underground path from this temple to escape from the enemy.

These stories belong to a genre known as karna- parambarai (கர்ண பரம்பரை) which means they have come down to us by word of mouth. Often happenings that span a couple of thousand years are told as stories from generation to generation. These stories are a unique way of remembering history and are as good as the written word.

The present temple was constructed in the 9th century CE.

Importance of Kaala Bhairavar

Kaala Bhairavar is a form of Lord Siva.

Worship of Lord Bhairavar is common to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

The Sanskrit word kaala denotes time.There are good times and bad, moments, hours, the daytime and night-time, sunrise, sunset, years, lifetimes, yugas and so on, all of which are a part of the great circle of time, the Kaala chakra. A Sanskrit verse from the epic Mahabharata quotes Vidura as saying,

kālaḥ pachati bhūtāni, kālaḥ saṃharate prajāḥ |
kālaḥ supteṣhu jāgarti, kālo hi duratikramaḥ ||

Time devours all things, Time kills all that are born.
Time is awake while all else sleeps, Time is insurmountable.

– Vidura in Mahabharata

It is this unseen reality of the universe -Time, that Siva as Lord Kaala Bhairav rules.

Kshetra paalaka

Lord Bhairava is also known as kshetra paalaka and is worshipped as a protective guardian deity. Shrines for Kaala Bhairav can be seen in all Siva temples. It is a temple ritual to submit the temple keys at closing time  to KaalaBhairav who guards the temple at night.

He is the custodian and protector of the 52 shakti peetas all of which have a shrine for Bhairava.

He is also the protector of pilgrims and travellers.

It is believed that he liberates us from the influences of the navagrahas, cures chronic diseases and fulfills wishes in no time.

The Temple

Kaala bhairava temple,Dharmapuri
Temple entrance,Kaala Bhairavar swamy temple,Adiyaman kottai

This temple has a pillared maha mandapa, an artha mandapa and the Garba griha.

Mahamandapam

The Mahamandapam of this temple is unique. The ceiling is divided into nine sections – each is designed as a diamond shaped recess called a chakra. Thus each is a chakra for each of the nine planets. The chakras representing the planets are designed around the central Surya chakram. Devotees are asked to walk under the chakras and then offer prayers to Kaala bhairavar.

The idol of Kaala Bhairava is seen with his vahana, the dog, on a Padma peedam, the lotus pedestal. It is about three feet tall and faces south. Although the deity holds a trisul, a kabalam and has a halo of flames around its head, it is a very peaceful, benevolent form.

An ancient idol of Nandi is seen facing Kaala Bhairavar in the maha mandapam .Behind the image of Nandi is a stone pedestal that is used for lighting a lamp. There is a carving of Vinayaga at the base of the pedestal and one of Nandi at the top. The images are typical of a Siva temple, though this is not one in the traditional sense. They are probably there because kaala bhairav is worshipped as an avatar of lord Siva.

There are running reliefs of sculptures that go all around the outer walls of the temple. Take time to look at these sculptures that depict war scenes, gods, and armed soldiers and so on.

Kaala bhairava temple, Dharmapuri

Kaala bhairava temple, Dharmapuri (5)

Kaala bhairava temple, Dharmapuri (6)

 

Kaala bhairavar temple Adiyamaan kottai
Weathered engravings of lord Muruga seated on a peacock and of lord Vinayaka

Kaala bhairava temple, Dharmapuri (3)

Kaala bhairava temple, Dharmapuri (4)
This panel shows warriors on elephants and horses.

In the outer courtyard there is a statue of Parshvanatha Tirthankara on a raised pedestal. Called as Mahavirar by the local people, not much is known about it though it is generally thought that the saint supported the king when the temple was built. In any case it is a classic example of religious harmony of the age.

ParashwanathThirthangara
Idol of Parashwanath Thirthangara seen outside the Kaala Bhairavar temple in Adiyaman kottai

In fact the temple itself was lost to time until over a decade ago when a swami from Karnataka visited the temple and explained its importance. The area around the temple was covered in vegetation so much so that it was almost impossible to go near the premises. On the sanyasin’s advice,it was cleared, a kumbabishekam was done and worship was resumed. Devotees from the state of Karnataka were the first to visit, followed by people from Tamil Nadu. 

The temple did not have a gopuram until the present gopuram and other mandaps were added around three years ago. Although the extensions are necessary considering the enormous crowds that this temple attracts, it is a fact that they detract a little from the beauty of the temple and its location in an idyllic rural setting.

Unusual Customs

Some customs are unique to this temple and perhaps to the worship of lord Kaala bhairava.

Palm leaf plates with unusual diyas made out of white pumpkin halves, coconut diyas, and diyas made of lemon halves are sold for Rs.50 a plate. Lighting these deepams/diyas is said to ward of the evil- eye, bring success in business and relief from all kinds of problems in life.

Lamps of a different kind
Cast away the evil eye- Villaku- diyas fashioned out of coconut halves,white pumpkin halves and inverted lemon halves. Ghee, neem oil and sesame oil are used separately to burn these unusual deepams.

Another unusual custom is to circle the temple 18 times on ashtami – the eighth day of the lunar fortnight and on Sundays. Given the big crowds that come to the temple on ashtami days every month, it is an unusual  sight to see so many people circling the temple at the same time.

Why this temple is unique

Temples dedicated solely to lord Kaala Bhairavar are rare and this temple is one of them.

It is a 1200 years old temple and the deity belongs to a much earlier period in time – the Sangam Age of 2000 years ago.

It is one of the temples situated within the historic area known as Adhiyamaan kottai, which is the Tamil word for fortress of Adhiyamaan.

Note:Adiyamaan was the name of the one of the dynasties that ruled ancient Tamilagam which was as powerful  as the better known Chera, Chola and Pandya dynasties of the time.

Best time to visit

Although it is considered auspicious to visit the temple on Thei-pirai ashtami days, Sundays and new moon days if you hope for a peaceful visit sans crowds avoid visiting at these times. Weekdays are usually quiet. The temple is a great favorite with astrologers.Special homam and poojas are conducted on certain days. Priests urge you to take part in these, temple shop-keepers urge you to buy the deepams unique to this temple… but even without all this it is a fact that this is a temple where prayers are answered.

Location

The temple is located just off the Salem-Dharmapuri road, 6 kms from Dharmapuri in Tamil nadu.

Temple timings

7 a.m to 12 noon

4 p.m to 8 p.m.

Address

Sri Kaala Bhairavar Swamy temple

Adiyamaan Kottai,

Dharmapuri district

Tamil Nadu – 636 807

External links:

http://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/tamil-jain/article5504164.ece

http://www.jainsamaj.org/rpg_site/literature2.php?id=850&cat=42

 

 

 

 

Dravidian Temple Architecture

What strikes one first on a visit to a Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu, India are the towering Gopurams (pyramidal gateway towers)with their hundreds of colorful stucco figures, the beauty of the many pillared halls, the intricacy of the sculptures of a bygone era, the many temple tanks, and pillared corridors and circumambulatory pathways of stone. A seemingly chaotic array,though on closer observation, one finds that there is order and an underlying pattern in the design and construction of the temples and temple complexes.

Architecture of a Tamil Nadu temple
Architecture of a Tamil Nadu temple
A pillared hallway serves as a classroom
A Thevaram recital in progress in a pillared hallway in the Ardhanareeswara temple, TN,India

Temples were built with strict adherence to the rules laid down in the Agamas and the Silpa sastras. While the Agamas are non-vedic traditional manuals on a vast range of subjects including Temple architecture, Silpa sastra literally means the Science of arts and crafts of which we find the finest specimens in the temples. This style of architecture is known as the Dravidian style of architecture.

 

 

 

Kolli Malai Arapaleeswarar Temple

Arapaleeswarar temple kolli malai

Arapaleeswarar temple is an ancient Siva temple on the banks of the Aiyaru or Panchanadhi river in the village of Periya koviloor in Valapur nadu of the Kolli hills. Since ancient times it has been an important pilgrimage site of Tamil Nadu. The temple was built during the reign of King Kulothunga Cholan 1400 years ago, but its history dates back to a much earlier period more than 2000 years ago.

periya kovilur
The village of Periya kovilur in the Kolli Hills

History of the Temple

Long ago, a part of the Kolli hills was known by the name Araipalli or Arapalli. Arapalli literally means residense/house of dharma. Lord Siva who was worshipped in this region of Arapalli was called Arapally Iswarar or Arapaleeswarar, The Lord of the house of dharma.The Sanskrit name is Dharma Gosheeswarar. He was also known as Araipally Mahadevan and Araipally Udayar. The name of Parvati is Aram valarthanayagi also called as Thayammai.

It is said that the place where the temple is built was once farmland. When the land was ploughed the plough hit something and blood gushed out. The people dug around the spot to find a suyambu sivalingam and began to worship it. The scar made by the plough can be seen on the lingam even today.

Arapaleeswarar was worshipped by Valvil Ori, the Mazhavar king who ruled the Kolli hills  It is believed that a secret path exists from the Arapaleeswarar temple to the Kailasanathar temple in Rasipuram which was also a part of the kingdom of Ori.

After Valvil Ori, the kingdom came under the Chera and Chola kings.

Vaippu Sthalam

The temple is a Thevara vaippu sthalam. The 7thcentury Thevaram hymns of Tirunavukarasar and Tirugnanasambandar speak of this temple. In the hymns Appar speaks of this sthalam as Kolli kulir araipalli and as kallal kamazh Kolli araipalli. Tirugnanasambandar refers to Araipalli in his Tiruthala kovai pathigam.

The Temple

DSC01851

A medium sized temple it is built in very beautiful natural surroundings of the Kolli hills. Hills and valleys stretch into the distance all around. There is no gopuram at the entrance. The top of the outer madhil (high surrounding wall) has the images of siddars at intervals.

InscriptionsInscriptions

The outer stone walls of the garba-graham (sanctum santorum) are covered with inscriptions detailing various grants and endowments. Sembian Mahadevi, the dowager queen of Sivagnana Kandaraditya Chola devar and great-aunt of King Rajaraja Chola has visited the Arapaleeswarar temple.She rebuilt and restored many temples in the Chola kingdom and was actively involved in the maintenance of Siva temples. In the Arapaleeswarar temple there is an inscription that speaks of 100 “kalanju” gold donated by her. It is also said that she donated many jewels to the temple. Interestingly Sembian Mahadevi was a Mazhava princess, the daughter of Mazhavarayar.

Land grants were made by other Chola kings.

That they have made the arduous journey when the region was virtually inaccessible speaks a lot about the greatness of this temple.

Nandi

Nandi the divine bull of lord Siva is seen seated in front of the kodi maram (flag staff) and bali peetam and facing the Lingam inside the garpagriha in all Siva temples. In the Arapaleeswarar temple the image of Nandi has only three legs. The right hind leg is mutilated and the culprits are two men whose images are seen facing the temple, across the road outside the main entrance.

The Story of Nandi

The story is told that Nandi, the divine bull grazed on the farmland belonging to the two men, who, not knowing that that it was Nandi devar, tried to drive it away. But the bull continued to wreak havoc in their fields. Enraged, they chased the bull with a sword. To save itself the bull entered the Arapaleeswarar temple and sought refuge in lord Siva even as one of the men flung his sword on the bull from outside the temple. The right hind leg was severed and Nandi has remained there ever since with a missing leg while the men have remained outside.

Nandi

Arapaleeswarar temple

These two men have stood outside the temple doors of lord Siva in the kolli hills for ages .The wrong they did was to harm another living creature.

Arapaleeswarar

The lingam of Arapaleeswarar in the garbagriha is medium sized. Standing before it, time becomes irrelevant. The present could easily be a moment in time thousands of years ago. Nothing seems to matter anymore as the peace and grace of God surround you. Words do not fully describe the feeling. It must be experienced by devotees at least once in this lifetime.

Vinayagar, Arapaleeswarar, Thayammai and Murugan can be worshipped together from the same spot inside the temple.

Arapaleeswarar temple kollimalai

Sri Chakra

Probably not seen elsewhere in India is the very rare and beautifully carved Sri Chakra on the stone ceiling outside the shrine of Aramvalartha nayagi. There are intricate sculptures of Ashta Lakshmis all around it. Prayers offered to Thayammai or meditating while sitting directly beneath the Sri chakra are said to give powerful benefits.

Murugan
Shrine of subramanyar

The first shrine in the outer courtyard is that of Subramanya as Aarumuga peruman. The idol is extremely beautiful with intricate carvings. Valli and Deivanai stand on either side.Saint Arunagirinadhar who lived in the 15th century has sung a Thiruppugazh hymn on Kolli malai Murugan. There are separate shrines on the pradakshina path for Vinayaka, Kasi Visvanadhar, Kasi Visalakshi, Mahalakshmi,Saraswati, Durga, Chandikeswarar, and Aram Valarthanayagi and nava graha.

The shrines of Murugan and Ambigai are built in a way that they are facing each other. It is as if the divine mother is gazing fondly on her beloved son.

Theertham

Aiyaru kolli hills

panchanadhi
Aiyaru or Panchanadhi river in Kolli hills

The theertham of Arapaleeswarar temple is the Panchanadhi aka Aiyaru river.As the name indicates it is five rivers flowing as one. A hundred steps lead down to the river. Where they end is a beautiful Vinayaga shrine.

vinayagar

The Panchanadhi does not dry up even in summer when the water flow is less. It forms small water falls on its way. One small waterfall is near the temple. Further on its course it plunges into a gorge from a height of 300 feet to form the spectacular Agaya Gangai falls, a major tourist attraction in the Kolli hills. The base of the falls can be reached by climbing down 1025 steps. The steps begin near the Arapaleeswarar temple.

A temple where Fishes are sacred

The fishes in the Aiyaru river are sacred. They are believed to be the manifestations of Lord Siva. A story is told about this tradition.

The story of the sacred fishes

Once, some devotees caught fish in the Aiyaru, cut them up and made a curry on the banks of the river. While the curry was boiling they went up to the Arapaleeswarar temple to have darshan. On returning from the temple they were stunned to see the cut fish jump whole and alive from the boiling curry into the river. The miracle was a subtle message that lord Siva lived in all forms of life in the mountain. So no one catches fish in the Aiyaru river.Based on this story,it is said that the name Arapaleeswarar is derived from Arutha meenai poruthiya Iswarar,meaning -Lord Siva who joined together the cut fish. The people believe that it is Arapaleeswarar who resides as the fish in the river. Pilgrims and devotees feed the fishes when they visit the temple.

Unusual Rituals

There is an old and unusual ritual at this temple related to the fish in the Aiyaru. The indigenous people believe that it is lord Siva who has taken the form of the fishes in the river. They make a vow to offer a tiny mookuthi nose-ring to the fish when prayers are answered. On fulfillment of vows, a large fish in the river is caught, a tiny mookuthi is fixed on the snout and released  back into the river. An indigenous fruitseller explained it like this:” Let’s say I go to buy a farmland. I pray to Arapaleeswarar, ‘If the deal goes in my favour I vow to give a gold or silver nose-ring to you’. After a satisfactory farm deal, I put a tiny mookuthi on the snout of a fish in the Aiyaru. It is the offering I promised to Arapaleeswarar who has helped me clinch the deal”. This ritual is not followed so much now as it was in the old days.

Mahakumbabishekkam

The Mahakumbabishekam of Arapaleeswarar Temple took place last week on May 7, 2017.I could not go to see the actual kumbabishekam but I was fortunate to visit the night before.

But that is the subject of another post on the temple on the eve of MahaKumbabishekam!

The Thevaram hymns of Appar and Sambandar which refer to this Siva temple are given below:

தில்லைசிற் றம்பலமும் செம்பொன் பள்ளி

தேனன்குடி சீராப்பள்ளி தெங்கூர்

கொல்லி குளிர் அறைப்பள்ளி கோவல்

வீரட்டம் கோகரணம் கோடி காவும்

முல்லைப் பறவம் முருகன் பூண்டி

முழையூர் பழையாறை சக்திமுற்றங்

கல்லல் திகழ்சீரார் காளத்தியும்

கயிலாய நாதனையே காணலாமே

 

பொருப்பள்ளி வரைவில்லாப் புரம்மூன்று

எய்து புலந்தழியச் சலந்தரனைப் பிளந்தான்

பொற்சக் கரப்பள்ளி திருக்காட்டுப்பள்ளி கள்ளார்

கமழ்கொல்லி அறைப்பள்ளி கலவஞ்சாரற்

சீராப்பள்ளி சிவப்பள்ளி செம்பொன் பள்ளி

கெழுநனி பள்ளி தவப் பள்ளி சீரார்

பரப்பள்ளி என்றென்று பகர்வோர் எல்லாம்

பரலோகத்து இனிதாகப் பாலிப் பாரே.

                    -திருநாவுக்கரசர்

 

அறைப்பள்ளி அகத்தியான் பள்ளி

வெள்ளைப் பொடி பூசி ஆறணிவான் அமர்

காட்டுப்பள்ளி சிறப்பள்ளி சீராப்பள்ளி

செம்பொன் பள்ளி திருநனி பள்ளி

சீர்மகேந்திரத்துப் பிறப்பில்லவன் பள்ளி

வெள்ளைச் சடையான் விரும்பும் இடைப்பள்ளி

வண் சக்கரம் மால் உறைப்பால் அடிபோற்றக்

கொடுத்த பள்ளி உணராய் மட நெஞ்சமே

உன்னி நின்றே.

                = திருஞானசம்பந்தர்

                   திருத்தலக் கோவை பதிகம்

External link: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/renunciate-chola-king-found-his-resting-place-in-kolli-hills/article18413321.ece

 

 

Maasi Magam Abishekam – Rituals to Cherish

March 2017

Maasi is the month (Feb-March) when the days are turning warmer after the pleasant cold weather of Margazhi and Thai. In temples all over Tamil Nadu, Maasi Magam  is a special day when the deities are given a holy ritualistic bath.In the temple of Lord Ardhanareeswara on Tiruchengode hill, this ritual is called the Maha-abhishekam, the ultimate abhishekam.

On Saturday, 11th March, 2017, our group of six members joined hundreds of participants of the maasi magam vizha as they congregated in the ancient Badrakali amman temple in Tiruchengode town. It is customary to begin the procession after prayers are offered to goddess Badrakali. The participants then walked along the very narrow and winding lanes of this historic town to the main ther veethi.

 At seven in the morning it was a scene of ethereal beauty as saffron clad devotees walked in silence, all bearing decorated pots of offerings of their choice for the abishekam. Folk dancers representing Siva and Parvati led the way.  At the main ther veedhi, the procession stopped briefly for a dance recital accompanied by music, and beautifully rendered by the folk dancers. As police-men made way for early morning traffic the procession moved slowly along the four ther veethis (chariot streets).

 The participants then went to the malai kovi (hill temple) of lord Ardhanareeswara for the maha-abhishekam.

ardhanareeswara temple on Tiruchengode hill 1
The temple on the hill

After darshan of Lord Ardhanareeswara, everyone waited for the abishekam to begin. This was no ordinary abishekam and the offering-pots contained a wide, interesting variety of sacred things. At the auspicious time the abishekam was first performed in the main sanctums of Senkotuvelavar(Murugan) and Ardhanareeswara. The beautiful utsava deities of Ardhanareeswara and Sengotuvelar were brought to the maha mandapam and placed on the central stone platform so that the rituals could be clearly viewed from all sides.The Maha abishekam commenced after the abishekam in the main shrines were completed.

A unique sight and an experience to cherish!

An awesome 1500 pots of milk, endless pots of vibhuti,honey,sandal-paste,,grapes,choppedbananas,sugarcanejuice,riceflour,panchamitham,turmeric,kalkandu(sugarcandy),panangarkandu-candy made from palm-sugar and pomegranatepearls were poured on the deities. Most of the offerings were collected and given back to the devotees as prasadam.

Faith And Blessing

Everyone present that day must have felt as I did, a divine peace and blessing fill the heart as the abishekam progressed. Seeing the abishekam was a purification of hearts and minds and   this cleansing deep inside gave strength of a divine kind, the courage to face the world with all its imperfections and trials. The divine blessing is a balm, a gentle reminder that on this hard journey of life God makes his presence felt in many, many ways. 

Pictures from the Masi Abishekam

Ardhanareeswarar
Utsavar of Lord Ardhanareeshwara is brought to the Maha Mandapam
masi magam in ardhanareeswara temple, Tiruchengode
The Utsavar of Lord Segottuvelar is placed alongside the deity of Lord Ardhanareeshwara
Preparing for abishekam in Tiruchengode temple
Preparing for the abishekam
Vibhuthi abishegam in Ardhanareeswarar temple, Tiruchengode
Abishekam with vibhuti- the holy ash sacred to Lord Siva
abishegam in Ardhanareeswarar temple, Tiruchengode
Water is poured on the deities after each abishekam
Palabishekam
Abishekam with milk
Abishekam
Abishekam is done with hundreds of pots of milk brought by devotees
Thaen abishegam in Ardhanareeswarar temple, Tiruchengode
You are the essence of sweetness – Abishekam with honey
Thaen Abishekam
Like honey, May our lives be filled with the sweetness of Your Prescence
Alangaram
                         Alangaram                                           We come to you with faith – May our lives become richer and more beautiful !

Read more posts on Maasi Magam  and Ardhanareeshwarar Temple by           clicking on the links below

Tiruchengode – In Anticipation Of Maasi Magam

TIRUCHENGODE

In anticipation of this year’s Maasi Magam festival, Tiruchengode town and Sri Ardhanareeswarar temple wear a festive look, this being the most important festival of this temple town. Hundreds of devotees take a vow of austerities by wearing the holy maala for a prescribed number of days. Life becomes focused on only one thing and that is Lord Ardhanareeshwara, the divine Father and Mother of the universe.

For me, it is always a pleasure to visit the temple and taking the vow is just another excuse to visit Ardhanareeswara, Ammaiyappan.

This year, our small group went to the temple to commence the viraddam by wearing the maala blessed and given by the Sivachariya in front of lord Ardhanareeswara. It was a subh muhurtham day with dozens of marriages taking place in every available corner of the maha mandapam in the temple. Ardhanareeswara temple is the temple for marriages because unity of husband and wife is what lord Ardhanareeshwara is all about. Mango leaf thorans were strung everywhere between the ornate pillars and many homa kundams for the many marriages.

Carving on the rocky wall inside the temple of lord Ardhanareeshwara in Tiruchengode, Tn
Carving on the rocky wall inside the temple of lord Ardhanareeshwara in Tiruchengode, Tn

On every visit to the temple,there is always a surprise, some new sculpture to marvel at, that previously went unnoticed by me. The temple is too full of of detailed sculptures of all sizes to be covered on a single day and this time it was a carving of lord Ganesha on the rock near the shrine of Aadhi Seshan below the Raja gopuram.

adiseshan-sannidhi-ardhanareeswarar-templetgode-copy
Shrine of Adhi Seshan beneath the Rajagopuram. The Ganapati carving can be seen on the rock wall to the left of this shrine.

Carvings of two serpents can be seen on either side of Ganesha on the rock. as befits another name of this ancient Tiruchengode hill, which is Naagachala. No wonder that serpent carvings are seen everywhere on the hill either as Aadhi Seshan or as Naagars.

Spending time in the beautiful temple after darshan, it was amusing to watch the goings on! Slowly the big mandapam emptied as wedding groups left. The temple staff started cleaning up and a bunch of monkeys joined in! They were everywhere, even high up on the temple pillars, on the railings, the floor,   a couple of baby monkeys were sitting on the Maha Nandi! People were offering fruits and tidbits which they took absolutely unafraid.

An important reminder :

This year’s Maasi Magam is celebrated on Saturday,11th March, 2017.

Below are pictures taken inside the temple on this visit:

ardhanareeswarar-templetgode-7-2

CLEANING UP

ardhanareeswarar-templetgode-4
Mango leaf thorans are removed after the weddings.The light of the lamps on the homakund are reflected beautifully on the gleaming floor on which rice and flower petals are strewn and look ethereal
ardhanareeswarar-templetgode-2
A baby monkey! This little fella takes pleasure in sitting on Nandhi’s head!

More monkey photos..!

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A little girl looks on with her mother at this cute little fellow
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Two adult monkeys sit back to back on the railings with a snack
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Near the temple entrance, temple cows feast on the banana trees that were used for the weddings.Beyond , Tiruchengode town lays spread out beneath the hill  temple
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A bride leaves with her relatives as a temple bull stands near the entrance 

PALANIAPPAR TEMPLE-BELUKURICHI

The Palaniappar temple on Koovai malai, a hillock in the foothills of Kolli Malai, near Belukurichi near Rasipuram, in Tamil Nadu stands out against the beautiful green backdrop of Kolli hills.

LEGEND

The name Belukurichi is derived from the ancient Tamil words Velavan Kurinji.

Velavan, another name for Murugan is the patron deity of Kurinji which is one of the five different landscapes categorized by the ancient Tamil people. Kurinji is the mountainous and hilly regions of the land. It is inhabited by Veddar, Kuravar and Kanavar tribes who are hunters.

Koovai malai is also called Koogai Malai. Koogai is the ancient Tamil word for the Owl. The Kolli hills as viewed from this hillock does look like a giant bird with outspread wings.

The people of the Kolli hills were hunters in those ancient times and they worshipped Murugan as one of their own, a hunter like themselves.

In the popular legend of Murugan’s courtship of Valli and their subsequent marriage Murugan goes to meet Valli in the guise of a handsome young hunter, Valli being the   daughter of Nambirajan, chief of the Kuravar tribe which is also a hill tribe. It is this form of Murugan as the handsome hunter that we worship in the Palaniappar temple.It is said that Murugan set out from here to Valli malai where Valli lived.

Glimpse of Palaniappar temple in the kolli foothills
Glimpse of Palaniappar temple in the kolli foothills

ANTIQUITY

The temple is believed to have existed since more than 3000 years ago.

Saint Bhogar who lived 3000 years ago is believed to have visited this temple after which he went to Palani and created the idol of Palani Murugan.

Thus the name Palaniappar means Palanikku appar,’the one who came before Palani’.

The Tamil poetess – saint Avvaiyar is said to have worshipped here.

HISTORY

King Valvil Ori worshipped Palaniappar here before visiting three other temples in the region. While talking about the history of the temple, the archakar thiru. Sendilkumar said, “Come, I will show you the statue of Valvil Ori with his queen”, and led the way to a block of granite at the entrance to the temple with carvings of Valvil Ori with his queen. Valvil Ori is shown holding a bow in one hand.

King Valvil Ori with his queen, Palaniappar temple
King Valvil Ori with his queen, Palaniappar temple, Belukurichi

As I visited temples in the regions ruled by Valvil Ori in Sangam Age Tamilagam  I found that people still spoke proudly of this king who was celebrated as one of the kadai ezhu vallalgal. The power of folklore that kept alive the name of a famous king of 2000 years ago is amazing!

FOOTPATH TO KOLLI HILLS

 It is significant that the images of the king and queen face the ancient footpath/bridlepath down the mountains.

Coming down from the mountains on this ancient path which is 10 feet wide, the temple is the first stop in the foothills.  

Footpath to Othakadai in kollimalai
Footpath from Belukurichi to Othakadai in kollimalai  begins here

This path is still used by the Palangudi indigenous people of Kolli Malai. When we visited, the archagar’s wife, pointing up the hills asked me if I could see a man going up the mountain path. Looking where she pointed I could indeed see a moving white speck way up the mountain! It was a man on his way up and further up there was another climber! I asked her how long it took to reach the top. “It may take more than two to four hours for us,” she said, “but for them (the hill people) it is a climb of 30 minutes or 45 minutes at the most”. The Pazhangudi people use this path to bring mountain produce such as honey, spices, jackfruit, pineapple and so on to the Belukurichi sandhai ( weekly market), mostly as thalai sumai, meaning they carried their goods on their heads! A sturdy people they are too! The Belukurichi sandhai is very famous and is held on all Saturdays.

A forest ranger who joined in the conversation said that from Belukurichi village the distance to the temple is 3 kms. And the distance from the temple via the footpath to Othakadai village in the hills was 3.30 kms. Since the new Nariangadu- mullukurichi road was opened in the kolli hills, some of the hill people now chose to use this road after climbing down part way down the hills.

This footpath is also used by trekkers.

THE TEMPLE

Palaniappar temple is the only Murugan temple in the world where Murugan is worshipped in the form of a Veddan or hunter in the sanctum sanctorum.

The way to the  temple is up the flight of steps leading from the base of the hillock. This way is now closed for renovation. There is a stone- built mandapam at the foot of the hill that was probably used for resting and for utsavams and festivals. Behind this mandapam the old temple car is kept.

Steps leading to Palaniappar temple, Koovaimalai
Steps leading to Palaniappar temple, Koovaimalai
palaniappar-temple-belukurichitn
Palaniappar temple,Koovai malai, Belukurichi
rock-cut-stepspalaniappar-temple-1
Rock-cut steps, Palaniappar temple,Belukurichi
Rock-cut steps, Palaniappar temple,Belukurichi
Rock-cut steps, Palaniappar temple,Belukurichi
A natural spring on Koovaimalai in Belukurichi
A mandapam of the Palaniappar temple at the base of hill, in Belukurichi

YAANAI PAALI

yaanai-pali-palaniappar-temple-belukurichi
Yaanai paali, Palaniappar temple,Belukurichi
Yaanai Paali,Palaniappar temple Belukurichi,Tn
Yaanai Paali,Palaniappar temple Belukurichi,Tn

A short distance up the steps is the Yaanai Paali(யானை பாலி),a perennial spring on the hill. There is a colorful life- size image of an elephant and the entrance to the sunai   (spring) is between the feet of the elephant! The archagar said that the spring used to be called as Pillaiyaar Paali. Later when the elephant entrance was built it came to be known as Yaanai Paali. The spring never dries up even in summer and the waters have healing, medicinal properties that are used to treat skin ailments.

Further up the hill there is another spring. I asked the archagar about it and he answered, “That spring is for the Aadu, maadu, paravaigal ( the cattle,goats and birds) that come up here to drink from the spring and the yaanai paali is for the use of humans”. An amazing but lovely tradition that taught peaceful co-existence with all living creatures!

A natural spring on Koovaimalai in Belukurichi
A natural spring on Koovaimalai in Belukurichi

A good motorable road goes around the hill right up to the back entrance of the temple, which in the olden days was the front entrance. The other entrances came much later.

A short flight of white washed granite steps lead to the temple. A spacious courtyard/prakaram leads to the Deepastampam and there are some more steps to the pillared maha mandapam.

PALANIAPPAR

palaniappar-belukurichi
PALANIAPPAR, BELUKURICHI

Lord Palaniappar in the garba graha is one of the most beautiful deities. Facing west, about 31/2 feet tall,  Murugan is in Veduvan kolam and a handsome young hunter he is! His hair is piled in a knot on the right side of his head in a hairstyle called as kondai. We can see a string of konrai (golden shower) flowers worn around the kondai. On the holy forehead can be seen the vibhuti (sacred ash) pattai and kumkum in the middle, symbols of Siva and Parvati. Malas or strings of beads, perhaps rudraakshas grace the chest.There are amulets  on the arms.The Vastra worn from the waist has strings of Vilva ( bael) leaves adorning it. We can see a pichua kathi(பிச்சுவா கத்தி), a small dagger worn at the waist as well as the dagger case! In his left hand Palaniappar holds a plump rooster(சேவல்)  while in his right hand He holds a long Eeti (ஈட்டி)or lance. Ornaments called thandai(தண்டை) adorn the ankles while footwear called paadha kuradu(பாதகுறடு) are worn on the beautiful holy feet. All these details are etched in stone, on this rare and beautiful idol. The beautiful face and the divine smile are enchanting.

Sri Palaniappar, Belukurichi,Tn
Sri Palaniappar, Belukurichi,Tn

On the ceiling of the Artha Mandapam an engraving of two serpents  swallowing the Sun and Moon can be seen.

The temple faces west, and on a good day the Tiruchengode Hill can be seen from the Maha mandapam.

Carving on temple pillar of lord murugan,Palaniappar temple
Carving on temple pillar of lord murugan,Palaniappar temple
Temple doorway,Palaniappar temple,Belukurichi
Temple doorway,Palaniappar temple,Belukurichi

There are small shrines for Vinayaka, Koogalingeswarar and Kumari Nayagi ambal. There is a separate shrine for Vishnu, with lord Krishna with his flute on one side and Aadhi Seshan on the other.  All these are later shrines consecrated in the last century. Koogalingeswarar and ambal were consecrated by the archagar’s maternal grandfather.

Sri Vinayakar, Palaniappar temple, Koovaimalai
Sri Vinayakar, Palaniappar temple, Koovaimalai
kumari-nayagi-belukurichi
Kumarinayagi ambal, Palaniappar temple
saneeswarar-sanidhi-belukurichi
Saneeswarar sannidhi, Belukurichi
A rooster in the temple
A rooster in the temple

 Pournami pooja  at midnight on full moon nights is a famous ritual of this temple attended by large crowds of people. The first pournami pooja was started on 28. 3. 1983 on a Monday in the month of Panguni of Thundhubi varusham (year) when the archagar’s maternal uncle served as temple priest. That same year, Sri Kripanandha Vaariaar, popularly called as Vaariaar Swamigal, visited and held a Sotrpozhivu or religious discourse at this temple.

Tirupugazh

Saint Arunagirinadhar composed two Tirupugazh hymns on lord Muruga of Kolli Malai. In the second hymn starting with the words Thollai tharu.., he says that Murugan went to court Valli who was guarding the millet field and that he took a gift of leaves  as was the custom in those days.

In the line,’Koydhu thazhaye kondu sellum mazhava’, Murugan is called as Mazhava, or member of the mazhavar tribe.History records the fact that the Mazhavar clan  ruled the Kolli and surrounding areas for many centuries. Valvil Ori was also a Mazhavar king.

கல்லுருகவே யின்கண் அல்லல்படுகோ வம்பு

   கல்வருக வேநின்று குழலூதுங்

கையன் மிசையேறும்பன்  நொய்யசடையோ  னெந்தை

   கைதொழமெய் ஞானஞ்சொல் கதிர்வேலா

கொல்லைமிசை வாழ்கின்ற வள்ளிபுனமே சென்று

   கொள்ளைகொளு மாரன்கையலராலே

கொய்து தழையேகொண்டு செல்லும் மழவா கந்த

   கொல்லிமலை மேநின்ற பெருமாளே

Song 607 – Thollaimudhal (kollimalai)

…………

kalluruga veyinkan allalpadu go am pu

    galvaruga venindru kuzhaloodhum

kaiyanmisai yerumban noyyasadai yonnendhai

    Kaithozha mei nyaanam sol kadhirvela

kollaimisai vaazhginra valli puname sendru

   kollaikollu maaran kai alaraale

koydhu thazhye kondu sellum mazhava..kandha

   kollimalai menindra perumale

These lines allude to the legend of Murugan meeting Valli as a young hunter and it is believed that they refer to Vedduva Murugan in this temple.

WINDS OF CHANGE

Renovation work is being done. The temple will wear a new look when it is completed. The peaceful isolation may become a thing of the past. When the breeze blows from the mountain in the evenings bringing the healing fragrance of the hundreds of herbs which Kolli malai is famous for, there is apprehension that all this may be lost to change. But the grace of Palaniappar will be bestowed on all who seek him.

Sunset at Palaniappar temple,Belukurichi
Sunset at Palaniappar temple,Belukurichi
Vinayaka shrine on the hill,Belukurichi, Tn
Vinayaka shrine on the hill,Belukurichi, Tn

TIMINGS

The temple is open continuously from 7 a.m to 5.30 p.m.

Since it is 3 kms from the village there are no crowds except on special days like the full moon day and weekends. There are no houses or even shops near the temple. Offerings for pooja like flower garlands, coconuts, bananas, betel leaves and areca-nut can be bought in Belukurichi.

The temple in idyllic surroundings is the perfect place for a picnic or to spend some quiet time away from it the bustle of the city.

LOCATION

Koovai malai is part of Bail nadu in Kolli Hills Taluk.

Located in Reserve forest area of the kolli range, the temple can be reached by road from Belukurichi, a fairly large village right below the kolli hills, 13.6 km from Rasipuram and 13.8 km from Sendhamangalam.

Belukurichi is accessible from Salem, Rasipuram or Namakkal which have good hotels. The temple is an hour’s drive from Salem.

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Take a right turn here - Belukurichi village
Take a right turn here – Belukurichi village

 CONTACT

R.Sendhilkumar

Sri Palaniappar Aalaya archakar

Koovai malai, Bail nadu

Kollimalai vattam, Namakkal district, Tamil Nadu

Mobile nos:     95244 49931,   96980 18876