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

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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

 

 

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
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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

Sri Rama Temple at Pagoda Point

Sri Rama temple,Pagoda point

Sri Rama Temple, Stone Cairns and a View-point

Up in the hills, temples are sturdy landmarks in the lush surroundings, quite often built in chosen locations.

Sri Rama temple at Pagoda Point in Thalai cholai village is just such a place.

Pagoda point, Yercaud
Sri Rama Temple, Pagoda Point 
Sri rama temple -Pagoda point
Sri Rama and Sita, Pagoda point

 

Hanuman at Sri rama temple -Pagoda point
Hanuman

At four in the afternoon, it is cold up here. The temple is open, the oil lamps are lit but there is no priest. The idols of Rama and Sita are beautiful. There is a small idol of Hanuman in front facing the sanctum. The outer structure is modern and very clean.

The woman in the shop next to the temple says the temple is quite old, no one knows how old. It is one of many Rama temples in the Shevaroy hills. Her kula-deivam on her father’s side is Sri Rama she says, waving a hand in the direction of the temple.

Stone Cairns

Pagoda point is a view-point in the hills, a short distance from Yercaud Lake. Named after the stone cairns that are found here which are built in the shape of a pyramid or a pagoda, it is sometimes mispronounced as pakoda point! It is these stone cairns and the view-point that are the main tourist attractions. These cairns are 5 to 7 feet high. The lady shop-keeper says they are used to light the ceremonial lamps during the festival in the month of Karthigai.“Karthigai Maasam vaanga. Romba nalla irrukum,” she invites in Tamil, meaning, ‘You should come here in the month of Karthigai(for the festival). It is very nice then’. Her husband is also the caretaker of the temple. “We come here around 12 noon,” she says, “There are crowds of tourists on week-ends and holidays. On other days we just sit here”, she smiles.

Pagoda point,Yercaud
One of the stone cairns near the temple

 

A stone cairn, Pagoda point, Yercaud
Stone cairn,Pagoda point
Pagoda point, Yercaud (3)
View from Pagoda point, Yercaud

The view-point overlooks the valley. Wispy clouds float across the valley at eye-level! Fog surrounds you and moves away minutes later! Down below you can see a tribal village and another temple. It is a lovely place for a visit.

View from Pagoda point, yercaud
Clear view of the valley,Pagoda point
Clouds descend over the valley
This photo showing mist descending on the valley,was taken about 30 minutes after the first photo

The pictures below show how the fog brought road-visibility to near zero on our way back from the temple.Signpost in the fog

schoolboy in the mist
Fog is thicker. You can see a school boy making his way home.

Thick fog obscures the signpost

Thick fog obscures the signpost

Location

Pagoda point is roughly 4 km from Yercaud Lake in Thalai cholai village.

 

Nature

This post is in response to 3 day quote challenge.

I thank Mandeep at https://singhcircle.com for nominating me for the challenge.

On My Day Two my favourite quotes are on NATURE.

“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.”

George Washington Carver

 

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more.”
Lord Byron, “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

 

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
-Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

 

Nerur- Sri Sadasiva Brahmendral Adishtanam

Nerur Sri Sadasiva Brahmendral Adhishtanam

Sadasiva Brahmendral Adishtanam (2)
Sadasiva Brahmendral Adishtanam, Nerur,TN

This post is offered humbly at the feet of Satguru Sadasiva Bramendrar of Nerur and my Gurudeva Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda.

Some holy places are capable of bestowing immense peace on all who visit. One such place is the Adishtanam of Satguru Sri Sadasiva Brahmendra in Nerur, near Karur in Tamil Nadu. Set amidst paddy fields and mango and coconut groves, the river Kaveri flows closeby. To many many Indians all over the world, Sadasiva Brahmendra is their maanasika Guru, the ever present guiding spiritual force in their lives.

Sadasiva Brahmendra was a saint who lived in the eighteenth century in Tamil Nadu. Gurudeva Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, during his year-long visit to India from America in 1935, sought out and visited many holy men and holy places which are recorded in his book,  ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’. He gives a brief account of Sadasiva Brahmendra and says he was, ‘a lovable and fully illumined Master’.

Early Life

Sadasiva Brahmendra was born to deeply religious parents Moksha Somasundara Avadhani and Parvati in Madurai. It is said that his mother Parvati was initiated into Rama japa and advised to chant it crores of times so that every cell in her body was charged with the nama. A child born to her in this state would become an exalted mahaan or saint. The couple prayed for a child to Ramanathaswamy in the famous temple in Rameshwaram and the son born as an answer to their prayers was named Sivaramakrishnan.

Somasundara Avadhani took his family to Tiruvisainallur near Kumbakonam, which was then the hub of learned masters of Vedanta. As a young boy Sadasiva studied under Ramabhadra Dikshitar and was a gifted student. At the age of 17, he was married but left home soon after to pursue his true calling. He went to Tiruvenkadu to meet his guru Paramasivendra Saraswati under whose tutelage he became a brilliant scholar well versed in the Vedas. He authored several Sanskrit works which include commentaries on the Brahma Sutras and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

 Sadasiva delighted in engaging in religious debates with Vedanta scholars. Invariably he defeated them. One such defeated scholar went and complained to Guru Paramasivendra about this behavior of Sadasiva. Paramasivendra summoned Sadasiva and said “What is the use of these intellectual debates? When will you learn to be silent?” “From this moment”, replied Sadasiva and became a non-speaking ascetic. He took to sanyasa and was given the formal monastic title of Sadasivendra Saraswati. Taking leave from his guru, he roamed the forests and unfrequented river banks, going deep in meditation for long periods of time. It is believed he spent many months in meditation in Nerur.

Among the disciples of Guru Paramasivendra, three attained the highest spiritual wisdom called gnana – (1) Sri Sadasiva Brahmendra (2) Sri Bodhendra (3) Sri Sridara Ayyaval. Of these three disciples Sadasiva Brahmendra went on to attain the highest spiritual state of Avadhoota.

In the higher stages of spirituality, he rejected all accepted norms. He wore no cloth and roamed everywhere in a state of enlightened bliss.

After he became an Avadhuta he once visited his childhood friend and fellow pupil Sridara Ayyaval of Tiruvisainallur who said that he accepted his vow of silence but what stopped him from singing songs on the Lord. Sadasiva then wrote several Carnatic kritis (musical compositions) some of which are mainstays in kacheris (concerts) today. A few of the more popular ones are Maanasa Sanjara Re in which he urges the human mind to always linger in the Supreme Brahman, Sarvam Brahmamayam in which he says that everything in Creation is purely the essence of Brahman, Pibare Rama Rasam in which he extolls the wondrous benefits of chanting Rama nama. He dedicated all his musical compositions to his guru. The insignia of his keertans was Paramahamsa guru and Paramasivendra sriguru.

Vijaya Raghunatha Thondaiman, the Raja of Pudukottai, learnt about this great master and went in search of him. He met the saint in the forests near Pudukottai and implored him to return to the palace with him. The saint did not reply. He merely walked into a thicket of thorn trees and sat down to meditate. The raja set up camp near the saint and served the master for many years, attending to his royal duties at the same time. He asked for and received religious instruction which Sadasiva wrote on sand and which the successive rulers of Pudukottai hold as sacred to this day. Sadasiva Brahmanendra instructed the king to appoint Gopalakrishna sastri of Pitchandar koil as the royal guru. His descendants served as guru to the subsequent rulers of Pudukottai.

Miracles

Many are the miracles that are told of this exalted master. One day, villagers saw the saint who was immersed in deep meditation on a bank of the Kaveri river being carried away by a sudden flood. They searched for him everywhere, in vain. Weeks later, near Kodumudi near Erode, when villagers dug a mound of earth near the river for sand to use in construction, they were shocked to see blood on their shovels. They found Sadasiva buried in the sand and freed him. The saint, in a trance, stood up and quietly walked away.

Once Sadasiva brahman was walking across some fields. It was harvest time and the saint stumbled on a stone and fell between stacks of hay. The farm workers, not noticing him continued to pile hay high on the stack. A year later when the hay was used up, Sadasiva Brahman picked himself up and walked away, to the shock of the workers.

Sadasiva Brahmendra adored children. Children from the village of  Mahadanapuram on the banks of the Kaveri, who were fond of him,  once expressed a desire to attend the festival in Madurai, a 100 miles away. In an instant he had transported them to the festival and back. Their parents were awestruck when the children told them about the wonderful time they had in Madurai at the festival. They even had bags of Madurai sweets.

Another time the saint was immersed in meditation near a heap of grains in a field. The farmer thought he was a thief and raised his staff to strike him. Lo! He became frozen like a statue. When Sadasiva came out of his trance his gaze brought the farmer out of his frozen state. He hastened to ask for the saint’s forgiveness.

Another incident describes how some soldiers made him carry firewood on his head when he was roaming the forests near Pudukottai. Sadasiva happily carried the load. When it was put down on a larger stack of firewood, the entire lot burst into flames and was reduced to ashes. Only then the soldiers realized that this was no ordinary person but an exalted master.

An illiterate man who was born dumb was a great devotee of Sadasiva. One day the saint placed his hand on the man’s head and prayed to God that He may bestow the gifts of speech and knowledge on him. By the grace of the Guru, he was able to speak and went on to become a famous scholar, Akasha Purana Ramalinga Sastry.

The saint once walked into the tent of a moslem chieftain in a trance. The ladies were alarmed on seeing the nude saint. In a fit of anger the chieftain slashed the arm of Sadasiva. Unconcerned, Sadasiva walked away. The stunned chieftain realized that he was a saint. Filled with remorse he picked up the arm and fell at the feet of the master begging forgiveness. Sadasiva Brahman came out of his trance, inserted the arm into the bleeding stump which instantly healed and went on his way.

Temples

Sadasiva Brahmendra consecrated deities in many temples. He also installed yantras in many of them.

Jeeva Samadhi

Sadasiva Brahmendra attained Jeeva Samadhi in 1750 A.D. in Nerur. He fulfilled the wish of his ardent disciple Raja Vijaya Raghunatha Thondaiman that he should settle down in land that belonged to the king. Here the river Kaveri flows south (dakshina) which adds to the sanctity of the place. Before he was immersed in Jeeva Samadhi, Sadasiva Brahman had clearly stated that on the nineth day following his Jeeva Samadhi, a holy bilva tree (bael tree) would grow above his head. On the tenth day a Brahmachari would bring a sivalingam from Kasi (Varanasi) which should be consecrated 12 feet in front of the bilva tree. All the incidents came to pass exactly as predicted. The Raja of Pudukottai built a temple in which the lingam was consecrated and arranged for regular pujas to be done at the temple and at the Jeeva Samadhi of the Guru.

He is said to have attained Samadhi at three places simultaneously – at Nerur and Manamadurai in Tamil Nadu and Karachi in Pakistan.

The younger brother of Kanchi Maha Periyava, Sri Sadasiva Sastrigal popularly known as Sivan Sir gives a detailed account of Sri Sadasiva Brahmendra in his monumental work titled ‘Yenipadigalil Maandhargal’(Tamil).In this book Sivan Sar says that Sadasiva Brahmendra attained Mahasamadhi at five places corresponding to the five elements – Panchabhootas.

  1. Nerur,
  2. Manamadurai
  3. Karachi
  4. Kasi
  5. Puri

He also mentions that Sri Brahmendral blessed two Muslim brothers (Irratai Mastan) with knowledge of the Divine. Their Samadhi (dargah) is located in Tanjavur.

Since his Jeeva Samadhi, the miracles continue. One incident stands out like a beacon and is connected with the 33rd Shankaracharya of Srigeri Sarada Peedam.

Sri Sachidananda Shivabhinava Narasimhabarathi Swami was the 33rd pontiff of Srigeri Sarada Peetam. In the 1902 he visited Karur district and was pulled mysteriously by the adishtanam of Sri Sadasiva Brahmendra in Nerur. To know more about the adishtanam, the seer sat fasting for three days in front of the adishtanam and finally had a dialogue with Sri Brahmendra on a subtle plane. Overcome with divine bliss he instantly composed 45 stanzas called Sri Sadasivendra Sthava and another hymn called Sri Sadasivendra Pancharatna. In his final years, Sri Shivabinava Narasimhabarathi swamy was greatly influenced by a masterpiece of Sadasiva Brahman titled Atma Vidya Vilasam. His successor, the 34th pontiff of Sringeri peetam Sri Chandrashekara Bharathi Swamy lived his life in the true spirit of this classic.

Visit to Sadasiva Brahmendral Adishtanam

The arch at the entrance to the Adhistanam of Sadasiva Brahmendrar
The arch at the entrance to the Adhistanam of Sadasiva Brahmendrar

The adishtanam is located in Nerur, a village 10km from Karur in Tamil Nadu.

The bustle of the city gives way to the charm of a rural countryside, lush and beautiful which makes the drive to the adishtanam along winding roads and tiny villages a memorable experience.

The arch at the entrance has the words Sri Satguru Sadasiva Brahmendral Mahasannidhi written on it in Tamil. It leads to the small beautiful temple of Kasi Viswanathar – Visalakshi Ambal. A passage to the left leads to the adishtanam of Guru Sadasiva Brahmendrar. It is the ideal place for meditation. Straw mats are placed here for those who wish to meditate. There is a small lingam on the adishanam. Archanai to the Guru is done here. Behind it is the holy bilva tree which appeared miraculously as promised by the Guru. Saffron Vastra is wrapped around it. Behind the samadhi Sri Sadasivendra Sthava and Sri Sadasivendra Pancharatna are inscribed on granite slabs.

The Kasi Visvanathar shrine, Nerur
The Kasi Visvanathar shrine, Nerur
Kasi viswanathar shrine, Nerur
Kasi viswanathar shrine, Nerur
Passage leading to the Adishtanam , Nerur
Passage leading to the Adishtanam , Nerur

 

Nerur photos

A  prayer  in Sanskrit and Tamil to Sadasiva brahmendrar
A prayer in Sanskrit and Tamil to Sadasiva brahmendrar
The Adhishtanam at Nerur
The Adhishtanam at Nerur

Devotees light lamps, give offerings and pray quietly. Silence prevails. It is a soothing, healing silence that seeps to the depths of our beings, purifying, and cleansing, bestowing peace. The only sounds are the sound of the wind in the maghizham and mango trees overhead, the chirping of the birds and the occasional muted sounds of puja bells, melodious intonation of mantras as aarti is performed and the hushed voices of visitors.

Pooja at Sadasiva Brahmendral Adishtanam in Nerur
Pooja at Sadasiva Brahmendral Adishtanam in Nerur
The Adhishtanam of Guru Sadasiva Brahmendra, another view
The Adhishtanam of Guru Sadasiva Brahmendra, another view

Nerur Sadasiva Bramendrar Adhistanam (7)

Nerur Sadasiva Bramendrar Adhistanam (6)

Nerur Sadasiva Bramendrar Adhistanam (5)

 

Nerur Sadasiva Bramendrar Adhistanam (3)

Inside Sadasiva Bramendral Adhishtanam, Nerur

The outer courtyard of Sadasiva Brahmendra's Adhishtanam
The outer courtyard of Sadasiva Brahmendra’s Adhishtanam
Cows look on in the Adhistanam campus
Cows look on in the Adhistanam campus

Silence was the language of Sri Sadasiva Brahmendra and it is this silence that can be experienced here.

The grace of Guru Sadasiva Brahmendra continues to pour on all who seek him.

References

‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ by Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

A compilation of the life of Sri Sadasiva Brahmendra drawn from the book by Sivan Sir, ‘Yenipadigalil Manthargal’

Literature on Sadsiva Brahman made available at the Adhistanam, Nerur, by Dr. A. Rajasimha, Simha Heart Foundation, Mysore.

http://www.columbuslost.com/Temples/Nerur-Sadasiva-Brahmendra-Swami-Biography-Miracles-and-Samadhi/info

LOCATION

The Adishtanam is located in Nerur, 10 km from Karur in Tamil Nadu.

It is called Sadasivam koil locally.

There are regular buses from Karur to Tirumukkoodalur that stop at Sadasivam koil, Nerur. The shrine is just a stone’s throw away from this village bus-stop which has a couple of tiny shops.

 Good hotels are available in Karur which is the nearest rail- head.There are no hotels or eateries in Nerur, so plan your visit accordingly.

Contact:

Sri Narayana Upadyaya, the priest at Sri Sadasiva Brahmendral's AdishtanamJ. Narayana Upadhyaya

 Sri Sadasiva Brahmendral Adishtana Archaka,

Agraharam, Nerur

Mobile No:  94886 27839,  94880 58741

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YERCAUD JOURNAL

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YERCAUD – THE HILL TOWN BY THE LAKE

March 24, 2016

Summer has come early to the southern states in the Indian Sub – continent and it is time to think of cooler climes.

Yercaud Journal is a record of my visits to Yercaud, one of the most beautiful hill stations in Tamil Nadu, India. Flip through its pages and be enthralled by the magic of the hills. Yercaud is called The Jewel of the South and it is one of my favourite and beloved places, one which I never tire of visiting.

 A beautiful little hill town in the hills of the Shevaroy ranges of the Eastern Ghats in South India, Yercaud is in the state of Tamil Nadu, at a height of 4970 feet above mean sea level, (1515 metres).

It can be easily reached from Salem by a hill road that has twenty hair-pin bends and is one of the most scenic roads in Tamil Nadu.

The distance from Salem is 27 kms, roughly an hour’s drive, IF you do not give in to temptation to stop along the way to admire the scenes, the clouds, the mist, the beauty that Mother Nature has chosen to bestow on the many hills you pass on the way up!

The Nearest Railway Station is Salem

The Nearest Airports are at Trichy and Coimbatore.

It is true that the hills are alive!

As the road takes you higher and higher up from the plains of Salem, as the warm air changes to a cool breeze, you will feel your spirits uplifted, you will find yourself leaving all your cares behind, at peace with the world and yet with the thrill that comes of knowing that in the following hours or days you are going to enjoy yourself. By the time you reach Yercaud, you are once more a child –

Welcome To Yercaud and Enjoy Yourself!

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THE HILL ROAD BEGINS HERE, AT 350 m ABOVE MSL
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SPRING COMES TO THE HILLS – BARE TREES AND NEWLY GREEN ONES ON EITHER SIDE OF THE HILL ROAD

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THICKETS OF BAMBOO LINE THE ROAD
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IMAGES OF SPRING – THE ROAD IS STREWN WITH FLOWERS
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A GLIMPSE THROUGH THE FOREST OF THE WINDING GHAT ROAD

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THE GREEN BOARD BY THE ROADSIDE TELLS VISITORS THAT THEY HAVE ARRIVED

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TOWERING TREES MAKE EVERYTHING LOOK SMALL

 

PANDAMANGALAM-In The Footsteps Of The Pandavas

PRASANNA VENKATARAMANA SWAMI TEMPLE, PANDAMANGALAM

The Tamil month of Purataasi is devoted to the worship of Lord Vishnu. Saturdays in this month are days of fasting and worship. The Tamil word for Saturdays is Sani-Kizhamai, and the third Saturday in Purataasi is believed to be the holiest. Visits to Perumal ( Vishnu) temples are important and a part of the worship in this sacred month.

Tucked away in a lovely Tamil-nadu village,surrounded by sugarcane fields,a canal flowing on one side is a beautiful temple to Lord Vishnu.The picturesque village is Pandamangalam in Namakkal district of Tamil-nadu and the Vishnu temple is the Prasanna Venkataramana Swami Temple.

PANDAMANGALAM

As the name suggests,the village  dates back to the Mahabaratha period in history. The Shiva, Vishnu and Mariamman temples are all situated close together. On the day of my visit, a few days after Vinayaka Chaturthi, The Vinayakar in Pandamangalam was getting ready to be taken for immersion in a water body. A few pics.of Ganesha outside the temple.

Pandamangalam 1
Vinayaka Chathurthi in Pandamangalam
Pandamangalam 2
Ganesha getting ready

It is believed that during the Vanavaasam (years in exile) of the Pandavas ,they came to Pandamangalam. They built an Ashram and lived here for some time.

Prasanna Venkataramana Swami appeared to them, and the Pandavas worshipped the Lord and received His blessings. He is the Lord we see today. The village was named after the Pandavas,and Pandavar mangalam became Pandamangalam with the passage of time. During their stay in Pandamangalam they were saved from an evil spirit,  Vedalam,  by Lord Krishna whose temple is near the Varaha Theertham.

Aview from the entrance.Pandamangalam
A view from the entrance.Pandamangalam

Hundreds of years later it was part of the Pandya Kingdom and was known as Pandiyamangalam. The Pandya Queen suffered from a skin disease. The King and Queen prayed to Prasanna Venkataramana Swami. Again the Lord appeared to them and cured the Queen of her ailment.

The third instance when the Lord was Pratyaksham (appeared before the people) happened in a more recent time-frame, when this region was under the  rule of the Kings of Mysore. Once the Raja of Mysore suffered from an incurable stomach-ache. He was advised to come to Pandamangalam and pray to Venkataramana Swami who cured people of all illness. The Raja worshipped God as instructed by the priests and took the prasad of holy tulsi (holy basil) leaves as medicine. He was completely cured of his stomach pain. Returning to Mysore, he told the queen of the miraculous cure. Both the Raja and the Queen came to Pandamangalam and renovated the temple.

So we find that the temple has been extended from the main shrine or garpa griham of the Mahabaratha period to the other shrines and inner and outer corridors built by the Pandya Kings and later by the Raja of  Mysore. Of course the Bhoo Varahar temple and the Varaha theertham are even older.

RAJA VAIKAAL

For hundreds of years, the region around Pandamangalam has been famous for betel-leaf cultivation. Even today, the betel-leaves (vetrilai) grown in Pandamangalam and surrounding areas are among the best. To this day, it is the busy hub of a thriving trade in green betel leaves which are plucked from the vines, packed in layers in dried banana leaves and sent to markets all over Tamil-nadu. In fact, it is one of the first scenes that greet your eyes on the way to the temple.

Once there was a severe draught and the betel vines dried up. The Raja of Mysore had a canal dug that brought water from the lake at Jeddarpalayam, 10kms from here, and irrigated hundreds of acres of land. It is called Raja Vaaikal after the Raja of Mysore. It brings water to the fields throughout the year. For ten days in February – March the water flow is blocked for maintenance of the canal. There is a bridge across the canal that leads to the temple.

Raja Vaaikal Pandamangalam.
Raja Vaaikal Pandamangalam.

Raja Vaikaal Pandamangalam

Pandamangalam 7
The bridge across the canal

The Temple

The temple is built in such a way that Prasanna Venkataramana Swami is clearly visible from the entrance. We have to climb down some steps to enter the temple.

The first worship is to Kshetra Balagar who is the Kaaval Deivam or guardian deity of the Gopura Vaasal (entrance through the Gopuram or temple tower). Behind this is the Dwajastambam or flag post (Kodi Maram in Tamil) and the Bali peetam.

In the inner corridor, the sannadhi( shrine)  of Prasanna Venkataramana Swami occupies centre stage.

Prasanna Venkataramana Swamy-Pandamangalam
Prasanna Venkataramana Swamy-Pandamangalam

The Battar (Priest) tells us about the temple and the Lord.

  • This temple is a Varaha Kshetram.
  • It is a Prarthana Sthalam. Prarthana means prayer. This is a temple where the Lord answers our prayers without fail. The prayers may be for getting a job, cure for illness or any other reasonable prayer. The Lord grants them all.
  • There is no mangalasaasanam for this temple.
  • Usually the idols of Venkataramana Swami in temples are quite big(Aajaanubaagu) but in this temple, He is in Kuzhandai Roopam,(meaning -like a small child) and hence very adorable, making us want to visit Him again and yet again just to gaze on the beauty of the small Perumal with Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi.

Back again in the inner corridor,there are sannidhis to Dhanvantri, Chakarathalwar, Thayar, Andal and Lakshmi Hayagreevar. The name of Thayar is Alarmel Mangai Thayar .There are idols of Narasimhar, Venugopalan with SathyaBama and Rukmini and Lakshmi Narasimhar.The sheer beauty of the idols steals your heart.Another surprise is the Navagraha shrine in this Vishnu temple.

Venugopalaswamy-Pandamangalam
Venugopalaswamy-Pandamangalam

Venugopalaswamy-Pandamangalam.1

The paadam of Perumal
The paadam of Perumal

Dhanvantri and Hayagreeva are recent installations of a couple of hundred years. All the rest date back to an ancient time.

Alwargal Pandamangalam

Temple Corridor Pandamangalam

VARAHA THEERTHAM

Varaha theertham 1
Varaha theertham

The priest very kindly sent a local devotee to show us the Varaha Theertham. The outer corridor leads to an ancient door set in the temple wall (mathil). Through this door and the Varaha Theetham lies just beyond.  The Theertham is a sight to behold!Small elephant sculptures grace the steps of this ancient temple pond.

Here is the  small temple to Bhoo Varaha Swami which is older even than the Venkataramana Swami sannadhi. There is another shrine to Sri Krishna.

Bhu Varahar temple
Bhu Varahar temple
Bhoo Varaha Swami,Pandamangalam
Bhoo Varaha Swami, Pandamangalam
Sri Krishna
Sri Krishna

Varaha theertham at duskThe temple is under the Tamilnadu Government. It is beautifully maintained by a trust comprising of local people.

Temple cars Pandamangalam

Additional Facts

Three kaala pujas are performed everyday.

In this temple the Brahmotsavam starts on the day of Thai Aswathy nakshatra in honour of the Raja whose birth star was Thai Aswathy.

WHERE IT IS LOCATED

Pandamangalam  temple is  29 Kms. from Namakkal via NH 7

Distance from Salem is 84 Kms.

Distance from Karur is 27 Kms. via NH 7

Timings:

7.00a.m.to 12.00 p.m.

5.00 p.m to 8.00 p.m.

Address:

Prasanna Venkataramana Swami Tirukoil,

Pandamangalam, P.Velur, Namakkal District, Tamil-nadu,South India