The Palace in Padmanabhapuram can best be described as a poem in wood.Incidentally, it is the world’s largest palace in wood. The intricate carvings and woodwork are according to the Thachu Sastra which translates to The Science of Carpentry, which is unique to Kerala.
Gleaming Corridors and Polished Floors
The King’s bedroom
This wooden cot was a gift made by the Dutch to the Maharaja and was made from the wood of 64 different types of medicinal plants and trees.
The Queen’s dressing room
King Marthanda Varma built the Navarathri Mandapam in 1744 A.D. Built of a solid rock, the building is 66 feet long and 27 feet wide.Famed for the unparalleled architecture and exquisite carvings , the building speaks of the rich cultural and artistic tradition of Kerala. It was here that various cultural programmes were conducted during the Navarathri festival. The dance floor was polished to mirror like perfection so much so that it is known as Kannadi thara or Mirror Floor.
A word about the flooring in this and many other parts of the palace: It was laid using a unique combination of egg-whites, Jaggery. lime, burnt Coco-nut shells, charcoal and river sand and polished until it shone like a mirror.
This building was constructed for accommodation of visiting foreign tourists and dignitaries.
A visit to Padmanabhapuram Palace was something I had been planning for a long time. As it turned out the visit was very enjoyable.
A 16th century palace built almost entirely of wood, in traditional Kerala style of architecture, replete with carvings and sculptures, a delight to lovers of art and architecture!
A few quick facts and then it’s mostly photographs.
Padmanabhapuram Palace is near the town of Thuckalay in Kanyakumari District of Tamil-nadu in South India. It is 20 kms.from Nagerkoil and 50 kms fromTiruvananthapuram, at the foot of the Veli Hills which form part of the Western Ghats.
It was the ancient capital of the Travancore Kings for many centuries and remained the centre of power till 1790, when the capital was shifted to Tiruvanandapuram. Though it is in the state of Tamil-nadu, it is a monument protected by law and under the care of the Government of Kerala.
We had to leave our footwear at a special counter near the entrance.
Now for the pics.!
This is where the King held discussions with his ministers. A special feature here are the Kilivathil of which there are eleven. A kilivathil is a tiny window, the shutters of which are beautifully decorated with mirror-work in different hues. Chinese model sittings that adorn the Mantrasala are rich with carvings. The floor is typical of the rare technology that was in vogue.
The Grand dining hall is very big. It was called Ootupura meaning-dining area.The kings of Travancore were known for their generous hospitality.Over 2000 people were served free meals in this Grand dining hall on a daily basis.Each storey of this two-storeyed building is built to accomodate one thousand people at a time.The huge Chinese jars which were used to store pickles are exhibited in the Ground floor.
Stone troughs to store water in the dining hall.
This part of the palace dates back to an even earlier period.It is called TheMother Palace or Thai Kottaram.
The boarded up entrance to a secret underground passage that leads to another palace about a kilometre away.
The Kumbabhishekam of the Srivilliputhur Vadabadra Sayanar temple was performed recently.I had the good fortune to visit the temple, that too in the month of Adi, the Tamil month in which Andal was born!
Srivilliputhur is a small town near the Western ghats in Virudhunagar District in Tamilnadu. But everything about it that is small ends here!
It is the birthplace of two of the greatest Alwars of the Vaishnava tradition- Perialwar and his foster daughter Andal .
The official emblem of the Government of Tamilnadu is the magnificent temple tower of the Vadabadrasayee Perumal at Srivilliputhur.
I was delighted to see a herd of cattle on the road as we approached Srivilliputhur! Cattle and cows are celebrated by Andal in her Tiruppavai,an immortal collection of hymns on Sri Krishna, the gopis and life in Ayarpadi (Brindavan).
The Andal Temple or Nachiyar koil as it is also called consists of twin temples:
Sri Vadabadrasayee Temple
In addition to this is the famous Tiruppora Mantapam where Andal was born and Periyalwar temple.
We went first to Andal koil as it is called here. In the sanctum sanctorum we have darshan of Andal, Rangamannar and Garudalwar. Their Panchaloga idols grace the mandapam in front.The Battar explains that this is the Mana Kolam of Andal Nachiyar meaning the idols depicted the wedding of Andal with Rangamannar. Here, Garudan stands with the wedding couple, unlike in other Vishnu temples where you usually find Garudan outside the sanctum sanctorum facing the Lord.The reason was that, Garudan brought Rangamannar from Srirangam to the marriage venue very fast(adhi seekramai), so Andal honoured him by giving him a place on the peetam next to them! Moreover, in this temple, there is no separate sannidi for Andal!
Together, Andal, Rangamannar and Periya thiruvadi Garudalwar are seen as Pranava roopam. It is also known as Pranavakaradarsanam. Rangamannar in the middle represents agaram, Andal represents ugaram and Garudan represents makaram.The three together i.e.Aa+Uu+Ma form the holy word Om.In Srirangam, Lord Ranganathar holds a conch and discus in his hands, In Srivilliputhur, he holds a dhandam-royal staff held by kings and is called as Rangamannar.
Prayers are made to Thayar Andal and are believed to be heard and granted.
A green parrot rests on Andal’s shoulder.This parrot is special in that it is freshly made by hand everyday using leaves and herbs.
It is believed that Andal temple is the place where Periyalwar lived and that Periyalwar built the temple on his return from Srirangam after Andal was united with the Lord.It was renovated by the later Pandya kings. The fish emblem of the Pandya dynasty can be seen in the ceiling and mantapams.The Nayakkar kings of Madurai and the Vijayanagara kings made large donations to Sri Andal temple.
TEMPLE OF LORD VADABADRASAYEE
The temple is also called as Vada Perum Koil and Periya Perumal Koil.
This is the Divyadesam temple.
The temple of Lord Vadabadrasayee is a two- storeyed Maadakoil,with a large prakaram full of beautiful paintings and sculptures. A shrine for Lord Lakshmi Narasimha is on the ground floor. The idol is large and brightly painted.
A large flight of wide stone steps lead to the floor above. A mantapam leads to the sannidhi of Lord Vadbadrasayee. Lord Vadabadrasayee reclines on Adisesha beneath a banyan tree-Vadabadram. Sridevi and Bhudevi and sages Narada and Markandeya, Garudan, Surya and Sanathkumaras are present with the Lord. The Lord’s image is a large and very colorful sudhai sirpam –made of brick and mortar, hence daily tirumanjananam (sacred bath ) is not performed.
This was the Lord whom Periyalwar and Andal worshipped with such fervor.This was the Lord who asked to be decked only with the garland of flowers worn by Gothai, who henceforth was called as Soodi Kodutha Sudarkodi and as Andal meaning she who won over the Lord.This was the Lord whom Periyawar adored so much that he devoted his entire life to his service.
Not surprising, for words cannot describe the beauty of Lord Vadabadrasayee. It draws one like a magnet.
Also on the first floor is a large rectangular hall with ornate woodwork on the walls. It is called Gopala Vilasam and it was built 200 years ago using wood panels from the temple car which was damaged. The intricate carvings on the wood panels depict scenes from the Ramayana and other puranas and scenes from the life of Andal. It is here that the Arayar sevai is performed during the Pagal pathu utsavam.
Outside, the path leads to the famous Tiruppora mandapam which is in a garden. It was here that Andal was found as a small child beneath Tulasi plant by Periyalwar. We worship Andal here as a young child. It is believed that Andal played in this garden. It is also believed that this mantapam was built by Periyalwar and the idol installed after his return from Srirangam where he handed over Andal in marriage to Rangamannar.
It is more than 2000 years old. It is believed to have existed even before Periyalwar’s time which is tentatively thought to be the 6th century or 9th century A.D.
The two temples contain over 60 inscriptions in “vattezhuthu”, in the Gopuram, Dwajastambam, and walls of the central shrines and mantapams.In the inscriptions, Srivilliputhur is referred to as Malli Valanadu and Andal is referred to as Soodi Kodutha Nachiyar.
HISTORY OF SRIVILLIPUTHUR
The region around Srivilliputhur was once a forest called Shenbagaranyam-forest of Shenbaga trees. Lord Vishnu appeared in a dream to King Villi. As instructed by the Lord he found the idol of Lord Vadabadrsayee under a banyan tree in the forest. He cleared the forest, built the magnificent Vada Perum Koil and built a city around the temple.It was named after him as Villiputhur and the region was called as Malli Vala Naadu after his mother Queen Malli. It was called
Puthur -because there were many ant-hills (putru-in Tamil) here
Villiputhur-because it was built by King Villi
Srivilliputhur because Andal (Sri) was born here.
Periyawar was born as Vishnu chittar, the fifth son of Mukunda Battar and Padmavalli who lived in Srivilliputhur and were engaged in the service of Lord Vadabadrasayee. He had a formal education in the Gurukulam where he mastered the Vedas and became a great scholar.
Vishnu Chittar was a great devotee of Sri Krishna. In the Krishnavatara, Lord Krishna grew up in Brindavan and later came to Mathura with his brother Balarama to slay his evil uncle Kamsa and free his parents who languished in prison. In Mathura, he went to the man who made garlands for Kamsa and asked for a garland of flowers. The Garland maker bowed before Sri Krishna and put a beautiful garland on him saying, “Many yogis and saints wait to have your darshan. Yet you chose to come to the the humble dwelling of this ordinary man. I am blessed.”
Vishnu Chittar was impressed by the above story of Krishna and decided that making garlands for the Lord would be his vocation too. He sold the ancestral properties and bought some land near the Vada Perunkoil. He created a beautiful Nandavanam (garden) in it. Fragrant flowers of all kinds blossomed in it. In the darkness before dawn, before the bees could find the flowers, he gathered the flowers,made them into a beautiful garland and offered it to Lord Vadbadrasayee.
The Pandya king who ruled Madurai during this period was King Vallabadevan. He invited all the learned men of various faiths for a philosophical debate.
On instructions from Lord Vadabadrasayee, Periyalwar travelled with devotees to Madurai, where he was given a warm welcome by king Vallabadevan. He won the debate and proved that the only path to moksha was by service to the Almighty. King Vallabadevan gave him enormous wealth as the prize and honoured him by taking him in a procession around the city of Madurai seated on the royal elephant. It is said that Lord Vishnu with the Thayars came to watch His bhakta being honoured . Periyalwar, on seeing the Lord, sang the Pallandu, the first 12 verses of Naalayira Divya Prabandham. It begins like this, “Long live for many years, long live for many years, for hundreds of thousands of years!” to God. This is an important prayer in SriVaishnava tradition.The Naalayira Divyaprabandham are called Tamil Vedam as they bring to us the essence of the Vedas and can be easily understood by the common man.
On his return to Srivilliputhur, Periyalwar renovated the temple of Lord Vadabadrasayee, and built the Rajagopuram which we see today with the help of King Valabadevan.
The magnificent Rajagopuram is 192 feet high with eleven tiers and is one of the tallest in Tamilnadu. It is the official emblem of the Government of Tamilnadu.
THE STORY OF ANDAL
Andal is said to be the incarnation of Goddess Earth or Bhudevi.She was sent down here to Earth to reveal the delight of divine love. She was born in Srivilliputhur, in Virudhunagar district of Tamilnadu.
Andal was found as a five year old child beneath the Tulsi plants (Holy Basil) by Perialwar in his Nandavanam (Temple garden).He took her to Lord Vadabadrasayee who directed him to name the child as Godhai which means- Godhaa” [ Go means Bhoomi ; dhaa- given ; Given by Bhoomidevi and raise her as his own daughter.
Periyalwar saw Godhai as Lord Vadabadrasayee’s gift to him since he had no children of his own. He took her home and brought her up with love. Periyalwar tutored her in the Vedas and instilled in her devotion for the Almighty. As he made garlands for the Lord, the little girl sat near him and listened to him describe incidents from the life of Lord Krishna in Brindavan. She was a child prodigy and scholar in her own right and her love and devotion for Sri Krishna grew. She decided that she wanted to marry him.
Andal was told that the gopis of Brindavan observed a vow called Paavai Nonbu in order to attain the Lord. So, she gathered her friends together and assuming she and her friends were the gopis and Srivilliputhur was Brindavan, the Vadaperumkoil was the palace of Nandagopar and Lord Vadabadrasayee was Lord Krishna, she too observed the Paavai nonbu. and sang the 30 hymns of the Thiruppavai. Andal was only five years old!
One day,she saw her father make a garland forLord Vadabadrasayee. In his absence she wore the Garland and looked at herself in the mirror and wondered if she looked beautiful wearing the garland and if she was a fitting bride for the Lord! She then replaced the garland in the Kudalai (cane basket used for keeping flowers). Perialwar, unaware of this offered the garland to Lord Vadbadrasayee. This went on for some time. One day, Perialwar found a strand of hair in the garland and threw it away. He made a fresh garland for the Lord. That night in a dream, Lord Vadabadrasayee spoke to him thus, “The garland with the hair was worn by your daughter Gothai. Henceforth, offer the garland to Me only after it is worn by Gothai, I take pleasure in wearing the garlands worn by her.
From then onwards Gothai was called as Andal and as Soodi Kodutha Nachiyar. To this day in Srivilliputhur, the garland worn by Sri Andal in the evening is taken the next morning to be worn by Lord Vadabadrasayee.
At the right age Periyawar started searching for a suitable bridegroom for his daughter. Andal however told him that she would marry only the Lord. She then asked him to describe the Divyadesam Perumals to her. She decided that she would marry Lord Ranganathar of Sri Rangam.
Then Periyalwar had a dream in which Ranganathar directed him to bring Andal to Srirangam decked in bridal attire.The temple officials in Srirangam had a similar dream.
Andal was taken to Srirangam in her fourteenth year in a palanquin sent by the temple officials in Srirangam. Periyalwar and the people of Srivilliputhur accompanied her There she merged with the Lord in the sanctum.
What is unique about these temples
The temple of Lord Vadabadrasayee is a Divyadesam temple.
Srivilliputhur is a Varaha Kshetram as Lord Vishnu in his Varaha Avataram rested here briefly when this region was a dense forest called Shenbagaranyam.
The Alwars Periyalwar and Andal who is the only woman among the Alwars were born in Srivilliputhur.
Villiputhoorar who wrote the Villibaratham in Tamil based on the Mahabharatam of Sage Vyasa was also born here.
Periyawar sang the 12 Paasurams of Thiru Pallaandu and 461 Paasurams of Periyalwar Thirumozhi
Andal sang the 30 paasurams of Thirupaavai and 143 paasurams of Naachiyar Thirumozhi.
It is interesting to know that a garland worn by Andal is sent to Tirupathi one day before the Bramotsavam begins in Tirumalai and offered to Lord Venkateswara.
Kallazhagar of Madurai is also presented with a garland worn by Andal on Chithirai Festival day.
Andal in her NachiyarTirumozhi has sung an important Pasuram on Tirumaliruncholi Perumal starting as “ Naaru Narum Pozhil Maaliruncholai Nambikki Naan Nooru Thada Vennai Vaay Nerndhu Paravi yaithen; Nooru Thada Niraindha AkkaraAdisil Sonnen ; Eru Thiru Udayan Indru Vandhu Ivai Kolungalo “. This wish of hers was later fulfilled by Acharyan Ramanujar. Hence , She is said to have invited Ramanujar , when he came to SriRangam temple as “ Kovil Annan Vaareer “ ! And in her Vaazhi Tirunamam we say thus :, “ PerumPoodoor Mamunikki Pin Aanal Vazhiye “ !
Srivilliputhur is 75 km.from Madurai and 70 km. from Tirunelvelli.
SRI ADI KESAVA PERUMAL TEMPLE, TIRUVATTARஅருள்பெறுவார் அடியார் தம் அடியனேற்கு ஆழியான்
அருள் தருவான் அமைகின்றான் அது நமது விதிவகையே
இருள்தருமா ஞாலத்துள் இனிபிறவி யான் வேண்டேன்
மருளொளி நீ மடநெஞ்சே வாட்டாற்றான் அடி வணங்கே.
வாட்டாற்றா னடிவணங்கி மாஞாலப் பிறப் பறுப்பான்
கேட்டாயே மடநெஞ்சே கேசவனெம் பெருமானை
பாட்டாய பலபாடி பழ வினைகள் பற்றறுத்து
நாட்டாரோ டியல் வொழிந்து நாரணனை நண்ணினமே.
The above pasurams are part of the 11 pasurams sung by Nammalvar in praise of Adi-KesavaPerumal in Tiruvattar.The drive from Kanyakumari to Tiruvattar is along green paddy fields, coconut groves, rubber plantations, streams, rivers, fishermen fishing in their catamarans in the backwaters. The beauty of Kanyakumari district takes your breath away. Tiruvattar is a village 46 km. from Kanyakumari.
Alternately, Driving along NH 7 and then NH 47 on the Kanyakumari-Trivandrum highway take a detour and turn right on to the Colachel-Tiruvattar road at a place called Azaghiyamandapam. Tiruvattar is at a distance of 7 km. from here.
The temple of Sri Adi Kesava Perumal in Tiruvattar is in a picturesque setting, rich with dense vegetation. The Paraliyaru flows around the temple on three sides which gives the place its name-Tiru vattaru. The temple is on an elevation. The main entrance faces west. We climb a flight of 18 steps to enter the temple. Inside there are huge corridors (Prakarams). The pillars here are rich with sculptures. At the base of each pillar there are images of maidens carrying lamps. They are called Deepa lakshmi and there are 224 in all. No two are the same!
Inside the main shrine, the platform in front of Garba Graha and where the deity rests are both carved out of a single stone and hence called as Othakkal Mantapam. This Mantapam is rich in sculptures and mural paintings.
Ghee and oil lamps light up the inner Garba Graha. We are taken unawares in that first glimpse of the Lord. For a moment we are spell bound- the reclining image of the Lord is huge! We worship the Lord through three openings, the lord’s feet , then the lord’s right hand which is in Chin mudra and lastly His face, so serene and beautiful. Through the central opening we also see the Thayars, Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi seated near the Lord, and the Utsava murthy. An image of Maharishi Hathaneya is seen near the head of the Lord. There is a Shiva lingam near the feet (paadam) of the Lord.
On the wall behind there are deities carved within circles. The priest explains that they are the deities of the Panchayuda (five weapons) of Lord Vishnu.There is no Brahma or lotus on the nabi of Perumal. It is believed that those who worship Adi Kesava Perumal will have no future births.
On leaving the main Shrine we worship next at a small temple to Tiruvampadi Sri Krishna built in the 12thcentury.
There are references to Tiruvattaru in ancient Sangam literature called Puranaanooru that dates back to more than 2000 years. In it a Sangam poet named Maangudi Kizhar (மாங்குடிகிழார்) writes about a kuru nila mannan (king)named Vattaatru Ezhiniyaadhan (வட்டாற்றுஎழினியாதன்).
There are stone inscriptions from the reign of Kulothunga Chola I.
Nammalvar has sung paasurams in praise of the Lord.
The Sthalapuranam of this temple is written in Malayalam and Sanskrit.
Once when Brahma conducted a yagna, he mispronounced some mantras, as a result of which, a demon arose from the yagna flames. His name was Kesan. Since he was evil, Adi Kesava Perumal confined him within the massive coils of Adi Seshan and the Lord lay down on top to prevent his escape.Kesan was a Shivabhaktan.So a Sivalingam was placed near the feet of Adi Kesava Perumal in order to control him.Still, Kesan tried to come out of the coils, so the Lord placed a Rudraksha in each of the demon’s 12 hands. They turned into 12 temples to Lord Shiva. These are the 12 Shiva temples around Tiruvattaru that are worshipped during the famous Shivalaya Ottam.
What is unique about this temple
This is one of the oldest Vaishnava temples in South India.
Vaishnava Saint Nammalvar has sung 11 Pasurams about Adi Kesava Perumal- (Pasuram 3722-3732).
This is the 76th Divyadesam of the 108 tirupathis and 2nd among the Malai naatu shrines.
The temple is a jewel in temple Architecture.
The moola vigraha is a massive 22 feet in length.It is made up of 16008 salagramas using a method known as Kadu Sarkara Yogam that is unique to Kerala. This is an extremely complicated process and very different from sculpting. Therefore there is no abhishekam for the moolavar.
Adi Kesava Perumal is considered to be the ‘Annan’ (elder brother) of Anantapadmanabhaswamy. Devotees on a pilgrimage are advised to worship Adi Kesavava Perumal before worshipping Padmanabhaswamy.
The Othakal Mandapam measuring 18 x 18 x 1 feet is an architectural marvel.
Importance of the temple to the Tiruvithangode (Travancore) kingdom
Present day Kanyakumari District was part of the Tiruvithangode Travancore kingdom. Up to the reign of King Marthanda Varma, the kings of Travancore ruled from Padmanabhapuram (15 km.from Tiruvattar). King Marthanda Varma was a staunch devotee of Adi Kesava Perumal and worshipped at the temple before all the major war campaigns undertaken by him. It was Dharma Raja, the nephew and successor of Marthanda Varma who shifted the capital to Tiruvananthapuram. In view of the above facts we are better able to understand the intriguing association of Padmanabhaamy temple with the temple of Adi Kesava Perumal.
Tiruvananthapuram temple is an exact replica of Tiruvattar temple. The images of Adi Kesava Perumal and Padmanabhaswamy are installed in such a way that they face each other. Adi Kesava Perumal faces west while Padmanabhaswamy faces east
Poojas are according to the procedures followed in Kerala temples.
Paal Payasam, Aval and Appam are delicious prasadams at this temple.
There are 12 Shiva temples around Tiruvattar. They are the temples at Munchirai, Thikkurichi, Thirparappu, Tirunandikkarai, Ponmanai, Pannippakam, Kalkulam, Melangodu, Tiruvidaikodu, Tiruvithankodu, Tirupanrikkodu, and Nattalam.On Mahasivarathri day starting from Munchirai, devotees from Kerala and Tamil-nadu run to all the above temples, chanting ‘Gopala, Govinda’ and reach Nattalam by nightfall. The ritual ends in worship at the Adi Kesava Perumal temple in Tiruvattar. The marathon of pilgrims on Mahasivarathri uttering the names of Lord Vishnu substantiates the truth that Siva and Vishnu are but two manifestations of the one Supreme Being.
There is a small temple for Lord Lakshminarasimha near the river and opposite to the Adi Kesava Perumal temple. Inside this temple there are Panchaloga images of Narasimha swamy, Lord Subramanya and Sri Annapoorani kept together on the same peetam.
Morning: 5a.m. to 12p.m.
Evening: 5p.m. to 8 p.m.
Note: As renovation work is under way in the Adi Kesava Perumal temple, the temple closes earlier in the mornings on weekdays. On Sundays there are lots of visitors to the temple and the renovation workers are on holiday. So the temple is open until 12 p.m.
KANYA KUMARI BHAGAVATHY TEMPLE Sunrise and Sunset are spectacular events in Kanya kumari. People come here from all over just to watch them.
Just after sunset we joined the lingering crowds on the seashore.
There is an ancient stone mantapam on the seashore in front of a shrine to Adi Shankara. From here you can see the waves thrashing on the rocks below, the statue of poet Tiruvalluvar and the Swami Vivekananda Rock in the far distance. Behind you is the temple of Devi Kanyakumari.
I am thrilled to be here, this southern most tip of India, meeting place of a great ocean and two seas- the mighty Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. Across the sea the lights come on in the Vivekananda Memorial. Darkness falls and it is time to visit the Kanyakumari Devi temple.
The temple of Kanyakumari Bhagavathy is right on the seashore surrounded by the seas. Men are asked to remove their shirts and no cameras are allowed inside the temple. We enter the precincts and stand before Divine Mother.
The image before us is that of a beautiful girl, a japa-mala in her right hand and a smile on her lips. The priests ask us to see the Mookuthi, which is a shimmering diamond nose-stud worn by Devi KanyaKumari. The sense of peace that fills our being as we stand there cannot be described in words.
As we do Pradhakshinam (going around) around the main shrine we worship at a shrine for Indrakanta Ganapathy and at shrines for Goddess BalaSundari and Goddess Vijaya sundari, friends of Devi KanyaKumari.
What is unique about this temple?
This is a 3000 years old temple.
This is the first Durga Devi prathishta ( installation) out of 108 done by BhagavanParasurama.
It is an important Shakthi Peetam-one of 51 Shakthi Peetas all over India.
For thousands of years this southern most tip of the sub-continent (confluence of three seas) has been one of India’s main pilgrimage sites.
The Kanyakumari temple is an ancient one and there are references to it in the Ramayana, Mahabharata and in ancient Tamil literature of the Sangam period called Purananooru and Manimekalai.
It was originally built by the Pandyas.
Poojas in this temple are out according to Tantra Samuchayam like the temples in Kerala. Kanyakumari was once part of the Travancore kingdom.
In the days of yore, the light from the shimmering diamond nose-stud of the goddess is said to have misguided arriving ships causing them to crash on the rocky coast. Hence, the eastern door of the temple which faces the Bay of Bengal stays closed .It is opened only five times a year for the Aaraatu rituals. Eastern door is also opened on new moon days in the months of Thai, Aadi, during Navarathri and in the month of Karthigai.
The demon king Banasura, grandson of King Mahabali, was an evil king. He obtained a boon from Lord Shiva that only a virgin could kill him. He terrorized the people, sages and devas who prayed to Goddess Parvati to rescue them. Devi Parvati, answering their prayers appeared as a girl and proceeded to meditate on Lord Shiva to marry him, in the southernmost tip of the continent.
Lord Shiva, decided to marry her .The divine sage Narada felt that the marriage between them would defeat the very purpose of Devi’s incarnation which was to slay Banasura. So he tried to stop the wedding. He asked Devi Kanyakumari to test Lord Shiva to see if he was really all-powerful. Acting on his advice, Devi asked Lord Shiva to bring three things that could not be obtained anywhere in the world. These were,
A coconut without eyes
A stalk of sugarcane without joints, and,
A betel leaf without veins.
Lord Shiva easily fulfilled this difficult challenge and the marriage was to take place in Kanyakumari..
Sage Narada then fixed the midnight hour as the auspicious time for the wedding! The wedding party started from Suchindram, which is 14 km. away, towards Kanyakumari. When it reached a place called Vazhukkumparai, Narada assumed the form of a rooster and crowed. On hearing the crowing of the cock, Lord Shiva, thinking that it was daybreak and the auspicious hour was past, returned to Suchindram.
Meanwhile, in Kanyakumari, all awaited the arrival of Lord Shiva. When he did not turn up at the auspicious hour, the wedding was called off. The rice and cereals meant for the wedding remained uncooked and were scattered all over the sea-shore. Even today tourists can buy the stones and colored sands that look like rice and cereals, the leftovers of the wedding that did not take place.
Devi Kumari resumed her penance on the rock called Sripada parai. Banasura, on hearing of the beauty of the goddess came to win her hand by force. This led to a fierce battle which ended with Devi slaying Banasura with her Chakra (discus) in Mahadhanapuram(4 Km. north of Kanyakuari). Lord Parasurama built a temple for her and installed a beautiful image. Here she does eternal penance blessing all those who worship before her.
Morning: 4.30 a.m to 12.30 p.m
Evening: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
WHERE TO STAY
Kanyakumari is an important tourist destination and there are plenty of hotels. Hotel Tamil-Nadu offers clean accommodation and is very conveniently located near the Lighthouse. From here, we could walk down to the KanyaKumari Temple and the seashore. Our stay at Hotel Tamil-Nadu came with a complimentary break-fast of sweet pongal, kitchdi ,idly,dosa and vada with sambar , chutney and coffee. Sumptuous!
The Rajaganapathy temple in Salem is located in a busy crowded area in the heart of the city, called first agraharam. This is an ancient part of Salem.The area is also called as Ther-mutti, because the temple chariots (thers) of the two major temples of Salem, the Sugavaneshwara temple and the Azhagirinatha swami temple are lodged here.The temple itself is old, with a single shrine and a small stone mantapam in front with stone pillars.
For the residents of Salem, all good and important events in life begin here.
Lord Rajaganapathy’s blessings are sought on all important occasions by devotees.Wedding invitations, wedding jewels, important documents, new bill books, keys of newly bought cars and bikes are kept at Vinayaga’s feet and prayers are offered. People know that henceforth all business including the business of life will proceed without hindrances and obstacles. Lord Rajaganapathy sees to that. Pujas for new vehicles are a common sight.Important journeys and pilgrimages start here after prayers and breaking the customary coconut outside the temple. On some evenings you can even see new-born babies brought here on their first outing.
The idol of lord Ganapathy is a large,life-size sculpture.This temple is a sub-temple of Sugavaneswarar temple in Salem.
There is a beautiful engraving of Lord Anjaneya on a stone pillar in the mantapam in front of the shrine.
Rajaganapathy temple is kept open throughout the day, from 6 a.m to 10 p.m.