Sendhamangalam Someswarar

Sendhamangalam is much like Rasipuram in many ways. It has ancient narrow streets with closely built houses and a scattering of tiny street-end shrines painted brightly with the traditional ochre and white stripes.

Although comparatively quiet today when compared to Rasipuram, it was an important town and administrative headquarters of the kings who ruled over the region even in ancient times.

A brief account of its history from the 13th century A.D. to the 17th century A.D can be found in Wikipedia.

Between CE. 1216 and 1279 CE, Sendamangalam was the capital of the Kadava kings Kopperunchinga I & Kopperunchinga II, who converted it into a military stronghold and fought successfully against Kulothunga Chola III and Rajaraja Chola III, against successive Hoysala kings, and against Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan. The Kadavas remained friendly with the Magadai/Aragalur chief ‘Magadan Rajarajadevan pon parappinan Magadaipprumal’ and the Tirukoilur chief Malayaman. Their kingdom was eradicated by the campaigns of Maaravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I. After the fall of Hoysalas, Vijayanagar EmpireMadurai Nayak ruled this part by Poligar Ramachandra Nayakar.

Temples in Sendhamangalam, Nammakal district

The most famous temple in Sendhamangalam  is the Datthagiri Murugan temple.

The 17th century Lakshmi Narayanan temple is popular among the local people and in the surrounding villages. Built by King Govindappa Nayak and located in the centre of the town, it has a towering Raja Gopuram and is an amazing example of the uniqueness and beauty of  Nayak architecture.

The Someswarar temple is a lesser known Siva temple and the oldest of the three temples in Sendhamangalam.

Legend of Someswarar Temple

Almost as old as the Rasipuram Kailasanathar temple, the sthala purana (literally the history of a sthala or holy place) of the Someswarar  temple says that it was built by Somapuri Raja and that Sendhamangalam was known by different names in different yugas. In the Kritha yugam it was called as Somapuram.  In the Thretha yuga its name was Chandrapattanam.  In the Dwapara yuga it was called Krishnapuram and in the present Kali yuga as Sendhamangalam.

It is believed that Hanuman worshipped the lingam in this temple before going to Lanka.

For this reason, Sri Rama and Sita while returning to Ayodhya after successfully vanquishing Ravana, stopped here to worship lord Someswara with whose blessings Hanuman was successful in his mission to Lanka and which later led to the rescue of Sita.

It is believed that Serndha-mangalam later became Sendhamangalam, The Tamil word Serndha means that which is joined or united and alludes to the story that Rama and Sita came to the temple as a reunited couple.

Although it is not mentioned in the sthala purana, it is a local legend that this was one of the temples which the king of Kolli malai, Valvil Ori regularly visited and that the great king has done thirupani (renovation) in his time (2nd century A.D).

The Temple

The Someswara temple is situated about ½ a km from SH 95 which is also the main road in this small town. With no signboards showing the way to the temple, it is the local people who guide you to the ‘Sivan Kovil’. There are houses and farmlands all around.  From the outside it looks like any other village temple, but after many temple visits I have learnt that there are unique features and surprises in every temple. So it was in this unassuming village temple which had beautiful architecture and the shrines though small were exceptional.

The temple faces east and all the shrines face due east barring a few like the Dakshinamurthy and Kaala Bhairavar  shrines which always are south facing ones.

Past the Kodimaram and the Nandi mandapam, the Someswarar shrine has a pillared mahamandapam, an arthamandapam and garba griham.

Someswarar Nkl (23)

After praying before Lord Someswarar, to the left of the garbagriham, in the artha mandapam, we see the idols of Lord Chandra, and Lord Surya with Lord Sani seated between them. They are beautiful deities depicted as being seated together on a raised peedam. The idol of Sani is small in size when compared to that of Chandra and Surya deva, almost like a small boy sitting between the two devas. As in Thirunallaru, a temple famous for the worship of Lord Sani, the Sani Bagawan here faces east. Since Saneeswara is seen with Chandra and Surya it is believed that those who suffer from planetary afflictions will find relief if they worship here.

Opposite these deities is the navagraha peedam with the nine planet gods. Lord Saneeswara deities in both the navagraha peedam and in the raised peedam with Chandra and Surya, are facing each other, an arrangement of deities seen only in this temple. Therefore it is believed that worshipping here gives relief from the adverse effects of Sani dosha and Navagraha dosha.

In the pradakshina path, the Dakshinamurthy shrine is large and has its own open pillared mandapam, very much like the one in Rasipuram Kailasanathar temple. He is depicted as Yoga Dakshinamurthi.

Someswarar Nkl (11)

Kanni moola Mahaganapathi is the sthala Vinayakar, The Subramanya shrine is more elaborate with a pillared outer mandapam. Here, within the same shrine are two beautiful depictions of Lord Murugan – one as Sri Bala Dhandayudhapaani and the other as Sri Subramanya with Valli and Devyani.

Someswarar Nkl (9)

The name of Ambal is Soundharavalli ambal. The separate temple of the goddess is next to the shrine of Lord Someswarar.

Someswarar Nkl (13)

Another unique feature of the temple is the Arubathu moovar sannidhi. It is in very few temples that we can see the 63 nayanmar saints of South Indian Shaivism together with the 9 Thogai adiyaargal who are also revered in southern Shaiva siddhantha.Someswarar Nkl (32)

This temple is a must visit temple when you are in Namakkal as Sendhamangalam  is barely 11 kms from Namakkal. It is a very popular venue for weddings for the people living in Sendhamangalam and also in nearby villages. There is a modern marriage hall adjoining the temple.

Highlights

A temple where Lord Rama worshipped Lord Siva

A temple where Hanuman performed puja to the lingam

Goddess Soundharavalli bestows people with all prosperity.

Goddess Swarna Durgai removes obstacles and gives victory. People pray to her for success in studies, in business, for marriages for the unmarried, and for the boon of children for the childless.

Lord Murugan blesses devotees as Sri Bala Dhandayadhapani and also as Sri Subhramanya with Valli and Devyani, in the same shrine.

As in Thirunallaru, in this temple Sani Bhagawan faces east. Another Sani Bhagawan is seen facing the first idol. Besides, Sani takes his place with Surya and Chandra to remove Sani dosha and Nava graha dosha .

In this temple, the Nayanmars are 72 in number. This includes the 63 nayanmars and the 9 Thogai Adiyaargal.

Someswarar Nkl (20)

Someswarar Nkl (16)

Someswarar Nkl (18) 1

The Theppakulam which is in a very dilapidated condition is located a short distance from the temple. You can just make out the padi thurai – the steps built at a strategic place on the outer perimeter of the tank and the fallen remnants of the Neerazhi mandapam in the middle of the now barren holy tank. The tank was built with a view of the Kolli hills in the background and one can’t help thinking what a lovely sight it would be if the tank was restored and filled with water!

Someswarar Nkl (6)

Someswarar Nkl (7)
The fallen remnants of the mandapam in the middle of the tank

How to reach Sendhamangalam

Sendhamangalam is 11 km from Namakkal, the district headquarters.  It can be reached by taking SH 95 which is the Mohanur- Namakkal- Sendhamangalam- Rasipuram highway. It is on the way to Kalappanaickenpatti, where you take the road leading to the Kolli Hills.

From Rasipuram it is at a distance of 26km on SH 95.

Both Namakkal and Rasipuram have good hotels where you can stay and visit nearby temples.

Timings

9.30 a.m to 12.30p.m

Timings are extended on special days and festivals.

Someswarar Nkl (37)

Contact Details

Gurukkal T.M. Rajkumar

Mobile no:  94423  09413

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Belukurichi Palaniappar Temple under Renovation

June 2018

The historic Palaniappar temple in Koovaimalai near Belukurichi is currently closed for renovation. The renovation work has been undertaken by the Arulmighu Palaniappar Kolli Hills Charitable Trust. The trust has come out with an invitation to all to take part in the renovation.

While the temple is closed to visitors, all the deities are kept in Paalaalayam in a temporary shelter opposite the temple. Visitors can worship here and the archagar lives nearby and can be called on for puja. The midnight pournami (full moon night) puja which has been a unique puja at this temple continues to be done with the utsava moorthi and still attracts big crowds. The same holds true for sashti and krithigai day pujas which are special rituals for lord Murugan.

Although visitors will miss going around this charming hill temple, they can still visit the hill to see the work being done, to enjoy the panoramic views of the Kolli Hills and surrounding places. Most importantly they can enjoy the quiet peacefulness and refreshing breeze that blows down from the mountains full of the fragrance and goodness of the mountain herbs. The drive to koovaimalai is a beautiful drive along excellent roads with all the charm of the countryside underlying these lush mountains.

Contact numbers of the Charitable Trust:

95666 56956, 98427 34187

Pictures from Koovaimalai:

Palananiappar temple

Belukurichi Palaniappar temple 2018 (7) edited
Office building

Belukurichi Palaniappar temple 2018 (2)

Belukurichi Palaniappar temple 2018 (4) 800

Belukurichi Palaniappar temple 2018 (9) editBelukurichi Palaniappar temple 2018 (8) edit

Belukurichi Palaniappar temple 2018 (10) edit

Belukurichi (2)

PS: Make sure you have snacks, fruit and/or food in hand when you visit because this is an isolated place. There are no hotels in Belukurichi, but you can take packed meals from Rasipuram which has good hotels.

 

 

 

THE TEMPLES OF SINGALANDHAPURAM

Close to Rasipuram in Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu is the village of Singalandhapuram, one of many beautiful villages beneath the Kolli hills. The people here are mostly engaged in weaving and farming.

The village is believed to be named after Chola Emperor Rajaraja who ruled between 985 and 1015 C.E. Singalandhagan was a honorific title given to Rajaraja after his subjugation of the northern part of Sri Lanka.

Thiruveswarar Temple – A temple in the land of Valvil Ori

The Thiruveswarar temple is the Siva temple in this village. It is easy to locate as the Rasipuram – Sendhamangalam- Namakkal road passes beside the temple.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (6)

The temple is ancient and is believed to have existed during the Sangam Age 2000 years ago. It is one of the six temples in the region where legendary King Valvil Ori worshipped Lord Siva. A granite statue of the king is seen in front of the mandapam of Nandi emperumaan (Nandi).There is another stone plaque next to it that depicts King Ori and his queen. A similar plaque is seen in the Palaniappar temple in Belukkurichi, a few kilometres from here.

The Temple

thiruveswarar sglpm

The temple has a high madhil or outer wall and there is no entrance gopuram tower. The entrance is a simple building with a tiled roof and a thinnai much like the entrance to traditional village homes seen in Tamilnadu.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (3)
A thinnai is an important part of the architecture of Tamilnadu houses and is an open raised verandah with pillars on either side of the entrance. It reflects the slow pace of life in the villages and has multiple uses. Among others it is a place for a meeting, a place to rest for the weary traveller, a place where you could just sit and watch the world go by.

Inside the temple there is a vast spacious open courtyard with the main shrine in the centre and smaller shrines built around the courtyard. Surya and Chandra are seen on either side inside the entrance. The Surya idol is ancient.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (12)

Past the Deepasthamban and Balipeetam is the small, charming Nandi Mandapam with a beautiful nandi. Across the courtyard is the temple of Thiruveswarar. The name of the lord Siva is Veerataanam Udaya Naayanaar which is the name inscribed in the kal vettu – stone inscription on the outer prakaram of the Sivan sannidhi. The present name of Thiruveswarar is probably derived from it.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (13)

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (11)

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram TN

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (8)

The shrine of goddess Pankajavalli Thaayar is a separate temple next to the shrine of Thiruveswarar. A small nandi is seen in front of the goddess.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (9)1

Tiruveswarar koil

Adjacent to the shrine of Pankajavalli Thaayar is the shrine of lord Murugan as Subramanyaswami. He is depicted seated on a peacock with Valli and Deivanai standing on either side. Both the Pankajavalli Thaayar shrine and the Murugan shrine share a common mandapam. The construction of this mandapam is recorded in the epigraphic details of the inscription seen on the outer wall of Thiruveswarar shrine.

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The temple of Bhadrakali

To the left of the Nandi mandapam, in the temple courtyard cum circumambulatory path, the first shrine is a separate temple of goddess Bhadrakali. A temple for Bhadrakali within a Siva temple is very unusual and therefore unique. It has an exceptionally beautiful idol of goddess Bhadrakali. The goddess faces due north and is believed to be extremely powerful.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (7)

The people of Naadar community in the village have a separate temple for Bhadrakali amman a short distance from the Thiruveswarar temple. The rituals for Bhadrakali worship include Kundam and thee midhi rituals as well as sacrificial rites. These rituals are unique to Bhadrakali and Mariamman temples and differ from the rituals followed in Siva temples. Therefore, during festivals the people of the village come to the Tiruveswarar temple, offer prayers at the Bhadrakali shrine and having obtained the blessings of the goddess, observe the rituals in the other temple.

Other Shrines

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (5)

The other shrines are ones that are usually seen in Siva temples.

The Ayyappan shrine is a relatively new addition along with the Arubathu moovar sannidhi. The shrine of Veerabadrar, is again an ancient structure and has a beautifully carved idol of the deity.There is a Vinayaka shrine which is a raised open mandapam. Dakshinamurthy, Lingothbavar and Durgai are seen in alcoves in the goshtam- outer wall of Thiruveswarar shrine. There is a small shrine for Chandikeswarar, and individual shrines for Jyeshta devi and Kalabairavar.

Rare Features of the temple

  • The Murugan shrine faces due south which is very rarely seen in temples. Villagers say that this is a powerful deity. It is a popular venue for marriages in the village. Most importantly villagers vouch for the fact that weddings conducted before this Murugan never end in divorce. There may be minor differences of opinion between married couples but these are always resolved. Most families here prefer to have marriage ceremonies solemnized in the Thiruveswarar temple and book a mandapam (wedding hall) for the marriage reception afterwards.
  • The north facing Bhadrakali shrine is also something that is rarely seen in Siva temples.

Inscription

There is one stone inscription in the prakaram, on the outer wall of Thiruveswarar sannidhi.

Thiruveswarar koil Singalandhapuram (4)

Visit to the temple

Our visit to the temple was on a Friday evening in May. It was raining intermittently with the onset of an early south-west monsoon. An unexpected abhishekam for goddess Pankajavalli was under way. A middle aged woman and her son had asked for the abhishekam as a vaendudhal (request to the goddess) for divine grace to secure a good job for the son. The evening abhishekam happened because the archagar had been engaged for other ceremonies in the village that morning, it being a shuba muhurtham day (auspicious day), which turned out to our advantage. After the abhishekam and puja we had darshan in the Thiruveswarar shrine.

The temple has the ambience and beauty of very old places of worship and the people of the village have taken pride in maintaining its antiquity. It is a very popular temple for marriages.The pradosha puja in this temple is attended by a large number of people from nearby villages. At this time food is prepared for hundreds pf people and  served on plantain leaves. 

Timings

The temple is open from 5.30 to 7.30 a.m. in the morning and from 5 to 7.30 or 8 p.m. in the evening. The archagar’s house is next to the temple and outstation visitors may contact him over phone.

Contact details:

Archagar Singalandhapuram Maadhu

Mobile no: 94883 20080

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil SingalandhapuramSri Karpoora Narayana Perumal Temple, Singalandhapuram

At the Thiruveswarar temple we learnt from the archagar that there was a Perumal (Vishnu) temple close to the Siva temple and that both temples were constructed in the same time period.

We visited the temple on a Saturday as the aged Bhattar kept the temple open only on Saturdays and on Tiruvonam days when the village folk would be sure to visit. It was an arrangement that was convenient for both considering the fact that the Bhattar lived a good 5 kms away.

The temple is close to the Thiruveswarar temple further up the highway. But houses obscure the view from the road and it’s easy to miss the small lane that leads to the temple.

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil Singalandhapuram (4)

The temple looks impressive from the outside with a big ground in front with a massive peepal tree and a neem tree and beneath them the ubiquitous Arasamarathu Pillayar, as old as the temple itself. If these holy vrikshas could speak, the tales of a thousand of years would be told, as they stand silent witnesses to happenings over eons.

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil Singalandhapuram

This is the temple of Sridevi Bhudevi samedha Karpoora Narayana Perumal. Like the Tiruveswarar temple it is an ancient temple believed to be 2000 yrs old. There is a garuda sthambam with a small mandapam before the temple gopuram (gateway tower).A madhil encloses the temple on all sides. On entering we find that a large part of the temple is modern construction taken up with the blessings of His Holiness, Srirangam Jeer Swamigal.

The deities  in the garbagriha, Sridevi, Bhudevi and Karpoora Narayana Perumal are very beautiful. There are inscriptions in Tamil-Brahmi on the base of the outer walls of the Garbagriham. The Bhattar says that it refers to a Chola king with the title of Thirubhuvana Chakravarthi. Perumal faces south which is something that is rare in Vishnu temples. The power of Karpoora Narayanan is tremendous and all prayers are answered. 

A modern concrete hall has taken the place of the mahamandapa. The dwara-palakas and idols of Anjaneya and Vishvaksena are kept here.

Karpura Narayana Perumal Singalandhapuram nkl

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil Singalandhapuram (1)

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil Singalandhapuram (6)

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil Singalandhapuram (2)Inscriptions

KarpooraNarayana Perumal kovil Singalandhapuram (7)

The Saturaday puja in this small village temple was something to remember. There was a small gathering of people from the village who waited while the Bhattar made preparations for the neivedyam and pooja. There was a recital of Divya Prabhandam and Thirupaavai by two young women and a priest. The girls strung together strings of jasmine and thulasi after the recital. The heartfelt puja was very nice. The Bhattar stood in front of the garba griha and handed out the prasadam of sarkarai pongal as the gathering formed a line and received the prasad from him in small paper cups. The piping hot sweet pongal was the tastiest prasad I have ever had.

The temple is open on Saturdays from 7 am until noon.

Contact details

Archagar Gunaseela Iyengar

Mobile no: 94429 66983

Singalandhapuram is a large village in Rasipuram taluk of Namakkal district It is 8.5 kms from  Rasipuram on SH 95 (Rasipuram- Sendhamangalam- Namakkal – Mohanur road)  and 5 kms from Belukkurichi.

Note: Singalandhapuram is also the name of another village in Thuraiyur near Tiruchi and this village too is believed to be named after Rajaraja Chola.

 

Sevvantheeswarar Temple-Seerapalli

A Temple under Renovation

At 8.30 a.m. on this December morning mist covers the countryside as we drive through NH 44. We are travelling to Seerapalli, a village near Rasipuram in Namakkal district, where there is an ancient  Siva temple that is believed to be more than a 1000 years old. The route as always beautiful, takes us through the ancient town of Rasipuram and on to SH 79 which is the Rasipuram – Attur –Erode road.

Ten kilometers  from Rasipuram and we have arrived. There are no name-boards and I ask for directions to the Sevvantheeswarar temple. It turns out that that the temple is quite close to the main road, down a small village street, and it is open!

A typical village temple built in a large open area. The village almost ends near the temple and beyond it vast green fields stretch into the distance. It looks lovely.

Until recently there used to be an ancient mud and stone outer wall which was almost crumbling down. It has been taken down and work has been started on a new outer wall. With no outer entrance we walk past the Suryan and Chandran shrines on either side , past a small bali peedam, and a tall weathered wood post which was the kodi maram (flagstaff) in more prosperous times. There is a small nandi mandapam. Beyond this five steps lead up to the main temple which consists of a spacious pillared mahamandapam, artha mandapam and garbagraham of Sevvantheeswarar. A little shrine of goddess Sugandha Kundalambigai leads off the mahamandapam. The vimanam of both shrines are very old.

Sri Sevvantheeswarar Seerapalli,Nkl dt.

Sugandha kundalambigai SeeraapalliAn aged priest does deeparadhana and gives vibhuti and kumkum as prasad. Then he says quietly, “Valvil Ori vazhi patta koil”.Translating from Tamil it means that King Valvil Ori worshipped lord Siva in this temple.

The region of the Kolli hills, its foothills, Rasipuram and its surrounding regions  up to Athanur were once part of the kingdom of King Valvil Ori who ruled from Kolli hills around the 2nd century AD.in the Sangam era. 

The temple is believed to be built by kuru nila mannargal, the kings who ruled over small regions in Tamilnadu.

Legend

In a distant past the place where the temple now exists used to be a forest of thorny sangu-mul plants. People rarely came here except for cow-herds who brought their cows to graze. One day a cow-herd noticed a cow shed all its milk in a particular spot. This happened every day and the cow-herd told the villagers about the cow’s strange behavior. The villagers set forth to clear the area of thorny bushes as they searched for the reason behind the cow’s unusual behavior. Someone’s axe or sickle hit something hard and blood spurted all over the place. The frightened people discovered a suyambu lingam in the undergrowth, named it as Sevvantheeswarar because it was red with blood and started worshipping it.

Another story goes that once a man was travelling with his pregnant wife in the region when his wife went into labour. The couple cried out for help. Lord Siva appeared as a woman and helped to deliver the child and from then Sevvantheeswarar was also called as Mathru Bhoodheshwarar.

Similarities with Thayumanavar  temple, Trichirapalli

Mathrubhoodeshwarar is also the name of Lord Siva in the famous Thayumanavar temple in rock-fort(malai-kottai), Trichy.

Incidentally, Thayumanavar was also called as Sevvanthinathar because  sage Saaramamunivar worshipped Him with Sevvanthi flowers.

In both temples, ambal has the name of Sughandha Kundhalambigai in Sanskrit and Matuvar kuzhal ammai in Tamil.

Even the name Seerappalli is reminiscent of Sirapalli, the ancient name of Tiruchirapalli.

Arubathu moovar

A special feature of the temple is that the idols of Arubathu-moovar, the sixty three saints of the Saivite tradition and also of Naalvar,the holy four of Thevaram hymns – are ancient ones.They can be seen in a long mandapam with a thatched roof to the left of the main shrine.Further along the circum-ambulatory path are the shrines of Niruthi Vinayakar and separate shrines for Panchalingam representing the five elements.

Sri Sevantheeswarar koil, Seeraapalli 1
Naalvar
Sri Sevantheeswarar koil, Seeraapalli (2)
Arubathumoovar sannidhi
Sri Sevantheeswarar koil, Seerapalli (4)
Niruthi Ganapathy
Sri Sevantheeswarar koil, Seerapalli (5)
Panchalingam sannidhis

The shrine of Kalyana Subramanyar is old with its own vimanam, outer mandapam and a tiny mandapam for the peacock.Kalyana Subramanyar is seated as Aarumugam on a peacock  with Valli and Devasena on either side.In the small inner mandapam of this shrine there is another idol. This is an idol of Palaniappar , holding a spear in one hand and wearing his hair in a kondai(knot) on his head.This idol looks very similar to the image of Palaniappar in Belukurichi temple in Pallipatti in the Kolli foothills which is about 12 kms from Seerappalli.The idol of Palaniappar was the one which was originally in the sanctum, but was later replaced with the idol of Kalyana Subramanyar.

Click here to read about Palaniappar temple in Belukurichi

Sri Aarumuga peruman Seerapalli
Kalyana Subramanya swamy,Seerapalli

Palaniappar Sevantheeswarar koil , Seerapalli

There is a shrine for Sri Durgai in the outer wall of the main sanctum and separate shrines for Chandikeswarar, Kaalabhairavar  Suryan, Chandran and for Sani bhagavan.

Sri Durgai, Seerapalli Sevantheeswarar koil
Sri Durgai,Seerapalli

More pics from the temple

Vinayagar,Seerapalli
This charming Ganapati is seen just outside the Sevvantheeswarar temple

Sevantheeswarar koil,Seeraapalli (12)

fish symbol on temple wall Seerapalli
Fish symbol is seen in many places in the temple
fish symbol sevantheeswarar koil Seerapalli
Fishes in many sizes adorn the ceiling of the Sevvantheeswarar temple mahamandapam
different views of Subramanya shrine in Seerapalli
Different views of Subramanya shrine Restoration is much needed.
Sri Sevantheeswarar koil, Seeraapalli (13)
Carving on the base of the vilakku sthambam
Sri Sevantheeswarar koil, Seeraapalli (10)
Rustic charm – Mandapam of Arubathu moovar sannidhi

Temple lands

The temple has vast agricultural lands belonging to it which indicates that it received the patronage of kings who donated lands for the upkeep of the temple. The temple is traditionally managed by the people of gounder community who also till the temple lands.It is also under the care of the Aranilaya thurai of the Tamilnadu government.

A story is told about how the Sevvantheeswarar temple and the vast lands belonging to it came to be administered by the gounder community.In any village the agraharam was and still is the area where the brahmins  lived. Once, when caste discrimination was being rigidly followed, a cow unfortunately died in the agraharam and the austere brahmins had to seek the help of the gounders who were a farming community, to remove the carcass. The gounders agreed to help on the condition that the Sevvantheeswarar  temple be handed over to them.The agraharam residents agreed as they had no choice and relinquished their rights over the temple. Having lost their right over the temple they then handed over the temple lands also. With the passage of time they left the village. The present gurukkal comes from a family that has cared for the temple for the past ninety years and says that only one family from the agraharam families who left the village long ago visit the temple occasionally.

Renovation

Renovation work has been started in the temple. Besides a new outer wall, the old well has been dug and made bigger. Many parts of the temple are to be rebuilt. All who would like to take part in this momentous work in any manner are welcome to do so.

Address and contact number of gurukkal of Sevvantheeswarar temple:

K.S. Sivaraja Gurukkal

Seerapalli P.O,Rasipuram Tk.

Namakkal district.TN

Phone no: 89732 75242

A subject for discussion

Although there is no conclusive proof there is a possibility that this temple might be a thevara vaippu sthalam that is mentioned in the Kshetra Kovai hymn of Thirugnana sambandhar. The related stanza of thevaram is given below.

திருஞானசம்பந்த சுவாமிகள் அருளிச்செய்த
பொது தேவாரத் திருப்பதிகம்
(இரண்டாம் திருமுறை 39வது திருப்பதிகம்)

(இரண்டாம் திருமுறை 39வது திருப்பதிகம்)
2.039 பொது – திருக்ஷேத்திரக்கோவை
அறப்பள்ளி அகத்தியான் பள்ளி வெள்ளைப்
பொடிபூசி யாறணி வானமர் காட்டுப்பள்ளி
சிறப்பள்ளி சிராப்பள்ளி செம்பொன்பள்ளி
திருநனி பள்ளிசீர் மகேந் திரத்துப்
பிறப்பில் லவன்பள்ளி வெள்ளச் சடையான்
விரும்பும் மிடைப்பள்ளி வண்சக்கரம்மால்
உறைப்பாலடி போற்றக் கொடுத்த பள்ளி
உணராய்மடநெஞ்ச மேயுன்னி நின்றே. 2.39.4

Arapalli agathiyan palli vellai

Podipoosi yaarani vaanamar kaatupalli

Sirappalli siraapalli semponpalli

Thirunani palliseer magendirathu

Pirappil lavanpalli vella sadaiyan

Virumbum midaipalli vannchakkaram mal

Uraippaladi potra kodutha palli

Unnaraai madanenjame unni ninrae.

If you know more about this please share your views in the comments section.

 

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 kshethra 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

 

 

 

 

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 arai palli and as kallal kamazh Kolli arai palli. Tirugnanasambandar refers to Arai palli 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

 

 

Kolli Hills – Pristine and Pure

KOLLI HILLS

Kolli Hills is a beautiful mountain range located in Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu in South India. Its altitude ranges from 1000 to 1300 meters above mean sea level and enjoys a pleasant, healthful climate round the year. The hills are spread over an area of 440 sq. kilometers. When viewed from National Highway 44 on the Rasipuram-Namakkal stretch, it appears as a flat-topped mountain range.

Remote, untouched by commercialization and retaining its historical charm Kolli Malai as it is called locally seems frozen in time.

History

  • Kolli Malai is said to be the exquisite Madhuvanam (the forest of honey) zealously maintained by vaanara king Sugreeva that is mentioned in the Sundara kandam of the Ramayana. The Madhuvanam was a protected grove where there was plenty of honey. Even today, this is a land of tropical fruits, honey and medicinal herbs just as it would have been in the Ramayana period.
  • It was a land favoured by siddars, the ancient medicine men of Tamil Nadu.

Kolli hills in the songs of the bards

In a distant past dating more than 2000 years ago, there lived wandering bards who travelled across ancient Tamil Nadu and were much respected by kings. They had the freedom to visit any kingdom and write songs on all they saw and observed. Tamil Sangam literature hence comes across as a treatise of gross truth told in a style that is at once blunt and poetical. The Kolli hills have been eulogized and glorified by many of these poets. It has a rich history as the kingdom of Mazhavar and Chera kings, It was a coveted kingdom and wars were fought and kings died trying to defend the kingdom.

Kolli hills are mentioned in these books of sangam literature:

  1. Purananooru
  2. Agananooru
  3. Natrinai
  4. Kurunthogai
  5. Pathitrupathu

Beautiful And Magical                  

Named after Kolli Paavai, the maiden goddess who guards these hills, Kolli hills still casts its spell on visitors. Much of the area is relatively unexplored and inaccessible, Myths abound and stories are told that are bizarre and spooky. Yes, it is true that a Kolli hills has a reputation. It is the favored destination of astrologers and practitioners of witchcraft and tantric practices. Scattered over the hills are small shrines where the priests will promise to remove all obstacles in your life and solve all your problems for a fee!

But there is much in the Kolli hills that is sacred and beautiful. The people who live here are tribals and are called as Malayalees – people of the mountains. They are a hard-working self- sufficient community with a unique culture that is their own. Aadi Padhinettu in July is the most important festival in the Kolli hills when people from the 16 naadus and from other places come together for week long celebrations.

A Holiday in Kolli Hills

Kolli hills is the place to go for a quiet peaceful holiday sans crowds of tourists.

On visiting the hills you realize that you have just stepped into an amazing world and first visits are always memorable. This is hill country like no other. Thick forests are interspersed with pastoral landscapes, and cosy mountain villages. The altitude and the rivers Aiyaru and Varattaru flowing across the hills, massive jackfruit trees everywhere you go, terraced fields, yes, Kolli hills is beautiful.

How to reach

Kolli hills is accessible from Salem (64 kms) and from Namakkal(24 kms) both major cities on National Highway 44(NH44). Buses ply from Salem, Namakkal and Rasipuram to important villages in the Kolli hills. It is a better idea to rent a car because many of the places to visit in the hills are not on the regular bus routes.

The drive to the hills is lovely, the roads are good. If you are travelling from Salem it is a  11/2 hour drive through a very scenic route.

Route from Salem

Take the NH 44 from Salem. Near Rasipuram, turn left onto the Rasipuram bye-pass which will take you to State Highway SH 95. Turn right on to SH 95 and drive through beautiful farming villages along the Kolli range. Turn left once more at Kaalappa-naickenpatti to go to the kolli foothills village of Karavalli. The 28 kms Ghat Road begins at Karavalli. and the most amazing drive up the mountains with  stunning views and 70 sharp hair-pin bends, a real challenge for drivers and biking enthusiasts. Enjoy the paintings of the Sendhamangalam Highways department along the way depicting stories of famous kings of ancient Tamil Nadu.

A hair pin bend in Kolli hills
A hair-pin bend in the Kolli Hills

Kolli Hills

Solakadu is your first stop and also one of the highest points in the hills. Stop for a steaming cup of the locally grown Arapalli coffee. The tribal shandy is right by the roadside and is a must visit place for buying exotic fruits and spices and other mountain produce. Just opposite the shandy, within the premises of the Highways Bungalow is a viewpoint with breathtaking views.

At Solakadu you can choose the places you want to visit from the prominently placed signpost. There are a lot of places to visit in the Kolli hills.

A word of caution – Once you exit Solakadu, there are very few signposts along the way so ask the locals for directions when in doubt to avoid going around in circles! Many roads seem the same on the hills and can get quite confusing.

Where to stay

There are very few resorts in the Kolli hills. The oldest is the Nallathambi resort. You can book cottages of the Kolli malai Panchayat in advance. These are located in Semmedu. Another place to stay is the youth hostel near the Arapaleeswarar temple.Alternately, you can stay in Salem or Namakkal and visit the hills.

Bring packed meals and snacks when you come because there are very few good hotels or eateries. If you plan to stay longer than a day the best thing would be to ask the locals to prepare food for you.