There are planned travels you undertake, when you read up about the places you intend to visit, their significance, uniqueness and everything else that would make your visit complete and wholesome.
Sometimes, unplanned travel has a number of hidden surprises for you which become much-cherished and treasured memories
The trip which Jaya and I took in Jan., 2013 was of second type as the main trip was to take part in the Thai Poosam festival of Meenakshi – Chokkalinganathar festival of my native place Ravanasamudram and other temple visits were made on the days when we had spare time.
We understand from scriptures that there are five Panchakrosham (Five Eshwaras governing the city of Kasi wherein people do not naturally possess evil thoughts and ruled by five Eshwaras) in Varanasi city. Giving alms in these shrines removes obstacles in life, poverty and expiates sins. Similarly, there are five Panchakroshams in Thirunelveli district namely Shivasaileswarar (Shivasailam), Rameshwarar (Paappaankulam), Sri Vanniappar (Azhvarkuricchi), Papanaseshwarar (Papanasam) Thiruvaaleeswarar (Kaakkanalloor) – all these Five Eshwaras shower Blessings in abundance; therefore, it is called Dakshina Panchakrosham.
Alwarkurichi is the small town 35 km or 45 Min travel from west of Tirunelveli town and 25 km from Tenkasi town and 15 minutes from Ravanasamudram and located near western ghats (Ambasamudram – Tenkasi highway) surrounded by paddy fields, western ghats locate west of the town .The village has Ghatana nadhi on its east and Rama nadhi on its west
We have decided to see temples in Azhwarkurichi and Kadayam today.
A temple for Paramakalyani Samedha Sivasailapathi is on the banks of Ghatana river is at Sivasailam village.
There is also an ancient Shiva temple( Vanniappar temple ) sivakami ambal sametha Vanniappar temple and Alamelu manga sametha Venkatachalapathy temple.
In the month of Thai during the Poosam theppotsavam is clelbrated for Sri Paramakalyani Samedha Sivasailapathi. In the month of April, (Last 11 days of Panguni) the rathotsavam is celebrated.
Sivasailanathar and Paramakalyani Amman:
Main Deity is Swayambu Lingam known as Arul Migu Sivasaila Nadhar and his consort Parama Kalyani Amman. Teertham is known as Athri teertham. We see Dwajasthambam and Nandi facing towards the main sanctum. Nandi devar of this place is very famous for its beauty.
Other deities in the temple are Vinayakar, Murugan, 63 Nyanmars, Dakshina Moorthy, and Natarjar in different sanctums. Something that is unique in the temple is here the main deity Siva lingam, is seen with hairs. There is a ventilator at the back of the main sanctum from where one can see the lines from top like hairs falling down at the back of Siva Lingam. This is visible only when the Archakar gives Aarathi at the back of Siva Lingam. There is a legend that to save his daily priest from death Siva did this.
Near Vannishwarar temple is Agni Theertham, the original place where Agneeswara who is today called Vanniyappar had existed. (The idol of Sri Agneeswara was worshipped by several saints and Siddhars over time. The water of the Patha river flowed around Agneeswara bathing and worshipping him. Over time, Agneeswara was removed from there by Sri Vijayendra Bhupathy Mudaliar who placed it in a grove of Vanni Trees (Shami) and built a small temple around it. Once he was placed in a Vanni grove, he came to be known as Vanneeswara about which we will read next.
Agni Theertham, is on the banks of the Patha river. During Dwapara Yuga, the Saptharishis were performing a Yagna to protect people from being killed by the Pralaya. Fearing his power would be lost, Agni did not help the burning of the sacrificial fire. Angered by this, the Rishis cursed Agni to lose his heat, light and energy. Agni was shocked and wanted to escape from the Sapa Hathi. So he took the form of a fish and hid in the Herambayar Theertham near the Patha River.
Since Agni went missing, the Saptharishis asked his three elder brothers to take the Havi (offering) of the Yagna to Lord Shiva. The three brothers, not having the strength to carry the Havi, perished. In the meantime, the Sapa Hathi came looking for Agni, found him hiding in the Herambayar Theertham, and caught him.
Agni lost his heat, light and energy. When Sage Sudama came to the Theertham for a holy bath, Agni knelt at his feet and asked for a way out of his misery. The Sage asked him to install a Shiva Linga there and worship him to be rid of his curse. Agni did as advised and soon regained his strength and vigor through the grace of the Lord. He also helped the Saptharishis complete the Yagna by carrying the Havi all by himself. Since Agni installed the Shiva Linga here, the place came to be known as Agni Theertham.
The Multi-pillared Mandapa around the pond was clean and well maintained. The priest pointed out the panel on one wall depicting a Shiva Lingam and Sage Agasthya performing Abhishekam beneath which the spring of water came in and filled the pond.
On one side of the Mantapa was the Athistanam of a Siddhar who had attained Samadhi there. While his details are not known, the Lingam over the Athistanam is called Theerthapaleeswara. The Dhandam of the Siddhar is also worshipped here to date.
Some of the pictures collected on the spot are below:
Vanniappar temple is located in Azwarkuruchi Village in Tirunelveli District, India. Given to understand that this temple is nearly 1200 years old. Since there has not been any maintenance it is in a very dilapidated condition. Due to the effort of some devotees in the village now the temple is undergoing a slow renovation.
Temple was built by Pandya King Maravarman Sundarapandyan 1200 years ago, built at the banks of Rama Nadhi. The temple is built with stones and historians recall that once upon a time, there was a Silver Chariot running outside the corridors. This temple was the third largest after Papanasam (Thirunelveli) and Tenkasi Kasi Vishwanathar temple and spread out in nearly one acre. In most of the places, there is a beautiful carving of Hanuman or His face carved and sculpted; elders of the village could not explain the reasons behind it. There are separate shrines to Lord Vanniappar and Sivakami. Lord Agni, the power of energy, expiated His sins here by meditating on the Lord under the tree Vanni. Sthala Vruksham here is Vanni Tree.
Inside the hall, shrines for Saptha Kannikas, Vigneshwar, Dakshnamoorthy, Nagar, Pooranai, Pushakalai sametha Azhakiya Nambi Sastha, Valli – Deyvanai sametha Subramanya, Chandikeshwar, Saneeshwara Bhavwan, Shankaranarayanar aliaise Isanya Lingam, Kala Bharavar, small Nandi in front of Goddess sanctum adorns the premises. Sivakamai Ambal blesses Her devotees with Her utmost benign posture. Unlike other temples, there is no Navagraha Gods, on the contrary, there is a Navagraha Yantram carved on top of the front side Mandapam of Lord Shiva’s sanctum.
Views of the gopuram and the walls ready to fall
In Vanneeswarar Temple at Azhwarkurichi resides Garbarakshambigai. We were told that Idols on the main gopuram of women helping another woman to deliver, various yoga postures for pregnant women etc. are there.
Every single pillar has sculptures depicting an image connected to childbirth. There are quite a few erotic sculptures as well.
As informed under Agni theertham, Agni hid himself in the banks of the river near the temple in the form of a fish to escape from the curse of the Sapahathi and installed a Shivalinga with his own hands and worship him and be relieved from the curse. Hence the place where this lingam was installed came to be known as Agni Theertham. There is a perennial spring of water that keeps coming into the pit where the Agniswara Lingam existed and as told several Siddhars have meditated and attained samadhi around it.
Since the river got flooded frequently, as told earlier, a wealthy trader, Shri.Vijayendra Bhupathy Mudaliar had moved the Lingam from the Agni Theertham into a grove of Vanni Trees and built a small shrine around it. Because he rested in the midst of Vanni Trees He came to be known as Vanniappar.
Subsequently, the Cholas had built the temple and extended it. When the Pandyas came into power, they moved the original Agniswara to the East of the temple as a Easanya Lingam, and built a larger Shivalingam in the Sanctum Sanctorum. They also added the shrine of Goddess Sivakami Ambal. The Nandi in front of the new Pandya Lingam, is however, the old Chola Nandi.
This original Vanneeswara now called Agniswara again, sits quietly, in the eastern side of the temple, waiting for devotees to visit him. Try meditating in front of him. The vibration is awesome! The new Nandi made by the Pandyas has been installed near the Dwajasthamba and Bali Peetam, by far one of the most beautiful Nandis like the one in Sivasailam.
Unique methods of worship at the temple which I heard later:
This temple is a reputed worship site for marriage and childbirth. There is a pillar in the temple which has the images of a goddess in bridal attire named Kalyanambal and another goddess fully pregnant named Garbarakshambigai.
Devotees worship Goddess Kalyanambal to have prayers of good marriage proposal answered. The procedure is very simple but effective.
The person seeking to be married or a blood relative (preferably mother) has to perform abhishekam with their own hands to Goddess Kalyanambal in the first week. Archanai is performed in the following three weeks by the Bhattar on behalf of the prospective groom or bride. Once the wedding takes place, the couple come back and offer garlands and new clothes to Kalyanambal as you can see in the picture above. For those who seek childbirth, the same procedure is done but with Garbarakshambigai. The opportunity to perform abhishekam with their own hands is something unique at this temple. After childbirth, the couple come back with the infant to offer prayers and thanks to Goddess Garbarakshambigai.
This temple is also a place of worship for Kalasarpa Dosham. On the ceiling outside the Artha Mandapam, there is a Yantra of entwined snakes, and snake charmers which is unique in this temple.
Those who suffer from Rahu Dosham, perform abhishekam (again with their own hands) to the Krishna standing on a five headed snake and those suffering from Kethu Dosham can perform abhishekam to the Shiva lingam under a one-headed snake and those suffering from Kalasarpa Dosham or Kalasarpa Yogam perform abhishekam to Rahu and Kethu in a single icon to be rid of these dosham. Point to note: Other than the Yantra and these icons, there is no Navagraham in this temple.
The other interesting features here are as I mentioned , several sculptures of yogic postures depicted for pregnant women are there.
Another absolutely adorable feature of this temple is the unique depiction of the 63 nayanmars. Instead of the standard format where all of them have similar faces, and stand with folded hands, here each one of them is depicted to show incidents that happened in their lives that made them Nayanmars.
I was shown how the entire history of each Nayanmar’s life is written in the wall behind them for easy reference and understanding which again is something interesting and useful. Also the nayanmars are not arranged based on the order they appear in Thiruthonda Thogai. They are organised based on common threads in them. For example, Ninraseer Nedumaran, Mangayarkarasiyaar and Kulasiraiyaar are together, Sundarar, his parents and Narasinga Munaiyaraiyar are together and so on.
Vanniyappar and Sivakami Ambal wait with compassion and grace to answer prayers of those who come to their doorsteps.
The name “Kadayam” is a variant of the term “Kedayam”. “Kedayam” is a form of a war shield. It is a legend among the inhabitants of Kadayam that, hundreds of years of ago, a Goddess called Nithya Kalyani, the reincarnation of Goddess Parvathi showed her ‘rudhra swaroopa’ (personification of rage) at the villagers for pursuing material values at the cost of performing their religious and dharmic duties. The Goddess’ anger manifested itself in the form of successive deaths of the priests who were to perform the Daily Puja for Her. After the deaths of seven priests on seven successive days, the villagers begged the Goddess for forgiveness. When her anger subsided, she threw her “kedayam” and it fell at a place 4 miles away from the Nithya Kalyani temple. The villagers migrated to this spot where the “Kedayam” fell. Eventually, the new location came to be known as the village of Kadayam. Another legend say that the people were originally living around the kalyani amman temple and the goddess could not tolerate the noise created by the inhabitants surrounding her. She pulled out a kadagam (Bracelet in ancient Tamil) threw it to a distance and asked the inhabitants to go and reside round the spot where the bracelet fell. Thus this place was known as Kadagam, which later came to be known as Kadayam. It is also said that Goddess Nithya Kalyani was very powerful and the poojas performed in the temple during earlier periods were not perfect as desired by the Goddess. This led to lot of mis-happenings, resulting in the people staying away from visiting and praying at the temple. A Brahmin from Sringagiri who was well versed with Veda did santhi i.e. propitious ceremonies for the Goddess, resulting in some of Her powers passing into the peetam and a new sanctum sanctorium was constructed facing south. The Goddess has been bestowing wealth, happiness, well being and Anantha Kalyana Gunas to the people who worshipped and also those who performed poojas for her. From then on, she came to be known as Nithya Kalyani. (One who bestows well-being to everybody)
The eminent poet and freedom fighter Subramania Bharati once lived in Kadayam. Subramania Bharati’s wife was a native of Kadayam and it is believed that Bharathiar often sang patriotic songs from the rooftop of his in-laws. Sri Subramania Bharathi, stayed in Pazhaya Gramam of Kadayam, with his family. People who lived in Kadayam during the 1930s & 1940s recollect the days when Sri Subramania Bharathi used to walk up to Nithyakalayani Amman Temple and sit on the flat squarish big stone and sing his several songs including the famous Kali songs, and the Panchali Sabhadam, etc. They also recollect his affection towards all living beings, including donkeys. At that time the village had several donkeys, and many a time, Sri Bharathiar used to hug the donkeys straying into the Pazhaya gramam. He sang his famous “Chinnanchiru Kiliye”, “Odi Vilayadu Pappa”, “Kaani Nilam Vendum”, songs in the village when his second daughter used to play around in the road outside his house.
We were told that the area around the place where we see the Nithyakalyani Ambal temple now, was once upon a time, a “Bilwa” tree forest. The legend goes on like this: The King of Ayodhya Sree Dasaratha Maharaja was moving through the length and breadth of India and praying at almost all the temples spotted by Him for getting his progeny. Thus he chanced upon the “Bilwa” forest in Kadayam, and while moving into the forest, he found a “Suyambu Lingam” and prayed to Lord Shiva. Thus this Lord was named as “Bilwa Vana Nathar” i.e. Lord of Bilwa forest. This name over a period of time became Sree Vilvaranyeswarar and his consort Nithya Kalyani Amman. There are stone inscriptions, which say that Nayakar’s of Madurai developed the temple. Vilva tree is sthala vruksham and theertham is Chakkra theertham, around three hundred years old. Localites inform that if one breaks the Vilva fruit from the sthala vruksham, one can find a Lingam shaped formation inside, which cannot be seen in any other Vilva fruit. The temple is one of the Thevaara Vaippu Sthalam of Lord Siva. The main Raja Gopuram is seven storeys with three prakarams. It is said that the Peetam is a Dharani Peetam.
We were here a day prior to the Kumbabtshekam and was able to see the yagas with Kumbams. We were allowed to go into the sanctum also as the Gods are to be re established with power.
Unlike in other temples, Lord Sri Gajendravardar graces with Mothers Sridevi and Bhoodevi, sages Brugu and Markandeya from His sanctum sanctorum
Sages Brugu and Markandeya had the darshan of the Lord. That the place was largely inhabited by elephants is supported by large elephant population even today in the Mundanthurai forest area and that Sage Agasthya lived here is supported by the presence Agasthya falls in Papanasam.
The temple was built by kings which represents the architecture of their period. There are many epigraphic evidences too.
The Lord is named Gajendra Vardha as he relieved Indradhyumna who was cursed as an elephant, responding to his request that the Lord stay in the place. In days of yore, the place was called Yanai Katha Nallur meaning that an elephant was saved from its curse.
A king, Indradhyumna by name ruled the region in accordance with the advice of Sage Agasthya, his Guru. One day, he failed to receive the Guru when he came to his court as he was engaged in entertainments. Angry Agasthya cursed him to become an elephant and be their head in the jungles. He fell on the earth as an elephant bearing the name Gajendran – head of elephants.
Similarly, a Gandharva, a community noted for its musical skills, fell to the curse of Sage Kabila. While the sage was bathing in the river, the Gandharva, not meaning to offend him, caught hold of the legs of the sage as he was also bathing the river. The angry sage cursed him to become a crocodile. He told the Gandharva that he would remain a crocodile till Lord Vishnu would cut his head with His discus.
King Indradhyumna and the Gandharva thus began their cursed lives in earth and water then.
Due to scarcity of water caused by famine, the elephants came to River Tambiraparani to quench their thirst. The crocodile in the river caught hold of Gajendra who fought with the creature to free itself from its hold. The struggle went on for thousands of years.
Gajendra saw a lotus bud in the middle of the river and immediately thought of Lord Vishnu and offered it to Him crying ‘Adhimoolame’. Lord rushed to the rescue of the animal and cut off the crocodile with His discus. When the Lord gave His hand to Gajendra to drag him to the bank, he requested the Lord to stay there itself to rescue people in distress. Lord obliged the prayers and stayed in this holy soil. Both were simultaneously relieved of the curses.
Main deity is a Swayambu Lingam known as Narumba Nadhar and his consort Gomathy Ammai. Sthala vruksham Marudha Maram (tree), and River Thamirabarani is teertham.
Other deities in the temple are as we go around the prakaram, are Kanni Vinayakar, subraminayar, Sooryan, 63 Nayanmars, Agastiyar, Saneeswarar, Saraswathy, Sahasra lingam, Natarjar sanctum, Dakshina Murthy as Koshta deivam.
According to a poster on Sthalapuranam there are three legends.
Indra, did his penance and worshipped Lord Siva here under Marudha maram (tree), to get rid of his Brahamahathi Dosham. Lord Siva was pleased with his prayers and revealed himself, and Indra was blessed by Lord. Hence the place is known as Marudhur. The tree from where the Lord gave Darisanam is given in the photo
A king while hunting chased a deer which vanished at a place where when dug the lingam was found with the axe on his shoulder which mark you can see even today.
When Karur Sidhdhar came he prays so softly that Siva leans on left side to listen to him. Hence the lingam here is tilted to his left.
Swayambu manu, Agastiyar, Parvathy, Lakshmi, Saraswathy, and Bhoodevi worshipped Lord Siva of this place.
This was told to be a Devara Vaippu Sthalam. This place is 4 kms away from Ambasamudram, known as Chaturvedi Mangalam. The temple was renovated by Chera, Chola, Pandya and Nayakar kings. The main Raja Gopuram is of seven storeys and it was built by Nayakar Kings. Main sanctum was built by Chola kings, Mandpams by Pandya Kings and wood decors to roof by Chera kings.
This is a very fertile village benefitted by Tamiraparani and Ghatna River. This is the birth place of Sri Sarvagna Atmendra Saraswathi Swamigal, the second Acharya of Sri Kanchi Kamakodi Peetam. This temple is very big, ancient and rich in sculptural wealth.
The huge main doors are carved beautifully decorated. As we enter inside we see a huge Nandi and Dwajasthambam to front. The platform of the dwajasthambam and Nadni has beautiful carvings on them.
Main Deity here known as Arulmigu Kailasa Nadhar. Nandi here is decorated and beautiful. We can see the beauty in the roof of the mandapam.
There are five siva lingas with separate Sanctum sanctorum in the temple namely
Pradosha Sabhai with Pradosha Moorthy, Ashta Dik Balakas with their respective Vahanas, Siva Boothaganas and Apsaras women is a very rare specimen of deities. Chandikeswari goddess Saraswathi and Uchchishta Ganapathy are seen in the Praakara of the goddess Brahannayaki’s shrine. The Arudra Mandapam is an example of Architectural Excellence. The Dharma Nandhi is of a very big size made in a single stone carved with magnificent skill. There are separate sannidhis for Vigneswara, Subrahmanya, Dharma Sastha, Balamurugan, Surya, Chandra, Dhakshinamoorthy and Navukkarasar, Appar & Sundarar. The big doors of the main entrance with wooden carvings and wood sculptures inside the temple are proving that artisans from Kerala were taking active rolls in this temple. The Somawara Mandapam is another masterpiece of the sculptors of that age. Many more details can be seen when one pays a visit to the temple.
Main deity is Venkatachalapathy and Narashimar. The place is about 2kms from Pavoor chattram. It is about 45 mts from Ravanasamudram
Here Narashimar is seen with 16 hands and Hiryanakasipu on his thigh as samhara moorthy.
There is a big pushkarani attached to temple which is known as Narashima teertham. The coolness of the teertham cools down his ugraha swaroopam and he appears as santha swaroopam.
Padmavathy thayar, Prasanna Venkatachalapathy and Alarmelmangai sculptures are in front side and Narasimhar is behind.
There are stone inscription of King Chaturvarman Sri Vallabha Pandyan of 1101-1124 who repaired the compound wall of the temple.
As per purana, Narashimar killed Hirynakasapu at Ahobalam in Andhara Pradesh. Kasyapa muni, Naradha and other rishis meditated here to have the darshan of Lord Narshimar in the same form again at this place.
Narashimar was happy with their penance and appeared before them with Sridevi and Bhoodevi as ugra moorthy in this place.
The Ayikudi Balasubramania Swami Temple is a small temple in the village of Ayikudi, Thirunelveli district, The temple is visited by pilgrims and tourists who come to visit Courtralam Falls and Kasi Vishwanathar Temple Tenkasi
Shridi Saibaba Temple on Ayikudi Road
We also visited a Shridi Saibaba temple nearby
Near Narasimhar Koil, There is a Thiruvaleeswarar Sivalayam, which was worshipped by Vali, the elder brother of Sugriva. Since it was not opened we could not visit the same.
|Presiding Deity :||Kasi Viswanathar||Consort :||Ulagamman|
|Beauty :||Rajagopuram (Tower)||Tower Height :||180 feet|
|Holy Tree :||Shenbaga Tree||Holy Water :||Kasi Theertham|
Tenkasi (South Kasi) is famous for its Ulagamman Temple and its Shiva Temple. The Ulagamman temple was built by Parakrama Pandian. About 700 years ago (AD1440), King Parakrama Pandiya was taking up a pilgrimage to Kasi. As and when he desired to worship Lord Viswanatha., The Lord appeared in his dream that he could build a temple here itself to avoid a long journey to north. He advised the king to follow the movement of ants’ row and build the temple where it ended. The ant-line ended on the banks Chitraru dense with Shenbaga trees. He found a swayambu linga near an anthill and built the temple as directed by the Lord.
I was given to understand that it was damaged by lightning some time in 1980s In the 1990s, the temple was restored with much financial assistance of Sivanthi Adithan and others, and it was given a fresh coat of paint again in 2006 by the same philanthropists. However, the first few feet from the ground has not been painted as that part appears to have survived the lightning. The gopuram or the entry gateway remains among the highest in southern Tamil Nadu. And it is the second highest gopuram in Tamil nadu. The Rajagopuram is 180 feet tall and is a masterpiece of aesthetic beauty. A 2-5 feet wide pathway is also provided in the tower in the 9th tier to have an aerial look of Tenkasi. One enjoys the pleasure of walking on the sky while making a round in the tower.
The main deity here is Kasi Viswanathar (Shiva). This temple has three Sannidhis [a unique aspect] – Sivan, Amman and Murugan Sannidhis. This temple has beautiful sculptures and also has musical stone pillars, that emit notes of different pitch when tapped with fingers.
The Tenkasi Kasi Viswanathar temple is a palace of sculptural skill of the stone craftsmen of Tamilnadu. There are twin statues, two Veerabadras, two Thandavamurthis and two Tamil women of highest standards of art. The sculpture of Rathi-Manmatha, the divine lovers, individual idols of Thirumal and Kali Devi are the creations of artists with divine skills.
The entrance is really grand, with heavy steps. One could view the majestic Temple Gopuram even while entering the town. The Gopuram of the temple welcomes pilgrims with a pleasant cool breeze straight from the nearby Thirikooda Malai. It is a wonder that the direction of breeze at the entrance to this gopuram chnges to opposite when we enter the main temple..
Lord Shiva graces in the temple as a swayambumurthi. Worshipping the Lord in this temple is as equal to worshipping the Lord in Kasi –Varanasi. It is claimed that residing deity Lord Kasi Viswanatha is visible to the devotee even from a distance of one Km. While Mother Durga faces South in almost all temples, She faces west in this temple. Sages Narada, Agasthya, Mrugandu and Indira, Vali, Nandhi had worshipped the Lord in this temple.
The temple is noted for the three importances of Murthy (the deity), sthalam (holiness of the place) and theertham the holy water attributed to the temple. The Presiding deity is Sri Kasi Viswanatha with Mother Ulgamman. Shenbagam tree and Kasi theertham add to the importance of the temple.
Those who worship in Tenkasi get the same benefit of worship undertaken in Utharakasi (Varanasi). The Durga in Tenkasi faces the west, opposite to the swami sannidhanam, while the tradition is that Goddes Durga faces the North in almost temples. The sculptures are made of single stone. The Balcony facility in the 9th tier of the gopuram is a facility to the devotees to have an aerial look of the town Tenkasi
Outside Muruga sannadhi we have sculptures of Pancha Pandavas and Karna. This is strange and when enquired, one told us that originally Krishna was in the place of Muruga and later replaced by Muruga.
Srivilliputhur a pilgrim and cultural centre is about 60kms from RVS.
As per Hindu legend, the land around Srivilliputhur was under the rule of Queen Malli. The queen had two sons called Villi and Kandan. While the two were hunting in a forest, a tiger killed Kandan. Unaware of this, Villi searched for his brother, got tired and fell asleep. In his dream, divinity narrated to him what happened to his brother. By divine orders, Villi founded a city and is named after its founder, Villi forming the word Sri-Villi-Puthur.
The remarkable landmark of Srivilliputhur is 11-tiered tower structure dedicated to the Lord of Srivilliputhur, known as Vatapatrasayee. The tower of this temple, a 1000 year old, rises 192 feet high and is the official symbol of the Government of Tamil Nadu. It is said to have been built by Periyaazhvar,(foster father of Andal and father in law of of the Temple Deity), with a purse of gold that he won in debates held in the palace of King Vallabhadeva Paandiyan. Thiruppavai, one of the important constituent of devotional Tamil literature period created by Andal, was from this temple town. Andal (8th century or earlier), is the only female Aazhvar of the 12 Aazhvar saints.Car festival is a noted event of this temple. The sculptures of the temple is unique for its heritage value.
This temple has been built having two floors. The ground floor holds the shrine of Lord Lakshmi Narashimhar. The first floor has the Maha mandapam with the idol of Garudaalwar. Next to this maha mantapam is Gopala Vilasam with wooden sculptures .Next to Gopala Vilasam is the Sanctum Sanctorum with three entrances one at the direction of the head of the presiding deity Vadapatra Sayanar, the other at the direction of His holy feet and the third one is as usual as the entrance of that shrine. These three entrances are opened at the time of the Tamil month of Marghazhi (Dec-Jan), during the holy bathing event.
Given to understand that this presiding deity has been sculptured with ‘Suthai Poochu’ (sand+limestone paste) not with stone. It had been sculptured as lord Perumal seen in the ‘Anantha sayanam posture’ (sleeping posture) and on the bed of the Adhiseshan (five headed snake), Sridevi and Boodevi being at his feet. From the navel, we could see one lotus flower on which lord Brahmah is placed. Garudaazhvarar is near the head.
To the north of the flagstaff is a beautiful glass house where Sri Andal portrait is placed. During the festival of Egathesi, this glass house is treated as the palliyarai, which is the place where god and goddess are said to take rest at the night.
A golden chariot has been placed in a shed very near to the glass house. During the festivals or by paying Kaanikkai by any devotee, the golden chariot is taken around within the corridor of the temple premises.
In between the flagstaff and the glass house, the idols of Rathi Devi (goddess of love), Neerthuvamuga Veerapathrar, Lord Krishna’s chariot sarathy and Karna at on one side and Manmathan with Rathi devi, Oorthuva Veerapathrar, Guhan, and Arujna on the other side are placed .To the south of the flagstaff, there lies the shrine of Goddess Sri Gajalakshmi. Near to the shrine of goddess Gajalakshmi, shrine of lord Hanuman has been situated.
The Madhavi Panthal which is mentioned in Andal’s Thirupaavai is near the shrine of Lakshmi Narayanar, just at the beginning of the pragharam .
Inside Maha mantapam Is the Oonjal Mantapam which is gold plated and is called vellikizhamai kuradhu. Near to this is the Kannaadi Kinaru, in which it’s believed that Andal had seen her image after wearing the garland, before offering it to the lord Arangan.
Kanthimathi Nellaiyappar Temple is the well known twin temple dedicated to Goddess Parvathi (Kanthimathi Ammai) and Lord Shiva ( Nellaiyappar – the Protector of Paddy). Covering an area of 14 acres, it is the biggest temple in Tamil Nadu situated in the heart of the city on the banks of river Taamiraparni at a distance of 2kms from the railway station. The temple, believed to be built by the Pandyas in the 13C was entirely remodeled and extended in 17C – 18C. Some of the inscriptions in the temple dates back to 950A.D. The temple is also known as one of the 5 Pancha Sabhas (dance halls) of Nataraja (lord Shiva); the others being at Chidambaram, Madurai, Tiruvalankadu and Courtralam.
A copper dance hall, known as Tamra sabha which is made of wonderful woodwork is located within the temple. Lord Nataraja and Sivakami are worshipped here during the Arudra Darisanam festival, celebrated in the Tamil month of Margazhi (Dec 15 – Jan 15). Behind the dance hall, there are shrines of Sandana Sabhapati (Natraja adorned with sandal paste) and Periya Sabhapati where religious services are done only on special occasions.
Within the temple premises near the sanctum sanctorium, there is a shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu (Nellai Govindan) where his idol can be seem in a lying posture. It was built on a belief that Lord Vishnu had visited Thirunelveli to solemnize the divine marriage of Shiva and Parvathi. The temple is one of the five sacred places in Saiva religion, worth seeing for its beautiful sculptures, musical pillars, valuable jewels, a golden lily tank and a thousand pillared mandapa.
Courtralam was one of the places we had been craving to visit. This was possible only after my retirement and in 2003 July. We booked ourselves a room in Tamilnadu Tourism`s hotel in Courtralam – Hotel Tamilnadu
Courtralam, the ‘Spa of the south’, is a panchayat town situated at an elevation of about 167 m on the Western Ghats in Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu, India. Numerous rivers such as the Chittar River, the Manimuthar River, the Pachaiyar River and the Tambaraparani River originate here. It is famous for its waterfalls and has a number of health resorts.The falls are located 160 kilometers from Madurai and 59 kilometers from Tirunelveli. The nearest railway station is Tenkasi ( where we alighted) which is just 6 Kms from here.
This is not only a tourist spot but also a health resort. Courtralam water has medicinal properties since the water runs through forests of herbs and the water has therapeutic qualities to cure physical ailments. During the season (period June to September in every year) thousands of tourists from far and near visit this place. The waters of the falls are believed to have medicinal properties as they run through forests of herbs before their descent. Tourists who visit and bathe in the waters claim that the water has a soothing effect, help the old feel young and the sick heal rapidly. The peak season for visitors is June-September. This place is chill and has a superb climate with sizzling of rain drops over us removes the stresses in our mind. The Pure wind that starts from pothigai malai removes the tiredness from our body. It is said that Lord Siva sent saint Agastheya to the south to avoid imbalance due to overcrowding in the mount Kailas on his celestial wedding. The saint came to Podhigai hills for his stay.
There are nine falls
Among all these waterfalls, Five Falls is very good since it is less-crowded than the main falls, and will be more pleasant than any other falls.
When one thinks of Courtralam, the natural thought is that of luxuriant waterfalls. However, Courtralam offers more to the religiously minded. There is a temple of Thirukutralanathar or Kurumpalaveesar. The Lord here is an aspect of Siva. Thirukutralanathar means lord of the three peaks. The deity is believed to have been installed by sage Agastyar and the temple was built somewhere in the eighth century. Agastyar is said to have shrunk the image of Vishnu and then created the Siva linga here.
Traditionally, a temple is supposed to have one of the five shapes: discus, tortoise, square, lotus and circle. However, this temple is in the shape of a conch, signifying Vishnu. Hence, it is also known as the Sangu shrine. In the eastern side is the main deity with His consort Kuzhalvaaimozhiammai. There is a hall in the temple by name Thirukoota mandapa. In this hall various decorations to deities during festivals are conducted. Among other deities are Vinayaka, Subramanya and Iyyanar.
There are also deities for the five elements: Vanmikanathar for the earth, Jambukeswarar for water, Annamalainadhar for fire, Kalathiappar for air and Thirumulanathar for sky.
The northern entrance has eighteen steps guarded by Kutrala Karuppan. Lord Nataraja is said to have danced in five holy places and Courtralam is one of them.
The Chitra Sabhai or the hall of pictures is in a picturesque locale away from the main temple. Architecturally, the Chitra Sabhai resembles that of the other Nataraja sabhas elsewhere in Tamil Nadu, and its interior is decked with hundreds of murals, depicting images from the Indian epics. It is an excellent house of art and architecture. Natarajar is decorated and brought here during festivals from the main temple. This temple contains many inscriptions about Chola and Pandya Kings
Thiru murugan temple is situated here in Thirumalai. The beautiful Lord Muruga Temple is situated on the top of a hillock 15 kms from Kutrallam. Sage Agasthiyar used to worship Muruga every day here. Also the saptha kannigaigal. The presiding deity is called Kumaraswamy.
Papanasam Dam is located 49 Kms away from Tirunelveli. This is a beautiful picnic spot. Another dam in Tirunelveli District is Manimuthar Dam. This is 47 Kms from Tirunelveli. Having salubrious climate and gorgeous gardens, it serves as an excursion centre.
This is near Ambasamudram and not to be confused with the town with same name in Thanjai district.
Due to the heavy crowd of sages at Mount Kailash attending the wedding of Lord Shiva with Mother Parvathy, Earth lost its balance. Lord Shiva called Sage Agasthya to go to Pothigai Hills in the South and to balance the Earth level as his tapasvi weight was enough for the purpose equaling the weight of the millions of Rishis at Mount Kailash then. Sage Agasthya felt he was deprived of witnessing the Lord,\’s weding. Lord Shiva promised the sage that He would give a Wedding darshan to him at this place.
On the first day of Chithirai month (falling almost on April 14 each year), Lord granted the Wedding Darshan to Sage Agasthya. Lord Papanasanatha graces the Wedding Darshan behind the sanctum sanctorum as Kalyanasundarar on His vehicle Nandhi. Sage Agasthya and his wife Lopamudra are in the shrine worshipping the Lord.
Indira, the king of the Devas had Dwashta, son of Sukracharya as his Guru. Indira came to know that Dwashta was performing a Yagna for the demons and hence killed him, his Guru and thus incurred Brahmmahati dosha. In order to cleanse himself of the sin, Indira wandered among the various Shiva Kshetras worshipping the Lord for relief from the dosha. Guru, planet Jupiter advised him to go this place and worship Lord Shiva. Even as Indira was entering the borders of this place, he got relieved from his sin. Hence, the place came to be known as Papanasam – meaning destroying sins and the Lord as Papanasanathar.
Sage Romasa sought the advice of his Guru Agasthya to choose places on the banks of Tambiraparani for installing Shivalingas. Agasthya told the disciple to throw flowers used for Shiva Puja on the river, and do the installations where the flowers reached the shores. Romasa threw lotus flowers as advised on the river, nine of which reached the bank at various places and Papanasam was the first. Since planets are nine, they were named Nava (nine) Kailash each attributed to one planet. Sun being the first in the planets, Papanasam is attached to Sun known as Surya Kailash.
Lord Papanasa Natha graces as Rudraksha in the sanctum sanctorum and also under the Mukkila tree in the prakaram. It is said that three Vedas – Rig, Yajur and Sama – were the Kila trees offering shadow to the Lord and Atharvana Veda was the space. They worshipped the Lord in these forms. Hence, the Lord is named Mukkila (Three Kila) Lingam.
River Tambiraparani, springing from Pothigai Hills and flowing through the hilly regions reach the plains only at Papanasam. During the Uchikala Puaja nivedhana are offered to the fishes in Tambiraparani. It is here that Lord Shiva granted darshan to sages Vyakrapatha and Patanjali standing between the horns of Nandhi on a Thaipoosam day. Recalling this event, special pujas are performed to Nandhi each year on this day with sandal paste.
There is a pounding stone (Ural in Tamil) in front of the shrine of Mother Ulgammai. Women use to pound turmeric and make the turmeric water for abishek to the Mother. They consume a little of this abishek water hoping they will be married soon and blessed with a child. Married women believe that this abishek water consumption would also increase the longevity of their Mangal Sutras
Pana Theertham is around 55 km west of Tirunelveli. Ambasamudram Railway Station is the nearest railhead. The River Tambraparani commences its course from this point. It is located just opposite the upper dam. One can reach this spot, crossing the dam by boat when the dam is full. During the festival days domestic tourists around Papanasam visit this place
Papanasam is a small village. It is 60kms from Tirunelveli from where buses ply to Papanasam. The river Tamiraparani flowing from the Western Ghats reaches the plains at Papanasam. While flowing down the rocky bed it forms into many falls. The agasthiyar falls being the popular one. This waterfall is believed to absolve all sins from people who bath in it.
This has made Papanasam (papa+vinasam, meaning absolution of sins) an important pilgrim centre. Fishes are found in abundance in the water. They are quite harmless and approach the bathers in large numbers. The devotees believe that these fishes are redeemed souls and harming them would bring retribution
This temple adjoining the falls named Agasthiyar falls is located half way to the Panatheertham, which is at a distance of 4 km from Papanasam Shiva Temple. One can reach these Agasthiyar Falls and the Temple by trekking a distance of 3 km. Regular buses are available to visit these temples.
The Agasthiyar temple seems to cling to the rocky mountain above the falls. As already told, the legend is that when Lord Shiva married Parvati, he was concerned that the rush of people from the south attending the marriage in the north might result in the northern part sinking, and so he sent Sage Agastya to the south, to this region, in order to balance the world. The waters that nourish the falls flow through forests filled with medicinal herbs and so are believed to have healing powers.
This is a holy pool located at an elevation of 125 feet on the Agasthiyar falls and it gets its water flow from this pool only. This is called Kalyanatheertham. Near the pool, there is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The temple located here on the shore of the Bay of Bengal is one of the six Abodes of Lord Subramanya. The location of the temple is ideal and draws a perennial stream of devotees. The temple overlooking the sea is an inspiring sight. “Kanda Shasti Festival” in which the Sura, the demon is killed by Lord, attracts a large number of devotees. See details in our Arupadai veedu visits.
Sankarankovil is home to the famous Sankara Narayanan temple. It is situated at Tirunelveli District and 56 km away from Thirunelveli. and is very famous for “Adi Thabasu” festival. In older times, the city was called as Sankaranayinar kovil. Once upon a time a “Devan” (Angel) called “Manikkeerivan” was cursed by Goddess Parvathi. Because of which, he had to come to earth and work as gardener in a beautiful garden. One day while he was clearing a snake pit, the snake tail was also cut. He found a Sivalingam next to the snake. He went and informed about this to his king Ukira Pandiyan. The king considered it to be the god’s wish to stay there and constructed the temple and a city around. The Puthu Maan in the temple is taken as a holy sand which could cure lot of disease by all devotees.
The snake pit (Ant Hill) is called “Vanmeekam” . Hence the deity Sri Sankaralingar is also called “Vanmeeganadhar” Sankarankovil has its own interesting story. Once the devotees of Lord Narayana (or Vishnu) and Lord Shiva quarreled with each other to determine whose god is powerful. Then Lord Shiva appeared as Sankaranarayanar to mark his devotees to understand that both Narayana and Shiva are one and the same. So it is held sacred by Saivites and those Hindus who believe that Siva and Vishnu are a single deity one in one and accordingly, desire to worship the two gods into one form. It was built by Ukira Pandiyan AC 900.It houses the deity by the name Sankara Narayanan, which is half Lord Shiva and the other half Lord Vishnu.
The deities of this temple are Sri Sankareswarar, Sri Gomathi Amman and Sri Sankara Narayanar.
Sankarankovil is also said to be home to the deity named Avudai Ambal, The general belief is that the Holy Sand “Puttrumann” (Puttru = Ant Hill, Mann = Sand) that one gets from this temple is capable of curing all the diseases. Devotees believe that Sankarankovil‘s Nagasunai (sacred tank) have been dug by serpent kings named Paduman and Sangam which has a miraculous power to heal those who bathe there.
There is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The presiding deity is Thiruvenkatanathar. There are a number of life-size sculptures in this temple with intricate, workmanship.
Krishnapuram is a small village in Tirunelveli district at a distance of about 55km from RVS and thirteen km from Tirunelveli town. This village and temple were built by Krishnappa Naicker in 16th century AD. This village is named after this ruler. The main shrine of the temple has Lord Venkatachalapathi along with his cosorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi. People also inform that He is also known as Krishnaswamy. Krishnapuram Venkatachalapathi temple is the alternative to those unable to visit Tirupati to fulfill their prayer commitments.
Pujas and abhishekam are being conducted to the Lord daily and some important festivals are celebrated every year.
There are many impressive images of ingenious and exquisite workmanship in the mandaparn, which is just opposite the presiding deity. One of the pillars represents the story of the adventure of Bhimasena with Purushamrigam. To fulfil the ritual at an important yagna, Yudhishthira required the milk of Purushamrigam, a half-man, half-beast denizen of the forests, this creature is a devoted Siva bhakta and Bhimasena achieved his purpose when it was in deep penance.
In spite of the innumerable and wonderful temples in Tamil Nadu, Krishnapuram’s temple holds its own, as far as sculptural splendour goes. It is the poetic imagination of a sculptor seeing a rock with red lines running on it. Statues and idols look alive and are carves on the pillars of this temple. They also produce a melodious music in them. Every statue or idol produces a bronze bell sound when tapped. Krishnapuram sculptures are globally famous. Interestingly, the temple houses statues of deities, as well as scenes from court life. Astonishing is the fact that 500 years later, the figures look alive and young.
It’s difficult to explain the beauty of the sculptures of the temple in writing.
Two beautifully carved elephants at the entrance of the Veerappa Naicker Mandapam, the scenes of a Kuravan and Kurathi abducting a prince and princess and the depiction of blood in Kuravan, the worried King and Queen are beautiful features of these life-sized sculptures. . A lady with a parrot on her shoulder and a beggar with a monkey on his shoulder are too lively. There is another interesting pillar where a lady is pulling the beard of a kabada sanyasi who is trying to molest her. There is a ball in one of the Yazhi’s mouth which rolls inside but cannot be taken out!!!
Unfortunately, photographing is not allowed and I had to buy photos to produce here. Better to visit and see it.