Tuesday, August 25, 2009


The moment I tell this place, one would be remembered about goddess Durga. Patteeswaram is a small town near kumbakonam. There is a famous temple for Lord Shiva. GnAnAmbikai samEdha dhEnupureeswarar temple. It has been told that the celestial cow kAmadhEnu performed pooja for the Shiva at this temple. Hence the name dhEnupureeswara for Lord Shiva here.

In this temple, one could see that the nandi is not exactly opposite to Shiva, but moved away from the straight line. Very special case. There is a story behind this. Thirugnanasambandar, a talented poet, who got the grace of PArvati Devi early in his childhood and started writing beautiful poems came to patteeswaram. That was during the peak summer. He was offered a tent made out of pearl by the temple authorities upon the order of the Lord. To see sambandar walking through the pearl tent, lord asked Nandi to move away a little. So nandi will be slightly deviated from the straight path in this temple.

We enter into the temple. Kodimaratthu vinayakar welcomes all of us by sitting in a sannidhi near the dvijasthambam. We move further and to our left there lies the temple's holy tank. Near the tank, there is a sannidhi of Agya Ganapathi. Praying to the ganapati we proceed further towards the main mandapam or mahA mandapam. There we worship at the sannidhis of Madha vArana ganapati and Subrahmanya and enter into the sanctum sanctorum of Dhenupureeswarar. There also similar to the stone nandi outside, we could observe the metallic nandi, moved away a little from the straight line path. There were sannidhis of Nataraja, Bhairava, Navagriham in the mahA mandapam and we proceed towards the sanctum sanctorum of Vishnu Durga. We move along the covered artha mandapam and find the divine mother, standing on the head of mahishAsuran, with conch and chakra in the upper hands and two lower hands offering boons and protection to the devotees. In this temple alone, goddess Durga will be wearing a 9 yard saree, as opposed to other temples where she will be wearing an ordinary saree or skirt(pAvAdai) like a small girl.

Having the darshan of durga, we move to the sannidhi of GnAnAmbikai. It is built as a separate temple. Mother gnAnAmbikA is in a standing posture with varada abhaya hastham, with her eyes filled with grace. One could lose their ignorance and gain knowledge if her vision falls on us.

After having their darshan we offer namaskArams at the dvijasthambam and move out of the temple with a sense of achieving something.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Foreign nations are clean! India very dirty!!

This kind of irritating statement most of us would have heard from NRIs and those who had been to foreign nations and have returned back.

Its in our hands. We obey the rules in foreign government. "You should not spit on the roads or you should not throw papers on the foot path" - if this has been written in other country, we obey it. But if it is written in India, we never care about it and sometime put garbage on the sign board itself that will hide the signs with the passage of time.

Say a person X who use to chew pan masala in India, stops it temporarily in other countries or spits it in the dustbin. But the moment he enters Indian airport, he is tempted to spit on the road side. He searches for dust bins to throw torn pieces of paper, but in India he throws them right under his feet and walks carelessly as if he is no longer connected with this world.

The moment Indian government brings a rule, the law breakers are busy in finding loop holes to escape from the rule.

Only if we start following these small practices, others will follow and practice it. Let us all join together to preserve the heritage of our nation.

VEnu gOpAla swAmi - pAlur

vEnugAna lOlu nigana vai ganulu kAvalanE- so sang saint TyAgaraja in his kEdaragowla rAga kriti, describing lord krishna who in the form of vEnugOpAla (with flute in his hands, surrounded by cows) as the protector (kAvalanE).

I heard this from someone that this song was composed by saint tyAgarajA at the residence of veenai kuppier (another contemprory composer). He should have written this song having pAlur vEnugOpAla swami in his mind.

pAlur is a small, quiet village near kudavasal in kumbakonam district. It is also called as mElapAlaiyur. Not many buses are there to access this village. One need to take a cab or go by walk from the main road that leads to kudavasal.

After moving through the green fields on the road side, we could see a sivan temple that marks the beginning of the agrahAram. There after for few meters one could move on a concrete road. That road takes us to the vEnugOpAla swami temple. Its a small temple dedicated to vishnu on the western side of the agrahAram.

Behind the temple there is a huge tank with some water that belongs to the temple. Surrounding the tank, there are large number of trees offering an awesome treat for our eyes.

The main deity here is Sri Lakshmi Narayana. Venugopala along with rukmini and sathyabama are the procession deities or utsava moorthi. The lord is adorned with expensive ornaments. Krishna by himself will shine brightly with the intensity of thousands of stars. His lusture, after being adorned with diamonds and other gems need no further explanation or description. Even if I try to give one, it will be definitely never upto the mark.

Coming to the tyAgaraja kriti, in the anupallavi, he describes the ornament worn by venugopala. It goes like this - vEnu lella dhrishti chutti vEyuchu brokuchu rAga - says the chutti (ornament worn on forehead) grabs one's attention first when he sees the deity.

He then describes about the lord's lotus like face, graceful eyes - vikasitha pankaja vadanulu vivitha kadulu nAtaka - okari kokaru karamula niti Orakannula jootaka - sukaravamulu kala tharunulu sogasugAnu pAtaka - sakalasurulu tyAgarAju sagunivEdaka vachchuchu.

Once if we see vEnugOpAla, standing in the sanctum sanctorum, welcoming his devotees, we can never get a feeling to move away from that place. During gOkulAshtami times, the village will have celebrations like uriyadi, adding to the fun index of the entertaining function.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

NAchchiyAr kOvil

This is the 14th among the 108 divya dEsams. It is located on the way to KumbakOnam from kudavAsal. This is famous for the kal garudan or garudA made out of stone. There is an interesting fact behind this.

During the temple festival, the lord and is taken on the back of garudA for procession. While starting, 4 people will be lifting the lord along with garuda vAhanam. The weight of the garudA keeps on increasing, demanding extra people at every furlong. 4 increases to 8, 16, 32, 64 and at last to 128. On return the garudA's weight will start diminishing. So 128 gets reduced to 64, 32, 16, 8 and so on. While entering into the garudA's place, there will be just 4 people holding the statue as it was at the start.

Another aspect of this garudA is that he has 10 serpants on his body. Near his eyes (2), ears (2), shoulders (2), throat (1), chest (1), arms (2). Usually there will be 4 or 6 serpants on garudA in other temples.

Vishnu is called by the name Srinivasa and Lakshmi is called as Vanjulavalli thAyAr. It is believed that, garudA spotted the pretty girl vanjula valli near nAchchiyAr koil and persuaded Sri Vishnu to marry her and he indeed performed the rituals. Vishnu became happy and offered GarudA status equal to him.

In this temple there is no separate sannidhi for thAyAr as other vishnu temples have. Both perumAL and thAyAr are in the same place. And Srinivasa is in the form of a human with just two hands as opposed to other temples where he use to have 4 hands.

If you observe, Maha Vishnu will be standing some what in the corner, leaving the center place to vanjula valli thAyAr. This signifies about the importance that one has to give to their wife. Surronding the couple who are standing in the wedding posture, there are 5 people who attended the marriage. BrahmmA, BalarAmA, AniruddhA, PurushOtthamA and PrathyumnA.

The temple has a nice prakAram, rAja gOpuram. Holy tank or pushkarani is located outside the temple and it is definitely a feast for our eyes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


This is the 12th divyadEsam among the 108 divyadEsams or vishnu temples.

This sthalam is located on the way from kudavasal to nachiyarkoil. The main deity is sAranAtha perumAL. His consort, thAyAr is given the name sAranAyaki. Thi vimAnam is sAra vimAnam and pushkarani or holy tank is called as sAra pushkaraNi.

When we approach the temple, the majestic tank (there was some water in the tank :)) welcomes us all. Opposite to the tank, there lies the huge gOpuram or main tower of the temple. Crossing that gopuram, we find a dvijasthambam and a large prakAram or corridor, through which we can walk around the temple. We enter into the main mandapam and reach the place where Maha Vishnu resides.

In the sanctum sanctorum, the lord is in a standing posture (nindra thirukkOlam) with 4 hands. Conch and chakra in the upper two hands and the lower right hand offering protection (abhayam) and the lower left hand offering boons (varam). In his chest, lives goddess lakshmi. The utsava moorthi has two consorts - neela devi and bhoomi devi. Sri devi resides in his chest.

Apart from them, to the right side of the lord, sage mArkaNdEyA is seated, seeking salvation. River Kaveri seated to the left of the lord. There is also an idol of Santhana krishna (krishna as a small child) in the sannidhi.

There is a separate sannidhi for Lord Narasimha. Here he is blessing everyone along with goddess Lakshmi and gets name as Lakshmi Nrusimhar.

Coming out of the mandapam, we take a right turn to reach the thAyar sannidhi. sAranAyaki thAyAr, seated on a lotus is welcoming all her visitors with a nice smile. Praying to her, we move around the inner corridor and complete a round at the thAyar sannidhi and come out to the outer corridor. After completing the round in the outer big corridor, we offer our namaskArams to the lord and the goddess at the dvijasthambam seeking their blessings.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Konerirajapuram - Tirunallam

For those who have read kalki's novel ponniyin selvan this name will sound familiar. This is a small village near kumbakonam.

This village is famous for the Nataraja in the Shiva's temple. Lord Shiva is called as Umamaheswara and his consort devi parvati is called by the name Anga vaLa nAyaki or dehasundari amman. The temple is such a massive structure. Very very attractive with the large mandapams or halls. There is a big tank infront of the temple. Right now there is very little water in the tank.

This temple has been built by kandaradhittha chola and his wife sembian maa devi. Kandaradhithan is the grand father of the famous Raja Raja Chola. He is well known for his service to Lord Shiva, by building huge temples in his empire.

We enter into the temple. Usually to one's right side, in any shiva temple there would be Lord Vinayaka. But here, we could see Shanmuka Subrahmanya. Yes, Lord muruga with 6 faces, 12 hands, surrounded by Valli and Devasena on his both sides. To have darshan of Vinayaka first, we move to our left side portion. There Lord Vinayaka, protected by two bhutha gaNAs (one with banana bunch on his head and the other with a jack fruit on his head) is seated, blessing the devotees.

We then move into the main mandapam with dvijasthambam. If we look up, on the ceiling, there we could be amazed by the awesome paintings. We can see the five faces of Lord Shiva - thathpurusham, eesaanam, vamadevam, satyojatam and agOram, moorthis of 4 vedas, and more. After praying there at the dvijasthambam where it is believed that the power of the deity inside the sanctum sanctoram is concentrated, we enter the temple. There were also paintings of british period - policemen with arms standing at the ritual and so on. But due to poor maintenance, most of the area in the paintings got faded.

We could see lord Uma maheswara. The lingam is quite large in size that one could see the lord from the entrance. We circum ambulate the sannidhi and in the prahaaram we can see lot of other idols. Idols of Bhairava, Surya, some more siva lingas like kasi viswanathar, Shenbagavana nathar and few more are there.

Further proceeding we could see the vaahana mandapam (place where God's vehicles like swan, yaLi (mixture of lion and elephant), ox (rishabham) are kept). All the vaahanam speaks about the antique values. But again time has eaten away the charm of them. On the opposite side we could see the idols of Agastya rishi, vinayaka and some writings, stating about the architects of this temple (sembian madevi and kandaradithan).

We complete the round and come outside to see the navagraha sannidhi and there is another shiva linga that has been worshipped by all the 9 planets.

In the opposite side we see the majestic Nataraja. The tallest / the highest/ the majestic.. Whatever adjective that suits the best, we can use for him. There will be a mole and a hair stuck to the mole on his chest. To his side, stands the graceful SivakAmi. He is the moolavar. He wont be taken out for procession. To his side, there is another sannidhi where lies another nataraja. This is the utsava moorthi who will be taken out for procession. He is also called as kalyanasundara moorthi, also called as Maapillai swami and his consort is Devi kAthyAyani.

We come out of the shiva's sannidhi and go for a bigger round in the outer prakAram. There comes the devi sannidhi. Its like a separate temple. We offer our salutations to the anga vaLa nayaki or deha sundari and request for good health for every one of us. One could observe that there is a separate nandi for ambal which is very uncommon in temples in and around kumbakonam district. In few temples in other places this is very common. There is also a sannidhi of Lord Vaidyanatha in the outer prakAram, after coming out of Ambal sannidhi.

We go around the temple's outer prakaaram, talking about the massive structure and spacious prakaaraas of the temple and finally offer our namaskArams to the lord near the dvijasthambam and come out of the temple.

We then proceed to the agrahAram where people stayed. Now, it is almost deserted. Many of the people got settled in major cites or in other countries. There were houses on both sides of the street. There is also another street having houses in one lane alone. We saw our ancestral house, now belonging to someone else, from outside and proceeded to the perumaL temple, situated in the west side of the agrahAram.

PerumAL is called here as Varadharajan. Bhoomi and Neela Devi are his consorts here. In addition to Varadharaja perumal, we have a separate sannidhi for kodhanda ramar (rama with bow and arrow in his hands). Rama stands along with Sita, Lakshman and hanuman and blesses all his devotees.

There is also another temple near this perumal temple, for goddess Durga. Durga stands on the devil Mahishasuran's (buffalo like deamon) head. There is no roof for her. She is called as Akaasha Durga or Durga who is open to sky.

Praying to all these deities, with a nostalgic feeling, we left the village.