Monday, December 21, 2015

Our Tirunelveli Temple Run – Part 11: Kazhugumalai

Poring over Google maps to figure out the distance from Sankarankovil to Kovilpatti, the name ‘Kazhugumalai’ jumped out. The chance to visit this ancient site, on our way to the station was too good to pass. And that is how we found ourselves rushing over rickety roads, headed to Kazhugumalai, our luggage rocking in the back of our auto!

Kazhugumalai, with the Murugan Temple in the foreground

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Our Tirunelveli Temple Run – Part 10: Some temples near Sankarankovil, and Thoughts on Our Disappearing Heritage

When you travel, it is not what you look forward to, and what you expect to see, that captures your attention. It is always the unexpected which remains with you, long after you return. And so it was, with our trip to Sankarankovil. Which is why, this post is going to be slightly different from my other posts in the Temple Run series.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Our Tirunelveli Temple Run – Part 9: Sankarankovil



The local bus from Tirunelveli to Sankarankovil seemed at first empty. Then, the crowds began to appear. The bus was full when it left, but at every stop, there were more people getting in…. and no one getting off. And the most striking thing was – everyone was dressed to the nines! Except us of course! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Our Tirunelveli Temple Run – Part 8: Karungulam

When you have a long, long list of temples, and are short of time, it is inevitable that you miss some of them. And so it was, on our Temple Run. We chose to stick to the Nava Tirupatis, the Nava Kailasams, and a few other temples we certainly wanted to visit, and skipped the rest. However, there are times when the Lord wants you to come and see Him, and it is at such times that you feel truly blessed. We felt this at many temples, where we made it just as the temple was closing, but it was most apparent at Karungulam!



Monday, December 14, 2015

Our Tirunelveli Temple Run – Part 7: Nava Kailasam

Tirunelveli and the Thamirabarani River are intricately linked with Sage Agasthya. This is one of the reasons the river here is considered as sacred as the Kaveri, or even the Ganga. Most temples here are on the river bank, or somewhere near the river, including the Nava Tirupatis, which we visited earlier on this trip. However, the temples most entwined in myth with the river as well as the sage are the Nava Kailasam.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Our Tirunelveli Temple Run – Part 6: Tiruchendur

Subramanya, Karthikeya, Muruga. He has many names, and in southern India, especially Tamilnadu, he is the consummate hero. He is the divine child, born to subdue the demon, Surapadman, who has enslaved even the Gods. He is born of the sparks from Shiva’s third eye, and he is carried by Agni, cradled by Ganga, suckled by celestial nymphs, and finally raised to be a warrior by Parvati. He is but a young man when he leads his army to victory against the demon. However, he doesn’t just kill the demon, he vanquishes him, and, accepts his surrender. The peacock, his vahana, and the rooster, his emblem are the forms last taken by the demon as he is vanquished. There are stories galore of Muruga – of his fight with Ganesha, and leaving home, to take up residence at Palani, of his marriage to Indra’s daughter, Devayanai, and his wooing of the tribal maiden, Valli. Tamilnadu has so many temples dedicated to Muruga, that it is impossible to enumerate them! Six of them, however, are special. These are where his army camped, and where some memorable events in his life occurred. Together, they are called ‘Arupadai Veedu’ in Tamil.



One of the most interesting, and beautiful, among these six shrines, is the one at Tiruchendur, where the temple stands, facing the sea. It was from here that Subramanya set out to fight the demon, and it was here that he returned, victorious, and offered prayers to his father.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Our Tirunelveli Temple Run – Part 5: Nava Tirupati

When you circumambulate a Shiva temple in South India, you see the images of the 63 Nayanmars placed on the same level as other forms of the Lord. If it is a Vishnu temple, these are replaced by the 12 Alvars. All these were devotees, the Nayanmars of Shiva, and the Alvars of Vishnu, who sang the praise of the Lord, and eventually merged with them. It is extremely interesting to see just how important these devotees are considered, for, who would know of the Lord and his greatness, if not for these saints, who sang his praises?



Monday, December 7, 2015

Our Tirunelveli Temple Run: Part 4

The  morning had disappeared while we had rushed through temples. The evening had yet to arrive, but we knew it would disappear just as soon. The afternoon, meanwhile, had to be whiled away. What could we do, once lunch was taken care of? Head to the hills, of course!



Friday, December 4, 2015

Our Tirunelveli Temple Run: Part 3 - Birdwatching at a Temple!


Thiruppudaimarudhur Narumbunathar Temple

Driving through the fields, we followed the road to what appeared to be a huge wall looming in the distance. My attention, however, was captured by a board. My Tamil is not too good, and the only word that I recognized was ‘paravai’ – bird. I perked up at once, though I knew well I had no time to go looking for birds. “I am not here for birdwatching, but to visit temples”, I reminded myself. The road led to a series of stone gates, their arches having long fallen. The temple spire visible between them was a beautiful sight.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Our Tirunelveli Temple Run: Part 2

“The best laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry” wrote Robert Burns.
Nothing can describe our Tirunelveli Temple Run better than these words, written over two centuries ago!

Entrance to the Nanguneri Temple

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