Friday, December 10, 2010

Tail end Areas of Cauvery

Pilgrimage in Chola Kingdom has always been a wonderful experience. Though a large area of this region does not contain mountains, it is amazing to see large number of temples made of granite structures and sculptures.That shows the dedication of the Emperors who ruled the region. During the recent visit to Mayiladuthurai and its suburbs, I was joined by my friend,Shri Ganesh who was equally interested in visiting the ancient temples. In my opinion, it is not going to help either the temples which remain isolated in small villages or the priests who conduct daily pujas for a negligible income.if people just visit them , admire the historic structure, idols and inscriptions and go back to their places to write travelogues. That is why we have been repeatedly appealing for field work by volunteers. Although few groups are engaged in cleaning the temples on monthly basis, it is not at all enough if we consider the number of neglected temples. It is with this purpose we undertake visits with prayer on our lips. It also helps to identify the places where renovation is required and other conditions prevailing over there. Only one "Kaala" Puja is being conducted in many village temples where four "Kaala pujas" were held. That too is erratic in few places. We need to address all these issues jointly on our return from the pilgrimage.

It was raining cats and dogs when we entered Sri Lakshmipureeswara Swami Temple at Thiruninriyur, on the way to Vaitheeswaran Koil. The deity is worshipped by Mahalakshmi, Parasurama and sage Agasthya and sung in Thevaram Hymns by all the three Acharyas. The priest lives near the main entrance of the temple. We took him inside the shrine to enable us to worship the deities. The temple is being maintained by Dharmapuram Adheenam. The last Kumbabishekam was conducted some 50 years ago and the temple needs urgent renovation as the roof was badly leaking in both swami and ambal sannadhis. It was pathetic to see the archaka standing in ankle dep water in ardhamandapam to perform the pujas. The outer prakaram was no way better !! Plants were seen all around and rooted in temple tower too. The situation was similar when we visited the other temple managed by the same Adheenam at Thalaignayiru. Kumbabishekam for this temple was conducted by the then Head some 50 years before.

It is always fascinating to visit the tail end areas of Cauvery Delta. It is rich with historic temples on both banks of the river until it joins the sea at Poompuhar ,the capital of Karikal Chola.
We proceeded to Marudur and visited Sri Rajarajeswara Swami temple accompanied by Sri Swaminathan of Kumbakonam, a native of this place. It is a well maintained temple, suroounded by beautiful plants,herbs and trees. The atmosphere is so divine that everyone could wish to stay for a long time. My friend takes lot of effort to complete the renovation work and conduct the Mahakumbabishekam at the earliest. Our Sabha also made its contribution for this noble cause.

Melapathi is a place close to Marudur which is on the way to Poompuhar. It has two beautiful temples of ancient origin. The first one is Navaneetheswarar(Vennai nathar) temple which has arjuna (Marudha) vriksham(tree) in the prakara. The tree is quite old and stands as a testimony to the ancient nature of the temple. 13 chapters of Brahmanda Puranam describes the legend pertaining to this temple. The Shiva Linga Bhanam is white in colour as Brahma established it in the form of butter. The deity is also worshipped by one Susarma, who became a cat on eating the butter kept by Kanva Maharshi for Shivapuja. One can se the marks made by the cat on the Bhanam even now. It is equally amazing to see the age-old sthalavruksha (Arjuna tree) which is hollow,yet bearing branches and leaves. The temple priest is knowledgeable and dedicated. He stays close to the temple.

On the east of Navaneetheswara temple is Jwarahareswara temple of Chola Period. It is also maintained very well and the Goddess is around 7 feet tall and full of grace. The shrine looked great even though the light was poor at the time of sunset.

Thiruvilayattam is a place located on Sembanar koil- Nallaadai route. It is a Maada Koil, built by Kochchengat Chozha Nayanar. The Mahalingam is "swayambu", hence called "Thaan thonreeswarar". Ambal is known as "Mullaivana Nayaki". The temple has been renovated in 2003 and looks good. Unfortunately, the pujas are not carried out regularly as no archaka wishes to perform it for the poor income. The locals have made some temporary arrangements and are looking for a permanent solution.

We went to Perambur which is primarily a Subramanya shrine. It also houses a Shiva shrine (sung by Appar as "Vaippu sthalam") . Dhakshinamurthi is in the form of Guha Dhakshinamurthi. A peacock is seen at His feet instead of the usual "Muyalagan".

Our next leg of the tour was Kaliyakudi where Goddess Kali worshipped Shiva after destroying the demon,Ambaran. A sculpture showing Kali worshiping Shiva is seen on the wall.
We wound up the tour by visiting Pazhayar, Pavattakudi and Thalaiyur,the birth place of Rudra Pasupathi Nayanar.

At the end of the tour, we thought of honouring Sivacharyas of this region sometime in March/April next year which alone can make the pilgrimage purposeful and cherishable.