Many villages and small towns at the foot of western Ghats/Podhigai Hills in Thirunelveli District present scenic beauty as the river Thamrabarani adds wealth to her banks.Nature is at its best and it is a feast to the eyes to look at the tall coconut groves and plantain trees all around.This place is not only fertile but also known for many temples. Nava Kailash and Nava Thirupathis are the cluster of temples in this region and it will be nice to plan the route before undertaking the journey. In places like SriVaikundam & Then Thirupperai, both Shiva & Vishnu temples are present within a short distance and a proper planner is not likely to miss either of them. Hence it is wise to cover both Shiva and Vishnu temples together so that revisiting the same place on the next day is avoided. Normally it takes two days to cover all the 18 temples. It is better to hire a cab at Thirunelveli for visiting these places as few of them are in remote places where bus services are not frequent.
A big board installed at Sri Kailasanatha swami temple at Then Thirupperai gives an account of all the nine Kailasams with a distance map.If we follow the sequence given in the board, lot of time can be saved on travel. The Nine Kailasams are at 1) Papanasam 2)Seran Mahadevi 3) Kodaganalloor 4)Kunnathur 5)Murappanadu 6)Sri Vaikundam 7)Then Thirupperai 8) Rajapathi & 9) Serndhapoomangalam. The Lord is called as Kailasanatha in all the places. There is also a view that the first Kailasam is not Papanasam but the one at Brahmadesam off Ambasamudram.As Navagrahas (Nine planets) have worshipped Sri Kalasanatha at these places, many people visit them on the advice of the astrologers.
Papanasa Swami temple at Papanasam is about 50 KM from Tirunelveli. The sanctum is situated near a "Mukkila" tree,which signifies three Vedas. Thr river Thambrabarani reaches the plains near the temple and flows in South-North direction As Indra,the King of Devas got rid of all sins at this place, the Lord is known as "Papanasa Swami" (Destroyer of Sins).Shiva is said to have shown His Dharshan here to Sage Agasthya & his wife Lobamudra. This place is associated with the Sun God(Soorya) for whom the "Pariharas" are offered.Turmeric is crushed as powder inside the temple complex and ladies offer it to the Goddess Logambikai who is believed to fulfill their desires.
The second among the Nava Kailasam is at Seran Mahadevi,which is 24 KM from Thirunelveli. The temple is 3 KM away from the town. As this place is not served by buses, cabs or autos have to be engaged to reach the temple. Moreover, the temple is kept open between 7 and 8 A.M and 5-6 PM. Since we reached the temple around 9.30A.M., the gates were locked and our attempts to bring back the archaka was in vain. Two sisters who were staunch devotees of Lord Shiva have constructed this temple.The Lord is also known as Ammanathar.Moon is associated with this temple.
Kodaganalloor is the third Kailash among the group of temples. It is reachable from SeranMahadevi. This "Ankaraga Nivarthi sthalam" is also known for the removal of "Sarpa Dosham". People looking for good alliances for their daughters offer garlands made of Turmeric to Nandi who is said to be very powerful.
Kunnathur is about 10 KM from Tirunelveli en route to Thiruvengadanathapuram.This "Rahu Parihara sthalam" is surrounded by hills and the location is beautiful. Peacocks in large numbers fly freely in this isolated place. We were fortunate to capture a peacock in our camera when it was sitting on the compound wall of GothaParameswara temple at Kunnathur.Six headed idol of Sri Subramanya in the outer prakara is beautifully carved.This temple is also kept open for few hours in the morning and in the evening.
Murappanadu is situated between Tirunelveli and Tuticorin and the distance from Tirunelveli is 17 km. This is considered as "Guru Parihara sthalam". The temple is on the western banks of the river Thambrabarani. The river flows from South to North in this place and is viewed on par with Kasi and Ganges.
Srivaikundam is 24 km away from Tirunelveli on the road that leads to Thiruchendur. It is considered as "Sani parihara sthalam" This town is the birth place of Sri Kumaraguruparar,the Adhi Guru of Sri Kasi Mutt.
Then Thirupperai is on the way to Thiruchendur (38 km from Tirunelveli.) This "Budha preethi sthalam" is also known for Kala Bhairava worship.He has six hands and his vehicle(Dog) is not there.The temple is renovated and kept neat.
Rajapathi is 35 km from Tirunelveli on Tiruchendur route. One has to travel about 5 km from Thenthirupperai towards Athur. The temple is newly constructed to house the ancient Siva lingam. Commuting to this "Kethu parihara sthalam" is not that easy.
Sernthapoomangalam can be reached from Athur on Tiruchendur route. The river Thambrabarani meets the ocean at a place called Punnakkayal near here. This "Sukra dosha Nivarthi sthalam" has Kubera in the vimanam.
One should not miss visiting Brahmadesam,Thiruppudaimarudur and Sivasailam which can be accessed from Ambasamudram.Kalakkadu is another important place near Nanguneri which has to be covered during the trip to Tirunelveli District.The magnificent temple of Kasi Viswanatha at Thenkasi is a feast for art lovers. Needless to add, the glorious temple of Nellayappar at Tirunelveli should be the starting point of the whole agenda.