Sunday, June 19, 2011

Divine Route -- Kumbakonam to Thiruvarur

Kumbakonam region of Chola Kingdom offers cluster of awesome Temples , each one carrying evidence in the form of inscriptions to tell the History of the past glory. Probably for every 2-3 km, there is a village that has an ancient Shiva Temple.

If one takes the Thiruvarur route from Kumbakonam, the journey has to be broken at Saakkottai, about 3 Km from Kumbakonam. Sivapuram Temple where Lord Vishnu had worshipped Shiva(Siva Gurunatha) in the form of white pig , is hardly 2 Km from here. Sambandar and Appar have sung Hymns in praise of the Lord of this place. Bhairava Sannadhi of this temple is very popular among the devotees who offer worship on Ashtami days.

The road leading to Mannargudi from Saakootai will immediately take us to Kalayanallur within a distance of 2 Km. The utsava idol of Sri Amruthakalasanatha Swami will be taken to Mahamaham Tank once in 12 years.The Hymns of this Temple can be found in Sundarar Thevaram. Marudanallur is hardly 2 km away from here where we find Shiva Temple sung by Sambandar. This place was called Karukkudi during that time. Karukkudinatha Swami is Swayambu and the Archaka places a copper cover while performing Abhishekam. The Temple is being renovated and Kumbabishekam will be conducted on Sunday, 10th July,2011.

Journey towards Thiruvarur from Saakkottai for about 3 Km will take us to Arisikkarai Puthur, now known as Azhagaputhur. Sri Swarnapureeswara Swami Temple is surrounded by paddy fields and the atmosphere is very calm and breathtaking. Pugazh Thunai Nayanar, one of the 63 Nayanmars, belonged to this place. He did not leave the Temple even when people of the entire village deserted the place due to severe draught. He was blessed by the Lord who gave him one measure of coins every day to save him from the draught. Sung by all the three Acharyas in Thevaram, the Temple has a Subramanya sannadhi in which the Lord carries conch and Chakra in His hands.

Just before reaching Nachiar Koil, we come across Sidheeswara swami Temple at Thiru Narayur (Not to be confused with Thirunaarayoor, near Kaattumannargudi). The main deity is worshipped by Gorakka Siddhar and other siddhars, Hence the Lord is named Siddheeswarar. Thevaram Hymns of Sambandar and Sundarar call this place as Narayur Siddheeswaram. Deva Koshtams such as Bhikshadanar, Nataraja,Agasthya, Ganapathi and Gorakkar worshipping Shiva draw our attention. The Goddesss is on the right of Swami Sannadhi, both facing west.

Sara Parameswara Temple at Thirucherai, about 3 km from here is our next destination. Runa Vimochana Lingam in the Prakaram is worshipped by many to get rid of debts. People come to offer prayers in large numbers on Mondays. The Devakoshtams are wonderful at this place also.

Another 10 minute drive will take us to Naaloor Mayanam, sung by Sambandar. The Temple is about 1 km away from the main road. The priest comes to offer pujas once in a day. The Temple is in fairly good condition but the visitors are not many. A pious family of this village takes care of the visitors and arranges for worship at the shrine. Dakshinamoorthi in the Deva koshtam is a must see for the devotees who seek the Adhi Guru's blessings. One should not miss to see brilliantly carved Chandikeswara in the Prakaram. It is said that a snake encircles the Moola Lingam (as mentioned by Sambandar,"Paaloorum Malaip paambum") occasionally. There is also a sculpture on the wall of the sanctum, showing a king (said to be Aditya Chola)worshipping a Shiva Lingam.

Koneswara swami at Kodavasal is worshipped by Garuda and the Temple is close to the main road, separated by the holy pond.

Of the 70 "Maadak koil" (Elevated structures), built by Ko Chenkat Chola Nayanar, Kudavasal Perunkoil belongs to this group. The shrine built on elevated platform has a huge Vimanam over the sanctum with eye-catching stone idols describing various legends. Ardha- Nareeswara in sitting posture , Dhakshnamoorthi and Bhikshadana Murthi are to be watched by standing close to the vimanam.

Thalayalangadu is another 10 mts drive from Kudavasal. Appar has sung Thiruth Thandagam on Lord Nardhanapureeswara of this Temple. Though the Main Vimanam is renovated, the other parts are getting facelift. The Archaka lives close to the Temple.

By proceeding another 3 Km towards Thiruvarur, we reach PeruVelur, where we find another "Madak Koil" built by Ko Chenkat Chozha Nayanar. Piriya nathar sannadhi is a tall structure and Ambal is known as Abhinna Nayaki. The Lord is sung by Sambandar. Sivacharya's house is nearby and he facilitates us to have dharshan.

The same Sivacharyar who also conducts puja at Thiruk Karaveeram, 2 km from here, takes us over there.There is an alankara mandapam in front of the Temple. One fails to understand why the HR&CE is keeping a blind eye on it. What is left now is a few pillars surrounded by bushes. Dancing sculptures are there made in bricks!! The authorities should wake up now to save the Mandapam. Karaveera Natha swami Temple, Moola Lingam and Ambal are all big in size. Prathyaksha Minnamai, as the Goddess is called, is on the right of Swami Sannadhi. Swami and Ambal Vimanams, standing side by side are a pleasure to watch.

Our last leg of the tour was Sri Swarnapureeswara Swami Temple, Aandaan Koil. We have to come back towards Kumbakonam upto Kudavasal and take the road leading to Valangaimaan and drive for about 15 km. Appar in his Hymns has called this place as Kaduvaaik karaip Puthur. It is renovated and maintained well.

We are of the firm belief that our visit should not be allowed to be confined in admiring Historic places and writing blogs or just to gain spirituality for self. While admiring the past and gaining spirituality, we should also take stock of the present situation of the Temple, its maintenance and the livelihood of Sivacharyars who dedicate their entire lives by staying in the remote villages. In this connection, our Sabha has honoured Sivacharyars of Nine rural Temples in 2010 with a Sambavana of Rs 2000 to each of them. We continue to serve them and it is indeed a sevice to God Himself. Honouring the third batch will take place on Monday, 11th July,2011 at Thiru Narayur (Nachiar Koil) at 9.30 A.M. when Sivacharyars from Karukkudi, Thalayalangadu, Peruvelur and Aandan Koil will assemble here and participate in the event.