Thursday, September 15, 2011

Temples near Karaikal

It is with great reverence the Emperors have constructed the Temples which speak volumes about their dedication. They did not impede the imagination of the sculptors as long as they remained within the frame work of Agama shastra and Silpa shastra. It is also said that the sculptors had agreed to begin a project work with the king except going for the repetition of marvellous work done at Thiruvalanchuzhi- {Single stone Window}, Thiruveezhimizhalai{Pillairless Hall}, Thirupperundurai(Avudayar Koil)- {Kodungai} and Thirunanipalli(Punjai- Vimanam). Temples built by Kochengat Chola were constructed on raised platform (Maada Koil). Our Journey along the East coast of Tamilnadu will come across many Temples which are more than 1000 years old. Karaikal and its suburbs drew our attention when we covered some Historic Temples in that region.

It takes nearly 8 hours to reach Karaikal if we start from Chennai. Since we break the journey en route, it should take couple of hours more. For instance we stopped at Thiruppadiripuliyur (Cudalore) after crossing Pondicherry. The Temple is well maintained and the locals show interest in upkeeping it. The sthala vruksham(Holy Tree) is Padhiri , hence the name. Lord Paataleeswarar has been sung in Thevaram Hymns by Thirugnana Sambandar(for whom there is a separate shrine facing the main Temple) and Appar. When Mahendra Pallava who ruled in 6A.D. was influenced by Jain saints , Appar who returned to Saivism was tied with a rock and thrown into the sea. A miracle happened at that time when Appar sang "Panchakshara Padhigam". The stone started floating and the waves safely carried Appar to the coast. On seeing this , the King repented for his mistake and apologised. Appar in sitting posture occupies a shrine inside the inner prakaram , facing the sanctum.

Thirukkadavur was the next destination during the trip. After crossing Chidambaram and Sirkazhi, one has to take the road leading to Nagapattinam. The sign board at Akkur "Mukkoottu" will guide us to Thirukadavur. This is the place where Lord Shiva destroyed Yama and saved His devotee, Markandeya. Many aged couples who throng here on their 61st / 71st /81 st birthday conduct Homam at various places inside the Temple. Amruthakadeswarar,Abhirami and Kalasamharamurthi are important deities of the West facing Temple.

We joined the coast line at Tharangambadi and proceeded towards Karaikal. We halted at Thiruvettakkudi, where the Lord Thirumeni azhagar (Sundareswarar) appeared as a Hunter in front of Arjuna and fought with him. The Temple presents a new look after the renovation. It is sung in Sambandar Thevaram. Idols of Shiva & Parvathi as Hunters and Arjuna are seen in the shrine.

On the outskirts of Karaikal Town is Thiruth Thelicherry , now known as Koil karai Pathu. It is also sung by Sambandar. Naattukottai Nagarathar have renovated the west facing Temple .The Lord is called Parvatheeswarar and Ambal as Swayamvara Thapaswini. Sun's rays fall on the main deity in the Tamil month of Panguni.

Naganatha Swami Temple at Nagore is regarded as an important shrine in the Puranas. According to the Legend, the Great Serpent, Adhisesha worships Shiva on Maha Shivarathri at Nageswara swami Temple Kumbakonam, Nageswara Swami Temple at Thiru Nageswaram, Seshapureeswarar Temple at Thiruppaamburam and finally at Naganatha Swami Temple, Nagore. A five Tier Raja Gopuram adorns the entrance and a majestic Nandi is seen in the front Mandapam. Beautiful images of Gaja Samharamurthi, Bhikshadana, Ekapadha Murthi,Ganga Visarjana Murthi and Sarabeswara are seen in the front side of the Gopuram. People visiting Thirunallaru should not miss visiting this sacred Temple.

Yazhmoori natha swami Temple at Dharumapuram is situated 2 km ahead of Thirunallaru. Sambandar sang "Yaazhmoori Padhigam" which could not be reproduced by Thiruneelakanda Yaazhpanar in his "Yaazh", a string instrument. Such a great Temple is under renovation.

Thirunallaaru is busy on all days but the crowd surge more on saturdays and "Sani Peyarchi" period. "Dharbhai", a form of grass is the Holy Tree found in the prakaram. The Lord is therefore known as Dharbharanyeswarar who is sung in Thevaram by all the three Nayanars.

Karaikal is the birth place of Karaikal Ammaiyar whose life and works are described in Peria Puranam. There is a Temple for Karaikal Ammaiyar in the middle of the Town. Since she obtained the Holy mango fruits from the Lord to be offered to her husband, people offer mangoes in the Tamil month of Ani when Bhikshadanar from the Temple is taken out for procession (Photo courtesy: Dinamalar)