Thursday, July 4, 2013

Short Trips and Big Gains

It has always been a delightful and memorable pilgrimage whenever the places in Chola Kingdom are chosen.  Even the remote places where the transport is  scarcely available do not fail to provide immense pleasure on reaching the spots. Those who want to save time may very well go for a cab instead of waiting for the local transport. One should admit that the road condition has improved a lot though there is  scope for further improvement. But it may not be possible to find a full time archaka at many places as the same person may be serving at many places in his neighbourhood. Most of them possess mobile sets and it is therefore easy to inform them prior to the visit. Nevertheless, these Temples may be opened for visitors upto noon and again in the evening with the help of the caretakers.

It is always better to plan the route for the day which will cover all important Temples in the region. For example, a three hour trip around Kudavasal near Kumbakonam will take us to many less known Temples of that area. We may start from Sri Koneswara swami Temple at Kudavasal, sung by Sambandar and Appar.
A five minute drive from Kudavasal towards Thiruvarur will lead us to Ohai where we find the Temple of Sri Kailasanatha. Two south facing sannadhis are dedicated to The Goddess. The shrines of Ambal , called as Praanambikai and Gnanambikai are adjacent to each other. Information on how the place got the name "Ohai" and its  sthalapuranam could not be gathered as the proper person was not available at that time. We request the Temple authorities to display the details on a board so that the visitors come to know more about the Temple.

We reach Sellur after a drive of say  5 km . The Temple of Sri Gunambika Sametha Sri Kailasanatha presents a new look as it was renovated and consecrated two months back. Eight Lingams are seen in the prakaaram  near Subramanya shrine. The legend says that  Lord Kailasanatha was worshipped by Nakshatra Devathas and Chakambari Devi had performed the Puja with the flowers of "Nandhyavardham".
Thirukkollambudur, sung by Thirugnanasambandar is located about 2 km from Sellur. "Koovilam" is the Tamil name for Bilva Tree. The name Koovilambudur is said to have transformed as Kollambudur. Sri Soundaranayaki sametha Sri Vilvaaranyeswara Temple is one among the "Panchaaranya Sthalams" of this region , the other four being Avalivanallur, Thiruk- Karugavur, Haridwara Mangalam and Alangudi. Sthalapuranam suggests to undertake the Pilgrimage to all the five Temples by starting in the morning at Thirukarugavur and completing it at Kollambudur on the same day.

When Thirugnanasambandar visited the place with his followers, the river Vettar was in floods. Nobody dared to operate the boats to cross the river. Divine Grace blessed Sambandar to perform a miracle at that time. He sang a Thevaram Padigam in praise of the Lord of Kollambudur and stood inside the boat with his followers. The boat crossed the waters automatically and brought them to the other bank of the river.

Thereafter Sambandar and others went inside the Temple of Vilvavaneswara and worshipped. This event is held even now on Deepavali Amavasya Day when the idol of Sambandar is taken to the other side of the river and then brought to the Temple where the Deities of Vilwavaranyeswara and Soundara Nayaki give Dharshan to him. The Temple was renovated by Naattukotai Nagarathars some decades back. One should not miss the beautiful eyes of the Vrishaba vahanam here which shows  the mastery of the craft.

We need to go back to Sellur and proceed towards Koradachery after crossing a village called  Abhivirudheeswaram. Just before entering Koradachery, a road deviating from the main one , takes us to Pathur where the Temple is usually called as Nataraja Temple by the locals. The main deities at the Temple are Sri Viswanatha and Sri Visalakshi. The Priest comes here from Sellur to conduct daily Pujas.

We proceed towards Thiruvidaivasal after crossing the railway gate and the bazaar at Koradachery. Abhirami sametha Puyakotinatha is known for an important inscription. Unlike the inscriptions of other places, this one is nothing but a Thevaram Padhigam,sung by Sambandar during his visit. This inscription came to light only in the year 1917. Until then, the number of Thevara sthalams was 274 and with this finding  the number went up to 275. Ganapathi, Durga and other deities in the Devakoshtam are noteworthy.

The sculpture showing Ambal,holding Sambandar on her lap and offering Holy Milk is located at the entrance of Abhirami's sannadhi. The other sculpture depicting  Sambandar worshipping The God and The Goddess right on top of the main entrance is enchanting.

 The final point in this short trip was Enkann which could be accessed from Thiruvarur also. It is known as an important Shrine for Lord Subramanya although the Main Deties are Sri Brahmapureeswara and Sri Peria Nayaki. The south facing sannadhi of Subramanya is sung in Thirupugazh by Saint Arunagirinatha. The Deity is carved exceptional well in a sitting posture on a peacock with several arms in His hands. The four headed/eight eyed Brahma worshipped Lord Shiva  here,hence the name Ennkann. Itis also said that the sculptor who made the Deities of Shanmukha at Sikkil and Ettukudi was blinded by the King so that he could not make similar idols. The sculptor prayed Shanmukhanatha and made the idol here with Holy thoughts in the mind as eyes. So the place derived the name "Ennkann" and the Lord blessed the sculptor to regain his vision. People with poor vision pray to Subramanya at Ennkann  to get back their vision.

With a 3 km drive from Ennkann we rejoin Kumbakonam - Thiruvarur road beween Kaappanamangalam and Thalayalangadu. Another 5 km drive takes us back to Kudavasal via Puthukudi and Manjakudi to complete the circle. We suggest similar visits for those who are desirous to see less known Temples within 3- 4 hours on a holiday. The more the visits ,more courtesy will be the extended to the less privileged section of the public,namely the Archakas of rural Temples. There will be  scope for maintaining the Temples as well with the patronage extended. Yes, the short trips will result into big gains!