Sunday, December 26, 2010

Aadi Jagannatha Perumal temple- Tirupullani, Sethukkarai and Navagraha Pashanam

Tirupullani is yet another famous temple in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu and this is the 44th divya desam of Vishnu.This is situated at a distance of about 64 Kms. from the Ramanathaswamy temple, Rameshwaram.This temple is related to the great epic Ramayana in more than one way.The temple's main deity is Lord Jagannatha with his consorts Bhoodevi and Sreedevi and the  Panchaloha  idol of the Lord here  is known as Kalyana Jagannathar . There is also a small idol of Krishna known as Santhana Gopalan. It is believed that king Dasratha prayed here for progeny and worshipped Santhana Gopala. The king got the sweet  payasam which he offered to his wives and  was blessed with offspring.

Devotees pray here fervently for their marriage and also install serpent images and partake the payasam offered here in the temple to get progeny. One can find hundreds of such images under the sthala vrickasham. There are separate  shrines for Mahalakshmi, Rama, Santhana Gopala and Aandal . Rama, in this temple is in a reclining position with bow and arrow on his chest with Lakshmana as Aadisesha and Brahma in a lotus. Rama is lying on a bed of Darbha, fasting, for Lord Varuna to appear.  

Sethukkarai-  5 Kms from this temple is Sethu where it is believed that Rama and his entourage built the famous Sethu (bridge) to reach Lanka. Just a kilometer into the sea one can view this famous bridge but I could not do so as no boats were plying at that time. This is  also known as Adam's bridge.There is a temple for Sethu bandhana Aanjaneya right on the sea shore. Many perform obsequies here for the departed souls.

14 Kms from Sethu is the the village of Devipattanam and here one finds the Navapashanam in the sea, 9 pillars believed to be navagrahas ,worshipped and installed by Lord Rama before he set out to Lanka for claiming his wife Seeta who was abducted by Ravana, a Rakshasa. During low tide these Navapashanams are very much visible and now there is small bridge built for the convenience of the pilgrims to reach this place. Devotees get inside the water and offer worship to Navagrahas .

Yet another famous temple nearby is Uttarkosamangai which is only at a distance of 9 Kms from Tirupullani. Shall post about that soon.

How to reach-  Madurai is the nearest airport. The distance is about 100Kms.
Accommodation-  Luxury , budget hotels are available in Madurai and it is well connected by road, rail and air.
Location is given along with labels.



Friday, December 17, 2010

Ramanathaswamy temple - Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Rameshwaram  island is in the Gulf of Mannar which lies at the very  tip of Indian Peninsula. This island  is also known as Pamban island and is connected to the main land by  Pamban rail bridge, an engineering marvel and a great attraction for the tourists. There is another  road bridge running parallel to the Pamban bridge for all other vehicles. The view of the azure sea from the bridge is breath - taking and I have included   some photos for all of you  to enjoy along with the temple photos. This island lies very close to Srilanka across the sea.

Ramanathaswamy temple, is on this island  and is just 100 meters from the sea shore. This bustling pilgrim centre  is considered as  South Kashi. (Kashi or Varanasi is in  North India, an abode of Siva and Hindus believe that  one who is graced to die in Kashi  would attain salvation. I would reserve the details for a later post) . This temple is also part of the 4 dham pilgrimage - the 4 holy places  highly reverred by Hindus, the other three being  Dwaraka in Gujarat, Puri  in Orissa and  Badarinath in Uttarakhand.

Ramanathaswamy is Siva, one of the 12 Jyothirlingams in India. This temple is associated  with Ramayana  epic. To expiate the killing of the demon king Ravana, Rama  and Seeta consecrated the Sivalinga and worshipped the God and hence Siva here is known as Ramanathaswamy. The temple also has 22 theerthams (Holy wells) and devotees make it a point to bathe in these before offering worship to the Lord here. 

Rama had requested Aanjaneya to bring a Sivalinga from Kailash. He did not return at the auspicious hour and Seeta made one, out of sand and that is believed to have been installed here. When  Aanjaneya  returned,  he tried to remove the Lingam made by Seeta with his tail and He was unsuccessful as one made by Seeta got rooted. The one brought by Hanuman is at the Eastern entrance and  devotees worship  this Lingam first, before offering worship to Ramanathaswamy.

Amman here is known as Parvatha Vardhini, there are Vinayagar and Murugan shrines on either side  of Ramanathaswamy temple and a huge Nandi in the centre, facing the inner prakaram. This temple houses the longest multi- pillared corridor in Asia , with more than 1000 pillars and one can enjoy the beauty of this magnificient corridors which is about 230 metres long, a side . Tourist from all over the world flock to watch this grand corridor. This temple also houses a spatika Linga and there is a worship early in the morning at 4 am and devotees are allowed to have a darshan of the same, only at that time.

There is also a separate shrine for Natarajar and Sivakami and this shrine is fully decorated with rudraksha.

Aadi Amavasi festival is very important here and pilgrims converge here and  perform  holy 'duties' for the departed ancestors, pray for their salvation and to redeem themselves from the sins of the previous births.

A few kilometeres from this wonderful temple is Rama Paduka temple situated on a small hillock known as  Gandhamadhana Parvata. One has to climb a few steps to reach this temple.  We can see imprints of  Lord Rama's feet here. It is believed that Rama had a view of Lanka from this place.There is also a temple of Kothandaramaswamy  in Rameshwaram  on the road to Dhanushkodi , a  pilgrim town the whole of which was washed away during a heavy cyclone in 1964.  One can find  remnants of this town as one proceeds along the road, a few kilometers towards the old location of Dhanushkodi.

How to reach : The nearest airport is at Madurai - distance 165 Kms. 
Rameshwaram is well connected by rail from Chennai and Madurai.
Buses ply from all parts of Tamil Nadu to this holy town.
Accommodation:  This  temple town has many hotels, lodges and mutts .
Location map is given along with labels.

Other temples near Rameshwaram are Sethukkarai, Navagrahas at Devipattanam and Tirupullani.  All these temples are connected with Ramayana epic. Shall post these one by one.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sree Hanuman Kovil - Ernakulam, Kerala

Right in the heart of the city of Ernakulam is the temple of Hanuman worshipped by thousands. This little temple is close to the Ernakulathappan (the post about this temple  is in the offing ) temple. Hanuman or Anjaneya  is very well known for his strength, valour, knowledge, devotion, humbleness,service and modesty.

 The  temple  here is about 150 years old.  Mr. Venkat rao , Dewan  ( 1856- 1860 AD)of erstwhile Cochin State under the  Maharaja Ravi Varma used to worship this idol in his house and wanted to have a separate place to worship the Lord. His Highness, gifted  him a place to build a temple where it is seen presently. A granite block mentioning the event is inscribed in Sanskrit in front of the temple. 

The idol here was consecrated by His Holiness Viswapriya Tirtha  Swamiji ( 1776- 1865) of Udupi Sode Vadiraja Mutt .Generally all the temples consecrated in Madhwa Sampradaya has Lord Krishna as the presiding deity. This temple, at Ernakulam is an exception as it is probably, the only temple in Kerala dedicated to Anajneya and consecrated by a Matadhipathi of Udupi. 

The temple is neat and clean, excellently managed by  the temple administration.  Devotees flock to this temple as they get solace from all worries and this 'Karya siddhi Anjaneya' (one who grants wishes) takes care of His devotees well.  Peace descends as one enters the temple precincts and the serene atmosphere is magical and captivating.

 The temple also has a Naga pratishta and a small shrine for the 18th century saint Raghavendra. Those having Nagadosha perform here abhishekam and various other poojas to appease the Nagas.

 The temple celebrates various festivals like Rama Navami, Hanumat Jayanti, Naga Panchami, Durga pooja. etc. A must see for those who are interested in temples.

Temple timings- 4.30 am - 10.30 am., Evening- 5.00 pm - 8.15  pm. Phone No- 0484-2371353,2382631

How to reach- Ernakulam- also known as Kochi now a days, is well connected by air, road and rail.  Nedumbassery International airport is 45 Kms. away. 
 Railway station is just 2 Kms from this temple. One can hire an auto from any part of the town to get here.
Town buses are also available to reach this place.
Accomodation- Ernkaulam  has budget, deluxe and luxury hotels. 

The other  Anjaneya temple on ' My Pilgrimage' click here.
 Map of this temple is given along with labels.

 List of temples in Kochi. check the list here
The last 4 pictures are from the temple gallery.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kuzhandai Velappar (Mittai Murugan)- Oddanchatharam

A recent visit to a temple  at Oddachatram ( Tamil Nadu)  near Dindigul was really intersting and amusing.The God in this temple  is  Kuzhandai velappar  (infant Muruga) also known as Mittai Murugan, a lover of candy. I was really surprised to see the interesting ritual in the temple where chocolates and candies were offered to God. The  story related to the  temple goes like this..........

A certain devotee prayed to God for an offspring and when his  wish was fulfilled he offered worship to the Lord here and distributed chocolates among his relatives who accompanied him.That night Lord appeared in his dream and asked  why He was not  offered any candy. Immediately the devotee rushed to the temple and made his offerings of candy. Since then worshipping God by offering candy became a routine here. It was really a pleasant sight to see this ritual being  performed by devotees.There are counters outside the temple to sell candies.

We were also offered chocolates by one of the devotees who had come with the family to celebrate their  child's birthday. This temple is attached to the famous Palani Andavar temple which is 20 Kms. from here and is on  NH 209. This  temple is quite small but has 3 sub-shrines and has beautiful paintings  on the   inner walls of the temple.

How to reach- Dindigul is the nearest railway station.  The nearest airport is at Coimbatore which is at a distance of 100 Kms.
Many buses ply from Palani as well as Dindigul to Oddanchatram. The temple is just 5 Kms, from the Oddanchatram town.

Accomodation :  For stay - It is better to stay in Dindigul or Coimbatore.

Location map is given along with the labels.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Deepavali - Karthik Poornima Celebrations at Kochi Tirumala Devaswom temple

I enjoyed the recent Deepavali celebrations in Kochi Tirumala Devaswom temple as I got  an opportunity to celebrate it in my hometown Kochi.The temple was opened at 4.45 am and devotees thronged the temple to participate in the early morning worship.

The idol of Lord Venkatachalapathy was given a special abhishekam with perfumed oil known as champel made by soaking scented flowers in oil which was  later distributed among the devotees. Worshipping the Lord by singing devotional songs and performing aarti made of oil wicks  kept in the centre of rice flour balls are also part of the festivities. This is called as Divyan aarti and goes on for about 1 hour in the temple.

Special worship is performed to Tulsi and it is believed that Lord Narayana resides and meditates inside the Tulsi for a  month starting 10th day of Navarathri. It ended on Uthana Dwadashi which was on 18th November 2010. GSB's celebrate the whole month as the Karthika masa. During this period  paper lanterns  known as panjire are hung in front of the houses and lamps are lit in the morning and evening.

On Diwali day, Tulsi in the temple was  decorated well with diyas,( lamps) rangolis, flowers and thoranas made of palm and mango leaves. Special worship for Tulsi is also conducted on Uthana dwadashi  day too and on that day it is believed that Lord Narayana leaves for Vaikunta.

 On Karthik Poornima day, the  Lord is worshipped under the Nelli maram(gooseberry tree). The idols are adorned with garlands made of gooseberries.The legend is that after killing Narakasura, the Lord rested under a Nelli tree.

 A few photographs are displayed below for you to enjoy Diwali - Kartika Poornima in  Kochi temple. I have also added a few snaps of Uthana Dwadashi, Tulsi  pooja  celebrations at my home.

 The aaratu of Lord Venkachalapathi is starting on  Dec 3rd 2010. For a glimpse of April  Chaitra masa aaratu pictures click here.

Uthana dwadashi- Tulsi pooja at home.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nagesh temple- Ponda, Goa

 Nagesh  Maharudra temple is  yet another Siva temple in Bandora village  in Ponda. . This temple also houses Lakshmi Narayana and Ganesha shrines. The temple was built in 1780 AD

Nagesh Lingam here is a swayambhu( self.-manifestation) believed to have miraculous powers.
The history of the temple is not known. This temple was  left untouched during the religious persecution by the Portuguese rulers. There are inscriptions in the temple which throws light on the antiquity of the temple. The mandapam in front of the temple has intricate wooden carvings which depict various stories from Hindu epics.

Shri Nagesh Maharudra temple is situated on Fermagude-Kavalem-Ponda road.
Location of the temple is provided along with labels. For other posts on Goa temples On My Pilgrimage click here

How to reach: Nearest railway station Madgaon . Ponda is 16 Kms. from the railway station.
Dabolim is the airport in Goa.
Accommodation - Most of the temples have accommodation facilities for the community members. Budget and luxury hotels are available here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kudroli Gokarnanatheshwar temple- Mangalore.

 Kudroli Gokarnanatheshwar temple  is  just 3 Kms from   Mangalore city railway station. The  presiding deity is Siva  and this idol was consecrated by Sri Narayana Guru, a  saint and social reformer belonging to Kerala in 1912. The temple was constructed mainly for the Billava community who were denied entry to other temples in those days.  There are also sub shrines for Krishna, Ganapathi, Subramanya,  Durga, Anna Poorneshwari, Hanuman, Saneeshwara and Navagrahas  here. The temple was renovated few years back. Marble is used extensively in this temple and is maintained very well.  In summer to help the devotees ,carpets are laid out on the walk way . The ceiling of each shrine is embellished with minute carvings.

Other temples, in and around Mangalore on My Pilgrimage

How to reach: Mangalore  can be reached by road , rail or air. 
Accommodation: Luxury , deluxe and budget hotels are available suiting  all.
Town buses, cabs and auto rickshaws are available to reach this place.
See map, for location which is given along with tags.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Kadri Manjunatheshwara temple- Mangalore

Majunatheswara temple is an ancient temple right inside the city of Manglore and the temple has Kadri hills  as a back drop. The thick green foliage on the hills lend a beautiful charm to the whole setting.  The tower of this temple is  unique and it  resembles a Buddhist pagoda. There is a Ganesha temple as soon as one enters the temple precincts, on the left side. The temple dates back to the  10th century but the present structure is around 500 years old . Goddess Parvati is worshipped on the Western side of the temple. It is believed that Siva and Parvati  came to reside here at the request of Lord Parasurama. The bronze statue of the Lord Lokeshwara here   in  padmasana (seated pose) is considered to be finest bronze statue in India.

A natural spring at an elevated location known as Goumukha,  believed here, to be the river Ganges itself. One has to climb a few steps to reach this spot.  The water flowing out is let into  the ponds here.  The temple pond  here is found at a higher level than the temple unlike other temples where it is found at a lower level.  There are also many caves  here and it is believed that Pandavas came and stayed here during their exile.

How to reach- Mangalore is well connected by Road, rail and air and offers attractive accommodation luxury, deluxe and economy class . People are friendly and anybody can be comfortable here.  
Other temples in Mangalore  on " My Pilgrimage"
2. Durga Parameshwari temple , Kateel near Mangalore.
For location, see map at the bottom of the post.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Jain Temple - Mattancherry,Kochi

This time, I am taking   you  all to a  Jain temple in Mattancherry, Kochi, my home town . I feel this could be a different experience for all my dear readers as it was for me. As I entered this temple peace enveloped me as I could feel the tranquility inside. This temple is an ideal place to meditate and I could see many were doing so.

The motto of Janisim is AHIMSA . Ahimsa Parmodharma is the greatest law. No violence even in thoughts and action, respecting all the individuals, flora and fauna too and they follow the path of Live and Let Live. GREAT VALUES. Hatred and violence cannot be eradicated by counter violence and counter hatred  but by love and spirit of forgetting and forgiving, i.e Kshama  I think if  every one understands  and starts emulating these values it would bring lot of peace on earth.   Jainisim believes in equality of man and does not recognize caste , creed and  untouchability. It also lays emphasis on Karma theory " What  you sow you reap". It is open to all. They also believe in unity and  celebrate all the major festivals like Paryushanparva. It is an eight day festival and the  community works together to make it a successful one.

The main idol in the temple is of Bhagawan Shri Dharamnath the 15th Jain Tirthankar. This temple was constructed in the year 1904AD. As it has completed a century this has become a JAIN TIRTH.When I visited the temple it was the time of the festival and during this period they  eat only cooked and steamed pulses  with out using  oil or spices  known as  Ambel . Fasting and meditation  is an excellent way to discipline the  self.

There is a common belief among many that Lord Mahavir was the founder of Jainism. He was the 24th Tirthankar and was renowned as the apostle of Ahimsa and harbinger of peace. Jainism existed  thousands of years earlier to  Lord Mahavir. This trip helped me to clarify that doubt I had in my mind too. The first Tirthankar was Lord Rushabdev. There are many shrines inside the temples dedicated to various  Tirthankars and Goddesses .Many Jain Tirth Sthans  are beautifully depicted on the walls of the shrine.. This was a new experience for me as I was accustomed to visiting  only South Indian temples. I have provided the information collected from the temple office which is under the care of Shree Cochin Swetambar Murtipujak Sangh. Those who are desirous of getting more information may log on to

Other  Places of Worship in Mattancherry & Fort Kochi, check List of temples .
 How to reach:
The nearest railway station is Ernakulam  Junction which is 10 Kms from Mattancherry.
Nearest airport is Nedumbassery.
Private buses  ply from Ernakulam to Mattancherry.
One can avail ferry service also from Ernakulam to Mattancherry.
Budget and luxury hotels are available in  Ernakulam and Wellington Island which is between Ernakulam and Mattancherry.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Guruvayur Sree Krishna temple and Mammiyur temple

Guruvayur is called as the Bhooloka Vaikuntam as here resides Vishnu as Guruvayurappan,  an idol believed to have been worshipped by Lord Krishna Himself.   Lord Guruvayurapan ,thus got His name as the idol here was installed by Guru (Jupiter) and Vayu (the God of wind) .Inside the temple right in front of the sanctum  is the dwajasthambham .  There is no electrical illumination inside the sanctum and the   divine idol of Lord can be viewed only with the bright glow of  oil lamps and the effulgence emanating from the sanctum cannot be expressed in words.

A certain dress code is followed in this temple and it is mandatory for men to wear dhoti and for women sari or salwar. Pilgrims queue up patiently for a darshan of their dear God, chanting Lord's name 'Om Namo Narayanaya' which itself is a great experience and the  atmosphere gets charged with devotion and totally transports one to a realm of  inner  peace and harmony .

There are  sub shrines for  Ganapathi, Ayyapa, Edatharigathu Bhagavathy. There is a  magnificent idol of Vishnu reclining on his serpent Aadisesha with consort  Lakshmi. There are wonderful paintings on the walls of the sanctum and all the pillars have beautifully sculpted scenes from Krishnavatara .

The temple owns quite a lot of elephants and many are offerings from the devotees to their dear God as Guruvayurappan is believed to be a lover of elephants . There are Seevelis (Procession carrying idol on top of elepahnt) both in the morning and late in the night just before the temple closes.  I  was fortunate enough to witness the kazhcha Seeveli in the evening and there were four caparisoned elephants for   the same.The procession was regal with colorful parasols, aalavatom ,venchamaram and panchavadayam ( percussion instruments), Every year the temple conducts  an elephants' race and the elephant which wins the race  gets the right  to carry the idol of Lord for Seeveli for the rest of the year. This interesting spectacle is a huge crowd puller attracting hordes of devotees albeit a bit scary for one who is not habituated to see elephants at  such close quarters.

 Photography is prohibited  inside the temple.

 Rudra theertham and Mammiyur temple:
The water  tank outside the temple  is  very divine and it is believed that Lord Siva performed  penance here and it is known as Rudra theertham. When  Guru and Vayu were searching for  an ideal place for the consecration of Vishnu's idol, Lord Siva allowed them to install it on the banks of Rudra teertham and He himself moved to a place where we see the present Mammiyur  Mahadeva temple which is just a  kilometre from the Guruvayur temple.  It is believed that a trip to Guruvayur is not complete , if one does not visit Mammiyur temple.This temple  has Lord Siva as the main deity and there are shrines for Parvati and Vishnu ,  Ganapati, Muruga and Ayyapa.

 Guruvayur Temple timings 3 am - 1 Pm. 4 Pm- 8.30 pm.

How to reach- This temple town is 34 Kms from the cultural capital of  Kerala , Trichur . There are excellent accommodation facilities in Guruvayur itself both set up by the temple  and  Government. There are many private hotels too. We stayed in  hotel Nandini Tourist Home on Eastern side of the temple as it was just walkable distance from the temple. 
Private as well as State transport buses ply to this small  town.
Nedumbassery is the nearest airport and Trichur is the nearest rail head. There is a railway station in Guruvayur itself.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Durga Parameshwari temple - Kateel

 Navarathri festival is on and I thought a  post on   Mother Goddess  Durga whom we all worship during these nine divine nights is apt for the season. Navarathri is victory of  good over evil, and this temple I visited also has the Divine Mother Durga  as the presiding deity.

 Kateel Durga Parameshwari temple stands gloriously in the middle of  river Nandhini surrounded by thick and lush greenery. Kati, means middle and Ila means  area in  Tulu language, a local dialect spoken in Dakshina Kannada. This temple is at a distance of  29 Kms. from Mangalore city.  Nandhini, believed to be the daughter of Kamadenu  was cursed by a rishi and she flowed as a  river on earth. She requested Goddess Durga to redeem her and the Goddess  after  killing the demon Arunasura resided in the form of a Linga in the Kati of river Nandini. By the presence of  Mother Goddess, Nandhini was relieved from the curse and thence She blesses Her devotees.
How to Reach:
Mangalore is well connected with air, road and rail. Many private buses ply to this temple . Private cabs are also available and one can hire them at reasonable rates.
Accomodation- Budget , luxury and deluxe hotels are available in Mangalore.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ramnath temple, Bandode, Goa.

Ramnath, is Lord Shiva and He came to be known thus because the idol was installed  by  Lord Rama . This temple of Gowda Saraswath community was in Loutolim first and was shifted to the present location post  Portuguese colonisation . The temple also houses images of Lakshmi Narayan, Kamakshi, Santeri and Siddanath. This temple also has a multi layered deepasthambha and  is maintained very well as  other temples of Goa.

The temple celebrates the annual jatra festival, it is a procession carrying the idol in palanquin around the temple. Have a close look at the last picture. Is it not amazing? I saw this type of  stone work in some of the temples I visited in Tamil Nadu.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Raja Gopalaswamy temple - Kodungallur.

Kodungallur, is  in Trichur district of Kerala and it is  a small town . An  ancient ,  prosperous and famous port  known by the name of Muziri Pattinam which was recently excavated is close by. The excavations have yielded enough evidence to confirm the existence of flourishing trade between Romans and Indians in  beads, ornaments and silks.

Kodungallur is famous for Bhagavathy Amman temple (look for a separate post) but this post is on a GSB  (Gowda Saraswath Brahmins) temple of  Raja Gopalaswamy (Lord  Krishna) which I found was  very  serene and had  a clean  environment. Cleanliness is next to Godliness,  is very much reflected in this temple. The temple walls have beautiful paintings from Ramayana, Krishnaavatara and Dasavathara.

How to reach:
Irinjalakuda is the nearest railway station. Nearest airport is Nedumbassery International airport. Plenty of buses ply from different parts of the state.
 For accommodation one can stay either at Trichur (30Kms) or Ernakulam (35 Kms) where many hotels suiting to every one's budget and tastes are available.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Venkatramana and Mahamaya temple - Mangalore

Mangalore is a busy town and it has a cosmopolitan crowd. It derives its name from the local Hindu deity Mangala Devi, and it has developed into a major port .It is the administrative head quarters of Dakshina Kannada (Southern Karnataka) .The city has a beautiful landscape surrounded from all sides by lush greenery , back waters, and fresh water streams.

Many Gowda Saraswath Brahmins (GSB) have made Mangalore their home and they lovingly refer to this city as Kodial and have established their temples here. The main GSB temple here is that of Lord Venakataramana. Like the Kochi Tirumala Devasom temple, this temple here is quite famous and is also a socio -religious centre for the GSB community.

The temple is maintained well and the idol of Venkataramana.( Lord Vishnu) is very attractive and the effulgence cannot be expressed in words. This temple like the Kochi temple has sub shrines for Hanuman, Ganesha, Mahalakshmi, and for the Lord's mount Garuda. The doors and dwajasthambha of this temple have rich carvings and are plated with silver. The outermost door is carved out of wood and is beautified with images from the Dasavathatra ( Vishnu's ten incarnations)

50 metres from this temple one can visit the Mahamaya, (The female form of Goddess) temple and is also as attractive as the Venakataramana temple.

When visiting Mangalore one cannot forget but visit another attraction, Ideal ice cream parlour offering Gadbad,and other varieties of Sundaes and ice creams at unbelievably attractive prices.

How to reach- Mangalore is well connected by Road, rail and air and offers attractive accommodation luxury, deluxe and economy class . People are friendly and anybody can be comfortable here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ninra Narayana Perumal- Tiruthangal

Ninra Narayana Perumal temple is in Thiruthangal which is just 3 Kms from the town of Sivakasi which is famous for  firecrackers.This temple is a 3 tier temple  situated on a small hillock .First , we come across the Lord Ranganatha's sannidhi which is inside a cave and is at the bottom most tier .  It is believed that the Lord of Srirangam stayed here en route to Srivilliputtur, Andal temple He is also known  as Palli konda Perumal. ( God in reclining pose) 

On the second tier is the shrine of  Lord's consort, Mahalakshmi known here as Chengamala Thayar. Lakshmi's idol is about 6 feet tall  and it is believed that the Goddess performed penance here. She is Goddess of wealth and  Her presence here helped to  achieve prosperity to a remote place like Sivakasi. She grants her devotees all their  wishes and the temple gets thronged to seek Her divine blessings. Tiruthangal means abode of the divine.

 Ninra Narayana Perumal's sannidhi is in the top most tier and here He stands with his four wives, Sree devi , Boodevi, Nila devi and  Jambhavathi . This sannidhi also houses the idols of Aniruddha ,Lord's grandson and His wife Usha . It is believed that they got married in the presence of the Goddess here. There are about 11 idols in the sanctum which is a special feature of this temple.This is the 45th divya desam of Vishnu.

The imposing image of Lord Narayana and all other idols are painted and there is no abhishekam performed here for the deities except for Chengamala Thayar.   Facing the Lord's sanctum is Garuda, His mount ,waiting always with folded hands in service of the Lord. Worshipping Garuda is believed to ward off the ill effects of Rahu- Ketu DoshaThe temple sanctum has a beautiful vimanam and there are also shrines for Ramanujar and Aanjaneyar. 

Adjacent to this temple there are two more temples, one dedicated to Siva, known here as Karunalli Nathar  and another one to Lord Muruga, one of the son's of Siva which is at the summit of this hill.
Temple timings are 6am- 12 noon and 4p.m - 8 p.m.

Temples in  Sivakasi
There is an ancient temple of Siva ,in Sivakasi - Kasi Viswanathar koil from which the name of the town  Sivaksi was derived. Amman here is known as Visalakshi . There are shrines for Dakshina Moorthy,Vinayagar,Murugan, ( the two sons of Siva) Durga,and  a separate mandapam for Navagrahas.There is a very old tree in this temple which  is believed to have been planted by the Pancha Pandavas.

Other temples in Sivakasi are the Badrakaliamman and Mariamman temples.

How to reach- Virudhu Nagar is the nearest railway station. 
Nearest airport is at Madurai which is at  65 Kms from Sivakasi. 
Sivakasi and Tiruthangal also have railway stations but very few trains ply on this line. 
Accomodation :  One can choose to stay in Madurai itself as hotels are very few in Sivaksi and Virudhu nagar.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mahabaleshwar temple- Gokarana

Nestled in a tiny and remote village of Gokarna, is the famous Mahabaleshwara temple which enshrines the Atmalingam which Ravana acquired from Kailash. Gokarana is in Northern Karnataka and one would find a number of idyllic beaches around the temple . The beach very near to the temple resembles Cow's (Go) ears (karna) hence the name for this place is Gokarna.Cows are worshipped here and they move freely inside and outside the temple. The temple is 1500 years old. It is also one of the mukti sthalas in Karnataka dedicated to Lord Siva.

There is a huge Ganesha idol here, outside the main temple of Mahabaleshwara. The idol has a deep cut on the forhead. The legend of the temple is similar to the one I have narrated earlier like the Vinayagar at Rock fort temple,Trichy. Here also it is believed that Ravana , instead of Vibeeshana in the other story ,wanted to take the idol of Siva to his kingdom . As the Gods wanted to prevent it ,Ganesha came in the form of a small boy and when Ravana wanted to perform his evening prayers, he handed it over to Ganesha instructing him not to keep it on the ground but hold it in his hands. Ganesha, who was there on a mission duly kept it on the ground and the Sivalinga got rooted to that place.When Ravana returned he was furious and hit Ganesha, a cut appeared on His forehead. It is still visible even today

The Sivalinga here remains concealed in the ground and devotees are allowed to worship the Sivalinga and one can feel the tip of the Lingam by one's hand and offer worship. Once in 40 years only the Sivalingam gets exposed when the Kumbabhishekam is performed.The Amman has a separate sannidhi inside the main temple.

Here one could see the tribal women selling flowers for worship and I really got fascinated by their costume known as ghetti and I could also see some magnificent craft work made of palm fibre. The last two pictures depict this.

Gokarna can be reached by bus from Karwar (60 km). The nearest railhead is at Kumta, 32 km away.
Gokarna is 290 Kms.from Mangalore and from Goa it is 160 Kms.
There are good hotels in Karvar and some resorts in Gokarna itself.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kamakshi Temple - Shiroda , Goa

Kamakshi temple, in Shiroda is more than 500 years old. Kamakshi is an incarnation Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Siva. The temple complex houses three more shrines dedicated to Shanta Durga, Lakshmi Narayana and Rayeshwar (Siva). The temple doors here are embellished well with silver foil work.

This village of Shiroda is situated 12Kms from Kavlem taluk of Ponda.

To read more about Kamakshi , click Kamakshi Amman of Kanchipuram

Just outside this temple there is a small shrine dedicated to Aanjaneya . See the last three photos.

How to reach: Goa is well connected by air and rail and road.
Madgaon is the nearest rail station.which is about 20 Kms. from this temple.
There is also accommodation facilities available in this temple for the community members.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vamana MoorthyTemple -Trikkakara, Kochi & Onam festival

Vamana Moorthy is the fifth Avatar (reincarnation) of Lord Vishnu and this temple in Trikkakara , Kochi is one among the very few temples of Lord Vishnu where He is worshipped as Vamana. An ancient temple , situated in a salubrious environment and is closely associated with the harvest festival of Kerala , the Onam. The temple of Vamana Moorthy celebrates a 10 day festival starting with the Atham star and it concludes on Tiruvonam day. People gather in large numbers here during the festival .The Onam festivities for this year has begun and Tiruvonam is on 23 rd August 2010.

There is also a Siva temple inside the temple complex and there are subshrines in both these temples of other Gods and Goddesses. Lord Vamana Moorthy temple is the 13th among the 108 Divya desams of Vishnu.

The Bali peetam here is very huge and the sanctum houses the resplendent image of Lord Vamana Moorthy. The sanctum is circular in shape and there are shrines inside for Ganesha and Krishna.

The temple also has a special place to worship the Nagas ( the serpent Gods)

A Little legend:
King Mahabali was a benevolent, asura king and every one was happy under his rule so much so that even Gods became jealous of him. They felt that he would become a threat to them and requested Lord Vishnu to help them. Lord Vishnu assumed the form of a young Brahmachari - Vamana and approached Mahabali when he was performing a ritual. Knowing very well that Mahabali Bali would not refuse any alms, Vamana requested him 3 paces of land. Mahabali obliged though his guru Sukrahrya warned him that it was Vishnu who had disguised himself as the Brahmachari. But Bali went ahead as he wanted to honour his word.

. Then the Lord, assumed a gigantic form and with one pace measured the earth , then with second He measured the heaven , then the Lord asked the king where he could measure the 3rd pace. Mahabali, true to his word allowed the Lord to put His foot on his head and God pushed him to the nether world. But before leaving, God granted him a boon to visit his subjects every year and people celebrate Onam as the king's homecoming. Lord Vamana is also worshipped in every homes during this period. People welcome Mahabali with religious fervour by decorating their houses and the entrance of the house with floral carpets.

Family get together, preparation of grand feast on Tiruvonam day, eating together, singing and dancing of traditional songs and snake boat races are great attractions of this festival.
To know more about Onam read my other blog by clicking the link. Onam

How to reach: Kochi is well connected by air , rail and road.
Nedumbassery is the nearest international airport situated at a distance of 25 Kms from Trikkakara.
Nearest railway station is at Ernakulam . From the station the temple is only at a distance of 7-8 Kms.
Plenty of private buses ply from Ernakulam ( Kochi) to Trikkakara .
Accommodation- Budget, luxury and deluxe hotels are available in Ernakulam /Kochi as it is officially called now.

Other places of worship- in and around Kochi
Siva temple ( Ernakulathappan)
Kunan Kurisu Palli ( Mattancherry)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Srivilliputhur Aandal temple

Aandal temple in Sriviliputtur is  yet another famous and ancient temple and is  also one among the 108 divyadesams of Vishnu.   The imposing tower of this temple is very attractive and the main tower of the temple is on the  official emblem of  Government of Tamil Nadu.

The Aadi(Tamil month)Pooram festival is  famous here and is for 12 days. The festival  is on now and thousands of devotees converge here for the same . Pooram is the birth star of Aandal and the  chariot  festival on the 9th day attracts lot of devotees to this temple.  Aandal is believed to be an  incarnation of Goddess Bhoodevi.

There are two temples here . One for Lord Vishnu, known here as Vatapatrasayi and he is in a  reclining position here.  Vata patra means the leaf of banyan tree and this is found at the head of the deity here.  This is the sacred place where the great devotee of Vishnu, Aandal used to worship the Lord . The sanctum has beautiful paintings of Gods and Goddesses.

Aandal temple is next to the Vatapatrasayi temple. In between the temples is Nandavanam, a small shrine  where Aandal was found and adopted  by Perialwar ( devotee of Vishnu).  Aandal temple has beautiful mandapams with exquisite carvings and here She gives darshan to her devotees along with Rengamannar (Vishnu) and Garuda.  .There is  a well inside the temple where Aandal used to see her reflection everyday after wearing the garland   meant for the Lord. She succeeded in winning the affection of   the Lord . As per Lord's wish her father took her to Sri Rangam , Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple where she merged with the Lord.

Andal  is the only woman Alwar (saint) of Vaishnavism and  She has composed two beautiful literary gems in Tamil, Tirupavai and Nachiyar Tirumozhi which is sung even today by devotees during the  Tamil month of Maarghazhi.

Her father Perialvar also has a separate sannidhi in Vatapatra Sayi temple and there are also  separate shrines for Chakrathazhvar and Nammalwar.

Srivilliputhur is famous for palgova,  a milk sweet and people make it a point to buy this when they visit this place.

How to reach: Srivilliputhur is about 75 Kms from Madurai  on NH 208.
Madurai is well connected with air, rail and road. Many buses ply from all parts of Tamil Nadu to the town of Srivilliputhur.
Accommodation: Budget  hotels are available in Srivilliputtur and Rajapalayam town which is just 14kms. from here but I would suggest staying in Madurai is a better option as all types of accommodation, luxury , deluxe and budget hotels are available there.
Temples nearby :
Temple of Ninra Narayana Perumal at Tiruthangal  (on Virudhunagar- Sivakasi route)which is just 20 Kms. away.
Kasi Viswanathar Koil -Sivakasi, 25 kms.
Kuttraleeshwarar temple- 75 Kms. on NH 208
Sankaran Koil-  40 Kms

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mahalakshmi temple- Ponda, Goa

In this temple resides Goddess of wealth- Mahalakshmi. This temple is in Ponda . One can enjoy the richness and grandeur of the temple as it is a befitting tribute to the Goddess of wealth. The entrance and the doors have rich ornamental designs covered with silver and gold foils. A golden image of Lakshmi is set atop the door leading to the sanctum. The main deity here is adorned with rich silks and finery. There are two shrines on either side of the main temple one for Lakshmi Narayana and other for Ganapathi.

How to reach: Nearest railway station Madgaon . Ponda is 16 Kms. from the railway station.
Dabolim is the airport in Goa.
Accommodation - Most of the temples have accommodation facilities for the community members .Budget and luxury hotels are available here.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ganesha temple-Fermagude , Goa

This temple of Ganesha is situated in Fermagude, Ponda and attracts lot of pilgrims. This temple has a smaller deepa sthambha , and a beautiful dance motif of Radha - Krishna in marble as one enters the temple building. The idol here is very huge and is adorned with silver kavacham.This temple is also maintained very well like all other temples in Goa.

How to reach : The nearest railway stattion is Madgaon. Distance from railway station to Fermagude is about 20 Kms.
This temple is near to Mangesh, Gomantak Balaji and Devaki Krishna temples.

and this

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chaitramasa Festival- Kochi Tirumala Devaswom temple

Continuing my post on Kochi Tirumala Devaswom temple I would like to take you through few glimpses of the Chaitra masa Festival held this March  which I was fortunate enough to attend..

 The Aaratt ( festival) is  for  8 days and it starts with the flag hoisting ceremony. Every temple has a dwajasthambha but in this temple a flag pole,( stem of an arecanut tree) is erected on the  first day and a flag with Garuda as the emblem is hoisted reciting Vedas.On all days there is  Seeveli (Procession carrying the deity on elephant accompanied by percussion instruments)  in the morning and evening and the temple gets crowded  with devotees.. Mahaprasad(Feast) is served to the devotees and it is known as samaradhana. Samaradhana  means all are considered equal here and every body sits together and partakes the Mahaprasad provided by the temple. The food is served on banana leaves and devotees sit on the floor for this. Enthusiastic youngsters vie with each other to serve food as they feel it is equal to serving the  God Himself. The process starts with a kadina (fire cracker) and ends with the same. The whole process is completed with in half an hour and it is really a sight to see this samaradhana as more than ten thousand people are fed in this short period.

There are Yagnas for the welfare of the humanity and for peace These are conducted in the afternoons and evenings. The Lord Venkatachalapathy is taken around the temple in his golden palanquin.There are also vahana poojas i.e the deity is  worshipped on different mounts like Hanuman, Aswa (Horse), Aadisesha,( serpent God) Surya( Sun ) and Chandra ,( Moon) Airavata the elephant)  Garuda (The Eagle).etc.

From fourth day onwards the Lord starts visiting the house holds of His devotees and blesses them..He is taken   around the temple streets and devotees welcome Him with fruits, flowers and various offerings they can afford. The grand procession carrying the deity comprises of priests, people carrying torches and lights, symbolic arms for protection, flag bearers , group of people playing on the drums-  Pancha Vadyam and the majestic elephant in the lead.   The seventh day is called as Nayattu  ( Mrigaya,- royal hunt)and God ,Goddess and the Chakra are brought in Aswa, Surya and Chandra Vahanas. The Lord visits the nearby Udyaneshwara temple where  Nayattu takes place.The Visits go on till the  eighth day .

The last day thousands converge in this temple and seek the Lord's blessings. Avabrata snanam (abhishekam) is performed for  the main deity of Venkatachlapathy .  After that the Utsava Moorthy and the Sudarshana Chakra of the deity leave for the temple pond in  a grand procession .Then deity  is taken around in a decorated float and then the Chakra is  given a Holy bath by the priest.  The deity is kept in the mandapam there till the evening and  after that the  Samaradhana takes place. In the evening the deity comes out in a palanquin goes around the pond with the accompaniment of Seeveli and reaches the  temple . Fire works  are a part of this evening ritual.  After that the Garuda vahana pooja takes place. The deity sitting atop the Garuda, blesses all his devotees and special aarti know as Khamba aarti is offered to the God. This Pooja goes on  till 2-3 a.m the next day. By around  6 clock in the  morning the flag is brought down which marks the culmination of the aaratt.

There are two aaratts in a year in this temple , one in March- April and the other one in November- December. The Gowda Saraswath Community scattered around the world try to come back to their roots to participate in this grand occasion which is a socio -religious affair .In fact many marriages get finalised during these eight days and it is really a treat to see boys and girls of marriageable age come decked up with new attractive attires of various hues and colours.
I would like to acknowledge  S. Krishna Kumar Pai, Kochi for his photographs on float festival and the Holy bath. As seeing is believing I have a few photographs for your viewing

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Brihadeeshwara temple- Tanjore

This post on Tanjore 'Big temple' is over due and my trip to Goa delayed it. There are many more posts awaiting on my Goa pilgrimage but I decided to take a detour and get back to South India where I am going to take you to a wonderful temple which is celebrating its millennium of magnificence this year(2010). At present this temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site-" Great Living Chola temples"

Brihadeeshwara temple or the Big temple in Tanjore is the best temple I have seen so far, for its excellent workmanship, grandeur and it has stood the testimony of time with its magnificent central dome which is a great attraction for one and all.. This temple was built by Raja Raja Chola, one of the popular kings of Chola dynasty who was a great devotee of Siva and this temple is also referred to as Rajarajeswaram.
The Siva Lingam here is gigantic, more than 12 feet tall. The Nandi facing the sanctum is also 12 feet in height and the dwarapalaks (the guardians deities of temple) and deities around the main shrine look elegant.. The main attraction here is the huge tower above the sanctum which is about 216 feet. The tower stands tall and one can see this fabulous structure even as one enters Tanjore.

The temple is situated in a fort surrounded by a moat. It is an architectural marvel with its excellent technology of ancient times. The wonderful central tower i.e the Vimanam is built with bonding and notching technique with out using mortar.The stone atop this huge tower weighs about 80 tonnes and it has baffled architects how this stone could have been lifted up when no machinery was available. It is believed that a ramp was built from a village 4 miles away and this stone was pulled to the top by elephants. The whole Vimana weighs about 43000 tonnes, according to a historian. This tower is called as Dakshina Meru meaning Southern Mount Kailash.

Amman here is known as Brihanayagi and her shrine is on the right side of the Nandi Mandapam .Then there are shrines for Dakshina Moorthy , Vinayaga and Muruga and Chandikeshwara . There are hundreds of Siva Lingams all around the temple and it is real wonder that this temple was built with granite when not even a single granite quarry was in the vicinity.

This temple is a store house of great Chola paintings and sculptures . Raja Raja Chola was a great connoisseur of art and this is reflected in each and every stone here.There are also inscriptions on the walls of the temple mentioning the monarchs reign. One can easily spend a day in this temple which is part of our history and reflects the culture, art and architecture of our heritage.

No artificial colouring is used to brighten the structures and the natural colour of stone, be it pink , brown or sandal is maintained as such. Each and every stone here depicts a story and it would take years to learn and understand more about this temple. This was just my humble attempt. I bow my head to the Lord of the Universe and to the king Raja Raja Chola who could gift this colossal monument for posterity. It is also a real wonder that this temple has with stood the vagaries of nature as even now it looks very new. This temple would amaze anybody with its grandeur and is a befitting tribute to the Lord of the Universe.

How to reach: The temple is situated in the heart of Tanjore town.
Nearest airport is Trichy , distance is 65 Kms.
Tanjore town has a railway station too and is linked major cities.
Plenty of buses ply to Tanjore from various parts of Tamil Nadu.
Accommodation -Decent accommodation of various classes are available in Tanjore and Trichy town.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Devaki Krishna or Pisso Ravalnath - Marcel, Goa

Devaki krishna temple in Marcel is very unique as this temple has both Mother Devaki and her son ,cute little Krishna as the main deities. Devaki idol is in a standing posture with baby Krishna sitting on her hip.There is also another idol of Krishna standing in front of Mother Devaki, an excellent portrayal of mother-child relationship..This is the Kuldevata for our Gotra. This idol is very graceful and I think this is the only temple in India where we see Devaki and Krishna together. This deity also known as Pisso Ravalnath. This temple structure is very simple and every temple here has a narrow path just outside the sanctum for circumambulation.. There is also a small shrine outside this temple on the left side of the main temple for Bhoomika devi.The other deities are Lakshmi Ravalnath, Mallinath, Katyani.
Malni Poornima festival during January- February is the famous festival here and the temple gets thronged with pilgrims.

Read more about my Goa trip by clicking the Amchem Goa-2, in the side bar.

How to reach:
Marcel in Ponda is 17 Kms. from Panaji, the state capital of Goa.
Madgaon is the nearest railway station.Goa is well connected by air as well. The airport is at Dabolim.