June 26, 2010

Kodangallur Bhagavati Temple, Kerala, India

In Kerala, the mother Goddess is generally referred as Bhagavati. The Bhagavati temple at Kodungallur is actually a temple dedicated to Kali or Kannagi. Kannagi is the heroine of the Tamil epic Silappathikaram. The Chera king Senguttuvan built a temple for Kannagi in Kodangallur. This is perhaps the only temple for Kannagi. As Kannagi is believed to be a manifestation of Kali or Durga, this temple can also be considered as the temple of Kali.

As per the belief, the temple was orginally a Shiva temple and after Kannagi or Bhagavati's images was installed, it became Bhagavati temple. The image of Bhagavati, which is around six feet high, is believed to have been carved out of a jack fruit tree. Bharani festival is celebrated in this temple in a grand manner.

Kodungallur Bhagavati temple also has a shrine for Lord Shiva. He is called as  Sundareshwarar in this temple (similar to the deity of Madurai, the city where Kannagi's husband was killed). On the backside of the sanctum, the image of Meenakshi is found in the niche.


Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Kodungallur Bhagavati Temple
City Name: Kodungallur
Highlights:
1) An ancient Bhagavati temple in Kerala
2) Perhaps the only temple for Kannagi

Location: 40 kms from Thrissur, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Thrissur
Nearest Airport: Cochin (around 50 kms)
How to reach: Reachable by road from Thrissur
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in the nearby city Thrissur
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the nearby city Thrissur




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Triprayar Rama Temple, Kerala, India

Triprayar is a small town located at around 25 kms from Thrissur, which has a magnificient Rama temple. The town is loacted on the banks of the river Triprayar. As per the legend, the images of four brothers Rama, Lakshmana, Bharat, and Shatrughna were washed ashore and were discovered by a local chieftain Vakkey Kaimal. He installed those images in four different places, and hence you can find Rama temple in Triprayar, Lakshmana temple in Tirumoozhikkalam, Bharat temple at Koodalmaanikkam, and Shatrughna temple at Payammel.

The image of Rama in the main shrine resembles Vishnu with four arms, bearing a conch, disc, bow and garland, unlike other temples where he has only two arms holding bow and arrow. Apart from the main shrine, there are sub-shrines for other deities such as  Dakshinamurti, Shasta and Ganapati in this temple.

Another unique thing is that the idols of Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi are found on either sides of Rama instead of Sita. Rama has been portrayed in the form of a victorious Lord over the evil Rakshasa Khara. The temple is rich in wood carvings and was built in a typical Kerala temple architectural style. There are also a lot of ancient murals in this temple.

When you  visit Thrissur, ensure that you go and visit Triprayar too.

Happy travelling.


Fast Facts:

Site Name: Triprayar Rama Temple
City Name: Triprayar
Highlights:
1) An ancient Rama temple in Kerala
2) Rama idol along with Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi instead of Lakshmana and Sita
3) Rama idol with four arms similar to Vishnu

Location: 25 kms from Thrissur, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Thrissur
Nearest Airport: Cochin (around 70 kms)
How to reach: Reachable by road from Thrissur
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in the nearby city Thrissur
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the nearby city Thrissur



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Zoo and Museum,Thrissur, Kerala, India

Zoo and museum are located in the same compound in Thrissur city, Kerala. Apart from the divine attractions of Thrissur city such as Thiruvambadi Krishna temple, Vadakkunnathan temple, and Paramekkavu Bhagavathi temple, Zoo and museum complex is one of the important attractions in Thrissur city.

The museum has collections of wood carvings, metal sculptures and ancient jeweller. The compound covering museum and zoo is green with full of plants and trees. There is a separate building for art museum which houses a lot of beautiful and rare sculptures, and traditional lamps.

The zoological park, even though small, houses various species such as sloth bear, deer, lion tailed macaque, and different kinds of birds. There is also a small snake park within the zoo.

If you have enough time in Thrissur after visiting all the temples, there is no harm in going to this place. It is basically a destination for local people.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Museum and Zoo
City Name: Thrissur
Location: 70 kms from Ernakulam, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Thrissur
Nearest Airport: Cochin (around 50 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city

Thiruvambadi Krishna Temple, Thrissur, Kerala, India

Thiruvambadi Krishna temple is one of the popular temples of Thrissur city, apart from the two other main temples - Vadakkunnathan temple and Paramekkavu Bhagavathi temple. Thiruvambadi Krishna temple is located at a distance of around 1 km from the popular Vadakkunnathan temple in Thrissur.

Thiruvambadi Krishna temple, similar to Paramekkavu Bhagavathi temple, actively participates in the world famous Pooram festival every year. This temple, believed to be built around 1000 years back, is in a typical Kerala temple architectural style.

Apart from the main shrine dedicated to a beautiful idol of Lord Krishna, this temple also houses three small shrines - two for Lord Ganesha, and one for Bhagavathi.

When you happen to visit Thrissur, ensure that you visit this beautiful temple of Lord Krishna along with Paramekkavu Bhagavathi temple and Vadakkunnathan temple.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Thiruvambadi Krishna Temple
City Name: Thrissur
Highlights:
1000 year old Krishna temple

Location: 70 kms from Ernakulam, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Thrissur
Nearest Airport: Cochin (around 50 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city

Paramekkavu Bhagavathi Temple, Thrissur, Kerala, India

Paramekkavu Bhagavathi temple, located opposite to the famous Vadakkunnathan temple in Thrissur, is one of the most important Bhagavathi temples of Kerala state. The mother Goddess is worshipped in the name of Bhagavathi in Kerala, and this temple is perhaps the biggest Bhagavathi temple in Kerala state.

Bhagavathi temple is believed to be 1000 years old, similar to that of Vadakkunnathan temple. Apart from the main deity Bhagavathi, there is no other idol or shrine present in this temple. Bhagavathi temple stands as an example for Kerala type temple architecture.


One of the major highlights of the temple is that it is one of the temples that partipates in the world famous Thrissur Pooram festival.

When you happen to go to Thrissur, ensure that you visit Vadakkunnathan temple as well as Bhagavathi temple.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Paramekkavu Temple
City Name: Thrissur
Highlights:
1) One of the famous Bhagavathi temples of Kerala
2) 1000 year old temple

Location: 70 kms from Ernakulam, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Thrissur
Nearest Airport: Cochin (around 50 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city

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June 25, 2010

Vadakkunnathan Temple, Thrissur, Kerala, India

Vadakkunnathan temple aka Vadakkumnathan temple is one of the largest and ancient Shiva temples in Kerala state of India, located at Thrissur. Thrissur is referred as the cultural capital of Kerala - the God's own country. Vadakkunnathan temple, situated on a small hillock, is believed to be 1000 years old. There is a legendary belief that this temple was built by Parasuram, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. There is also a belief that the Hindu reformed Adi Shankaracharya was born after his parents prayed to Vadakkunnathan in this temple.

Vadakkunnathan temple aka Vrishabhachalam or Thenkailasam (meaning South Kailash) is a huge temple built in typical Kerala style of architecture. The temple has a lot of mural paintings depicting the incidents from Hindu epics and puranas.The venue of the famous Pooram festival is located well next to the temple.

The highlight of the temple is that the idol of Vadakkunnathan which is in the form of Shiv Linga is not visible outside. It is covered under the mount of ghee.This is formed by daily abhishek over the years. The idols of Shiva and Parvathi are seen behind the Shiv Linga. Near the main shrine of Vadakkunnathan, there are two main shrines - one for Rama and another for Hari Hara or Shankara Narayana (a combined form of Vishnu and Shiva). There is a separate shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of a hunter (vettaikkaran).All these four shrines are located in the center mandapa.

Outside the mandapa, there are shrines for Krishna, Parasurama, Vrishabha, Simhodara, Adi Shankaracharya, and Dharma Shasta. There is also a huge Nandi statue in the verandah of the temple. You can also find the samadhi of Adi Shankaracharya in this temple. I am not sure why the samadhi of Adi Shankaracharya is located in this temple, as one is located in Badrinath too. Apart from that, there are some people who believe that Shankarachary attained samadhi in Kanchipuram town of Tamil Nadu state.

The temple, surrounded within a massive stone wall, has a huge area of around 9 acres. There are four temple towers in four directions. There is also a museum withing the temple for ancient wall paintings, wood carvings, and other forms of art pieces.

This is a great temple which you shouldn't miss to visit.

Happy travelling.

Site Name: Vadakkunnathan Temple
City Name: Thrissur
Highlights:
1) One of the famous Shiva temples of Kerala
2) Shiva idol covered with mount of ghee
3) 1000 year old temple

4) Adi Shankaracharya's samadhi is located

Location: 70 kms from Ernakulam, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Thrissur
Nearest Airport: Cochin (around 50 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city
:



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Kerala - the God's Own Country

Kerala, a state located at the southern end of India, has various tourist destinations. Kerala is so beautiful that it is being called as God's own country.

Kerala has pleasant climate throughout the year, and provides various destination options for travellers such as beaches, pilgrimages, resorts, hill stations, back waters and wild life sanctuaries. Due to its moderate climate throughout the year, and various festivals celebrated, travellers keep travelling to Kerala throughout the year.



Kumarakom, Kuttanad, Alapuzha, and Kochi are some of the most important backwater destinations of Kerala. The beaches like Kovalam are world famous. Mannar, Ponmudi, .... there are lot of hill stations in the state. And, when it comes to pilgrim centers, I am not sure if any other state in India except Tamil Nadu has so many pilgrim centers. Some of the religiously important sites located in Kerala are Sabari Malai, Guruvayur, Thrissur, Chottanikkarai, Varkala, Vaikom, and Kaladi.

Whatever be your travel objective, and whatever month you want to travel, Kerala would definitely be an ideal destination for you.

I admit that I haven't completely explored Kerala yet. I am going to write about the places that I have visited so far in Kerala. You cannot find photographs for some places, as photography is strictly prohibited in Kerala temples.

Happy travelling.




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June 19, 2010

Hotels in Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram has a lot of hotels and restaurants. I am providing the details of some of the good hotels and restaurants in Kanchipuram city.

Hotels in Kanchipuram:

1) TamilNadu Government's Hotel Tamil Nadu for budget accommodation

2) Sri Rama's Lodge at Nellukkara Street

3) Hotel Jaybala International at Gandhi Road

4) GRT Regency (3 star hotel)

5) MM Hotels at Nellukkara street

Restaurants in Kanchipuram:

1) Hotel Saravana Bhavan at Gandhi Road near bus stand

2) Hotel Sakthi Ganapathi near bus stand

3) Adya Ananda Bhavan at Nellukkara street

4) Sridhar Care

5) Hotel Chakra at Gandhi Road

6) India Coffee House

Places to visit in Kanchipuram, India

Kanchipuram, the city of 1000 temples, has around 250 temples in and around the city. Most of them are popular and ancient temples. Apart from temples, you can do shopping for silk sarees in Kanchipuram.

Some of the important tourist attractions in Kanchipuram city are given below.

1) Kamakshi Amman Temple - Kamakshi Amman Temple is one of the three most important Goddess temples of India. This is the most important temple of Kanchipuram and remains as the center of attraction. The current temple structure was constructed in 14th century AD. Kamakshi Amman temple is one of 51 Shakthi Peeths.

2) Kumara Kottam Temple - Kumara Kottam Subramanya temple is the most important Subramanya (Muruga) temple in Kanchipuram city. The Tamil version of Skanda Puran (the story of Subramanya) was composed in this temple.

3) Ekambareswarar Temple - Ekambareswarar Temple is the most important Shiva temple that is located in Kanchipuram city. There is a 3000 year old Mango tree inside the temple.

4) Varadarajar Temple - Varadaraja Perumal temple is the most important Vishnu temples in Kanchipuram. This is one of 108 Divya Desams temple and the temple is very huge and architecturally beautiful.

5) Sankara Mutt - This is the monastery started by Adi Shankaracharya around 2500 years back and remains as one of the center of attractions in Kanchipuram city, inspite of several controversies.

6) Ulagalanda Perumal Temple - 35 feet idol is the highlight of this temple, which is one of 108 Divya Desam temples. The temple compound has other three Divya Desam shrines too.

7) Pandava Doota Perumal Temple - 25 feet long gigantic idol is the highlight of the temple.

8) Kailasanathar Temple - This temple is the most beautiful temple in Kanchipuram due to its sculpture and architecture.

9) Vaikundanatha Perumal Temple - This temple is also architecturally beautiful and has a lot of extraordinary sculptures similar to that of Kailasanathar temple.

10) Kachabeswarar Temple - This is one of the important Shiva temples in Kanchipuram.

11) Pachaivanna Perumal and Pavalavanna Perumal Temples - These two temples together are considered as a single Divya Desam.

Apart from the above listed temples, there are a lot of temples such as Chokkeeswarar Temple, Jurahareswarar Temple, Yadhothakaari Temple, Chitraguptar Temple, Ashtabuja Temple, and Mrutyunjeswarar Temple.

Happy travelling.



City Name: Kanchipuram
Highlights:
1) City of 1000 temples
2) One of the seven sacred cities of India
3) Famous for silk sarees
4) Has around 250 temples in and around
5) Very ancient city
6) One of the Pancha Bhootha Sthalams - earth adobe of Lord Shiva
7) The city has Kamakshi Amman temple - one of the three most famous temples of mother Goddess
Location: 75 kms from Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Kanchipuram
Nearest Airport: Chennai (around 75 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city


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June 12, 2010

Iravasthanam - Kanchipuram

Pilgrims, heritage enthusiasts, those who love Indian culture, those who are interested in South Indian history and even those who enjoy visiting the architectural and sculptural marvels, all of them visit this holy city called Kanchipuram in large numbers. But, most of them visit only few selected and popular temples in this city of thousand temples. There are much more ancient temples in and around the city which remain unknown or lesser known. Iravasthanam is one such unexplored temple; it is an architectural marvel and a treat for our eyes.

Pachai Vannar and Pal Vannar temples can be considered as the twin Vishnu temples. Similarly, this temple called Iravasthanam and the nearby Piravasthanam can be considered as the twin Shiva temples of Kanchi.

The temple is located in Kammala Street near Pachai Vanna Perumal temple. It is one of the eight Pallava temples of the temple that still exist. There is no stone inscription found. However, based on the architectural style, the scholars have categorized this temple as the one built during the later years of Rajasimha Pallava (8th century CE).

Legend

As per the legend, the sages did severe penance towards Lord Shiva requesting to grant immortality. Shiva appeared to them and advised them to visit Kanchi. They came to this particular site and continued their penance to ultimately achieve their goal. Hence, this site is called as Iravasthanam and the deity is named as Iravadeeswarar or Mrityunjeswarar. The word "Irava" in Tamil refers to immortality.

It is also believed that the sage Markandeya originally installed this Shiv Linga. Sweta, a Brahmin, attained immortality after worshiping Shiva in this site; the tank is named after him. The grandson of the sage Salankaya attained the post of Shiv Gana after praying to Shiva in this temple.

Towers

The east facing temple has two towers at the eastern and western entrance. Both these towers belong to later period and not to the original times.

Main Shrine

The east facing sanctum enshrines Shiv Linga, who is named as Iravadeeswarar or Mrityunjeshwar. The panel of Somaskanda is found on the wall inside the sanctum. The vimana above the sanctum is two tier Nagara vimana. Nandi with his head turned towards his right direction under a small beautiful mandap and bali peetha are found facing towards the sanctum. The mukha mandap and the mandap on the southern side are all later additions. Only the sanctum and the ardha mandap are the works of Pallavas.

The wall around the sanctum as well as the vimana have very beautiful sculptures.

Sculptures on the southern wall

The southern side wall has the sculptures of Ganesh and Dakshinamurti. The sculpture of Ganesh has the figures of few Bhuta Ganas on his left side. Also a Dwarapala is found. However, there is no Dwarapala or Bhuta Ganas on the other side. The torana above Ganesh has Sukhasana Murti. The figures of Bhuta Ganas are not very clear.

To the true right side of Ganesh, Dakshinamurti is found. His right arm is broken and his face is also damaged. As otherwise, this is a very beautiful sculpture. He is surrounded by four lions as well as six sages. As per Sri. Sivaramamurti, the famous epigraphist, one of the sages, who holds Eka danda, could be Adi Shankaracharya. Within the niche of Dakshinamurti, few other figures and antelopes are also found, but they are not very clearly visible. The extreme right and left side of Dakshinamurti have two Dwarapalas. Two sculptures of Ganesh are found above these two Dwarapalas, and above Dakshinamurti, there is a torana with Sukhasana Murti.

Sculptures on the western wall

In the middle of the western wall, Shiva in Vrschika Karnam is found. To his true right side, there is Bhikshatana Murti and to his true left side, there is Gaja Samhara Murti. Both these figures have Uma as well. The extreme left and right sides have Dwarapalas. The torana above Vrschika Karana Murti has Sukhasana Murti. Above the Dwarapalas, the sculptures of Ganesh are found.

Sculptures on the northern wall

In the middle of the northern wall, Jalandhara Samhar Murti is found. To his true right side, there is Gangadhara and to his true left side, there is Kala Samhara Murti. A small figure of a boy hugging Shiva Linga representing Markandeya or Sweta is also found in the niche of Kala Samhara Murti. The extreme left and right sides have Dwarapalas. The torana above Jalandhara Samhara Murti has Sukhasana Murti. Above the Dwarapalas, the sculptures of Ganesh are found.

To the right side of all the above mentioned sculptures, there is a beautiful representation of Durga. She hold discus and conch in her upper arms and has lion as her vaahana. To her true right side, there is a Dwarapalika holding bow. Few Bhuta Ganas are found to her left side. A Dwarapala is found on the right side of Dwarapalika. There is Sukhasana Murti in the torana above her.

Other Sculptures

The four corners of the sanctum walls have the standing horned lions (Vyala).

The Griva portion of the vimana has the sculptures of Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu and Brahma.

The miniature figures of Bhuta Ganas are found on top of the walls. Also, the karna kootham has sculptures. It is said that this is one of the earliest temples to have karna kootham images.

Happy travelling.

P.S. Thanks to Kanchipuram Dr. Sankara Narayanan, a great scholar. I have used some information shared by him in this blog post.



Pachaivanna Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram

Pachaivanna Perumal temple is located opposite to Palvanna Perumal temple in Kalander street near bus stand in Kanchipuram city, South India. The highlight of these temples is that both these temples together are considered as a single Divya Desam (one of 108 holy adobes of Lord Vishnu).



The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Vishnu named as Pachaivanna Perumal. The sage Bhrigu Maharishi prayed to God and got Lakshmi as his daughter. He got his daughter married to Lord Vishnu in this temple. The Lord appears in the standing posture in this temple. There are shrines for the goddess Maragadambal, Andal, Garuda, Hanuman and Prasanna Varadarajar. This temple is too small but very ancient.

Happy travelling.

Site Name: Pachaivanna Perumal Temple
Highlights:
1) One of the 108 Divya Desam temples
2) God got married to Lakshmi in this site

Location: Kanchipuram, 75 kms from Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Kanchipuram
Nearest Airport: Chennai (around 75 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city

Pavalavanna Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram, India

Palvanna Perumal temple is located opposite to Pachaivanna Perumal temple in Kalander street near bus stand in Kanchipuram city, South India. The highlight of these temples is that both these temples together are considered as a single Divya Desam (one of 108 holy adobes of Lord Vishnu).

In Pavalavanna temple, the main deity has red shades which is unique. As he fought the Asuras who were disturbing Brahma's yagna, he has blood sheds in his body.The temple is very small. The tower and the Vimana look ancient and outstandingly attractive.

The presiding deity is Pavalavanna Perumal (Vishnu), who is found in the sitting posture. There is a separate shrine for the Goddess Pavalavalli. There are also shrines for Andal, Rama with Lakshman and Sita, Garuda and Hanuman. Brighu Maharishi is found facing towards the sanctum.






Happy travelling.

Site Name: Pavalavanna Perumal Temple
Highlights:
One of the 108 Divya Desam temples

Location: Kanchipuram, 75 kms from Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Kanchipuram
Nearest Airport: Chennai (around 75 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city

God with eight weapons in eight arms - Ashthabhujakaram temple, Kanchipuram, India

Ashthabhujakaram temple, one of the 108 Divya Desams (108 holy adobes of Lord Vishnu) is located towards south of Rangaswamy tank in Chinna Kanchipuram, South India. As per the legend, Lord Vishnu took eight weapons in his eight arms to fight the Asuras intruding the yagna conducted by Lord Brahma. Hence, he got the name Ashthabhujakaram (Ashtha="Eight"; karam="hand").

As per another legend, Indra sent Devakanyas to divert the sage Mahasudha from penance in this place. The sage, attracted by ladies who had taken the form of elephants, took the form of elephant and started living with them. When he realized his mistake, he sought help of the sage Markandeya. Markandeya suggested him to worship Ashthabhujakaram. The sage worshiped Vishnu with lotus flower in the form of elephant. One day, the elephant's leg was caught by a crocodile. The elephant cried for Lord's help. Lord Vishnu rescued the elephant by killing the crocodile, and this incident is termed as 'Gajendra Mokhsa'.

The main deity Ashtha bhuja Perumal (Vishnu) is seen with ashtha bhujam (eight arms) having weapons – discus, sword, flower, arrow, conch, bow, kedaya and gadha – in each arm. The God in this temple is also referred as Gajendra Varadan, and Adi Kesava Perumal. There is a separate shrine for the goddess Pushpavalli. Next to the goddess shrine, there is a shrine for BhooVaraha. There are also small shrines of Garuda, Hanuman and Andal in this temple. Outside the temple, the tank where the elephant Gajendra got Moksha is situated.

Happy travelling.

Site Name: Ashthabhujakaram Temple
Highlights:
1) Vishnu with eight arms
2) The site where Gajendra Moksha took place

Location: Chinna Kanchipuram, 75 kms from Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Kanchipuram
Nearest Airport: Chennai (around 75 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city

Tiruvekka Yadhothakaari Temple, Kanchipuram, India

Yadhothakaari temple is one of 108 Divya Desams (108 divine adobes of Lord Vishnu), which is located near Rangaswamy tank, and it is very close to the famous Varadarajar temple in Chinna Kanchipuram of South India.

As per the legend, when Lord Brahma was performing a yagna in this place, his consort Saraswati in the form of river Vegavati started flooding this area. She did this to help demons who wanted to stop the yagna. As per the request from the Devas, Lord Vishnu lied down on Adi Sesha on the way of the river in three places - Parkadal (the milky ocean), Srirangam and in this place. Hence, this place was called as Vegavati anai (anai means "dam" in Tamil language), and then became Vegka and the temple is referred as 'Tiruvekka'.

Poigai Alwar was born on a lotus flower in the tank adjacent to this temple. As per the legend, Kanikannan, a disciple of Tirumazhisai Azhwar was banished from the kingdom by the then ruler when he refused to sing on the King. When Tirumazhisai Azhwar left the place in search of him, Lord Vishnu at the request of Azhwar, rolled Adisesha in his arms and followed Azhwar. Once Lord Vishnu left the place, the whole town faced several problems. The king realized his mistake and begged Azhwar to forgive and return back to hiskingdom. Azhwar then returned to the place requesting Vishnu once again to follow him. Since Vishnu did as asked by his disciple, he got the name ‘Sonnavannam Seitha Perumal’ (meaning the Lord who did as per the request by his devotee).

The highlight of this temple is that, Ranganath is in a unique resting posture with his head to the right side of the devotees and legs to the left side unlike the other temples. Devotees such as Peyalwar, Poigai Alwar, Tirumazhisai Alwar and Tirumangai Alwar sang hymns in praise of the deity of this temple.

The temple is not very big and there are only few shrines. The main shrine has Lord Ranganath (Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal) in the reclining posture with Lakshmi near his feet. There is a separate shrine for Goddess Komalavalli. Andal idol is extraordinarily beautiful in this temple. I would say that this is one of the most beautiful idols of Andal I have ever seen. There is a shrine for Ram, Sita and Lakshman. Opposite to the main shrine, as usual, there is a small shrine of Garuda.

Happy travelling.

Site Name: Yadhothakaari Temple
Highlights:
1) Ranganath in the reclining posture on the right side
2) One of the 108 Divya Desam temples
3) Birth place of Poigai Alwar

Location: Kanchipuram, 75 kms from Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Kanchipuram
Nearest Airport: Chennai (around 75 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city


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A rare temple for the God who keeps track of our deeds - Chitraguptar temple, Kanchipuram, India

Chitra Guptar temple is an unique and rare temple located in Kanchipuram city of South Inda. This small temple, which was built during the Chola period in the 9th century CE, is located in Nellukara street near Kanchipuram bus stand.

Chitra Gupta, the younger brother of Yama, the God of Death, is believed to keep track of good and evil deeds of all human beings. Everyone goes to heaven or hell based on the records maintained by Chitra Gupta. You cannot find a temple or shrine for Chitra Gupta anywhere else except in Kanchpuram. As Chitra Gupta is the God of Ketu, one of the Navagrahas, you can find a lot of devotees visiting this small temple.

The temple has Lord Chitra Guptar as the main idol with Utsava idols of Chitra Guptar with his wife Karni Ambal. There is a separate shrine for Ayyappa, Vishnu Durga, Navagraha, and Ramalingar in this temple.

When you go to Kanchipuram, visit this rare temple.

Happy travelling.

Site Name: Chitra Guptar Temple
Highlights:
A rare and unique temple for Chitra Guptar, who keeps track of our deeds
2) One of the 51 Shakthi Peeths
3) The most famous temple of Kanchipuram, the city of thousand temples
Location: Kanchipuram, 75 kms from Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Kanchipuram
Nearest Airport: Chennai (around 75 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city


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Subramanya became Creator - Kumara Kottam Temple, Kanchipuram, India

Kanchipuram is one of the seven sacred cities for the Hindus. It is located in the Tamil Nadu state of India. It is being called as the city of one thousand temples. Even today, there are about 300 temples located in the city and many of them are very popular.

Sri Kumara Kottam temple is the most important Murugan (Subramanya) temple of Kanchipuram. Kumara Kottam temple is located in the west Raja street at a distance of around half a km from Kanchipuram bus stand. The temple is located very near to Kamakshi Amman temple and Sankara Mutt.

Legend:

As per the legend, once Lord Subramanya imprisoned the creator deity Brahma for not knowing the meaning of Pranava Mantra and he took over the creation task from Brahma. The idol of Lord Murugan in this temple is in the form of Creator form called as Brahma Shasta.

The extension of the legend states that Lord Shiva ordered Murugan to release Brahma. Murugan worshiped Shiva Linga to get rid of his sin of punishing Brahma. Linga is found in the temple in the name of Senapateeswarar.

As per another legend associated with this temple, Kachiappa Sivachariyar used to compose Skanda Purana hymns and deposit his works in the sanctum sanctorum of Murugan. Every night, Lord Murugan would modify his manuscript and make corrections.

A 20th century period scholar named Pamban Swamigal came to Kanchipuram. When he could not find out the location of Kumara Kottam temple, it is said that Lord Murugan himself took the form of a boy and guided the saint to this temple.

There is also a little known legend associated with Vishnu related to this site.  When there was a disastrous flood all over the world, the sage Markandeya swam through and reached Kanchipuram. The city was the only place which was not affected by the flood. Lord Vishnu followed the sage and he too reached Kanchipuram. He bathed in the holy waters of the temple and worshiped Lord Subramanya of Kumara Kottam temple. As per his request, Lord Subramanya made him to be present next to his shrine in the same temple. There is a separate shrine for Vishnu called as Ullam Urugum Perumal in this temple.

History:

The Tamil version of Skanka Purana (the story of Lord Subramanya/Murugan, the son of Lord Shiva) was composed by the saint scholar Kachiappa Sivachariyar in this temple.

Another highlight of the temple is that the famous 'Tiruppugazh' was composed by Arunagirinathar in praise of Lord Murugan in this temple.

The temple belongs to Chola period.

Temple Layout:

The temple has west facing tower (Raja gopuram).

The sanctum sanctorum enshrines Murugan. He has two arms and is found in the standing posture. His sculpture is exceedingly attractive. As stated above, he is in the form of Brahma Shasta. Only few temples depict this form of Murugan and it is considered to be unique and rare form. The main shrine has a long ardha mandapa and maha mandapa apart from the sanctorum.

Near the tower, the flag staff, bali peetha and peacock vahana are found facing towards the main shrine.

The entrance of the temple's area enclosing the main shrine and inner prakara has the sub-shrine enshrining big idol of Ganesha.

The temple has two prakaras around the main shrine. The outer prakara is open space whereas the inner prakara has many sub-shrines and idols.

The mandapa where Kachiappa Sivachariyar composed Skanda Purana is found in the outer prakara.

In the maha mandapa, facing the presiding deity, the idols of Shiva Linga named Senapateeswarar and Santana Ganapati are situated.

The inner prakara has the following sub-shrines:


  • Palani Andavar with Ganesha at the entrance
  • Arumugam with Valli and Devasena - Utsava idols
  • Urugum Ulla Perumal (Vishnu) with his two consorts
  • Somaskanda  - Utsava idols
  • Muthukumaraswamy - Utsava idols
  • Nava Veeras - Utsava idols
  • Gaja Valli - a combine form of Valli and Devasena - Utsava idol
  • Valli - Utsava idol
  • Devasena - Utsava idol
  • Murugan with his two consorts - Utsava idols
The following idols are also situated in the inner prakara:

  • Nava Veeras
  • Pamban Swamigal
  • Ramalinga Adigal
  • Kachiappa Sivachariyar
  • Veerabhadra
  • Dakshinamurti
  • Vishnu
  • Chandikeshwara
  • Navagrahas

Kumara Kottam temple is definitely one temple in Kanchipuram which should not be missed.

Happy travelling.

Site Name: Kumara Kottam Temple
Highlights:
1) One of the most important temples of Kanchipuram
2) The most important Murugan temple in Kanchipuram
3) The temple where the Tamil version of Skanda Purana was composed
4) The deity on which 'Tirupgazh' was composed

Location:
Kanchipuram, 75 kms from Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Kanchipuram
Nearest Airport: Chennai (around 75 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city


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Lizard worship in 1000 years old temple - Varadarajar Temple, Kanchipuram, India

Varadarajar temple, located in a sprawling 20 acres area, is one of the 108 Divya Desams (108 holy abodes of Vishnu). It is located in Chinna Kanchipuram locality in Kanchipuram city. It is the most important Vishnu temple in the city of 1000 temples.

Lord Vishnu, called as Varadarajar in this temple, is believed to have been worshipped by Lord Brahma in Krita yuga, Gajendra in Treta yuga, Brihaspati (Guru) in Dwapara yuga and Aadisesha in Kali yuga. Varadarajar in this temple is also called as Devaraja Perumal, Athigiri Arulala Perumal, Karivaradar and Giri Varadar. It is believed that Indira's white elephant Iravat, is in the form of a hill bears the image of Lord Vishnu in this temple.



This huge temple of Varadaraja was built by the Pallava kings in  the 11th century CE. The temple was patronized by the Chola and Vijayanagara kings. There is a big Raja gopuram (temple tower) for this temple in the main entrance. Once you enter the temple, you can find the beautiful 100 pillared hall (Nuttrukkal mandapa) with full of extraordinary sculptures. Behind the mandapa, the holy tank is located. The original figure of Lord Varadarajar made out of fig wood is kept at the bed of the tank and is taken out only once in every 40 years.

The first roundabout (prakara) of the temple is on the holy mound ''Hasthigiri'. The main shrine is about 40 feet height and you need to climb up 43 steps to reach the shrine. The sanctum enshrines Lord Varadarajar in the standing posture with four arms. The main idol of Lord Varadarajar is believed to be the second largest idol and the largest idol being Tirupati Balaji idol. There is a separate shrine for the Goddess Perundevi. The idol of the goddess is very beautiful. Opposite to Varadarajar, there is a small shrine enshrining Garuda. Next to Perundevi shrine, there is a shrine for Lord Krishna.

One of the highlights of Varadarajar temple is a small shrine for lizards (lizard worship). Two lizard carvings - one with gold plate and another withe silver plate are carved in the ceiling along with the figures of Sun and Moon. Devotees touch these lizard figures; as per the belief, it will relieve them from their diseases and problems. As per the legend, the two sons of sage Srungibera (Hayman and Sukran) were the disciples of the sage Gautama. One day, the lizard was found in the water that they brought to Gautama to perform pooja. Hence, the enraged sage cursed them to turn into lizards. They got rid of their curse after visiting Varadarajar temple.

The Varadarajar temple is architecturally beautiful and a lot of sculptures and paintings are found. There is a shrine for Valampuri Vinayakar in the prakara. There is a shrine for Dharmendran and Andal too. There are also shrines for Yoga Narasimha, Rama, Ranganath, Danvantri and Karumanikka Perumal. Near the tank there is a shrine for Chakrathalwar with Narasimha on the back side.

Sages like Peyalwar, Budhatalwar, and Tirumangai Alwar have sung hymns on this deity. The great Hindu reformer saint Ramanujar was believed to have lived in this temple for sometime. This is the birth place of Vedanta Desikar. Garuda Seva, which is a grand utsav (festival) done in Vaikasi month is said to be the most and special festival here.

There is another legend related to this temple. Lord Brahma wanted to get darshan of Lord Vishnu in Chathur Bhujam (with four hands) and becasue of this, he did penance towards him. First, Vishnu gave his seva in the form of Teerth, which is now called as "Pushkar". Next he gave the seva in the form of forest, which in now called as "Naimisaranyam". But still, Lord Brahma was not satisfied. At that time, he heard an Asarari (an unknown voice from heaven) which said that to get the darshan of Sri Varadarajar, he must do the great Ashwamedha yagna for hundred times. But, Lord Brahma felt so depressed that he didn't have patience to perform 100 Ashwamedha yagna. Finally as per Vishnu's advice, he performed one  yagna which was equivalent to 100 Ashwamedha yagnas. It is said that doing one Ashwamedha yagna in Kanchipuram is equivalent to 100 times of doing the same anywhere else. Brahma started the yagna and from the fire of the yagna, Sri Varadarajar came out and gave his darshan.

"Ka" - means Brahma and "Anjitham" - means who was worshipped. Since, Brahma worshipped Vishnu as Varadharajar, this place is called "Kanchi".



Happy travelling.







Site Name: Varadaraja Perumal Temple

Highlights:

1) One of the most important temples in Kanchipuram
2) The most important temple in Little Kanchipuram (Chinna Kanchipuram)
3) The most important Vishnu temple in Kanchipuram
4) One of the 108 Divya Desams temples
5) Lizard worship
6) The second biggest Vishnu idol
7) 1000 years old Pallava temple
8) Beautiful sculptures, paintings, and architecture

Location: Chinna Kanchipuram, 75 kms from Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Kanchipuram
Nearest Airport: Chennai (around 75 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city


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Worshipped by Tortoise - Kachabeswarar Temple, Kanchipuram, India

Kachabeswarar temple is one of the most important and big temples of Kanchipuram city, the city of thousand temple. Kachabeswarar temple is located in the southern corner of Western Raja street, at a distance of around 1 km from the famous Ekambareswarar temple in Kanchipuram.

Kachabeswarar temple is a Shiva temple, and Lord Shiva, the main deity of this temple is called as Kachabeswarar. The goddess is called as Soundarambikai. The temple has big Raja gopuram (temple tower) and very big in area. The temple also houses other idols such as Saraswati, Ganesha, Chadurmukeswarar, Shasta and Bhairav. There are four shrines of Lord Shiva around the temple tank (called as Ishta Siddhi Teerth) - Dharma Siddheswarar, Kama Siddheswarar, Artha Siddheeswarar and Moksha Siddheswarar. Near the main deity Kachabeswarar, there is an idol of Lord Ganesha called as Satyamozhi Vinayaka, which was worshipped by Lord Vishnu.


As per the legend, when the Devasa and Asuras were churning the milky ocean to get amridha, the mountain which was used as the churning stick, started sinking. Lord Vishnu incarnated himself as Koorma (tortoise) and lifted the mountain on his back. Due to this, he got proud and increased the water level which troubled the universe. At this juncture, Lord Shiva destroyed the tortoise and strng its shell on the sacred garland worn about his neck. Later, Lord Vishnu regretted his act and came here to get blessings of Lord Shiva, and hence Shiva in this temple got the name Kachabeswara (Kachab means tortoise). It is believed that Lord Brahma and his consort Saraswati also worshipped Kachabeswarar in this temple. Asura guru Sukracharya worshipped here to get Mrutyusanjeevini and Vajrayakkai.

Happy travelling.

Site Name: Kachabeswarar Temple

Highlights:

1) One of the most important temples in Kanchipuram
2) Worshipped by tortoise (Koorma incarnation of Lord Vishnu)

Location: Kanchipuram, 75 kms from Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Kanchipuram
Nearest Airport: Chennai (around 75 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city

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Jwarahareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram, India

Kanchipuram, which is called as the city of thousand temples, has around 250 temples at present in and around the city. Even though most of the temples are very ancient, historically significant or having interesting structures and sculptures, only few temples are popular and are being visited by the devotees. Jwarahareswarar temple is one in such category, which is an architectural wonder, but remains lesser known.


This temple, currently under the control of archaeological department of India, is located in Ekambaranathar Sannadhi Street near the popular Ekambaranathar temple.


This temple is indeed a marvel and gives us artistic delight. Out of three inscriptions found in this temple, the oldest one belongs to the period of Vikrama Chola. Hence, it is generally believed that the temple was constructed during his period in the 12th century CE. However, as per Kanchipuram Sri Sankaranarayanan, a scholar on multiple subjects, few fragments of inscriptions are found in the prakara of the temple, which belong to the 10th century CE. Hence, I presume that this temple could have been constructed much before the period of Vikrama Chola. However, it is undoubtedly the work of the Cholas.



Jwarahareswarar, who is also called as Jura Devar or Sura Devar, is one of the manifestations of Lord Shiva. He has three legs. Although the presiding deity of the temple is named as Jwarahareswarar, he is found in the form of Shiv Linga. The Chola inscription calls the deity as Suravattaramudaiya Nayanar.



Although the original structure was built by the Cholas, few additions such as the three tiered Raja Gopuram were done in the later period. In terms of stone inscriptions too, we find the inscription from the Telugu Chola Vijayakanda Bhoopati (13th century CE) and the Vijayanagara King Kampanna (14th century CE).



Kanchi Puranam talks about this temple. As per one version of the legend, Juraha, a Rakshasa, was killed by Shiva in this site and hence he is called as Jwarahareswara. However, the popular belief is that he cures fever (Jwara) and heat related ailment. Due to this reason, he is also called as Veppu Erinathar in Tamil, which means the deity who would cure heat related illness.

The east facing sanctum as well as the artistic Mukha Mandap are situated atop a high raised platform. The vimana is Vesara Vimana;  the sanctum is in circular shape which is rare. It is often mistaken as Gajaprshtha.



Facing towards the sanctum, there is a small but beautiful Nandi Mandap and bali peetha behind that.

There are floral designs found on the pillars in the Mukha Mandap. The entrance has the relief images of Sankha Nidhi and Padma Nidhi. Also, the images of Brahma and Vishnu are found. In the torana area, the bas-relief images of Shiva, Uma and Ganesh are found. In addition, there are a lot of miniature icons found on the top portion of the wall such as Bhuta Ganas, sages, dancers and those who play musical instruments.



Although the temple is artistically beautiful, there are not bigger size sculptures found. The highlight of the temple is the extraordinary miniature sculptures that are found all over the temple. The bottom portion of the walls have many figures such as lions, Yazhis, elephants and the depiction of various deities and humans in different styles.

The stone windows in different designs enhance the elegance of the structure. There are niches found, but without the icons. In one niche, we could find the small images of sages, lion and deer, which clearly indicate that this niche is meant for Dakshinamurti. Similarly, there is another niche that has Dwarapalikas on either sides. It indicates that this niche is meant for Durga.

The Nasikoodams of Upa peetham have few of the best icons of the entire temple such as Nisumbha Sudini and Jwara Deva.

The vimana has some fine stucco images such as Sadasiva Murti and Sarbeswara, but they are all partly damaged.

The temple  has a tank named 'Vepperi Kulam' or 'Upperi Kulam'. It is located outside the temple complex.

Happy travelling.