August 23, 2010

Tirunelveli Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple Structure - Part 4

Read: Tirunelveli Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple Structure Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.


Tirunelveli is ancient town located in the southern part of India. It has one of the oldest and biggest temples of South India - Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple. Even though the temple of Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple is a single temple, it can be considered as two separate temples due to its structural style. In three of my previous posts, I wrote the structure of Kanthimathi temple and the portion of the temple connecting Kanthimathi temple and Nellaiyappar temple. In this article, I am writing about the structure of Nellaiyappar temple.

The sculpture of Vali - Tirunelveli Nellaiyappar Temple
Once you finish visiting the Kanthimathi temple and enter into Nellaiyappar temple via the Sangili Mandap, you can visit the shrine of Dakshinamurti. This is basically the biggest corridor (prakara) of Nellaiyappar shrine. If you turn towards your left and move forward, you can find small shrines of Sankaralingam (Shiva) and Gomati Amman. Diagonally opposite to this small shrine, there is a big shrine, almost like a small separate temple, for Shanmukha aka Arumuganainar (Lord Muruga with six heads) is located. He is found along with his two consorts Valli and Devasena. The speciality of this shrine is that you can see even the sixth face of Skanda which is located behind. Normally, it may not be possible in other temples. Next to this shrine, there is a shrine for a very big idol of Lord Ganesha. Opposite to this there is an entrance with a small temple tower.

If you go further into the corridor, you can find the temple elephant. There is a shrine for ferocious idol of Bhairav. You can also find a small shrine for Meenakshi and Sundareswarar (Shiva). The Navagraha (nine planets) located opposite to Sundareswarar shrine is very famous. This is located very near to the main entrance of Nellaiyappar shrine. You can also find the shrines of Vanniadi Sattanar, an open ground space for religious discourses, Anwarnathan (Shiva's shrine built by a Muslim commander Anwar Khan), and various idols of Nayak rulers who ruled Tirunelveli in the corridor.

I will write about the structure of the main shrine of Nellaiyappar in the next post. Till then...

Happy travelling.

Procession statue of Bheem - Nellaiyappar Temple

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple
City Name: Tirunelveli
Highlights:

1) One of the oldest and biggest temples of South India
2) Musical Pillars
3) Beautiful sculptures
4) One of the five adobes of Nataraj
5) One of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalam temples
Location: 180 kms from Madurai; 620 kms from Chennai; Located in the Southern part of Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Tirunelveli; Tirunelveli station is a popular train junction; you can find a lot of trains from all over India to this city
Nearest Airport: Madurai (around 180 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Tirunelveli
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Tirunelveli; Don't forget to taste the Halwa either from Iruttu Kadai or Shanti Sweets



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August 22, 2010

Tirunelveli Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple Structure - Part 3

Read: Tirunelveli Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple Structure Part 1 and Part 2



Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple, an ancient temple, located in Tirunelveli city of South India, is one of the biggest temples of South India. I have been writing about the temple structure in the past two posts. This article is the third part of temple structure. As I have already mentioned, the temple is divided into two main sections - Kanthimathi temple and Nellaiyappar temple. I have written about the structure of Kanthimathi temple. Now, I continue to write about the portion that connects between Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temples.


Nellaiyappar Temple - Monkey statue
I wrote about Karumari tank and Pottramarai tank in my previous posts. Near Karumari tank, there is a big shrine for Subramanya. Lord Subramanya is present along with his consorts Valli and Devasena in this shrine. Near Pottramarai tank, there are many small shrines for Shiv Linga and various snake idols. There is a famous shrine of Lord Ganesha - Pottramarai Pillaiyar - where he appears along with his consort Siddhi. There is another famous shrine for Mother Goddess - Manjana Vadivamman, which is visited by a lot of devotees daily. Apart from this, there is a shrine for Dakshinamurti and Saraswati. 

Sangili Mandap, the hall connecting Kanthimathi temple and Nellaiyappar temple has a lot of big statues on the either sides such as Bheema, Arjuna, Vaali, Sugriva, the monkey with kid, monkey, and various Yazhi (mythological animal). Near Sangili Mandap, there is a garden called as Nanda Van where Vasanta Mandapa is located. Beyond this, you can reach the Nellaiyappar temple section. I will write about Nellaiyappar temple in my next blog post. Till then...

Happy travelling.

Nellaiyappar Temple Tank

Fast Facts:


Site Name: Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple
City Name: Tirunelveli

Highlights:
1) One of the oldest and biggest temples of South India
2) Musical Pillars
3) Beautiful sculptures
4) One of the five adobes of Nataraj
5) One of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalam temples
Location: 180 kms from Madurai; 620 kms from Chennai; Located in the Southern part of Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Tirunelveli; Tirunelveli station is a popular train junction; you can find a lot of trains from all over India to this city
Nearest Airport: Madurai (around 180 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Tirunelveli
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Tirunelveli; Don't forget to taste the Halwa either from Iruttu Kadai or Shanti Sweets



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August 21, 2010

Tirunelveli Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple Structure - Part 2

Read: Tirunelveli Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple Structure - Part 1

Tirunelveli, an ancient South India city has the famous Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple. In my previous blog posts, I had written about the legend of Nellaiyappar temple and also the structure of the temple. This blog post is a continuation of those posts, where I am going to write more about the structure of the temple.

As I have already mentioned, the temple of Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi was originally two temples and was linked later. Let me talk about the structure of Kanthimathi Amman temple in this article.

Nellaiyappar Temple - Sculpture
The entrance of Kanthimathi Amman Temple is adorned with a beautiful Raja Gopuram (tower). The tower was built in the year of 1626 CE. You can also find two small shrines of Lord Ganesha and Lord Muruga on either side of the tower entrance. Once you enter the temple, you can find "Unjal Mandapam", a hall where the religious discourses happen. On the left side of the hall, there is open space and to its right side, there is temple tank. The tank is very popular in Tirunelveli and it is named as 'Pottramarai'. It is believed that Lord Shiva is in the form of water and Lord Brahma came here with golden flower (Pottramarai).

Towards the sanctum of Kanthimathi, there is flagstaff (Kodi maram) and Nandi idol. On the left side, there is Aayiram Kal Mandapam aka thousand pillared hall. However, there are not thousand pillars in this hall. After passing through the flagstaff and moving towards the sanctum, you can find another small mandap.

The sanctum enshrines Goddess Kanthimathi, the cosort of Lord Nellaiyappar (Shiva). She is in the standing posture with two arms. She holds lotus and parrot in her arms.  On the entrance of her shrine, there are idols of Ganga and Yamuna. The corridor (prakara) surrounding the Kanthimathi shrine has the small shrines for Lord Ganesha, Muruga, Chandikeswara and Shanmukha (Arumuga Nayinaar) in utsav form. There is another big prakara surrounding Kanthimathi shrine. The big prakara has another tank named 'Karu mari' tank. The legend is that the saint Durvasa cursed a king named Indiraththuiman to become elephant. The elephant took bath in this tank to get rid of the curse and got its human form back. There is a small shrine for Lord Ganesha near the tank.

Nellaiyappar Temple Corridor
Let me continue describing the temple structure in the next post. Till then...

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple







City Name: Tirunelveli

Highlights:
1) One of the oldest and biggest temples of South India
2) Musical Pillars
3) Beautiful sculptures
4) One of the five adobes of Nataraj
5) One of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalam temples

Location: 180 kms from Madurai; 620 kms from Chennai; Located in the Southern part of Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Tirunelveli; Tirunelveli station is a popular train junction; you can find a lot of trains from all over India to this city
Nearest Airport: Madurai (around 180 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Tirunelveli
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Tirunelveli; Don't forget to taste the Halwa either from Iruttu Kadai or Shanti Sweets



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August 14, 2010

Tirunelveli Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple Structure - Part 1

In my previous post, I wrote about the legend and history of Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple of Tirunelveli city. (Tirunelveli is a city located in Tamil Nadu state of India). In this post, I will continue to write about the temple structure, architecture and the sculptures of Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple. Again, it cannot be covered in a single blog post. Hence, I am planning to write a series of blog posts on the temple structure alone.


Kanthimathi Amman Temple Tower
As we have seen already, Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple is the main temple of Tirunelveli city. This temple is located at the heart of the city. This temple is one of the 27r important Shiva temples (Paadal Petra Sthalam). Lord Shiva is named as Nellaiyappar in this temple. Lord Shiva is also called as Venuvananathar, Veimutha Nathar, Nelveli Nathar, and Chalivaadeesar. The Goddess of the temple is Kanthimathi. She is also called as Vadivudai Amman and Thiru Kamakkottamudaiya Nachiar.

Originally, Nellaiyappar temple and Kanthimathi temple were built as two separate temples with space in between. It was in the year of 1647 CE, a devotee named Thiru Vadamalaiappa Pillaiyan linked both the temples by building 'Sangili Mandapam' (chain mandapa/hall). The Nellaiyappar temple is 850 feet long and 756 feet broad. The Kanthimathi temple is almost of the similar extent. Both the temples have Raja Gopurams (towers) at their respective entrances. Apart from these two main temple towers, there are three more small towers in the temple.



Nellaiyappar Temple Tower


Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple has five cars for Nellaiyappar, Kanthimathi, Ganesha, Muruga and Chandikeswara. Nellaiyappar car is the third largest car in Tamil Nadu state. The car festival is one of the famous festivals celebrated in the Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple.

The shrine has 32 teerthams (temple tanks) out of which 4 teerthams are located inside the temple; the rest are located outside the temple.

The Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi temple is located at the center and surrounded by four main roads called as North Car Street, East Car Street, South Car Street, and West Car Street.

Let us explore more details about the interior temple structure in the next blog post....till then...

Happy travelling.



A Female carrying a Child


Fast Facts:

Site Name: Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple




City Name: Tirunelveli

Highlights:
1) One of the oldest and biggest temples of South India
2) Musical Pillars
3) Beautiful sculptures
4) One of the five adobes of Nataraj
5) One of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalam temples

Location: 180 kms from Madurai; 620 kms from Chennai; Located in the Southern part of Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Tirunelveli; Tirunelveli station is a popular train junction; you can find a lot of trains from all over India to this city
Nearest Airport: Madurai (around 180 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Tirunelveli
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Tirunelveli; Don't forget to taste the Halwa either from Iruttu Kadai or Shanti Sweets



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August 10, 2010

Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Amman Temple - A 7th century temple of Tirunelveli, South India

Tirunelveli is one of the ancient cities of Tamil Nadu, the southern state of India. As per the records, it can be dated back to 500 BCE. The most important pilgrim site as well as the tourist site of Tirunelveli city is Nellaiyappar Kanthimathi temple. Similar to Tirunelveli city, the temple of Nellaiyappar Kanthimathi is also a great site. It is difficult and will be too lengthy if I try to write everything about this temple in one blog post. Hence, I am writing only about the legend and history of the great temple called Nellaiyappar Kanthimathi in this post. I will write more articles in this blog covering the structure of the temple and other aspects.

The temple of Sri Nellaiappar and Sri Kanthimathi Ambal is situated at the heart of the Tirunelveli city. It is a Shiva temple. Lord Shiva is named as Nellaiappar in this temple and his consort is named as Kanthimathi. Nellaiappar and Kanthimathi temple is one of the '274 Paadal Petra Sthalams' (one of the 274 most important temples of Lord Shiva). Tirugnana Sambandhar, the great deity of Lord Shiva, who lived in the 7th century CE, has sung about Nellaiappar. Hence, if not this temple, at least the idol of Nellaiappar must be older than 7th century CE. However, as per the records, it appears that this temple would have been built by the Pandya king 'Ninra Seer Nedumaran'. Nedumaran was a Jain king, who got converted to Shaivism by Tirugnana Sambandhar in the 7th century CE.
Kanthimathi Temple Tower


As per a legend, the sage Agastya got the darshan of Lord Shiva and Parvati's marriage in Tirunelveli. As per another legend, Lord Ram worshiped Nellaiappar and got a weapon named 'Pasupatastra' which was helpful for him to fight with Raavan. Even though as per the historical records, the temple must have been built by Nedumaran, as per the legend the temple was built by a Pandya king named 'Muzhudum Kanda Rama Pandian'.

According to yet another legend, Lord Shiva once took the form of a Linga, came to Tirunelveli and took his abode here. All the four Vedas stood around Him as bamboo trees and provided Him shade. So this place came to be known as Venu Vanarn (Venu means bamboo tree and Vanam means forest) and the Lord came to be known as Venuvananathar. When this place - basically a bamboo forest - was under the rule of the Pandya king named Rama Pandian, there was a person named Ramakkon who used to bring milk in a pot via this bamboo forest. One particular bamboo used to obstruct him and he always slipped and dropped the pot of milk everyday. One day he tried to cut the bamboo tree with axe but the blood started oozing out. He reported this to the king Rama Pandian. Rama Pandian dug the place and discovered the Linga. It is believed that he was the king who constructed the temple over here.
Nellaiyappar Temple Tower


There is a legend behind the name of the city Tirunelveli. Once there was a poor Brahmin in this city named Veda Sarma who was a great Shiva devotee. Every day he used to go out begging and the alms thus gathered were used by Veda Sarma for offering to the Lord. One day, when the brahmin was drying the paddy, it rained suddenly and Veda Sarma feared that all the paddy might be washed away due to heavy rains. He became much distressed and prayed for help to the Lord who took pity on him and protected the paddy from the rain by covering it and standing around it like a fence. So this place came to be known as Tiru Nel Veli (Tiru - means beautiful, Nel - means paddy and Veli - means fence). The Lord also came to be known as Nellaiappar. Thus, the name of the place changed from Venuvanam to Tirunelveli.

This post has became a bit lengthy...let me talk about the temple structure in another post. Till then...

Happy travelling.

Read the following posts to know about the temple structure, architecture, sculpture and other details.

Temple Structure - Part 1
Temple Structure - Part 2
Temple Structure - Part 3
Temple Structure - Part 4
Temple Structure - Part 5
Temple Structure - Part 6

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi Temple

City Name: Tirunelveli

Highlights:
1) One of the oldest and biggest temples of South India
2) Musical Pillars
3) Beautiful sculptures
4) One of the five adobes of Nataraj
5) One of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalam temples

Location: 180 kms from Madurai; 620 kms from Chennai; Located in the Southern part of Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Tirunelveli; Tirunelveli station is a popular train junction; you can find a lot of trains from all over India to this city
Nearest Airport: Madurai (around 180 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Tirunelveli
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Tirunelveli; Don't forget to taste the Halwa either from Iruttu Kadai or Shanti Sweets



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Tirunelveli - A great ancient city of South India

Tirunelveli - I am not sure if I am talented enough to write completely about this great city. Let me try my level best. Tirunelveli is an ancient city located in the Southern part of Tamil Nadu state of India. This historic city is famous for a lot of things.

The Kanthimathi - Nellaiyappar temple located at the center of Tirunelveli city is one of the oldest and biggest temples of Tamil Nadu. Near Tirunelveli city, the city of waterfalls - Courtallam is located; you can find one or two waterfalls in any other city; however, this Courtallam town has full of waterfalls wherever you turn your face. Tirunelveli is famous for the sweet Halwa. You cannot find the taste of Halwa anywhere else as it is found in Tirunelveli.
Nellaiyappar Temple

Tirunelveli city is located on the banks of the river Tamrabharani. The specialty of the river is such that it is perhaps the only river in Tamil Nadu which never dries up; you can always find water flowing in this river. Tamil language, spoken in Tirunnelveli, is considered as the most beautiful accent of Tamil language (another beautiful Tamil accent is from Sri Lanka).

Tirunelveli city can be dated back to 500 BCE, as per the excavations found in the nearby town Adichanallur. Tirunelveli was a major city during the Pandya period. It was considered more like a second capital of Pandya kingdom.

You can find the Asia's second largest two-tiered bridge in Tirunelveli. Palayamkottai, an area within Tirunelveli city, is called as the 'Oxford of South India' due to its reputed educational institutions. There are nine important temples of Lord Vishnu, located near Tirunelveli. They are being referred as 'Nava Tirupatis' meaning 'Nine Tirupatis'.
Tamrabharani River

I can go on writing about the greatness of Tirunelveli. However, it will result in an endless list. Hence, I am stopping here. Let me write about the various tourist sites in Tirunelveli from my next post onwards.

Till then....Happy travelling.













City Name: Tirunelveli

Highlights:
1) One of the oldest cities of South India
2) Famous for its gigantic temple of Nellaiyappar and Kanthimathi
3) Famous for Halwa
4) Tamirabarani river, called as Jeeva Nadhi, which generally doesn't dry, flows in the city

Location: 180 kms from Madurai; 620 kms from Chennai; Located in the Southern part of Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Tirunelveli; Tirunelveli station is a popular train junction; you can find a lot of trains from all over India to this city
Nearest Airport: Madurai (around 180 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Tirunelveli
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Tirunelveli; Don't forget to taste the Halwa either from Iruttu Kadai or Shanti Sweets


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August 6, 2010

An unknown temple near the popular Palace (Padmanabhapuram Palace), Kerala, India

Padmanabhapuram Palace, which is located near Nagercoil and Trivandrum, is one of the most famous palaces in South India. A lot of tourists who visit to Southern Tamil Nadu or Kerala generally do not miss Padmanabhapuram palace. However, there is a beautiful temple next to Padmanabhapuram Palace, which must be at least as old as the palace. Unfortunately, this old temple remains unknown to the tourist world.

Ramaswamy temple is the temple which is found next to Padmanabhapuram Palace. The temple is big; however apart from the main shrine there is no other shrine or idol found in this temple. I couldn't find the history of this temple. However, I believe that this temple should be as old as the Padmanabhapuram Palace. The temple is dedicated to Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The main shrine has the big idol of Lord Rama. He is found along with the idols of Lakshmana and Sita on his either sides. There is a small Utsava idol (metal idol) of Lord Hanuman. Hanuman's idol is depicted beautifully; he has kept his mouth closed by his right hand showing that he is humble in front of Rama.

Even though the temple doesn't have any other idol or shrine apart from the main shrine, the corridor surrounding the shrine (prakara) has a lot of mural paintings that depict the story of Ramayana.

When you get a chance to visit Padmanabhapuram palace, please do visit to this beautiful Ramaswamy temple too. If we support the existing beautiful temples, that should be more than enough rather than trying to building new temples.

With this post, my series on "Kerala" ends. I will definitely visit Kerala, the beautiful land, again, and write about them in my travel blog. Till then...

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Ramaswamy Temple
Site Type: Temple
City Name: Padmanabhapuram
Location: Around 20 kms from Nagercoil/50 kms from Trivandrum; Located in the Kerala border, Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Nagercoil
Nearest Airport: Trivandrum
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Thakkalai, Trivandrum, Kanyakumari and Nagercoil
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Trivandrum and Nagercoil
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Trivandrum, Nagercoil, and Thakkalai


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