November 26, 2013

Thingalur

Site Name: Kailasanathar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Thingalur, 4 kms from Tiruvaiyaru, near Tanjore, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of Navagraha sthalams (a temple for Moon God, one of nine planets)
Nearest Railway Station: Tanjore
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Tanjore, Tiruvaiyaru and Kumbakonam
Hotel: Go to Tanjore or Kumbakonam for good hotels 
Restaurants: Go to Tanjore or Kumbakonam for good restaurants

Thingalur (also spelt as Tingalur) is a small village located adjacent to Tiruvaiyaru near Tanjore town in South India. The village has an important Shiva temple called as Kailasanathar Temple. It is considered as one of Navagraha sthalams and Chandra, the Moon God, is the special deity of the shrine. 

Highlights:
  • The site of Chandra, the Moon God - one of Navagraha sthalams
  • A Devara Vaippu Sthalam 
  • Appar and Sundarar have referred this temple in their hymns
  • The birthplace of Appoothi Adigal, one of 63 Nayanmars (devotees of Shiva)
  • Dakshinamurti in unique posture
  • Chandikeshwara found with two consorts
  • God - Kailasanathar
  • Goddess Periyanayaki 
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Chandra Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Vilva

Legend:

As per the legend, Appoothi Adigal was living in Thingalur. He was an ardent follower of the great saint Appar. Appoothi Adigal indulged in a lot of social work in the name of Appar although he had never seen him. Appar heard about this and visited the village. He also accepted the invite from Adigal to have lunch at his home. Unfortunately, Adigal's son died due to snake bite. However, Adigal went on serving food to Appar without disclosing his son's demise. When Appar came to know this, he took the corpse to Kailasanathar temple located in this village and with the help of Lord Shiva he brought him back to life.

Legend of Navagraha Sthalams:

There lived a saint called Kalava. He was a good fortune teller. One day a young saint came to him and requested him to foretell his future. Kalava, after analyzing his fortune, replied him that there is nothing to talk about his future. Then the youth asked him if Kalava knew about his own fortune. Kalava realized that the youth was none but Yama, the God of death. He started analyzing about his own future and realized that he would die due to leprosy. 

Based on the advice from the other saints, he started doing rigorous penance by standing in one leg on fire (called as Panchagni). All the nine planets appeared before him; he got rid of leprosy with their help.

When Lord Brahma came to know about this incident, he got angry at Nava grahas (nine planets) for deciding such things on their own without consulting him and cursed them to get leprosy. When they sought apology to him, he advised them on how to get rid of this curse.

As per Brahma's advice, all the nine planets went to a place called 'Arkka Vanam' on the north banks of the river Cauvery. They performed penance for 78 days starting from the first Sunday of Krithikai month (of Tamil calendar). They also took bath on the river in the early morning and worshiped Prananatha and Mangala Nayaki every Monday. They also followed other rituals as per the advice of Brahma. 

The sage Agastya helped the nine planets to perform the penance and follow other rituals appropriately. Based on his advice, they installed an idol of Lord Ganesha. At the end of 78 days, Lord Shiva (Prananatha) appeared before them and cured them from leprosy.

The saint Kalava later built the temples for nine planets in this region.

Temple Layout:

The temple is very small. The temple doesn't have tower or flag staff. 

The east facing sanctum santorum has a big sized Shiva Linga named as Kailasanathar. Nandi and bali peetha face the sanctorum.

Adjacent to the sanctorum, the Goddess Periya Nayaki is found in a separate south facing shrine. There is a separate Nandi idol facing the Goddess.

The temple has just one prakara (corridor).

Chandra, the Moon God, has a special separate shrine in this temple.

Similar to the other temples in Kumbakonam region, all eight planets face Surya in the middle; the directions of Navagraha are unique only in this region.

The sculpture of Dakshinamurti (koshta deity) is in slightly different posture. He is found in the sitting posture unusually with both his legs folded and holding Kamandalu (an oblong water pot) and Olai Chuvadi (Palm scriptures).

The sub-shrine of Chandikeshwara with his two consorts is another unique feature of this temple.

The sub-shrines of Vinai Teertha Vinayaka, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena, Durga and Gaja Lakshmi are also located in the temple.

The idols of Surya, Bhairava, Appodhi Adigal, his wife, two children - Periya Tirunavukkarasu, Chiriya Tirunavukkarasu and Appar are located within the corridor.

Visit this temple to get the blessing of Chandra and Shiva. However, the temple has unfortunately lost its architectural beauty due to renovation.

Happy travelling.


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November 22, 2013

Tirupazhanam Aapatsahayar Temple

Site Name: Aapatsahayar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Tirupazhanam, 3 kms from Tiruvaiyaru, near Tanjore town, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
Nearest Railway Station: Tanjore
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Tanjore, Tiruvaiyaru and Kumbakonam
Hotel: Go to Tanjore or Kumbakonam for good hotels 
Restaurants: Go to Tanjore or Kumbakonam for good restaurants

Tirupazhanam is a small village located adjacent to Tiruvaiyaru near Tanjore town in South India. The village has an important Shiva temple called as Aapatsahayar Temple. It is considered as the 50th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in Chola region north of Cauvery river.

Highlights:
  • Sambandhar, Sundarar and Appar have revered the temple in their verses in Devaram.
  • It is considered as the 2nd of Tiruvaiyaru Sapta Sthana temples.
  • Ashta Dikpalas found as Koshta deities. 
  • God Aapatsahayar aka Pazhanapiraan aka Parameshwaran aka Amudalingeshwarar
  • Goddess - Periyanayaki and Tirumananayaki aka Shivasundara Nayaki
  • Others names of site - Kadali Vanam, Koushikashram, Pazhanappati, Prayanapuri
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Mangala Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Plantain tree

Legend:

As per the legend, Chandra -the Moon God and Agastya worshiped the Lord in this site. As per another legend, Lord Shiva collected fruits in this site and sent them for Nandi's marriage. Hence, this place is called as 'Tirupazhanam' (Pazham means fruit in Tamil language). 

Lord Vishnu installed a Shiva Linga idol in this site and performed pooja. His consort Lakshmi came in search of him to this site. Hence, the place is also called as 'Prayanapuri' and the Lord is called as 'Prayanapureeswarar'. As per another legend, Lakshmi worshiped Lord Shiva in this site; after getting his blessings, she left for his abode. Hence, the site got the name 'Prayanapuri'.

A Brahmin lad, Sucharitra by name, lost his parents and kept visiting various temples. When he stayed in this site for a night, Yama appeared in his dream and informed him that he would die on the very fifth day. The boy was extremely afraid of this dream and started praying to Lord Shiva in this site. He ordered him (as asareeri - just voiceover without appearing in person) to go to Tiruvaiyaru to get rid of this danger. As the Lord saved this boy from danger, he is called as 'Aapatsahayar' ('Aapat' means danger and 'sahaya' means one who helps).

Another interesting legend states that Kaushika Rishi had his ashram in this place. He got his partition of Amrita and had kept that in a pot in his abode. The Asuras tried to steal the pot. Lord Shiva sent Ayyanar and Kali to kill the Asuras and save Amrita. The rishi performed abhishek to Shiva Linga idol with the same Amrita.

Temple Layout:

The temple has two Raja gopurams (towers) one located outside and another interior. Both the towers face the east direction. At the entrance of the inner tower, the big idol of Raja Ganapati along with a Shiva Linga is found.

The sanctum sanctorum has slightly tall and thin Shiva Linga named 'Aapatsahayar'. The entrance of sanctorum has small idols of Ganesha and Subramanya. At the entrance of ardha mandapa, there is another idol of Ganesha. Also, the south facing shrine of Goddess Tirumananayaki aka Shivasundara Nayaki who is found standing on Shiva Linga peetha is located here.

Nandi and bali peetha are located facing towards the sanctum sanctorum. There is no flag staff found in this temple.

The vimana of sanctorum and the outside wall are very attractive with a lot of artistically beautiful bas- relief sculptures. Ashta Dikpalas are found as koshta idols, which is rare. Dakshinamurti, Uma-Maheshwara, Ardhanareeswara, Pasupati, Gajasura Samhara, Ashta Lakshmi, Appoodhi Adigal, Veenadhara Shiva, Maha Vishnu and a lot more bas-relief sculptures are found on the walls and vimana that surround the sanctorum. 

The temple has two prakaras (corridors). The first prakara has sub-shrines of Devarikashta Vinayaka - a beautiful Ganesha sculpture with two arms, Gaja Lakshmi and Venugopala. The statues of Sapta Matas, Sapta Lingas, the Shiva Linga installed by Vishnu, Bhairava, Surya, Chandra and Ganesha are also located in the mandapa that is full of pillars.

The second prakara is broad and has huge exterior walls. The sub-shrine of Subramanya and importantly the shrine of the Goddess of the site, Periya Nayaki, a big idol found in the standing posture facing the east direction are located in the second prakara.

The idol of Adikara Nandi - Nandi with two folded hands and legs like human being is also found in this temple.

The holy tank and the holy trees are also located within the temple complex.

The Navagraha shrine has all the planets facing towards the Sun (Surya) which is unique in this region.

You don't need to be a devotee to visit this temple; even if you love sculptures and art, please do visit this exceptionally beautiful site. Unfortunately, this temple is in neglected state now.

Happy travelling.












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November 20, 2013

Tiruvaiyaru Tyagaraja Samadhi

Site Name: Tyagaraja Samadhi
Site Type: Samadhi (tomb) of saint
Location:  Tiruvaiyaru, near Tanjore town, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The samadhi and residence of Sri Tyagaraja Swami are located here
Nearest Railway Station: Tanjore
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Tanjore and Kumbakonam
Hotel: Go to Tanjore or Kumbakonam for better options; few low budget hotels are present in Tiruvaiyaru 
Restaurants: Small but good vegetarian restaurants are present but very few in number; go to Tanjore for better options

Tiruvaiyaru (also spelt as "Thiruvaiyaru") is a small town located at a distance of 13 kms from Tanjore town in South India. The village has an important Shiva temple called as Iyarappan Temple. Thiruvaiyaru means fives rivers around the city. The five rivers are Arisilaaru, Vennaaru, Vettaaru, Kudamuruttiyaaru and Cauvery. The town is also associated with Sri Tyagaraja Swami (also called as Thyagaiyar or Thyaga Brahmam). He along with Shyaama Sastri and Muthuswami Dikshidar comprises the Trinity of Carnatic Music. The town has two important places associate with this great musician - his home and his samadhi (tomb).

The one-roomed house near the Shiva temple which has been completely reconstructed recently is the site where the saint composer Thyagaiyar lived in the 18th century CE. You can find people especially children learning Carnatic music come over to this site and practice in front of the shrine. The shrine houses the idol of Thyagaiyar. It is also believed that he got the darshan of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman in this site.

The temple on the banks of the river Cauvery is very popular. It has the samadhi (tomb) of the great composer. The bronze idols of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman are kept in the shrine behind the samadhi. It is believed that the saint had the same idols in his pooja room. The temple also house two shrines for Ganesha and Subramanya. It is the place where the famous Thiruvaiyaur Aaraadhana - the annual music festival where the popular Carnatic singers all over the world come and participate; thousands of people throng to this place to listen to their songs during this period.

Happy travelling.




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November 17, 2013

The Peak - Hong Kong

Site Name: The Peak
Site Type: 360 degree viewing terrace
Location:  Central, Hong Kong
Highlights: One of the major tourist attractions in Hong Kong
Nearest Train Station: MTR Central 
Nearest Airport: Hong Kong
How to reach: Easily accessible by road; Plenty of buses and mini-buses; MTR located nearby
Hotel: Plenty of options in this area as this is one of the most prominent places in Hong Kong
Restaurants: Again, a plenty of options in this area as this is one of the most prominent places in Hong Kong
Opening Hours:  7 am - 12 mid-night
Ticket Fare: Adult - HKD 75; Child - HKD 36; (For complete details on fare, check the website)
Website: http://thepeak.com.hk

The Peak is undoubtedly a major tourist attraction of Hong Kong. The Peak experience is one of its kind with various attractions such as peak tram, wax museum, nature walks, 360 degree aerial view, dining and shopping. There is so much that the site offers. Let us explore all the destinations briefly which might serve as an itinerary too.

Start your journey at Garden Road Peak Tram Lower Terminus. You need to buy Peak Tram Sky Pass here. If you are interested, visit The Peak Tram Historical Gallery located behind. Now, get ready to get an unforgettable experience in Peak Tram. Around 10 million people across the globe come over here every year to experience this one of the world's oldest and most famous funicular railways. It rises to about 1300 feet above sea level. It is so steep that the buildings that you pass appear as if they are leaning. It is definitely a thrilling and amazing experience.

After you get down at the Peak, the first attraction would be Madame Tussauds Hong Kong. It features around 100 local and international celebrity wax figures which include Jackie Chan, Obama, Amitabh, Tyson, Gandhiji, Hitler, Sadam, Einstein and others from different fields. 

The Peak Tower is one of the most photographed architecture of Hong Kong. You can find a lot of entertainment centers, shops and restaurants located here set against the beautiful backdrop of the city. Moreover, it has The Sky Terrace 428, the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong. It is located 428 meters above the sea level and offers 360 degree panoramic view of Hong Kong. This scenic site is something which you should never miss to visit in this city. There is an added advantage - Sky Gallery, which has 17 historical photographs to give the visitors an idea about old Hong Kong.

There are four trails of Nature Walks at the Peak which offers you one of the stunning countryside of the city and aerial view of various areas and landmarks.

Irrespective of age and taste, the Peak definitely attracts everyone. 

Happy travelling.






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November 15, 2013

The Landmark Mall - Hong Kong

Site Name: Landmark Mall
Site Type:     Shopping Mall
Location:  Central, Hong Kong
Highlights: One of the major and important shopping malls in Hong Kong
Nearest Train Station: MTR Central 
Nearest Airport: Hong Kong
How to reach: Easily accessible by road; MTR located nearby
Hotel: Plenty of options in this area as this is one of the most prominent places in Hong Kong
Restaurants: Again, a plenty of options in this area as this is one of the most prominent places in Hong Kong

The Landmark is a well known name in Hong Kong. It is a shopping mall which is the home of numerous prestigious international brands located at the heart of the city.

This huge shopping mall which is spread across 4 buildings is around 110 years old now. The mall has been an integral part of Hong Kong citizens for generations. Let me quote what is mentioned in the mall's website - "Generations of mothers and daughters sharing moments and making memories."

Hong Kong is a shopping paradise with so many local markets and luxurious shopping malls. The Landmark plays a prominent role among all the shopping options in Hong Kong.

Happy travelling.



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