January 30, 2014

Sadaiudaiyar Shasta Temple

Site Name: Sadaiudaiyar Shasta Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Therku Pappankulam, near Kallidaikurichi, near Ambasamudram town, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A different temple amidst paddy fields; women are not allowed
Nearest Railway Station: Ambasamudram
Nearest Airport: Tirunelveli
How to reach: Poorly connected; local transportation is not dependable
Hotel: Few options within Ambasamudram and Kallidaikurichi; more options in the nearby city Tirunelveli
Restaurants: Only few options within Ambasamudram and Kallidaikurichi 



Kallidaikurichi is a picturesque village located adjacent to another picturesque town called Ambasamudram on the banks of the beautiful Tamrabharani river and on the foothills of the Western Ghats. The nearest city is Tirunelveli. It is located in Tamil Nadu state in South India. Near Kallidaikurichi, in a small village called Therku Pappankulam, the temple of Sadaiudaiyar Shasta is located. It is situated in a picturesque location among paddy fields surrounded by hills.




Highlights:

  • God Sadaiudaiyar Shasta
  •  Goddess – Porsadayachi aka Raja Rajeshwari
  • Women and girls are not allowed to enter into the temple.
  • Located among paddy fields surrounded by hills - a picturesque location 

Legend:

An interesting legend is associated with this temple. A Brahmin was passing through Pappankulam village along with his pregnant daughter. The girl got labour pain suddenly. The father founded a hut nearby where a Dalit woman played midwife and the girl delivered a baby boy. It is believed that Shasta took the form of the woman and helped the girl. The Brahmin thanked the God and offered raw rice and coconut which he was having with him at that time. Later, the girl gave birth to eight sons. All of them and their descendants became staunch devotees of Shasta and served him. They are being called as 'Ettu Pillai Koottaththaar" (Ettu pillai means eight sons). Even today, on a particular day every year, a special pooja is performed to the family members of this group in this temple.

Temple Layout:

The temple is situated amidst paddy fields surrounded by hills in a picturesque village named Therku Pappankulam near Ambasamudram. The temple is not built based on Agama Sastra. Hence, it does not have tower, bali peetha or flag staff.

The sanctum santorum enshrines four deities:

  1. Raja Rajeswari under the five hood snake; she is also called as Porsadaiyachi
  2. Sadaiudaiyar Shasta in the form of Bala jatadhaari - a rare form of find him in the standing posture and with beard; he is holding a stick
  3. Durga Parameswari
  4. Kali
The entrance of the sanctorum has an idol of Lord Ganesha.

Outside the main shrine, there are three sub-shrines for the following guardian deities:
  1. Periya Madaswamy aka Veerabhadra holding sword
  2. Nalla Madaswamy aka Bhairava who is found with a dog as his 'vaahana' (mount)
  3. Chinna Madaswamy aka Agora Bhadra holding sickle
An important temple located in a unique pleasant location - don't miss it.

Happy travelling.





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January 15, 2014

Aadi Varaha Temple - Kallidaikurichi

Site Name: Aadi Varaha Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Kallidaikurichi, near Ambasamudram town, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: An important and ancient temple in Kallidaikurichi
Nearest Railway Station: Kallidaikurichi
Nearest Airport: Tirunelveli
How to reach: Well connected; can be reached to this temple from an auto rickshaw from the center of the town
Hotel: Few options within the town; more options in the nearby city Tirunelveli
Restaurants: Only few options within the town

Kallidaikurichi is a picturesque village located adjacent to another picturesque town called Ambasamudram on the banks of the beautiful Tamrabharani river and on the foothills of the Western Ghats. The nearest city is Tirunelveli. It is located in Tamil Nadu state in South India.The village has a lot of scenic spots and temples. Let us explore the most important temple of the village, Aadi Varaha temple. It is an ancient temple located in a peaceful site with a calm Agraharam street facing it. 

Highlights:
  • God - Aadi Varaha
  •  Goddess – Lakshmi
  • Varaha with Lakshmi on his lap (generally Bhoomi Devi is found with Varaha)
  • A separate shrine in the first tier above the main shrine
  • Muthu Swamy Dikshidar has composed songs about this Lord


Legend:

As per the legend, there was a king who was a devotee of Lord Krishna; he was ruling this region. He performed Ashwamedha yagna; all the deities such as Brahma, Shiva, Indira, etc. came over there to accept the yagna offerings. However, Vishnu alone did not appear. All the seers who were helping the king to perform the yagna prayed to Lord Vishnu. Based on their prayer, he appeared there in the form of Varaha along with Lakshmi.

Later, Kubera was travelling in this region. He kept on visiting many Shiva temples; as he wanted to visit a Vishnu temple, he installed Varaha idol in this site. In due course, the temple disappeared. After many years, a devotee got a dream and accordingly discovered the idols. The current temple was built with those idols.

 Temple Layout:

Aadi Varaha temple is a small temple located at the heart of Kallidaikurichi village. The east facing temple does not have tower, but has the flag staff, bali peetha and Garud facing the main shrine. The temple has two prakaras. The structure belongs to the 15th century CE.

The east facing sanctum sanctorum has the idol of Varaha in the sitting posture holding Lakshmi on his left lap. It is generally Bhoomi Devi who is found along with Varaha. It is unique in this temple. 

The utsava idols of Lakshmipati along with his two consorts are also found in the sanctum.

Two sub shrines are found in the either sides of the main shrine - for Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi. Both of them are found with four arms and in the sitting posture. It should be noted that unlike other Vishnu temples, Andal is not found; instead, Bhoo Devi is found.

The idols of Vishwaksena, few Alwars, Vishnu with Lakshmi on his left lap and Dasha Avatars (ten incarnations of Vishnu) are also found in this temple.

Above the sanctum sanctorum in the first tier of the vimana, there is a shrine for Sayana Perumal - Vishnu in the reclining posture with Brahma on his navel and his two consorts on his feet. All these idols are colorful stucco images.

The Agraharam street facing the temple's entrance is a peaceful and beautiful location. It is an ideal place to live for devotees and peace loving people. Appalams, Vadams, Murukku and other such items are very popular in this village and they can be bought in this street.

Happy travelling.



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January 14, 2014

Mada Samy - the village deity of Tirunelveli

There are many village deities popularly called as "Kaaval Deivam" (meaning guardian deities) all over the Tamil Nadu state in India. When many of the northern regions of the state have lost their identity, in the southern Tamil Nadu, especially in the regions of Tirunelveli, Ambasamudram, Tenkasi and around, there are too many village deities are being worshiped even today. Mada Samy is a very popular village deity among them who is worshiped in and around Tirunelveli.

 He is a non-Vedic God who is considered to be the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. He is also called as Sudalai Madan. His wife is Madathy. Sometimes he or some other village deities do also have "Madan" in their names such as Periya Madan, Chinna Madan etc.

Madan, being a non-Vedic God, it is very rare to find a typical large temple for him. He is usually in the form of simple platform with a stone pillar and located mostly in the outskirts of villages or near the burial ground. Even few houses in the villages have such Madan platforms in their back yards. Sometimes, he is either painted or sculpted on the pillar. Even Madan is iconographically represented in some temples. He is usually found in the standing posture looking ferocious and holding weapons such as sickle, sword, whip or club.

The photographs that are provided in this blog post are from different regions in and around Tirunelveli.

Happy travelling.









January 13, 2014

Kasibanathar Temple - Ambasamudram

Site Name: Kasibanathar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Ambasamudram, near Tirunelveli city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: An important temple in Ambasamudram
Nearest Railway Station: Ambasamudram
Nearest Airport: Tirunelveli
How to reach: Well connected; can be reached to this temple from an auto rickshaw from the center of the twon
Hotel: Few options within the town; more options in the nearby city Tirunelveli
Restaurants: Only few options within the town

Ambasamudram is a picturesque town located on the banks of the beautiful Tamrabharani river and on the foothills of the Western Ghats. The nearest city of Ambasamudram is Tirunelveli. It is located in Tamil Nadu state in South India.The town has a lot of scenic spots and temples. Let us explore the most important temple of the town, Kasibanatha Swamy temple. It is an ancient temple located in a peaceful site on the banks of the river Tamrabharani. The places surrounding this temple and the road connecting this temple (Aathu Salai) are picturesque.

Highlights:
  • God Kasibanathar aka Kasinathar
  •  Goddess Maragathambikai
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Tamrabharani river
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Gooseberry tree
  • Shiva and Vishnu facing each other in different shrines
  • Vishnu standing on Aavudai (the lower part of Shiva Linga)
  • Nataraja idol made up of Punugu
Legend:

As per the legend, the sage Kashyapa performed a yagna and got darshan of Lord Shiva in this site. He installed a Shiva Linga which was originally called as Kashyapa Linga; the name in due course got diluted as Kasibanathar.

There is a popular and interesting legend associated with this temple. There was a king from Kerala who fell ill. No one could cure his disease. A divine voice advised the king to donate a doll made up of seasame seeds. Accordingly, the king transferred his illness to the doll and donated the same to a Karnataka Brahmin youth. He had to offer him some valuable gems and diamonds to accept the doll. The doll told the youth that if he could offer it half of the benefit of chanting Gayatri mantra throughout his life, it would leave him. The youth agreed and got rid of illness.

The youth wanted to spend the wealth that he got from the king for some good cause. He went to Podhigai hills to seek the advice of the sage Agastya. Before leaving Ambasamudram, he left his valuables with the temple priest. After returning from Podhigai hills, the priest gave him only a Dal bag claiming that it was what left by the youth. The youth took the case to the king. The king asked the priest to depose before the Lord. Without any hesitation, the priest described the same untrue story in front of Lord Shiva in the temple. Lord Shiva got angry and immediately burnt the priest. The youth requested the Lord to restore the priest again. Lord Shiva accordingly forgave the priest and restored his life. The youth spent the wealth to dig a canal near the temple which is present even today and called as Kannadian canal (Kannadian meaning one who hails from Karnataka or who speaks Kannda language).

Even after this incident, Lord Shiva could not control his anger. His consort Parvati requested Lord Vishnu to cool down Shiva. As Lord Shiva burnt the priest, there is a Shiva Linga in this temple named as 'Erittatkondar' or 'Erichudayar' (meaning who burnt and then blessed in Tamil language). As Vishnu calmed down Shiva, he is also present in a shrine opposite to this Shiva Linga in this temple.

Temple Layout:

The east facing temple of Kasibanatha Swami is magnificent in size. It is located well on the banks of the river Tamrabharani. The location is very calm and scenic.

The main region of the temple is built in the maada kovil architectural style (raised platforms). The sanctum sanctorum of the God as well as the shrine of the Goddess are located atop the platform. The main shrine has moolasthana (sanctum), ardha mandapamaha mandapa and a front side pillared mandapa. There are two prakaras around the main shrine. The area connecting the temple and the main entrance is huge and is in the form of a pillared mandapa with its roof covered. There is no tower for this temple; it is being constructed now (at the time of writing this blog post – 2014 CE).

Main Shrine

The sanctum sanctorum is facing the east direction. It houses a small Shiva Linga named as Kasibanatha Swami. The entrance of ardha mandapa has an idol of Ganesha. In the maha mandapa, there is a beautiful painting of Sivakami and Natarja found. Nandi is installed in the Maha mandapa facing towards Lord Shiva. There are many pillars with sculptures in the maha mandapa. The entrance of maha mandapa has another idol of Ganesha called as ‘Anugnai Vinayaka’.

As this region of the temple is located on a raised platform (maada kovil), there is also a front side pillared mandapa. The steps that lead to this mandapa too have few beautiful sculptures. In this front side mandapa the main shrine of the Goddess Maragadambigai is found; she is found in the standing posture with a flower on her right arm.

Inner Prakara

The first prakra has the following sub-shrines:
1)    Dakshinamurti
2)    Chandikeshwara
3)    Ganesha
4)    Subramanya-Valli-Devasena
5)    Punugu Sabhapati – big  idols of Nataraja and Sivakami along with the rishis – made up of Punugu – a kind of perfume
6)    Uma Maheswara along with Ganesha and Nandi
7)    Utsava idols (metal idols)

Apart from the above sub-shrines the following idols are also found here.

1)    Surya
2)    Chandra
3)    Shaneeswara
4)    Ganesha
5)    Agastya
6)    Yogeeswara
7)    Nalvar – the four important devotees of Shiva
8)    63 Nayanmars
9)    Suradeva
10) Veerabhadra
11) Sapta matas

Outer Prakara

The outer prakra is located in the open space with a lot of trees and plants. The following sub-shrines are located here.

1)    Vishwanatha – Vishalakshi
2)    Annamalai – Unnamalai
3)    Subramanya-Valli-Devasena
4)    Meenakshi – Chokkanatha

Important Shrines

The shrine of big Shiva Linga named as Erittatkondar which is associated with the legend of the site is located in the inner prakara. The Nandi idol is placed facing this shrine. In addition there is another shrine for Vishnu located opposite to this shrine. It is believed that he calmed down Lord Shiva. He is standing on "Aavudai". He has four arms holding conch and discus in his upper arms.

External Mandapa

There is a broad mandapa that connects the temple with the main entrance. The mandapa is full of pillars and its roof is covered. The big and tall flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi are located in this mandapa. It should be noted that the flag staff is located between Nandi and the main temple in Ambasamudram and the surrounding areas; usually, nothing is placed between Nandi and the Lord.

The following sub-shrine are found in this mandapa:

1)      Navagraha – the nine planets
2)      Shasta with his consorts Poorna and Pushkala

The entire temple complex is covered by the thick fortress walls.

It is an important temple in this region which cannot be missed. Visit this place when you get a chance to go to this town.

Happy travelling.

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January 10, 2014

Ambasamudram Krishnan Temple

Site Name: Krishnan Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Ambasamudram, near Tirunelveli city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: An important temple in Ambasamudram
Nearest Railway Station: Ambasamudram
Nearest Airport: Tirunelveli
How to reach: Well connected as the temple is located within the center of the town
Hotel: Few options within the town; more options in the nearby city Tirunelveli
Restaurants: Only few options within the town

Ambasamudram is a picturesque town located on the banks of the beautiful Tamrabharani river and on the foothills of the Western Ghats. The nearest city of Ambasamudram is Tirunelveli. It is located in Tamil Nadu state in South India.The town has a lot of scenic spots and temples. Let us explore an important temple named Krishnan temple located in Ambasamudram town in this article.

Highlights:

·                     God Krishna Swami aka Venugopalan
·                     Goddess – Rukmini and Satyabhama

Legend:

It is believed that the sage Markandeya got the darshan of Adi Sesha, the divine serpent, in this site. As per Sesha’s order, Markandeya installed the idol of Lord Krishna here. The idol of Krishna and his consorts are made up of Saligrama stone from Kandigai river in Nepal.

The temple in the current structure was built by a Chera King named Sengutty Valithi. As the temple was built amidst the forest full of Punnai trees in those days, it is also called as Punnai Vana Kshetra.

Temple Layout:

It is a small beautiful temple located near the bus stand and arch in the heart of Ambasamudram town. The east facing temple does not have tower. But it has flag staff, bali peetha and Garuda facing the main shrine.

The attractive Saligrama stone image of Krishna playing flute in the standing posture with his legs crossed in a stylish way is found in the sanctum. He has his consorts Rukmini and Satyabhama on his either sides.

The utsava idols are the replica of the stone images and they are also placed in the main shrine. It is difficult to conclude which one is more beautiful – the stone image or the metal image of Lord Kirshna.The nine hood Adi Sesha is found atop Lord Krishna, which is unusual.

The temple also has the idols of Garuda, Alwars, Vishwaksena and Udaiyavar. The sub shrines of Periyalvar and Hanuman are also found in this temple. 

Happy travelling.

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January 9, 2014

Ambasamudram Ammaiyappar Temple

Site Name: Ammaiyappar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Ambasamudram, near Tirunelveli city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: An important temple in Ambasamudram
Nearest Railway Station: Ambasamudram
Nearest Airport: Tirunelveli
How to reach: Well connected as the temple is located within the center of the town
Hotel: Few options within the town; more options in the nearby city Tirunelveli
Restaurants: Only few options within the town

Ambasamudram is a picturesque town located on the banks of the beautiful Tamrabharani river and on the foothills of the Western Ghats. The nearest city of Ambasamudram is Tirunelveli. It is located in Tamil Nadu state in South India.The town has a lot of scenic spots and temples. Let us explore an important temple named Ammaiyappar temple located in Ambasamudram town in this article.

Highlights:

·                     God Ammaiyappar
·                     Goddess – Mattuvar Kuzhal Nayaki


Temple Layout:

The east facing temple is located at the heart of the Ambasamudram town near Arch and bus stand. It is a small temple and does not have tower. It is a popular temple in this town.

The sanctum sanctorum has a big Shiva Linga idol named Ammaiyappar. The shrine is facing the east direction with Nandi facing it. The Goddess Mattuvar Kuzhal Nayaki is in an attractive stylish standing posture in a separate shrine facing the north direction.

At the entrance of the main shrine, the idols of Ganesha and Subramanya with his two consorts are placed.

A small Navagraha shrine is also found in this temple.

Happy travelling.

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