November 8, 2016

Trichy Naganathar Temple

Site Name: Naganathar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Nandi Koil Street, Trichy city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: An ancient and important temple of Trichy
Nearest Railway Station: Trichy
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: A lot of options across the city; this is one of the important cities in South India 
Restaurants: All varieties of restaurants across the city

Trichy is one of the most important cities of Tamil Nadu state in South India. When it comes to Trichy, everyone would think or talk mainly about the Rock Fort. However, Trichy city has few other important but not so popular temples. In this article, we are going to discuss about one such temple, which is called as Naganathar Temple.

Naganathar Temple is located in Nandi Koil Street near the famous Rock Fort Temple at the heart of Trichy city. Although it is not known to the people outside Trichy, it is well known within the city. 

Highlights:
  • God - Naganathar or Chevvandi Nathar
  • Goddess - Anandavalli
  • Sthala Vruksha (holy tree) - Bilva
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Shiva Teerth 
Legend:

As per the legend, some sages thought that they could live on their own and do whatever they wanted without the need for the God. Lord Shiva fought with them in order to teach them a lesson. Those sages released serpents to attack Shiva; however, Shiva wore them as his ornaments. Hence, he got the name Naganathar. 

The sage Sara Mamuni along with the seven Naga Kanyas worshiped Shiva in this site with Chevvandi flowers. Then, they took bath in the holy tank of the temple. Hence, Shiva is also called as Chevvandi Nathar. 


Temple Layout:

It is not known who built this temple and when. However, the temple must be few hundred years old and not very ancient. The recent renovation and the mosaic flooring look not so good.

The temple has two entrances and two towers (gopuras). The east facing gopura is supposed to be the main tower. However, as it faces a small lane, hardly anyone uses this entrance. There is another north facing entrance which is located in the busy Nandi Koil Street. Everyone enters the temple only through this entrance. There is also an arch before the tower in this entrance.

The idols of Ganesh and Murugan grace this entrance.

Naganathar and Anandavalli

The presiding deity of the temple is Naganathar, a moderately big Shiv Linga. He is found in the east facing sanctum. Adjacent to this sanctum, there is a north facing shrine for the Goddess Anandavalli. She is her usual standing posture; she has four arms. 

Both Shiva and Amman have Nandi before them. The flag staff and bali peeth are found facing the sanctum.

The entrance of the main shrine is graced by the sculpture of Sundara Vinayak.


Koshta Deities


Not all the usual Koshta deities are found in this temple. Only Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava and Durga are found. A small sub-shrine is built for Dakshinamurti Koshta, which looks bad.

Chandikeshwara is found in his usual location. 


Other Deities


Some of the other deities that are found in this temple include Sara Mamuni, Nalvar, 63 Nayanmars, Sundareshwara (Linga), Meenakshi, Ganesh, Bala Subramanya, Dakshinamurti, Veerabhahu, Veera Mahendra, Ganesh, Shanmukha-Valli-Devasena, Shiv Linga with his consort, Ganesh, Vishwanatha (Linga), Vishalakshi, Saraswati, Shiv Linga, Sura Deva, Durga and Dandayudhapani.

The sub-shrine of Nataraja is found in the Ardha Mandap. There is a shrine for Somaskanda in the prakara.

Bhairav, Surya and Chandra are found near the entrance facing towards the sanctum.

Happy travelling.






Trichy Kailasanathar Temple

Site Name: Kailasanathar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Big Bazaar, Trichy city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A famous temple in Trichy
Nearest Railway Station: Trichy
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: A lot of options across the city; this is one of the important cities in South India 
Restaurants: All varieties of restaurants across the city

Trichy is one of the most important cities of Tamil Nadu state in South India. When it comes to Trichy, everyone would think or talk mainly about the Rock Fort. However, Trichy city has few other important but not so popular temples. In this article, we are going to discuss about one such temple, which is called as Kailasanathar Temple.

Kailasanathar Temple is located in the busy Big Bazaar Street in Trichy. The sanctum as well as the shrine of the Goddess face east, the same direction. 

The sanctum enshrines small Shiv Linga called as Kailasanathar. Adjacent to the sanctum, the shrine of the Goddess Kamalambikai is located.

The idols of Surya, Bhairav and Hanuman are also located in this small temple. 

Among Navagraha, Surya alone is found with his consorts; all eight planets are found facing towards him. Only the temples in Trichy and Thanjavur regions have this sort of Navagraha. In the other regions, each planet is facing in his own direction and not everyone faces Surya.

Only Dakshinamurti and Durga are found as the niche images. Chandikeshwara is found in his usual location.

The sub-shrines of Ganesh and Subramanya-Valli-Devasena are also located in this temple.

Happy travelling. 



November 7, 2016

Trichy Bhoolokanathar Temple

Site Name: Bhoolokanathar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Near Market Bus Stop, Trichy city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A unique temple where Nandi is found with four arms
Nearest Railway Station: Trichy
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: A lot of options across the city; this is one of the important cities in South India 
Restaurants: All varieties of restaurants across the city

Trichy is one of the most important cities of Tamil Nadu state in South India. When it comes to Trichy, everyone would think or talk mainly about the Rock Fort. However, Trichy city has few other important but not so popular temples. In this article, we are going to discuss about one such temple, which is called as Bhoolokanathar Temple.

Bhoolokanathar Temple is located near Market Bus Stop at the heart of Trichy city. Although it is not known to the people outside Trichy, it is well known within the city. 

Highlights:
  • Nandi is found with four arms and playing drum (Maddala)
  • Five holy trees are found within the temple
  • God - Bhoolokanathar
  • Goddess - Jagatambikai
  • Sthala Vruksha (holy tree) - Magizham, Vanni, Atthi, Bilva and Kurunthai 
  • It is a specialty temple for those having land and other real estate related issues 
Legend:

As per the legend, the King who was ruling this region could not resolve any problem. A Yogi met him and told that there were some issues in the construction of his palace. The saint suggested the King to worship Lord Shiva. Accordingly, the King installed Shiv Linga, named him as Bhoolokanathar and worshiped him in the current site where the temple stands. He got his problems resolved. 

Temple Layout:

It is not known who built this temple and when. However, the temple must be few hundred years old and not very ancient. 

The east facing temple has a Raja gopuram (tower) and an arch before the tower.

Bhoolokanathar and Jagatambikai

The presiding deity of the temple is Bhoolokanathar, a very big Shiv Linga. He is found in the east facing sanctum.

In the outermost mandap, there is a separate south facing shrine for the Goddess Jagatambikai. She is found in her usual standing posture and she has four arms with her two upper arms holding flowers.

Two separate Nandis are found, one facing Shiva and the other facing Ambika.

Nataraj and Four armed Nandi

In the Maha Mandap, there is a shrine for Nataraj and Shivakami. The shrine has the usual idol of Karaikal Ammaiyar and an unusual Nandi. Nandi has four arms; his upper arms are folded in the worshiping posture whereas he is found playing drum (Maddala) with his two lower arms.

Various Mandaps

The temple has sanctum (moolasthan), Ardha Mandap, Maha Mandap and two more outer mandaps. The shrine of Jagatambikai is located in the outermost mandap. At the entrance of Maha Mandap, the sculptures of Ganesh and Subramanya are found.

Koshta Deities

Nardana Ganapati, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava, Brahma and Durga are found as the niche (Koshta) deities. All Murtis except Lingodbhava are bigger in size and they appear to be old sculptures. However, Lingodbhava is definitely new idol; I wonder what happened to the original niche image.

Chandikeshwara is found in his usual location. Additionally, the female form Chandikeshwari is found separately near the shrine of Jagatambikai.

Sthala Vruksha

Only one tree is usually attributed as the Sthala Vruksha for any temple. However, this temple has five holy trees namely Magizham, Vanni, Atthi, Bilva and Kurunthai.

Other Deities

At the entrance of the temple, the idols of Ganesh and Subramanya are found.

The sub-shrines of Nagabarana Ganesh and Subramanya-Valli-Devasena are located in the prakara.

Among Navagraha, Surya alone is found with his consorts; all eight planets are found facing towards him. Only the temples in Trichy and Thanjavur regions have this sort of Navagraha. In the other regions, each planet is facing in his own direction and not everyone faces Surya.

The idols of Bhairav, Surya, Chandra, Sapta Matrikas, Vishwanatha (Linga), Vishalakshi, Nalvar, Sekkizhar, Anjaneya, Karuppanna Swamy and Ganesha (under Vanni tree) are also located in this temple.


Happy travelling. 




November 4, 2016

Temples of Bhubaneswar

I got an opportunity to talk in Tamil Heritage Club for about two hours on Temples of Bhubaneswar. I touched upon the history of Bhubaneswar and Kalinga architecture before talking in detail about various temples of Bhubaneswar.

The audio recording and the 69 slider Powerpoint presentation are found in the below link:

https://thtsiteseminars.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/preparatory-talk-2-the-temples-of-bhubaneswar-by-t-k-krishnakumar/

November 1, 2016

Madras Race Club

Guindy is a highly crowded and busy area in Chennai city. Millions of people pass through this area as part of their daily commuting. The sub-urban railway station in Guindy is an important and centrally located station in the city. Nevertheless, not many of these regular visitors of Guindy might know that there is a huge area of race course located near the busy railway station and bus stand. Only people who follow and participate in the horse race or those who belong to this area for long time know  about the Guindy Race Course, the oldest race course of India. It's altogether different world and different way of life.

Although the Club was officially set up in 1837 CE, the origin of the race course goes back to 1777 CE when the lands from the villages of Velachery and Venkatapuram were allotted to conduct horse race.

From the very beginning, the functioning of the race course was not always smooth or regular. The horse race was organized not regularly in the beginning. It was even stopped when Hyder Ali was about to invade Madras. Then, after the formation of the club, it was functioning regularly till 1875 CE. Again, there were challenges. In 1887 CE, a new club called Madras Race Club was formed and then it was revived to a great extent. 

With a temporary halt during the World War I and the revival by Lord Willingdon, the Race Course got an important structure, the Guindy Lodge in 1933 CE. 

Even after the independence of India, there were many challenges faced by the Race Course. The horse race was banned in the 1970s. In 1980s, the Government of Tamil Nadu took over the control of the Club. 


Sri M.A.M.Ramaswamy, the industrialist, who passed away in 2015 CE, was the backbone of the Madras Race Club in the post independence period. He won many cases against the Club and supported the Club to function regularly in spite of many challenges. He was known for his interest in the horse racing. He had owned about 1,000 horses once, which became a Guinness record.

The club now houses more than 600 horses. The racing happens only for four months a year, between November and March, in this club. However, you can find people gathered in this place throughout the year. The big TV screens that are hanging all over the place and the technology enable them to buy tickets and bet on the horses for the racing that happen in the other cities as well as watch them live.

Happy travelling.







October 31, 2016

The Neglected Jyestha Devi of Manimangalam

Manimangalam is a small locality located near Tambaram, which in turn is located near Chennai in Tamil Nadu state of India . Manimangalam is a historical site. The great battle between the Chalukya King Pulikesi and the Pallava King Narasimha Pallava was fought in Manimangalam in the 7th century CE

In Manimangalam, which has few ancient temples, there is a Jyestha Devi idol lying on the field near Dhanalakshmi Engineering College. The idol has no temple structure or the regular priests to perform poojas. Yet, the local villagers worship this deity as the Mother Goddess.

Who is Jyestha Devi? As per the Hindu Puranas, she is the elder sister of Lakshmi. Lakshmi, who is considered as the deity of wealth, is being worshiped in all temples. There are big temples with Lakshmi as the presiding deity. However, her own sister Jyestha does not find any place in Vishnu temples or her own sister Lakshmi's temples. Barring few temples in Trichy-Tanjore region, Jyestha Devi is generally found outside the Shiva temples or in a neglected corner in the Shiva's temple enclosure.

Tiru Valluvar, the ancient Tamil poet, had written that this world is not for those without wealth. It appears that the statement is true not only for the humans but even for the deities. Jyestha is considered as inauspicious and is believed to bring bad luck. Thondaradi Podi Alwar, one of twelve Alwars, reportedly condemned the worship of Jyestha Devi in the temples. It is said that due to his efforts the idol of Devi was thrown out of the temples. There is no solid proof to prove this theory though. Interestingly, this Alwar's birth star was Jyestha. 

Whatever be the reason and whenever this practice had started, it is true that many of the Shiva temples in the northern part of Tamil Nadu have neglected Jyestha Devi. You can find this idol lying near the fields, outside the temple or in a neglected corner inside the temple complex.

In Manimangalam village, opposite to the Dhanalakshmi Engineering College, a beautiful idol of Jyestha Devi is found. She is found along with his two attendants. As per few versions, they are her children, Manthan and Agni. Some broken idols, probably Somaskanda and others, are found scattered near her idol. It is not sure why and how these idols are found in this site.


You can throw her out of the temple. But she can turn her new place into a temple. A temple is not the one which has structure, but the deity. She may not need a temple structure. The open air and the green fields are more beautiful than your architecture. She has got enough love from the innocent villagers and heritage enthusiasts. She will live long as the deity forever.

Happy travelling.





October 30, 2016

Shiva who became a female deity

This article is not about any mythological story of Shiva changing his gender. But, it is about the locals who changed Shiv Linga into a female deity.

Chembarampakkam Reservoir is one of the two river fed reservoirs of Chennai city. It is located at a distance of about 30 kms from Chennai Central. Before the reservoir was constructed, there must have been a temple of Lord Shiva on the banks of the Chembarampakkam Lake. After the reservoir was constructed, the access to this small temple was probably not easy as earlier. As the people started neglecting or forgetting this temple, the local villagers alone worshiped this temple, which is located in a hideout in the reservoir structure now. The villagers probably changed this deity as a female deity and named him as Kanni Amman.

Who is Kanni Amman? In Tamil Nadu, the village deities are generally called as Kanni (meaning Kanya - virgin). Serpents are worshiped as Naga Kannis. Sapta Matrikas, which are found in the traditional temples, are worshiped as Sapta Kannis. Sometimes, Mari Amman is also named as Mundaka Kanni. So, the tradition of naming the female village deities as Kanni appears to be common in Tamil Nadu state.

Apart from Mundaka Kanni, Naga Kanni and Sapta Kanni, there are many village temples across the state which have the presiding deity as "Kanni Amman". I wonder who is this Kanni Amman. I could not find any solid source of materials about this. As far as my knowledge goes, Chamunda Devi among the Sapta Matrikas (or, Kannis) is more popular than the other six companions. She is sometimes considered as Kali. There are temples in and outside Tamil Nadu for Chamunda and Kali. Even in the temples where all the seven Devis are found, Chamunda alone is given important position in few village temples. Hence, I believe that Kanni Amman should refer to Chamunda (who is also called as Kali, Chamundi, etc.)

As the villagers reportedly took over the small Shiva temple hidden under the structure of Chembarampakkam Reservoir, they named him as Kanni Amman. Now, Shiv Linga has a nose and eyes (somewhat similar to Mukha Linga) to justify that it is Kanni Amman. :-)

Happy travelling.





October 29, 2016

Chembarampakkam Lake

If you are from Chennai or a suburban area around Chennai, you would have definitely heard about Chembarampakkam Lake. You might be depending on this lake for your drinking water needs. Else, you and your property would have been badly affected due to overflow of this lake in 2015 Chennai floods. For good and bad reasons, you would remember this lake forever, if you belong to this city.

Chembarampakkam Lake is one of the two river fed water reservoirs of Chennai city, the other being Puzhal Lake. It is located in a village called Chembarampakkam, at a distance of around 30 kms from Chennai.

The lake has 3,645 mcft as full capacity and its full tank capacity is 85.4 feet.

For all practical reasons, Chembarampakkam Lake can be considered as the origin of the river Adyar. The source of water from Malaipattu Tank near Manimangalam village and another source from Adanur Tank near Guduvanchery flow as thin layer of water. Technically, Malaipattu and Adanur can be considered as the origins of the river Adyar. However, the flow of water supply from Chembarampakkam Lake makes Adyar a perfect river.

Happy travelling.