Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in Tamilnadu State
Palani Murugan temple, Palani
The Hill Temple of Palani is one of the most famous temples of Murugan in India. It is located in the town of Palani, 100 km southeast of Coimbatore and a similar distance northwest of Madurai, and in the foot-hills of the eponymous Palni Hills. At its foot is the Temple of Thiru-avinan-kudi, one of the Arupadaiveedu.Palani Murugan Temple is known for its Panchamrita and Javvadu Vibhuti which are bought by the devotees without fail.Devotees throng during Thai-poosam,Panguni Utthiram,Skandha Shasti festivals.Devotees from various parts of India come to this shrine by Paada-yatra (travelling by foot).
MythologySage Narada once visited the celestial court of Lord Shiva at Mount Kailash to present to Him a fruit, the gyana-pazham (literally, the fruit of knowledge), that held in it the elixir of wisdom.
Upon Lord Shiva expressing his intention of dividing the fruit between his two sons, Ganesha and Karthikeya, the Sage counseled Him against cutting it. He decided to award it to whichever of his two sons first circled the world thrice. Accepting the challenge, the Lord Karthikeya started his journey around the globe on his sacred bird, the peacock.
However, Lord Ganesha, who surmised that the world was no more than his parents Shiva and Shakti, circumambulated them. Pleased with their son's discernment, Lord Shiva awarded the fruit to Lord Ganesha. When the Lord Subrahmanya returned, he was furious to learn that his efforts had been in vain. In deep dudgeon, he decided to leave Mount Kailash and take up his abode in a place where the land and people would be unequivocally his and for him. Thus, it was that He came to what is today known as Palani, a name derived from the manner of His Parents trying to mollify him and prevail upon him to return to Kailash — Gnana Pazham Nee appa (Tamil for "You are the fruit of wisdom sire"), implying that, being the embodiment of wisdom, he had no need for the fruit. Thus, being the abode of wisdom, the place took on its master's name: Pazham Nee or Pazhani, anglicised as Palani.
Legends of the TempleGoing by legend, the idol of the Lord Muruga in Palani, was created and consecrated by the Sage Bhogar, one of Hinduism's eighteen great ascetics (siddhas), out of an amalgam of nine medicinal stones or Navapaashaanam(In Sanskrit,"Nava" means Nine and "PAshAnam" means Stone ). NavapAshanam is believed to possess great medicinal qualities. The legend also holds that, since it was a quick-setting mixture, the sculptor had to work very rapidly to chisel its features, but that he spent so much time in creating the exquisitely beatific face, he did not have time to bestow but a rough grace upon the rest of the body, thus explaining the contrast between the artistic perfection of the face and the slightly less accomplished work upon the body. Panchamrita is anointed to the Deity made of the medicinal Navapashanam daily and is distributed to devotees.
A shrine to Bhogar exists in the southwestern corridor of the temple, which, by legend, is said to be connected by a subterranean tunnel to a cave in the heart of the hill, where Bhogar continues to meditate and maintain his vigil, with eight idols of the Lord.
Another legend holds that the deity, after centuries of worship, fell into neglect and was suffered to be engulfed by the forest. One night, Cheraman Perumal, a King of the Cheras, who controlled the area between the second and fifth centuries A.D., wandered from his hunting party and was forced to take refuge at the foot of the hill. It so befell, that the Lord Subrahmanyan, appeared to him in a dream, and ordered him to restore the idol to its former state. The king, thereat, awakening, commenced a search for the idol, and finding it, constructed the temple that now houses it, and re-instituted its worship. This is commemorated by a small stela at the foot of the staircase that winds up the hill.
The DeityAs related above, the idol of the deity is said to be made of an amalgam of nine substances. It is placed upon a pedestal of stone, with an archway framing it and represents the god Subrahmanya in the form He assumed at Palani - that of a very young recluse, shorn of his locks and all his finery, dressed in no more than a loincloth and armed only with a staff, the dhandam, as befits a monk. It is from His youthful appearance and the staff He bears, that the appellation Bāla-dhandāyudha-pāni, meaning the young wielder of the staff-weapon, is applied to Him.
One curious aspect of the deity is that He faces west rather than east, the traditional direction at most Hindu temples. This is held to be on account of the temple having been re-consecrated by the Cheras, whose dominions lay to the west, and the guardian of whose eastern frontier was supposed to be the Lord Kartikeya of Palani. Another fact that will be remarked upon by any observer, are the rather disproportionately large ears the Lord is endowed with. This is reflective of the faith that the Lord listens carefully to each of his many devotees' prayers and requests.
Housed in the garbhagriham, the sanctum sanctorum, of the temple, the deity may be approached and handled only by the temple's priests, who are members of the Gurukkal community of Palani, and hold hereditary rights of sacerdotal worship at the temple. Other devotees are permitted to come up to the sanctum, while the priests' assistants, normally of the Pandāram community, are allowed up to the ante-chamber of the sanctum sanctorum.
The TempleThe Temple is situated upon the higher of the two hills of Palani, known as the Sivagiri. Traditionally, access to it was by the main staircase cut into the hill-side or by the yanai-padhai or elephant's path, used by the ceremonial elephants. Pilgrims bearing water for the ritual bathing of the idol, and the priests, would use another way also carved into the hill-side but on the opposite side. Over the past half-century, three funicular railway tracks have been laid up the hill for the convenience of the pilgrims, and supplemented by a rope-way within the past decade.
The sanctum of the temple is of early Chera architecture while the covered ambulatory that runs around it bears unmistakable traces of Pandya influence, especially in the form of the two fishes, the Pandyan royal insignia. The walls of the sanctum bear extensive inscriptions in the old Tamil script. Surmounting the sanctum, is a gopuram of gold, with numerous sculptures of the presiding deity, Kartikeya, and gods and goddesses attendant upon him.
In the first inner prahāram, or ambulatory, around the heart of the temple, are two minor shrines, one each, to Shiva and Parvati, besides one to the Sage Bhogar who is by legend credited with the creation and consecration of the chief idol. In the second outer prahāram, is a celebrated shrine to Ganapati, besides the carriage-house of the Lord's Golden Chariot.
WorshipThe most esteemed form of worship at the temple is the abhishekam - anointment of the idol with oils, sandalwood paste, milk, unguents and the like and then bathing it with water in an act of ritual purification. The most prominent abhishekams are conducted at the ceremonies to mark the hours of the day. These are four in number - the Vizha Poojai, early in the morning, the Ucchikālam, in the afternoon, the Sāyarakshai, in the evening and the Rakkālam, at night, immediately prior to the temple being closed for the day. These hours are marked by the tolling of the heavy bell on the hill, to rouse the attention of all devotees to the worship of the lord being carried out at that hour. On a quiet day, the bell can be heard in all the countryside around Palani.
After the abhishekam, it is the practice to dress the idol of the Lord, in an act called alangaram, in one of several guises - the most common being the Raja, or king, the Vaitheekan, or priest, the Vedan, or hunter and the Aandi, or monk, which last is the most celebrated in Palani, because it is the nearest to the natural form the Lord assumed at Palani as an anchorite, having withdrawn from all the celestial riches of his father's court at Mount Kailash.
In addition to worship within the precincts of the temple, an idol of the Lord, called the Uthsavamoorthy, is also carried in state around the temple, in a golden chariot, drawn by devotees, most evenings in a year.
TraditionsOne of the chief traditions of the temple, is the tonsuring of devotees, who vow to discard their hair in imitation of the Lord of Palani. Another is the anointing of the head of the God's idol with chandaṇam, or sandalwood paste, at night, prior to the temple being closed for the day. The paste, upon being allowed to stay overnight, is said to acquire medicinal properties, and is much sought after and distributed to devotees, as rakkāla chandaṇam.
Traditionally, the hill-temple of Palani is supposed to be closed in the afternoon and rather early in the evening to permit the Lord to have adequate sleep, being but a child, and therefore, easily tired by the throngs of devotees and their constant importunations.
A tradition that is not very well known is that of the Paḷḷi-Arai or bedroom, wherein, each night, the Lord is informed of the status of the temple's accounts for the day, by the custodians of the temple, and then put to sleep to the singing of an ōdhuvār or bard.
FestivalsBesides regular services, days sacred to the god Subrahmanyan are celebrated with pomp and splendour every year, and are attended by throngs of devotees from all over South India. Some of these festivals are the Thai-Poosam, the Pankuni-Uththiram, the Vaikhashi-Vishakham and the Soora-Samharam.
Thai-Poosam, which is considered, by far, the most important festival at Palani, is celebrated on the full moon day of the Tamil Month of Thai (15 January-15 February). Pilgrims after first having taken a strict vow of abstinence, come barefoot, by walk, from distant towns and villages. Many pilgrims also bring a litter of wood, called a Kāvadi, borne on their shoulders, in commemoration of the act of the demon Hidumba who is credited by legend with bringing the two hills of Palani to their present location, slung upon his shoulders in a similar fashion. Others bring pots of sanctified water, known as theertha-kāvadi, for the priests to conduct the abhishekam on the holy day. Traditionally, the most honoured of the pilgrims, whose arrival is awaited with anticipation by all and sundry, are the people of Karaikudi, who bring with them the diamond-encrusted vél or javelin, of the Lord from His temple at Karaikudi.
ControversyOver the years, some believe that the idol has been wearing away or dissolving, by virtue of its repeated anointment and ritual bathing. However, long-time devotees and priests of the temple maintain that they perceive no visible change.
Since Hinduism forbids the worship of an imperfect idol, suggestions have been made, at various points of time, to replace it, cover it, or stop some of the rituals, which could have resulted in its erosion.
A new 100 kg idol was consecrated on January 27, 2004, but coming under severe criticism from orthodox believers, was displaced and worship of the existing idol restored, shortly thereafter.
PoojasDarshan (meaning open to the public) hours are from 6.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. On festival days the temple opens at 4.30 a.m.
1. Vilaa Pooja (6.30 a.m.)
2. Siru Kall Pooja (8.00 a.m.)
3. Kaala Santhi (9.00 a.m.)
4. Utchikkala Pooja (12.00 noon)
5. Raja Alankaram (5.30 p.m.)
6. Iraakkaala Puja (8.00 p.m.)
7. Golden Car Darshan (6.30 p.m.)Accommodation
The Devasthanam has constructed pilgrims' resthouses, single, double, deluxe and air-conditioned rooms as well as cottages. Reasonable rates are collected from the devotees.
Palani is reached by just three hours drive from any of the nearest airports: Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchy. It is an important railway station on the Dindugal-Coimbatore line. The nearest tourist information office is at Madurai. There is a Palani Devasthanam Information Centre at the Palani bus stand.
Thiruchendur Murugan Temple, Thiruchendur
Thiruchendur Murugan Temple (Tamil: திருச்செந்தூர் ) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Muruga and one of the Arupadaiveedu (six major abodes) of Lord Muruga. It is located in the small town of Thiruchendur in the district of Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, India. It is 55 km south-east of Tirunelveli, 40 km from Tuticorin and 75 km north-east of Kanyakumari. It is easily accessible either by bus or car. Frequent train services are available to Tiruchendur from the nearest railway junction, Tirunelveli Junction. This temple is the fourth Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu to get ISO certification. The Kumbabisheka for this temple was held recently in July 2009 , after this many new schemes was implemented in this temple.This temple is famous its "Panneer ilai Vibhuti" which is praised by Sri Adi Shankaracharya that the mere vision of the Panneer leaf Vibhuthi would cure many incurable diseases.
SignificanceEach of the six major abodes of Lord Muraga has an event mentioned in the puranas (major religious texts). Thiruchendur is said to be second in importance among his six abodes. This place is also referred to by other names in religious poems and literature as Thirucheeralaivai, Thiruchenthil, and Thiruchenthiyoor. The deity is worshipped by various names such as Senthilandavan, Senthilkumar, and so on. The six Arupadiveedus are: Palani (120 km west of Madurai), Swamimalai (150 km east of Madurai), Thiruthani (50 km from Chennai), Pazhamudircholai (10 km north of Madurai) and Thiruparamkunram (10 km south of Madurai).
The temple is situated so close to the sea that waves from the Gulf of Mannar lap at the eastern perimeter wall of the temple. The temple has devotees across the world including Singapore, Malaysia, America, Canada, London, etc. This temple plays a significant role in the faith of the world's Tamils.
Sri Adi Shankaracharya praised Lord Murugan of Thiruchendur by his "Sri Subramnaya Bhujanga Stotra" .He praised the greatness of Vibhuti of Lord Murugan as follows ,
ApasmAra kushta kshayArsha prameha|
JvaronmAdha gulmAdhi rogA mahAntha||
PishAchAshcha sarve bhavatpatra bhoothim|
Vilokya kshanAth tArakAre dravanthe|| (Shloka no.25)
Oh Conqueror of Taraka! Severe epilepsy, leprosy, consumption, lung diseases, venereal diseases, fevers, mental diseases of all types, they run away the moment they see Thy Vibhuti contained in a leaf.
MythologyThiruchendur is the place where Lord Muruga used as the base camp, before invading the demon king of Suran in Sri Lanka.
Near the temple is also a holy place for the Ayyavazhi sect, where Ayya Vaikundar is said to have performed his Avatar according to Akilattirattu Ammanai, the holy book of Ayyavazhi.
AntiquityThis temple has been in existence for millenia, according to the Puranas. Thiruchendur is merely a Tamil name given to this site due to the abundance of sandalwood paste in this temple. It is hailed as Sri Jayantipura in the scriptures. There is an expectional tradition of adhering to the Kumara Tantra instead of the Saivagamas, which makes this temple an exclusively Kaumara shrine. With the onslaughts of Saivism, however, this temple has still managed to resist the introduction of the Saivagamas, amazingly enough. The form of Lord Subramanya in this temple has also been extolled in the Kumara Tantra. The Kumara Tantra describes the Lord of Sri Jayantipuram to wield a shakti(lance), akshmala(rosary), katibaddha(one hand resting on His hip) and ambhuja(lotus). This has certainly been morphed by Saivaites to make it seem like Lord Subramanya is engaged in worshipping Lord Siva to absolve Himself of the sin of killing a Bramhana. This myth has no scriptural base and is pure hearsay. Surapadma was not a Bramhana. One can become a Bramhana via one of the following two methods. Firstly, by birth in which both of one's parents need to be Bramhanas. Surapadma's father was Rsi Kasyapa and his mother was Asuri Surasa. Secondly, one can become a Bramhana by one's actions. Clearly, Surapadma violated all the codes of conducts of a Bramahana by being egoistic, greedy, harsh in speech etc. This rules out the possibility of Surapadma being a Bramhana. Therefore, the proposition that the Lord incurred the sin of Bramhahatya is completely absurd and should be rejected.
- Sri Subramanya (Main god-moolavar)
- Sri shanmuga (Primary substitute-Urtchavar)
- Panchalingam (Worshipped by Lord Subramanya)
- Jayanthinathar (Who killed demon surapadma)
- Kumaravidanga peruman (Who is going to archery)
- Sri Valliamman (Companion of Muruga)
- Sri Devasena (Companion of Muruga)
- Sri Dakshina moorthy (God of knowledge)
- Sri Mahalingeswarar (Equivalent to thousand lingas)
- Sri Venkateshwara (Uncle of Lord Muruga)
- Sri Vallabhai vinayaga (Brother of Lord Muruga)
- Sri Satru Samhara Moorthy (who destroys our enemies)
- Sri sandikeswara (Protector of temple wealth)
- Sri saneeswara
- Sri bairava
- Sri Nataraja (Dancing pose of Lord Shiva)
Tiruchendur Escapes from TsunamiTiruchendur temple which is situated nearer to the sea was escaped from Tsunami with the blessings of Lord Muruga on December 26, 2004. The sea level opposite to the sanctum sanctorum is higher than the ground level at the sanctum sanctorum, still the sea didn't enter the temple, though the nearby areas was affected by the sea waves
Travel To ThiruchendurIt is 55 km south-east of Tirunelveli, 40 km from Tuticorin and 75 km north-east of Kanyakumari.
Bus : Govt & Private buses from Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchy and Coimbatore. From Tirunelveli & Tuticorin more frequent buses are there.
Daily Train from Chennai ( TIRUCHENDUR EXP : # 16735 -starts at 16.05 from Chennai Egmore )
As there are more Train connectivity to Tirunelveli- One can travel up to Tirunelveli by Train and take a bus or car to Tiruchendur.
Four Passenger Trains are there from Tirunelveli starting 7.00am, 9.35am,11.15am and 18.15pm.
Nearest Airports are
Tuticorin 30 km Madurai 168 km ( 3 Hours ) Tiruchy 311 km ( 4.5 – 5 hours ) Thiruvanthapuram International Airport 175 km ( 3.5 hours )
Swamimalai Murugan Temple, Swamimalai
Swamimalai Murugan Temple is a Hindu temple located in Swamimalai, 5 km from Kumbakonam on the banks of a tributary of river Cauvery, 250 km from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, India. The temple is one of the six holy shrines of Murugan called Arupadai Veedu. The shrine of the presiding deity, Swaminathaswamy is located atop a 60 ft (18 m) hillock and the shrine of his mother Meenakshi (Parvathi) and father Shiva (Sundareswarar) is located downhill. The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and three yearly festivals on its calendar. The annual Vaikasi Visagam festival is attended by thousands of devotees from far and near. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
LegendAs per Hindu legend, Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, disrespected Muruga (the son of Shiva) at the time of visiting Mount Kailash, the abode of Shiva. The child Muruga got angry with Brahma and asked him how he was creating living beings. Brahma said that he was creating living beings with the help of the Vedas (Hindu scriptures). On hearing the reply, Muruga asked Brahma to recite the texts from Vedas. Brahma started to recite the text with the holy word called Pranav Mantra, "Om". At that time Muruga stopped Brahma and asked him to explain the meaning of the Pranava Mantra. Brahma could not reply and hence Muruga knocked Brahma on his forehead with his clenched fists and punished him with imprisonment. Muruga took up the role of the creator. The Devas (celestial deities) were surprised by the absence of Brahma and they requested Vishnu to negotiate with Muruga to release Brahma. Vishnu could not help and as the last resort, Shiva went to the rescue of Brahma.
Shiva came to Muruga and asked him to release Brahma from imprisonment. Muruga refused to release him stating Brahma was unaware of the meaning of the Pranav Mantra (Hindi: ॐ AUM). Shiva asked Muruga to explain the meaning and Muruga extolled to Shiva the meaning of the Pranava Mantra (Hindi: ॐ ). Shiva behaved like a student to a teacher, listening with rapt attention from his son, giving Muruga the name "Swaminatha Swami". The meaning of this name is "The Teacher of Shiva".
The Templen Swamimalai, Muruga is known as "Balamurugan" and "Swaminatha Swami". The temple is built on an artificial hill. In Tamil language, such an artificial hill is called "Kattu Malai". Another name for this place is "Thiruveragam". There are sixty steps and each one is named after the sixty Tamil years. The first thirty steps lead to the second precint of the temple. The image of Swaminathaswamy is 6 ft (1.8 m) tall. There are golden armours, golden crowns and a diamond lance for Swaminathaswamy. There is a shrine of Vinayagar outside the first precinct. The central shrine houses the granite image of Swaminathaswamy. The first precinct has the images of Dakshinamurthy, Durga, Chandikeswarar and the festival image of Swaminathaswamy. The images of Sundaresawar as lingam (Shiva) and Meenakshi (Parvathi) are located down hill and the first precinct around their shrines have the images of Dakshinamurthy, Durga, Chandikeswarar and Navagrahas. The second precinct and the largest one of the temple houses a marriage hall and the chariot of the temple.
Religious importanceSwamimalai is one of the Arupadaiveedu, believed to be the six main abodes of Muruga, that mark the different phases of his life. According to Hindu belief, Swamimalai is where Muruga preached what as called as "Pranava mantra" to his own father, Shiva, at a tender age, after arresting Brahma for not answering his question about Pranava Mantra. The teaching capabilities of Murugan is found as one of his identifying features. The cult of Murugan is of pride to the Tamil people who identify six with Murugan connating six directions and six chakras in human anatomy.
Worship and religious practisesThe temple priests perform the puja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Shaiva community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day; Ushathkalam at 5:30 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 10:00 a.m., Sayarakshai at 5:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 7:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 8:00 p.m. Each ritual comprises four steps: abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram (decoration), naivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for Swaminathaswamy. The worship is held amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred texts) read by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast. There are monthly rituals like amavasai (new moon day), kiruthigai, pournami (full moon day) and sathurthi. The major festival of the temple, Vaikasi Visagam, is celebrated during the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May -June). As per Hindu legend, the celestial deity Indra worshipped Subramanyaswamy on the day of visagam star and gained strength to defeat the demon Arikesa. Like other Murugan temples, the worship practises include tonsuring in the temple, ablution of the deity with sandal, panchamirtham (a mixture of five ingredients) and milk are performed by devotees. Carrying milk pots (called palkudam) and Kavadi are other common forms of worship
Thiruthani Murugan Temple, Thiruthani
Tiruthani Murugan temple is a Hindu temple, on the hill of Thiruttani, Tamilnadu,India, dedicated to Lord Muruga. The hill has 365 steps indicating 365 days of the year.It is one of the Arupadaiveedu, the six holy abodes of Lord Muruga. The other five are: Palani (56 km west of Dindigul), Swamimalai (5 km east of Kumbakonam), Tirupparangunram (5 km from Madurai), Pazhamudircholai (25 km north of Madurai) and Thiruchendur (165 km south of Madurai).
HistoryThe origins of this temple, like most Hindu temples, are buried in antiquity. This temple has been mentioned in the Sangam period work Tirumurugaatruppadai composed by Nakkeerar. It has been patronized by the Vijayanagar rulers and local chieftains and zamindars.
Nakkeerar is a medieval Tamil poet from Madurai. He is renowned for his most famous work Tirumurukarruppatai. He was also the author of another work called Irayanar Akapporul. He must not to be confused with an earlier Nakkirar from 250 AD, who had also composed some very fine anthologies like Nedu-nal-vadai in Sangam literature.
He is one of the prominent characters in the epic Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam. The Thiruvilaiyadal episodes of Sundareswarer's (Lord Shiva's) confrontation with Nakkeerar is enacted as a part of the Meenakshi Sundareswarer Temple festival tradations in Madurai.
He was born in a family of chank-cutters. It is not known when Nakkeerar had lived but it is widely assumed that he lived in the 9th century AD during the Sangam period. According to broad consensus among historians and scholars, the hero of the epic PandiKovai was the Pandyan king Nedumaran who lived between 675 and 750 AD. Since Nakkirar was a contemporary of Nedumaran, they have concluded that he must have lived around the 8th century AD.[
MythologyLegend also has it that Indra the king of the Gods gave his daughter Deivayanai in marriage to Skanda, and along with her presented his elephant Airavatam as part of his dowry offering. Upon Airavatam's departure Indra found his wealth waning. Subramanyar is said to have offered to return the white elephant, however Indra bound by protocol refused to accept a gift that he had made, and insisted that the elephant face his direction, hence the image of the elephant in this temple also faces the east.
Another legend has it that Indra presented a sandal stone as a part of his daughters dowry. The sandal paste made on this stone is applied to the image of Subramanya and the applied paste is said to acquire medicinal value. Legend also has it that Skanda bore the discus thrown by the demon Tarakasuran on his chest, and hence there is a hollow in the chest region of the image of Subramanya in this temple. Legend also has it that Skanda gifted the discus to Vishnu (Please also see Tiruveezhimizhalai and Tirumalper). Skanda is also believed to have imparted knowledge of Tamil to the sage Agasthyar and he is regarded as Veeramurthy, Gnanamurthy and Acharyamurthy in this shrine.
Lord Rama, after putting an end to Ravana, worshipped Lord Siva at Rameswaram and then came to Tiruttani to find perfect peace of mind by worshipping Lord Subrahmanya here. In Dwapara Yuga, Arjuna got the blessings of our Lord here by offering prayers to Him on his way to the South for Teertha Yatra (pilgrimage to take sacred immersion). Lord Vishnu prayed to the Lord and got back His powerful Chakra (sacred wheel), Shanku (sacred conch), which were forcibly seized from Him by Tarakasura, brother of Soorapadma. Lord Brahma propitiated the Lord here at the holy spring known as Brahmasonai after his imprisonment by our Lord for his failure to explain the Pranava ('Om' mantra) and got back his creative function of which he was deprived by our Lord due to his egotistic impudence in neglecting to worship Lord Subrahmanya on his way to Mount Kailasa to worship Lord Siva. The final steps to the eastern entrance.
On worshipping our Lord at Thanikai, the king of snakes Vasuki got his bodily wounds healed, which had been caused during the churning process in the Milky Ocean to secure the Amrita (nectar of immortality) by the devas and asuras when the Mantotra Mountain was used as the churning base and the snake king Vasuki as the rope. Sage Agasthyar Muni (of Potikai Hill) worshipped Lord Muruga at Tanikai when he was blessed with the divine gift of the Tamil language.
Religious significanceApart from its puranic greatness, Saint Arunagirinathar has praised this hill as the chosen place for worship by devas and the favorite abode of saints performing prolonged tapas. He also compared this hill to Sivaloka (Bhuloka) and as the very soul of the world. Sri Muttuswami Deekshitar, who lived 200 years ago (one of the trinity of Carnatic music) had his inspiration in Tiruttani when the Lord (in the guise of an old man) met him on the steps and sweetened his tongue with the prasadam of this temple, which impelled him to compose and render his first krithi "Shri Nathadhi Guruguho Jayathi Jayathi"(song) on Lord Murugan of Tanikai. The temple vimanam was covered by gold
FestivalsBesides the monthly Krittikais which attract a large number of devotees to this shrine, the two outstanding annual festivals are the Aadi Krittikai and the 31st of December New Year Step Festival. The float festival is celebrated in the month of Aadi, Bhramotsavam in the month of Maasi, during which Valli Kalyanam is celebrated on the 8th day, and the Skanda Sashti is celebrated in the Tamil month of Aippasi.
Aadi KrittikaiAadi Krittikai festival (in July–August) lasts for three days with Float Festival when hundreds of thousands of devotees come to this holy place from far and near. The streets are thronged to the full. About one fifty thousand flower kavadis (which increase with each year) are offered to the deity. The sight of the devotees who carry them, uttering the sacred and inspiring "Haro Hara!" as they march and dance in long rows touches the very core of devotees' hearts and makes them spellbound.
December 31st Step FestivalWhen the new year srikes on 31st dec midnight, hundreds of thousands of devotees are present on the sacred Tanikai hill to have the darshan of their Lord. They come to Tiruttani to offer their heart-felt prayers to our Lord on that day and night to be blessed with peace and plenty during the New Year. This festival came into vogue during the British Raj when the famous Vallimalai Swamigal persuaded his followers to offer their homage first to Lord Tanigesan, the giver of all good, and only then to their official bosses. On this day, numerous bhajana parties gather and ascend the hill, singing the melodious Tiruppugazh songs and burning camphor on each of the hill's 365 steps, one for each day of the New Year.
Pazhamudircholai Temple, Tamilnadu
Pazhamudircholai is a Hindu temple, located about 16 kilometres north of Madurai, India atop a hill covered with dense forests. One of the six important abodes (Arupadaiveedu) of Lord Muruga, it is close to the Vishnu temple of Azhagar Kovil.
Legend of the temple
Avvaiyar was astonished, how a small village cowboy had played such an intelligent drama! She had thought that the small boy had no knowledge about fruits and how the fruits in the tree may become roasted fruits. But blowing the air on the fruit to remove the mud is like blowing air to reduce the heat as the fruit is roasted. What a beautiful comparison. Such a beautiful comparison would not have risen in her mind even though she had gained rich knowledge in Tamil. She asked the small boy, "Who are you actually?" Then small boy disappeared and in his place, Lord Murugan appeared. Avvaiyar realized that it was a play of God and she understood that there were more and more things that she had to learn. She bowed to Lord Murugan and requested him to bestow her with bountiful knowledge.
AvvaiyarThe Avvaiyars (Tamil: ஔவையார்) "respectable women" was the title of more than one poet who was active during different periods of Tamil literature. The Avvaiyar were some of the most famous and important female poets of the Tamil canon. Abithana Chintamani states that there were three female poets titled Avvaiyar.
Among them, Avvaiyar I lived during the Sangam period (c. 1st and 2nd century CE) and had cordial relation with the Tamil chieftains Paari and Athiyaman. She wrote 59 poems in the Puṟanāṉūṟu.
Avvaiyar II lived during the period of Kambar and Ottakoothar during the reign of the Chola dynasty in the 13th century. She is often imagined as an old and intelligent lady by Tamil people. She wrote many of the poems that remain very popular even now and are inculcated in school textbooks in Tamil Nadu. These books include a list of dos and don'ts, useful for daily life, arranged in simple and short sentences.
There is a very famous legend that is associated with Auvaiyar (also Auvayar) (Tamil: ஔவையார்), a prominent female poets/ethicist/political activist of Sangam period (Tamil literature), and Naaval Pazham (Jambu) in Tamil Nadu. Auvaiyar, believing to have achieved everything that is to be achieved, is said to have been pondering her retirement from Tamil literary work while resting under Naaval Pazham tree. But she is met with and was wittily jousted by a disguised Lord Murugan (regarded as one of the guardian deities of Tamil language), who later revealed himself and made her realize that there was still a lot more to be done and learnt. Following this awakening, Auvaiyar is believed to have undertaken a fresh set of literary works, targeted at children. These works, even after a millennium, are often among the very first literature that children are exposed to in Tamil Nadu schools.
Name etymologyThe name Avvaiyar is a combination of Tamil word avvai with honorific suffix ar . Avvai refers to respectable elderly woman as the word ammai which means good woman in general term for a woman of any age. Thus the name Avvaiyar means a respectable good woman hence a generic title rather than a specific name of a person .
Sangam age AvvaiyarThe Avvaiyar who lived during the Sangam period is considered to be contemporary to poets Paranar, Kabilar and Thiruvalluvar. She is attributed as the author of 7 verses in Naṟṟiṇai, 15 in Kuṟuntokai, 4 in Akanaṉūṟu and 33 in Puṟanāṉūṟu. Legend states that she was a court poet of the rulers of the Tamil country. She travelled from one part of the country to another and from one village to another, sharing the gruel of the poor farmers and composing songs for their enjoyment. Most of her songs were about a small-time chieftain Vallal Athiyamaan Nedumaan Anji and his family.[ The chieftain had also used her as his ambassador to avert war with another neighbouring chieftain Tontaiman. The rest of her songs related to the various aspects of state governance. Although traditions claim that she was a sister of Kabilar, Thiruvalluvar and Athiyamaan, V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar refutes this claim based on his studies that all four of them were most likely of different walks of life, thus from different caste backgrounds and hence impossible to be siblings
Chola age AvvaiyarThe medievaal period Avvaiyar was the court poet of the Chola monarch and was the contemporary of Kambar and Ottakkuttar. She found great happiness in the life of small children. Her works, Aathichoodi and Konraiventhan written for young children, are even now generally read and enjoyed by them.
Her two other works, Mooturai and Nalvali were written for older children. All the four works are didactic in character — they explain the basic wisdom that should govern mundane life.
Access to PazhamudircholaiOne can reach Pazhamudircholai by car, van, two-wheeler or bus. From Madurai one can catch the bus on route number 44 to reach it. There is a bus shuttle every 20 minutes from the foot of the hill to the Temple. It takes approximately 15 minutes to reach the temple.
LocationPazhamudircholai is rich in fruits, vegetables and flowers. It is a dense forest where Valli is supposed to have lived. It is a small temple with Valli, Deivayanai, and Lord Muruga in a separate shrine. Lord Ganesha is also present in a separate shrine. There is a Temple Tower and monkeys play around the area. There is another small temple above Pazhamudhir Cholai. Local tribes lead their lives here. It is a fertile hill with many natural springs and herbs.
Although there are hundreds of Temples in Tamil Nadu for Lord Muruga, particularly six temples called Arupadaiveedu are very famous among them. Important events in Lord Muruga's history happened in these places.
Among the Arupadaiveedu, Pazhamudircholai is the last. This Lord Murugan at Pazhamudircholai is praised in old Tamil literature such as Silappathikaram, Ettuthokai and Pattupattu.
Thirupparamkunram Murugan Temple, near Madurai
Thirupparamkunram Murugan Temple, one of the Arupadaiveedu, the six main abodes of Lord Muruga, the temple at Tiruparankunram offers a mystic beauty. It is carved in rock and is monstrous in size for such an architecture. According to legend it is where Lord Muruga married Deivayanai, the divine daughter of the king of heaven, Indra, and he is said to have worshipped Shiva here as Parangirinathar.
The temple is located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Madurai in India. In the main shrine, apart from Muruga, deities of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Vinayaka and Goddess Durga are housed. The other Arupadaiveedu's dedicated for Lord Muruga are Thiruchendur (100 km south of Madurai), Palani (120 km west of Madurai), Swamimalai (150 km east of Madurai), Thiruthani (50 km from Chennai) and Pazhamudircholai (10 km north of Madurai).
Temple structureThere are several architectural features of interest, especially the rock cut portions of this hill temple dating back to the Pandya period and the life sized sculptures in the mandapams of the Nayakar period. An Aasthaana Mandapam with several artistically carved pillars lead one to the towering 150 feet (46 m) high Rajagopuram at the entrance.
The Kambathadi Mandapam, Ardha Mandapam, and Mahamandapam are situated at different levels. The main shrine is an early rock cut temple which has cells that house the sanctums of Subramanya, Durga, Vinayakar, Shiva and Vishnu. All the statues are carved on the wall of the parankundram rock. The presiding deity lord shiva is known Parangirinathar and the female deity his consort mother Parvathy is known as Aavudai Nayaki. Panels depicting Shiva's dance of bliss are seen outside the sanctum. These magnificent works of art date back to the Pandya period.
A curious feature of this temple is that the Gods Shiva and Vishnu face each other in the main shrine, and this is a rare thing in ancient Hindu temples. This is because Hinduism always held two distinct worshipping groups - Shaivites (worshippers of Lord Shiva) and Vaishnavites (worshippers of Lord Vishnu). Outside the temple there is a beautiful pond where, according to Temple tradition, the fishes are served with salt and rice flakes by the devotees. There is also a Vedic school adjacent to the banks of the temple pond.This temple was built by carving the hill.
In front of the Dwajasthambam or the Kodi Maram, one gets the magnificently carved Nandi, Mayil and the Mouse ( the vehicle of Lord Ganesha). This is a specialty of this Murugan shrine.Going inside, one can see the sannidhis of various Hindu Gods and Hindu Goddesses. Of special mention is the sannidhi of Saneeswaran without the other eight Grahas. Climbing a flight of six steps called the "Shadashara Padigal", one reaches the Ardha Mandapam. One gets to see the rock carvings of Mahisshasura Mardini, Karpaga Vinayagar, Andarabaranar and Uggirar.
There is also a rock carved sannidhi for Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. Shiva in the form Sivalingam and Sathiyagireeshwarar sannidhis located here cannot miss the attention of the Muruga Bakthas visiting this Murugan shrine.
The Moolavar deity is also sculptured from a rock. Abhishekams for the presiding deity is done to the Murugan's Vel only.
There are five Theerthams, or divine water sources, in and around the temple, Saravana Poigai, Lakshmi Theertham, Saniyasi Kinaru (well), Kasi Sunai, and Sathiya Koopam.
Inscriptional evidenceInscriptional evidences point out that this temple, being carved out of a hill, was most probably earlier a Jain cave( earlier to this, the Murugan temple existed much before.i.e, during 7th century and converted into jain worship centre by jain monks who influenced the pandya king Koon pandiyan ), which was however later converted into a Hindu temple. Gajapathy, Minister of the Pandya King, was instrumental during the later part of the 8th Century, to complete this conversion.
Literary evidenceSaint Gnana Sambanda, the famous Shaiva Saint of the 7th Century, has visited Thirupparamkunram and has sung Devaram on Lord Shiva. Probably, this Shiva temple is the present temple in the main road near the entrance to the Thirupparamkunram Murugan temple. The structure is quite old and ancient.
Gnana Sambanda has met the three Tamil chiefs, the Chera, the Chola and the Pandya in this temple and has blessed all the three of them.
Sundarar and Sambandar composed the Thevara Pathigam here. Nakkirar sang many poems on this lord. Tiruppugazh, Kandapuranam and other works speak of the glory of this shrine.
FestivalsBrahmotsavam here falls in the Tamil month of Panguni. The Vishnu named Pavalakanivai Perumal, and Lord Muruga is taken in procession to Madurai to celebrate Minakshi's wedding (Chittirai festival), with residents of Madurai dressed in festive clothing. Nakkirar's association with this temple is also celebrated as a festival. Skanda Sashti, the ten day Kartikai festival, Vaikasi Visakam, and the float festival in Thai are other celebrations here. Since Vishnu is here Vaikunta Ekadashi is also celebrated.
TransportSee the holy transportation section of Thiruparangunram. Buses are available from Madurai Periyar bus stand. All the buses moving from Periyar bustand to Thirumangalam go through Thiruparangunram.
Kanda Shasti Kavasam
Skanda sashti kavasam or Kanda sashti kavasam is a song composed in Tamil by Devaraya Swamigal on Lord Muruga. Lord Muruga also known as Lord Karthikeya was a son of Lord Shiva. The Tamil language, which is among the oldest languages spoken in the world, consists of many ancient hymns in praise of deities and Skanda Sashti Kavasam occupies a predominant stature among them. Tamil language boasts of a rich and extensive literature and dates back to times when European languages other than perhaps Latin and Greek didn't exist. It is a rare and valuable treasure intended to help one to be successful in his or her day-to-day life. In Kanda sashti Kavasam the author prays to Lord Muruga to shower His grace. It is said that regular chanting of this song causes all the predicaments of life to be resolved. also as come in this spiritual song a person who he chants the full song 36 times a day will be bestowed with all kinds of Wealth.
SignificanceSashti is the day the Lord Subramanya defeated the demon Soorapadman. When the devas couldn't tolerate the evil doings of this demon, they approached the younger son of Lord Shiva and Parvati for his assistance. He fought Soorapadman for six days, at the end of which the Lord vanquished the asura. He threw his weapon at him and Soorapadman was split into two halves. One half became a peacock, which he took as his vaahana. The other became a cock and was transformed into his flag.
The devas, who were tormented by Soorapadman, rejoiced—they praised the Lord and prayed to him for six days. Devotees usually narrate the kanda sashti kavacham during this period. Whoever fasts for these six days of Skanda Sashti and prays to Lord Muruga steadfastly, it is said that they would get the blessings of [Lord Muruga]. Those who are unable to fast for a whole day for a six-day duration, can eat just one meal during this period.
Kural Venpa (Prayer)Thuthiporkku val vinai pom, Thunpam pom,
Nenjil pathiporkku selvam palithu kadithongum
Nimalar Arul kanthar sashti kavacham thanai
The sufferings great and sorrow will vanish for those who pray,
The riches will increase for those who paste it in their mind,
All penance will surely bear fruit,
By this Sashti Kavacham written by the grace of God.
Kaappu (Protection)Amarar idar theera amaram purintha
Kumaranadi nenjeh kuri.
Mind, oh mine, meditate
On the feet of that Young God,
Who waged the war,
To end the problems of devas, great.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the great devotees , wikisources and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )