April 24, 2017

General view

The foremost and first in the sacred places for vaishnavites is Srirangam. It is near Tiruchirapalli, in a small island formed by the rivers, Cauvery and Kollidam. The island city Srirangam is centred on this temple and there are more floating population than the residents, mainly because of the devotees of Lord Ranganatha, who throng to this place from all over the country and World..

Some aspects of this temple:
The great epic, Ramayanam was staged to the world for the first time here at a mandapam by the poet Kamabar.
Eleven Alwars consecrated 247 Pasuras on Lord Ranganathar.
The temple’s  main tower, Garuda the divine mount of the Lord, are all very big in size in the large temple.
There are seven praharams surrounding the temple at the centre.
The festival Vaikunda Ekadesi is celebrated in a grand manner here and thousand and thousands of devotees line up from early morning to enter into the sacred entrance, called Swarga vasal.  On that day of Vaikunda Ekadesi, it is customary to sing the sacred hymn, Nalayera diviya prabhandam set to raga and thala, called Ariyar sevai.
The presiding deity is Sri Ranganathar, also called Namperumal, also called Alzigiya Manavalar, granting darshan in reclining posture.
Thayar is Sri Ranganayaki, also called Ranga Nachiyar, in a separate shrine.
Teertham: Chandra Pushkarani.
Sthala Virucham (sacred tree): Poonai.
Vimanam: Pranavakruti covered in gold and the Lord’s foot steps are seen in gold on the outside wall.
Because of the large area of the temple comprising of numerous other shrines of deities like Dhanvantri, Sri Rama and others, one has to walk quite a distance to reach the Thayar’s sanathi. To facilitate easy access for the senior citizens and children, battery operated electric cars are run free of cost.
Special entrance tickets of Rs 20 and Rs 50 are available at the temple premises for those who running short of time and want a quicker darshan.
Main tower – front view
Main tower – rear view
3 In the outer praharam
Inner tower
In the inner praharam
The Vellai Gopuram (white tower)
A stone tablet at the entrance of the main tower
Srirangam is well connected by road and rail and is at a distance of about 320 km from Chennai. Small cabs charge some Rs 6500 for a round trip which could be booked online from some outstation cab companies. Good hotels are available very near the temple at affordable tariff.
A trip to this holy temple is a must for all spiritually oriented people and particularly Vaishnavites at least once in their life time, which is believed to bring solvation to the soul.
Ranga, Ranga . . .


September 20, 2015

Sri Sathyanarayana Temple, West Mambalam

There is a temple dedicated for Sri Sathyanarayana Perumal in the heart of Chennai at West Mambalam in Srinivasa Pillai street near Ayodhya Mandapam. The presiding deity is Sri Sathyanarayana with his consort Sri Mahalakshmi Thayar in separate shrines in the temple. The Thayar’s sanathi is at the centre of the inner precincts and attracts devotees every day and in particular on Fridays in large numbers. People throng to her for, it is she, the Mahalakshmi, who showers the blessings and bountiful boons of wealth and prosperity to all those who seek her for their wellbeing in life.

The Full moon days are most auspicious occasions for Sri Sathyanarayana and Sathyanarayana Puranam is recited at the temple and special poojas performed for the deity.

There are also other shrines for deities Thumbikai Alwar, Lakshmi Narasimhar, Hyagriver, Ramar, Anjaneyar, Anjaneyar and Garudalwar.

A visit to this only temple in Tamilnadu, dedicated for Sathyanarayana Swamy is a rewarding experience for all those who are spiritually oriented, and this temple is located at West Mambalam, which is easily accessible.


August 3, 2012

It is relatively unknown to many that there exists a temple for the saint composer Tiruvalluvar, at the heart of the Chennai city  in Mylapore, where he was born and lived. Some call it a memorial while others consider it as a temple for Tiruvalluvar, who had immortalized his work in 1330 couplets, which was translated in all well known languages, inland and abroad by eminent scholars.

Location: The temple is situated at about 200 meters East of the statue of Tiruvalluvar on the Royapettah High road near Sri. Hanuman temple. The access to this temple is through narrow roads after crossing the Buckingham canal bridge towards Nattu Subburaya Mudali Street. Then the road branches off to North, leading to an arch way into the temple. Image

Although the basic temple was in existence since the15th century, some how, it was unknown to many, who even lived in the near by locations.  The present temple was completed and consecrated in 1977. An entrance arch on the road welcomes the visitors, to an ample parking place for two wheelers before entering into another arch leading to the temple.

There is a big idol for Tiruvlluvar at the sanctum sanctorum before the Maha Manapam and for his wife, Vasugi Ammiyar on to his left, both facing the East. Also, are the shrines for the deities Arulmigu Ekambaranathar and Arulmigu Kamatchi Amman, a little farther away and for the Navagrahams at the front end, all with in the same compound.     Image

Just by the side of the Maha Mandapam or the Meditation hall, is a stub of the trunk of a illuppai tree claded with copper plates and with a sign board displaying the message, ‘Tiruvalluvar was born here’. There is a larger than life marble statue of Tiruvalluvar in sitting posture and also of his parents Sri Adi and Sri Bhagavan, with Sri Adi holding him as a child in her arms and kneeling before her husband.

Tiruvalluvar and his wife lived happily for years enjoying a harmonious life, setting an example to the householders to emulate them. There is an interesting story on this:

One day, while Vasugi Ammiyar was drawing water in the well, Valluvar called her to attend to some work that needed her presence. Vasugi Ammiyar, a devoted wife, without any further thought, left immediately leaving the rope she was pulling from the well. When she returned after attending her work, the pail of water was still hanging in the mid air, as a proof of her devotion to her husband,

That famous well is still there in the temple, but there is no water now and is closed with sand. It is also covered with a steel grill for safety reasons.

When death separated his wife, Vasugi Ammiyar from Tiruvalluvar, the saint, laments like all other commoners, unable to bear the grief of her separation. The poet, noted for his unique style of the couplets in Tamil, changes to quatrain, which he did only once, and dedicates this verse, to his bereaved wife.

அடியிற்கினியாளே அன்புடையாளே
படிசொல் தவறாத பாவாய்- அடிவருடி
பின்தூங்கி முனெழும் பேதாய் இனிதா ய்
என் தூங்கும் என் கண் இரவு

The quatrain roughly means:   My sweetheart, dear lady,  You never failed in (your) words, gently pressed my feet,Slept late, got up early (my) innocent, sweet one, How can my eyes sleep at nights?  

Whatever you may call it, whether a temple or a memorial for Tiruvalluvar, it is a place to be visited not only by the Tamil speaking good world, but also by one and all to pay respects to the great saint and for his work, Tirukural, which is beyond all boundaries of cast, religion, community and stands as a timeless testimony that preaches the values and principles of good life.

When are you visiting the Tiruvalluvar temple at Mylapore?

CSG Raju


January 2, 2012

Shani Shinganapur is a small village in the state of Maharashtra, where the famous temple of Shri Shani Bhagwan is located. It attracts thousands of devotees daily from all over the country and abroad and one can witness a bee line of tourist buses, cars and share auto-rickshaws plying on the high way leading to this village. The lord Shaneshwar, who is considered all powerful among the Navagrahas, is the presiding deity of this temple.

A sketch of Shri Shaneswara at Shinganapur

The image of the Lord is a self manifested (swayambu) one in a rectangular bar like shape in black stone, representing the formless nature of the deity.

Entrance to the Temple

Front view of the Temple

A view of the temple tower

Astronomical significance : Saturn, the slow moving Planet takes 30 years to go round all the 12 Rasis in the Zodiac or it takes two and half years to move from one Rasi to another. Normally, a person passes through three cycles of the planet Saturn in his life time.

There is a mythological story for the slow movement of the Lord Shani Bhagwan.

The Sun God or Surya and Sandna (the daughter of Daksha Prajapati) are Shaneswara’s parents. Sandna and Surya had two sons, Yama Dharmaraja and Shaneshwar and four daughters, Tapti, Bhadra, Kalindi and Savitri.

 Sandna,  finding it difficult to live with Surya because of his intense heat and light, created her own image Sanvarna, to replace her and to perform the duties of a faithful wife to her husband. Sandna then left for Himalayas to perform a penance.

 One day, Shaneswar was very hungry and he asked his mother to give him food. Sanvarna asked him to wait for some time till she made her first offering of food to God. But Shaneswar insisted on serving him first and in anger kicked his mother Sanvarna. She in return cursed him that he would become lame. By her action, Surya found out that she is not his real mother for, no mother would curse her son this bad. Sanvarna accepted her guilt and pleaded for mercy. However Surya said, a curse is a curse, and Shaneswar became lame and started limping.

About the Village Shani Shinganapur: A unique feature of Shingnapur is that there are no doors or door frames or locks for the houses and the people believe that it is due to the presence of the temple of Shaneswara, there are no thefts or crimes taking place in this village. In January 2011, the United Commercial (UCO) Bank opened a ‘lockless’ branch in the village, the first of its kind in the country, taking note of the near-zero crime rate in the region. The bank has doors but they will always remain open. However, it was reported that the bank officials had taken adequate measures for the safety of the lockers and important documents to fulfill the mandatory legal requirements.

.About the Temple: The shrine of Shani Bhagwan is open to the elements of weather and the idol is kept on a raised platform, where the devotees themselves used to touch and perform abishegam to the deity earlier. But now, they can only circumambulate the image and offer the oil for abishegam in a tank kept for the purpose near the platform from where the oil is sent continuously to a dripping vessel hanging above the image of the deity.

Shops selling the Puja items

Til oil cans displayed for sale at the shops

It is for this reason that the shops near the temple are selling ‘til thel’ or gingili oil in various containers of different shapes and sizes with the puja items for the Lord Shaneswar.

Also, there is a shrine for Lord Dattatraya and a tomb for Saint Shri Udasi Baba in the temple.

Location:  Shani Shiganapur is in Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra state. It is about 35 km from Ahmednagar and 84 km from Aurangabad. Shinganapur is well connected by Road and Rail. The nearest airports are Mumbai, Aurangabad and Pune. From any of these airports, one can hire a cab or van to Shani Shinganapur.

The nearest airport is at Aurangabad, which is 90 km  from Shani Shinganapur and the nearest railway station is Srirampur.

Distance from Mumbai is about 330 km by road. It can also be accessed from Shirdi, another important religious place in Maharashtra, and is about 65 km by road.

A travel tip: Generally people visiting, Shiidi or Shani Shinganapur combine Ranjangaon also in their trip. where there is a temple for Maha Ganapathi (Ashta Ganapathi) is situated.

Route map

Pune is the well connected by air, rail and road with the rest of the country and one can plan the trip starting from here and go to Ranjangaon Mahaganapathi temple and then to Sriridi, and stay over night after the darshan of Sri Saibaba and return via Shani Shingnapur and reach Pune in the evening

Additional Information:  A small reference is necessary here about the other prominent temples of Shaneshwar. One such important temple is at Tirunallaru, Tamilnadu, 5 km west of Karaikal, where a large number of devotees throng daily for darshan. The number increases to several thousands at the time of the transition of the planet Saturn. This temple at Tirunallaru is dedicated to Lord Siva, where he is known as Shri Dharbarenyeswarar and Shaneshwar is worshipped in a separate shrine in the temple. Here Shani Bhagwan is facing the Eastern direction, which is not a common orientation as he usually faces the Western direction in most other temples. It is for this reason he is considered as a benefactor and not dreaded as an evil doer, as portrayed in several stories of the scriptures. Also, another specialty of this temple is, there are no Navagrahas.

Om Nilanjana samabhasam Raviputram Yamagrajam I

Chaya martanda sambhutam tam namami sanaiscaram II

CSG Raju

(This writer visited the Shani Shingnapur temple on 31st Dec 2011)


April 24, 2011

Tirumeeyachur is a sleepy village that springs into life with activity with cars plying on its winding ways leading to the temple during the morning and evening hours Situated in Nagapatnam district, Tirumeeyachur is on Tiruvarur – Myladuthurai road near Peralam amidst picturesque surroundings with green fields and shady trees on the roadway. The pollution free, fresh breeze, even in the month of Chitirai Summer is rejuvenating.

The temple of Sri Meganathar and Devi Sri Lalithambikai is the center of attraction, spreading the divine flavor with its all powerful and famous identity, Lalitha Sahasranamam. Lalitha Sahasranamam is presented in the form of instructions imparted to the sage Agasthya by Hayagriva who is an incarnation of Sri Maha Vishnu. The stotra explains the city of Sripura (Tirumeeachur), her abode, her greatness, the oneness of Sri Yantra.  Agastiar with his wife, Lobomudira had the darshan of the Devi as Navaratna and worshipped her with the hymns, Navaratna mala composed by him.  At the sanctum, the Devi Sri Lalithambikai is granting darshan on Sri Chakra peetam as Rajarajeswari with her right leg folded on the seat wearing all the beautiful adornments.

The presiding deity of Tirumeeachur is Sri Meganathar also known as Sri Muyarchinathar. This temple is so old in its origin that it existed even before the worship of the Navagrahas was started in the Saivaites temples. Instead of Navagrahas, twelve Nagas (serpant deities) depicting the twelve Rasis are worshipped here for dosha nivarthi.




Details of Tower

The temple tank is Surya Pushkarani Tirtham, situated outside the temple. In front of the broad Sanathi street, is an imposing five tier tower that is simple in construction without images of the deities but majestic in appearance. Facing the tower is the Dwajastambam and Kodimara Vinayakar. Then is the Nandhi before the Sanctum of Sri Meganathar. This sanctum sanctorum is of Gajaprishtam type that resembles the back of an elephant with a semi circular curved wall at the rear. Sri Lalithambikai’s sanctum is on the right side, just after the main tower and both the sanctums are facing the common Dwajastambam on the front side.

In this temple, one can have darshan of all the three deities, Brahma, Vishnu and Sivan.  Also there is Privithi Lingam worshiped by the sage Agasthiar,  Pathala Lingam and some twenty five other Lingas representing the various sthalams around the inner praharam besides, Kshatra puraneswarar, Sakala Buvaneswarar, Minnum Megalai Amman, and other deities.

The deity, Durgai is seen in the outer praharam with bewitching beauty with a parrot, Sukabrahamam on her palm. It is believed that the requests of the devotees put forth to Devi Durga are communicated instantly to Devi Lalithambikai through this parrot for favorable fulfillment

The prominent Saivaite Nayanars, Tirugnanasambandar and Tirunavukkarasare had sung hymns in praise of the Lord of this temple. In each Tamil month Chitrai, the Sun’s light rays fall directly on the image of Lord Meganathar in the early morning hours from 21st to 27th. During this time it is believed all the Gods in the Heaven also join the worship of the Lord. It is here the Sun god had his redemption from his sins after his penance and he is said to have emerged from the cloud, which explains the name, Meganathar.

Both sons of the Sun god, Sanibahagawan, who decides the fate of a person and the Lord Yama, who ends one’s life, were originated in this stalam and it is for this reason Tirumeeyachur is the right place to celebrate all auspicious functions like Ayush Homam, Sashtiyaptha poorthi and Sadabishegam in one’s life.

There is an interesting episode on how the famous anklet came to be adorned in the lotus feet of Sri Lalithambikai. A lady devotee in Bangalore, Karnataka dreamt of the Sakthi, whose form she had not seen before and later on inquiry, she identified the image of Sri Lalithambikai at Tirumeeyachur is the one and the same deity that appeared in her dream. When she wanted to make the anklet as an offering, the archagar seems to have said there is no way he could fix it on the feet of the image as there was no space to insert it. After a great deal of persuasion, he saw that there indeed was an opening near the idol’s ankle which had been blocked by years of accumulated Abishekam material. The archakar himself was surprised at this new find which he never saw before. This incident was real and had happened in the recent past

The Temple with Sanathi Street

A visit to this holy Sakthi stalam and the darshan of Sri Adi Parasakthi in the form of Lalithambikai with all her adornments is a soul fulfilling sight to behold that can not be described here but only to be experienced there. What other better place than this Tirumeeachur of Sarva Alankara, Sarva Aabarana Roopini is there to chant Lalitha Sahasanamam to get her grace in this life and after?

CSG Raju

April 22, 2011


June 18, 2010


Tiruvottiyur is at a distance of 10 km north of Parrys corner or 18 km from Mylapore and is well connected by Rail and Road. There is a Railway station at a walkable distance from the temple. Also, frequent bus service is available from most parts of the city. The Thyagarajaswamy and Vadiyudai Amman temple is located off Tiruvottiyur high Road, a commercially busy highway with heavy movement of vehicles. Yet, when you enter the road leading to the temple, the scenario changes suddenly and you feel far away from the hustle and bustle of the near by market.

A view of the Thyagaraja Temple at Tiruvottiyur

Sri Thygarajaswamy temple at Tiruvottiyur is an ancient temple and is said to be the oldest temple on the Earth. The three prominent Saivaite saints, Appar, Sundarar, Tirugnanasambandar had sung in praise of the Lord of this temple. This temple has many distinct features and the important ones are mentioned here. The Tamil celebrity poet Kambar chose Tiruvottiyur to study the Valmigi Ramayanam in Sanskrit and to write his version of Kamba Ramayanam here.

The presiding deities are Siva and his consort Sakthi or Parvathi Devi. It is one of the three important Sakthi Sthalams in the city. The other two are, Kodiyidai Amman in Tirumullaivoil and Tiruvudai Amman in Melur, 3 km from Minjur. On a full moon day, devotees throng to having darshan at all these three temples. Firstly, they have the morning darshan of Ichha Sakthi at Melur, another Gnana Sakthi in the afternoon at Tiruvottiyur and the third Kriya Sakthi in the evening at Tirumullaivoil to complete the Sakthi Darshan.

Lord Siva is said to be in all three forms at this temple as per the verse:

அருவாய் உருவாய் அருவருவாகிக்
குருவாய் வரும் சக்திக்கோன்

He represents fire, one of the five elements of Nature and being the foremost God, he is called Adipuriswarar. This is formlessness and this sanathi is closed by a stone wall. The second is Thyagarajar, representing the form for ordinary people like us to see and worship the formless Lord. And the third is with both form and formlessness. He is called Padam Pakka Nathar. This form is represented by a ‘snake mound’ which has both form and formlessness. This is the ‘self-created’ state of God, called ‘Swambu Murthy’. The deity, Lord Siva has several names here and some of them are: Thyagarajar, Adipureeswarar, Padampakka Nathar and his consort, Parvathi Devi is known as Vadivudai Amman and Thrupurasundari

The Tiruvottiyur temple had been visited by sadhus, saints and other devotees in large numbers who had sung in praise of the Lord and some among them are  Appar, Sundarar, Pattinathar, Ramalinga Swamigal, Kambar, Thyagarajar.

Appar’s verse on Tiruvottiyur deity:

ஓம்பினேன் கூட்டைவாளா உள்ளத்தோர் கொடுமை வைத்துக்
காம்பிலா மூழைபோலக் கருதிற்றே முகக்கமாட்டேன்
பாம்பின்வாய் தேரை போலப் பலபல நினைக்கின்றேனை
ஓம்பிநீ உய்யக் கொள்ளாய் ஓற்றியூர் உடையகோவே அப்பர்

Ramalingar had sung 101 verses in praise of the Devi in Vadiyudai Manikka Malai, and 31 verses on Adipureeswarar

கடல் அமுதே செங்கரும்பே அருட் கற்பகக் கனியே
உடல் உயிரே உயிர்க்குள் உணர்வே உணர்வுள் ஒளியே
அடல் விடையார் ஒற்றியார் இடங் கொண்ட அருமருந்தே
மடல் அவிழ் ஞான மலரே வடிவுடை மாணிக்கமே இராமலிங்க சுவாமிகள்

One of the eighteen Siddhars, Pattinathar wrote about Tiruvottiyur,

வாவியெல்லாம் தீர்த்தம்
மணல் எல்லாம் வெண்ணிறு
காவணங்கள் எல்லாம் கண நாதர்
பூவுலகில் இது சிவலோகம் பட்டினத்தார்

The carnatic music maestro, Thyagrajar had sung five Kirthanas on this Devi, Vadiyudai Amman when he visited Tiruvottiyur on his way to Tirupathi.

1) கன்ன தல்லி நீவு நாபால க லுக ;   2) ஸுந்தரி நிந்நு . .3) ஸுந்தரி நந்நிந்தரிலோ . . 4) ஸுந்தரி நீ திவ்ய . . 5) தரிகி தெலு ஸுகொண்டி

Temple Tower (note the Magizla tree)

The temple has a seven Kalasam, five tier tower with beautiful figures of God and Goddesses depicting the various stories in the scriptures. There are three Dwajastambams, one each before the shrine of Adipureeswarar, Vadiudai amman and Vattaparai amman.

There are two spacious shrines for the presiding deities and a number of small shrines also.The unpaved ground gives a natural look and takes one back to the olden times itself. The shrine of the Devi Vadivudi Amman is situated near the entrance with an attached stone pillar Mandapam. At the sanctum is the beautiful image of the Devi Vadiyudai Amman in standing posture facing the Southern direction.

The Lord Siva’s shrine houses Thyagarajar, the processional deity and Padam Pakka Nathar, the self created form which is normally covered with a Kavasam. The sanctum is semi circular in shape at the rear side. Both images of the Lord are facing the Eastern direction. The sanctums share a common closed Mandapam with a number of identical stone pillars of circular cross section. The sixty three Nayanmars are in the inner corridor.

By the side of the Siva’s shrine, is the Devi Vatta Parai amman. There is a circular stone alter before the Devi where Adi Sankarachariyar, worshiped and installed a Sri Chakram to pacify the once aggressive Kali Devi here. There is a separate entrance at the northern side of the main shrine for Vatta Parai Amman with a Dwajastambam.

The Sthala virukshams are Atthi tree and Magizla Tree. There is a famous story associated with this Magizla tree. This tree is visible even from outside the temple, through the entrance (Please see the photograph)

Legend has it that Sundarar after marrying Paavaiyar at Tiruvarur and living with her for some time, visited Tiruvottiyur, met Sangiliyar and fell in love with her also. Sangiliyar, who used to tie garlands for the Lord in the temple, also liked marrying him. Sundarar finding it embarrassing to marry for the second time at the temple, proposed this Magzla tree as the venue for their marriage. Their marriage took place at the Magizla tree and the Lord Siva appeared before them granting his darshan. These two marriages of Sundarar were in accordance with the love affair of the trio in Kailash before their birth and they were united here on earth as ordained by the Lord.

The other shrines within the complex are: Vinayakar, Murugar, Kuzanthi Easwarar, Gowleeswarar (Lizard God), Akasa Lingam, Navagrahas, ValarKali Amman, Ekapadha Murthy (God with one foot).

Another unique feature of this temple is the 27 small shrines in a row for all the 27 Nakshatras or Stars in the form of Lingams of various sizes. It is a common sight to see people coming here on their birth days and special occasions for performing archana on their behalf. All these 27 shrines are on the Southern side in the temple complex.

The Nandhi, the mount of Lord Siva is seen soon after the entrance and is kept on a high pedestal which is reached by a flight of steps. One can see the youngsters climbing up the steps and reaching the Nandhi to whisper their wishes into its ears for fulfillment.

Nearby temples:

Sri Dakshanamurthy Temple

A temple dedicated to Lord Dakshinamurthy is just before the Thyagarajar’s temple on the Sanathi Street. This temple has an impressive huge stone icon of Lord Dakshinamurthy in the meditation form facing north. The temple was undergoing major construction and renovation works (June 16, 2010) and the care takers there said the Kumbabishegam would be held shortly.

Kubera Lingam

Agasthiyar's Kubera Lingam Temple, Tiruvottiyur

There is another Siva temple at the junction of Tiruvotiyur high road and the Sanathi street leading to Thyagarajaswamy temple. The presiding deity is Kubera Lingam, said to have been worshiped by the sage, Agashiyar.

Pattinathar Samadhi

Pattinathar Samathi, Tiruvottiyur

There is a temple for the Sidhar, Pattinathar off the coastal high way near the seashore at Tiruvottiyur. It is here Pattinathar attained ‘Jeeva samathi’. Regular poojas are offered daily. There is an icon of Siva Lingam at the place of his Samathi. It is Pattinathar, the great Sidhar, who is often quoted for his following verse on the temporary nature of the mundane life in a very simple language which anyone can easily understand.

காதறுந்த ஊசியும் வாராது
காணும் கடை வழிக்கே

CSG Raju


April 28, 2010


Valliam pathi or more popularly known Vallimalai is near Vellore in North Arcot district in Tamilnadu and is well connected by rail and road to the nearby metro, Chennai. Frequent buses are available to Vallimalai from Vellore.

Valli Malai in Tamil means the mountain of or mountain belonging to the deity Valli, one of the two consorts of Lord Muruga, the other being Deivayani. As per the legend, it is at Vallimalai where Valli as a child, was found by the local tribesmen, who raised her to a beautiful maid and later got her married to Lord Muruga as per their customs and tradition.

Temple at the foot of the hill

Five tier tower of the lower temple

Saravana Poigai, the temple tank

There are two temples for the Lord with his consorts, one at the foot of the mountain with a five tier tower where Muruga is seen as Shanmuga with six faces and the other in a cave on the top of the hill where he is granting darshan as Muruga with a single face. The tank at the foot of the hill is called Saravana Poigai. There is also a small temple for Velli at the foot of the hill which is considered to be the place where she looked after the paddy fields.

Goddess Valli Temple at the foot of the hill

Scenic foot path to the hill top temple

Scenic foot path

On the way to hill top temple

Colorful Flame of Forest trees on the track

This hillock is a picturesque place with greenery amidst the hills, and a long flight of steps of some four hundred and forty with winding ways, interspersed by shady trees leading to the cave temple. It is believed that this place was once chosen by many sidhas and sadhus for performing meditation and penance and people believe that these pious men are continuing to do the penance even today.

A mandapam for meditation on the flight of steps

A view of hill top temple

Another view of the hill top temple

Entrance to the cave temple of Lord Muruga on the hill top

The saint composer Sri Arunagirinathar had consecrated this place with eleven verses in his well known Tirupugaz, a collection of verses on Lord Muruga. This place is also associated with Sri. Sri Sachithananda Swamigal who made available these verses of Arunagirnathar’s Tirupugaz and popularized them to what they are today. It is said that the Goddess Valli herself appeared before him as a girl and taught him the various ragas for the verses of Tirupugaz at this place.

சில துளிகள், திருப்புகழில் இருந்து . . .

நாள் என்செயும் வினைதான் என்செயும்
எனை நாடி வந்த கோள் என்செயும்
கொடுங்கூற்று என்செயும்
குமரேசர் இரு தாளும் சிலம்பும்
சதங்கையும் தண்டையும் சண்முகமும்
தோளும கடம்பும் எனக்கு முன்னே
வந்து தோன்றிடினே

சேந்தனைக் கந்தனைச் செங்கோட்டு
வெற்பனைச் செஞ்சுடர் வேல்
வேந்தனை செந்தமிழ் நூல்
விரித்தோனை விளங்கு வள்ளி
காந்தனைக் கந்தக் கடம்பனை
கார் மயில் வாகனனைச்
சாந்துணைப் போதும் மறவாதவர்க்கு
ஒரு தாழ்வு இல்லையேஅருணகிரி நாதர்

Valli malai being the place where Muruga and Valli were married, as per the legend, is considered to be a pariharastalam for overcoming the obstacles in performing marriage and other impediments that cross in the married life. This writer had a wonderful personal experience after visiting this temple.

CSG Raju

P-S: The photographs were taken in May 2001 by the writer. But for the main structures of the temple and rock formation, other scenes might have changed now.


April 16, 2010

Devi Mookambikai Temple at Kolluru

Kolluru & the Temple

Devi MOOKAMBIKAI Temple Entrance

Kolluru is a small village in Kundapur Taluk in Karnataka State and is at a distance of 128 Km North of Mangalore. Devi Mookambikai temple is situated at the foot of Kodacheri peak of the Western range of mountains on the banks of river, Soubarnika. There is another rivulet running near the temple by name, Agni thirtam.

The river Soubarnika

Agni Teertham

The Jagat Guru Adi Sankarachariyar is closely associated with this temple and the Pancholaga image of the Goddess on Sri Chakra is believed to have been consecrated by Adi Sankarachariar during his visit to this place. It is considered to be one of the important Sakthi Peetams in the country. The Goddess Mookambikai is Devi Parvathi herself in the form of Jyotir-Lingam representing Shiva and Shakthi together. Devotees throng to the temple in the early hours of the morning at the time of abishakam to have a glimpse of the Swarna Rakha on the head of the Lingam which is otherwise covered by the adornments in the normal darshan time.

The legend has it that Adi Sankaracharyar performed a meditation to fulfill a wish to build a temple for the Goddess Mookambikai at his place. Pleased by his devotion and dedication the Devi appeared before him and consented to his vision for the temple and agreed to follow him to his place on the condition that he should not doubt her and turn back to see whether she is following him or not. On reaching Kollur, the Devi wanted to test him and purposely stopped the jingling of her anklets (golusu). The absence of the sound created a suspicion in the mind of Sri Sanakaracharyar and he turned back against his promise. Because of this deviation, the Devi Mookambikai stopped following him and stood there itself. This is how the temple came into being at Kollru.

At the inner corridor of the temple is there a place where a metal clad ancient Peetam, said to have been used by the Acharya, Adi Sankarachariar is kept. One can visit this place by paying a nominal entrance fee.

The Deepa stambam & Dwaja stambam before the Sanctum

At the Temple

There is a beautiful tall Deepa Stambam for a number of oil lit lamps and gold plated Dwaja Stambam before the sanctum. There is an exclusively carved entrance structure before the sanctum sanctorum.

Many of the elders know that the Tamilnadu’s former Chief Minister Sri. M.G.R. was a devotee of Devi Mookambikai and had gifted a gold sword weighing one kg and two and half feet long to the temple.

The temple serves good food for the pilgrims free of cost and quite a number of good hotels are there nearby for staying at this place. When you are visiting this temple, plan for a night stay at Kolluru and have a holy darshan of the Swarna Rekha early in the morning at the time of abishegam and be blessed by the Devi Mookambikai.

A picturesque view of the Western range of mountains

The divine temple, tranquility of the place, rustic atmosphere, scenic beauty of the mountain peaks and flowing rivulets all create a unique soul fulfilling experience at Kolluru.

CSG Raju

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External Link: For virtual tour of Devi Mookambikai Temple, Kolluru click the link below – Speakers on please –


April 10, 2010

Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple, Tirumylai (Mylapore)

Sri Kapali temple main tower on the east

It is said, Kailai is Mylai and Mylai is Kailai’ for it is here the well known temple of Kapaleeswarar and Karpagambal is situated at the heart of Mylapore in South Chennai. This temple is a prominent land mark of this place with its imposing seven tier tower of some 40 m high and a large tank and the circumscribing four mada streets. Mylapore can be approached from any part of the city by road or rail and the nearest Rapid Transport Station is Tirumylai.

This temple is believed to have been constructed in the 7th century by Pallavas near the seashore and later was relocated at the present place some three hundred years back. It was consecrated by the four prominent nayanmars, Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar and Manikkavasagar.

There are two interesting stories about this temple.

Sri Karpagambal in peacock-hen form worshiping Lord Siva

The first story is about the goddess Karpagamabal herself. Once, when Lord Siva was explaining the meaning of the mantra, Om Nama Sivaya in Kailash, the goddess Parvathi devi was inattentive and was watching a flock of peacocks dancing near by. The Lord disturbed by her attitude, ordered her to be born as a peacock-hen in the world but later on, suggested the redemption measure to undo the curse by performing a penance. The goddess selected a spot under a Punnai tree to perform a penance in the form of a peacock-hen. Pleased by her devotion, the lord joined her later after her long penance.

There is a small shrine in the temple near the Punnai tree wherein the images of Lord Siva in the form of a Lingam and goddess Parvathi as peacock worshiping him are here. Also, the story of the penance of Devi Parvathi is beautifully depicted by colorful images on the temple tower.

The second story is about a Saivaite Nayanar, Tirugnanasambandar. Once, Sambandar who was on a pilgrimage to the various Siva temples, visited Mylapore on his way. Prior to his visit, a young girl called Arum Poompavai, the daughter of a trader, Sivanesa chettiar, died of a poisonous snake bite. The chettiar, a stanch devotee of Lord Siva, was hopefully waiting for the arrival of Sambandar to Mylapore to revive his dead daughter. The Nayanar coming to know of the untimely death of the girl, prayed to the Lord and  invoked her from the ashes preserved in a pot, by singing a verse, asking her why she had gone away without seeing the festivals of Sri Kapaleeswarar?

This famous verse of Sambandar is this:

மட்டிட்ட புன்னை அம்கானல் மடமயிலைக்
கட்டிட்டங் கொண்டான் கபாலீச்சரம் அமர்ந்தான்
ஒட்டிட்ட பண்பின் உருத்திரபல்கணத்தார்க்கு
அட்டிட்டல் காணாதே போதியோ பூம்பாவாய் சம்பந்தர்

It is said, at the end of this verse, the girl rose from the ashes like getting up from sleep. There is a shrine within the temple near the Dwajasthambam for Tirugnana Sambandar and Angampoompavai.

The other shrines in the temple

The temple was constructed in the typical Dravidian architectural style. The main tower is on the East with a large three way mandapam on the street ahead. Soon after entering the tower, is Narthana Vinayakar in dancing posture.

There are separate shrines for Annamalai and Unnamulai amman, Subramaniar with his consorts Valli and Deivayanai, On the West is another entrance with a small tower and facing this is the Dwajastambam, Balipeetam and Nandhi.

There are two separate spacious sanctums for Kapaleeswarar and Karpagambal with a common mandapam. Sri Kapaleeswarar is facing the West and is surrounded by 63 Nayanmars, Durgai, Kaalabhairavar, Sun god, Dakshana murthy, Vinayakar and other deities. The beautiful image of Devi Karpagamabal in standing posture is facing the South and awe inspiring. Kapaleeswarar is in Lingam form, a form known to represent both the form and formlessness of the all pervasive and omnipresent God.

On the Northern side is the Sthala Viruksham, the Punnai tree. Under it is the small shrine of Karpagamabal in peacock-hen form worshiping Lord Siva.

On the North Eastern corner is a separate shrine for Saneeeswara bhagawan and then there are Navagrahams on a common platform in a separate shrine.

A long Navarathri mandapam is there on the Southern side of the temple for cultural activities and other temple related functions which are held on special days.

Special features

On one of the pillars of the Navarathri mandapam (at the South West corner) is seen an image of Sri Narasimhar, a celebrated avathar of Lord Vishnu. It is a rare sight to see the Narasimha avathar on a pillar, as it is said, he seems to have emerged from a pillar to the call of his devotee Prahaladha, to establish the presence of the all pervasive God in each and every matter right from a speck to a pillar.

On another pillar at the mandpam before Kapali, Karpagambal sanctums is seen Sri Hanuman, Sri Rama with a bow and arrow, Sri Lakshmana with a bow and arrow and Sri Sita, separately on the four sides of the pillar. Hanuman’s image is always seen smeared with butter and decorated with flowers by the devotees and it is a common sight to see them going round this pillar most of the times.

Within the temple at the North Western corner, one can have a ‘Gopura darshanam’, a view of the main tower and the towers on the sanctums of Kapalieswarar and Karpagamabal with the Dwajastambam.

The temple tank, Kapali teertham is situated on the Western side of the temple and both the temple and the tank are surrounded by the four busy mada streets.

Goddess Sri Karpagambal, who is known to bestow all the virtues and blessed things in life, is aptly named after the heavenly Karpagam tree here! As per the scriptures, once she came hurriedly to the call of a hungry crying child, whose father had gone to the temple leaving her at the steps of the tank. Later, the child who drank the divine milk grew up to become the saint Tirugnanasambandar, a celebrated Nayanar. This scene of ‘divine feeding’ is celebrated every year during the procession of the deities on the Adigara nandhi seva day at the Southern side mandapam of the tank.

Eastern and Northern sides of Kapali temple Tower

As we go round the precincts of this spacious temple with various small shrines and towers with beautiful icons depicting the stories in the scriptures, we get inspired and feel like visiting this temple quite often.

CSG Raju


March 28, 2010


Here is a collection of photos of some important festivals captured in this festival season that drew up huge crowds of men and women of all ages.  The different sevas in the mornings and evenings presented a kaleidoscope of colors and adornments which pleased both the eyes and the mind.

Festival of this nature is generally a mass entertainment event for the public and an occasion for the entire family to visit the temple, its tank and the precincts to witness the festivities. Incidentally, such festivals do promote a sense of participation and involvement among the people. A number of temporary food and drinks shelters of temporary nature were put up on the roads leading to the Kapali temple to provide food and buttermilk for the crowd.

The Arubathumoover festival, the most important event of this series, is a huge crowd puller in several thousands from in and around Mylapore.  Also, the other deities in Mylapore like A/m Kolavizhi Amman, Mundagakanniamman, Draupathi Amman and others joined the procession of the 63 Nayanmars, who had immortalized themselves by their devotion or bhakthi to the Lord.

This collection of photos taken on different days of this festival is sure to provide a delightful peep into the colorful spectacle of what it was!

The flag on the Dwajastambam marks the commencement of the festival

SUN Circle seva


Murugar with his consorts

Vinayagar on his mount, the Mouse on Adhigara Nandhi Day


At the Pandal


KARPAGAMABL on Lion Vahana on Purushamirugam day

MURUGAR on Tiger mount on Purusha mirugam day

The famous RISHABA vahana seva that starts on the midnight and lasts upto the dawn on the following day

KARPAGAMBAL on Rishaba vahanam

Lord Murugar on Peacock vahanam

THER (car) festival

Beautiful decoration of the Plait of Karpagambal

The colorful Car with its adornments

63-ver festival-the Nayanmars on procession

A long line of 63 Nayanmars before the Lord Siva

Lord Siva in silver Vimanam

Karpagambal on her Silver Vimanam

Murugar with his consorts on 63-ver day

SANDIKESWARAR on 63-ver day


PICHADANAR – Lord Siva known for his playful deeds, takes this form and goes round the mada streets alone for collecting money for his marriage!

Tiru Kalyanam of Karpagambal with Kapaleeswarar

A/m KARPAGAMBAL after the marriage with A/m KAPALEESWARAR

The marriage of Siva and Parvathy was celebrated in a grand manner and style from the funds raised by the Pichadanar, the previous day. The blushing newly wed Karpagambal is seen wearing the mangala sutra, the multi strands of golden yellow threads around her neck in the traditional madisar attire.

Kailash Seva


Ravana with nine heads

You may be wondering at Ravana with only nine heads in this picture. Here is the beautiful story behind it:

The legend has it that Ravana, the mighty emperor of the Rakshasas and an ardent devotee of Lord Siva started lifting Kailash to take it to his mother’s abode  to enable her to worship the Lord, as she was disabled to move on account of her old age. The mountain Kailash started shaking a little and on seeing this, the Lord Siva stamped on Ravana and he was caught crushed beneath the mighty mountains. Later, as a measure of redemption to what he had done, Ravana, who was also a talented celestial  musician, started singing with an improvised Veena as an accompaniment to please the Lord. This veena, in his hands, was made of by clipping one of his heads and other parts of his body.

The awesome Kailash Seva

This Kailash seva was an awesome and inspiring sight with the mighty idols of the demon Ravana carrying Lord Siva, measuring some sixteen feet tall and eight feet wide. It was almost filling the entire doorway of the temple tower. The seva, with tastefully decorated big, colorful, flowing flower garlands was a fitting finale to the Panguni Uthiram festivals at the Kapali temple, Mylapore last night (29/3/10).

A scene on the temple tower depicting Devi Karpagamabal in the peacock-hen form worshiping the Lord Siva

Slide 32

கயிலையே மயிலை
மயிலையே கயிலை

CSG Raju