Thursday, 29 December 2011

Come To Kumbakonam

It seemed to be an inauspicious beginning for an auspicious journey. Added to the foggy and depressing chill weather, the news of the delayed arrival of sangamitra express by at least 5 hours was adding salt to the wound. It was a test for our patience. With hari and shriram growing impatient every minute, it was becoming difficult to manage them and their restlessness. There was a sigh of relief and our faces lit up when we saw the train from the far end. It was like we had reached Chennai.

26th December morning was full of excitement. The kids were very trilled that they will be travelling by a day train. The adults were anticipating to see many temples in the temple city of kumbakonam – our final destination for this holiday.

My father-in-law had done his homework and had a list of prominent temples to be seen. We reached kumbakonam at late evening and checked into ARK international – truly un-international. Well, the less said, the better.

Kumbakonam temples are really huge. It would not be an exaggeration if I say that some temples could even contain a town within its compound. I wondered as to how those kings built such huge temples – was it out of love to GOD or for political reasons. All said and done, we are now benefitted with such rich divinity. It gives us an opportunity to channelize our thoughts towards spirituality - atleast for sometime.

We lost no time and started off on our pilgrimage with the first one being the city GOD – Adi Kumbeshwarar. I have listed down the details of temples that we visited. I have tried to put as much details as I could gather. 

The photos of all temples can be found at:

Day 1: 26/12/2011 Evening

1. Swami: Adi Kumbeshwara
Ambal: Mangala Ambikai

This is situated in the heart of the temple city.

Some background about Kumbehswara temple:
Tradition goes to say that during the “Mahapralaya” (Great Floods) after “Dwaparayuga”, a ‘Kumbam’ (Pot) full of Amritham (also spelt as Amrit) and seeds for creation was set afloat by Lord Shiva. It was proclaimed by Shiva Himself that the place where the pot touched theground and had its rest would be considered as the holiest places in the world.
Since the said Kumbam, as announced by the creator of the world, had its rest in this place, this ancient place is named as “Kumbakonam” after that Kumbam. Immediately after its rest Lord Shiva appeared in the guise of a hunter and broke thesaid Kumbam full of Amritham with his arrow.
The nectar settled at two places one of which became the famous Mahamaham Tank. Out of the pieces of the broken pot Lord Shiva made out a ShivaLinga and entered into it. This is now enshrined in the temple, and hence the name Adi Kumbeswara, meaning – one who entered the Kumba or vessel long long ago.

The entire complex is so huge that one can find many shops inside the temple prakaram making for many a livelihood.

2. Perumal: Saarngapani
Thayar: Komalavalli

This tempe is very close to the kumbeshwara temple. There was some mass chanting of divya prabandams going on when we went to the temple. It was very nice to see small boys wearing the sacred thread chanting the prabandams. It was also an indication to me as to how much time I have wasted in this life not knowing what is to be known. 

3. Perumal: Chakrapani
Thayar: Sudarshana Valli and Chakravalli

This temple also is in the heart of the city. Perumal gives his darshan in the form of the chakra. Like Lord Shiva, here perumal has three eyes.

4. Koorathazhvar sannithi: This is a small temple dedicated to koorath Alwar on bazaar street.

5. Dashavataram temple: Perumal’ along with shredevi and bhoodevi gives darshan here. The speciality is the panchajanyam and the sudarshana chakram are inter-changed.

Day 2: 27/12/2011 Morning

6. Padaivetti mariamman temple: My mother wanted to start her day with a visit to this temple dedicated to the mother of parashurama – renuka devi. It happens to be her father’s kula deivam too.

7.  Place: Tribhuvanam
Name: Sarabeshwarar
Ambal: Dharma Samvardhini

This GOD is a combination of Lord Siva, Kali and durga. In order to tame lord narasimha’s anger after he killed hiranyakashipu, lord shiva along with kali and durga took the form of a peculiar animal called sarabeshwara and tamed narasimhar. The former took narasimhar to the skies and took out the anger from the stomach of lord narasimhar.  The creature has a garuda nose, kali and durga as wings, teeth of lion and bairava in his chest. This is a rare sight of the lord and is a must-see temple.

8. Place: thiruvidaimarudur
Name: Mahalinga Swami
Ambal: Bruhat Sundara Kuchambigai

Famous for eradicating bramha hathai dosham, it has an entrance which people don’t use for exit. The entrance and exit are separate doors.

9. Govindapuram Vittala: A temple built in the north Indian style by shri. Vittal das. It has vittala and rukmini giving darshan. The goshala I heard is maintained very well. It was unfortunate that we could not go as it was closed.

10. Bogendra Swamigal Ashram: One of the famous acaryas of the Shri Adi sankara's lineage and one who popularized rama nama chanting is Shri Bogendra swamigal. Set is a quite and serene environment, it has the Samadhi of Swamigal. It also has a very well maintained go-shalai. The calves (kannu kutties) look so innocent. Shriram and hair had a great time petting the calves. One could see the anxiety of the mother cow when we were spending time with the calves.

Day 2: 27/12/2011 Evening

11. Thirunageswaram
Poojas to rahu are very special during rahu kalam. Also called Rahusthalam
Ambal: Nagavalli, Nagakanni

The legend says that when there is an abhishekam of milk being done for he rahu bagavan, it turns vblue in colour. However, we did not see any such phenomenon. 

Swami: Naganattha Swamy
Ambal: Artha Chandra Bimba Kuchambikai

A separate small temple present for durga, Lakshmi and saraswati – called as giri Kuchambikai

12. Perumal: Uppili Appan
Thayar: Bhoodevi .

Here there is no separate sannidi for thayar. It is here that Perumal married bhoomadevi under the supervision of Markandeyar. When thayar married perumal, she was very small and so young that she did not know how much salt to add while cooking (typical of grown up girls these days :)). Since perumal accepted her as she was, prasadam here is served without salt. It was a tasty treat indeed.  This is one of the important divya desams.

13. Place: Tirunaraiyur
Perumal: Srinivasan
Thayar: Vanjula Valli

Srinivasan gives darshan with sreedevi nachiyar here. Thayar is given more importance in this temple. Perumal is a bit sidelined. One can see aniruddhan, Pradyumnan, Purushottaman, Balaraman and bramha in the garba gruha. The separate thayar sannidi is made for vanjula valli thayar.

Here, perumal is seen only with two hands. He is in the form of acarya to thirumangai alwar. Alwar has sung 100 pasurams in this temple for perumal. Perumal stands tall and majestic smiling at his devotees.

There is another speciality here - the Kal Garudan. Garudan is in all grandeur here. Heard that when he is taken out for procession, his weight keeps increasing and more people are needed to carry him. This kshetram is also a Divya desam

14. Place: Thirucherai
Perumal: Saranathar
Thayar: Saranayaki

The lord is saranathar, pond is sara pushkarani, Gopuram is sara gopuram, and thayar is sara nayaki.
The LORD here is present with 5 goddesses – sreedevi, bhoodevi, mahalakshmi, neeladevi and saranayaki. Saranayaki is given a separate place. One can see perumal having mahalakshmi in his chest and saranayai holding mahavishnu in her chest. We can also see Cauvery doing penance to the lord to prove that she is greater than ganga. It is because of this penance that Cauvery is known to be the most sacred river in south India. This is 12th divya desam.

The gurukal was extremely patient in explaining the importance and story of the place. He was quite old and it was evident that he did not do his duty as a mundane job but out of a true devotion to the lord.

15. Engan Subramaniyan:

Ah!!!After a long stint of meetings with Siva and perumal , it was now time to meet the kid super star – lord muruga. It is also called ashta netra puram. A beautiful idol of lord muruga with valli carved on a peacock – the peacock's legs bearing the entire weight of the carving. The lord is at his beauty’s best. Legend says that this was carved by a sculptor who was blind and had his thumb fingers cut off. He got his lost sight back after he carved the lord. Was wondering, to draw a straight line by closing (rather by opening)our eyes itself is such a herculain task. How did he sculpt so many cuts and curves of the lord. That is the power of true bhakti.

The same scultor had carved lord murugan in two other places - puruvacheri and ettukudi. The chola kind who was supervising the work gave him enoigh wealth and took a promise that no other idol of lord muruga would be cared to sucha beatuy. It was unfortunate that the thumbs of the sculptor were cut off. The scuptor had is eyes also taken away at etthukuzhi byt he same king. Lord muruga then took pity on him and sent a kritika kanya to help the scultor carve a similar one at asta netra puram now called engan.

It was quite dark when we returned and had to end the day with lots of temples to dream about.

28/12/2011 – Morning

16. Vijayendra Mutt: Guru of Shri Raghavendra
Started off the day with guru’s blessings. Visited the vijayendra mutt for a soulful morning

17. Thiruvilliyangudi
Perumal: Kola Villi Rama
Thayar: Maragada valli

Ramar is sayana posture but without the sanku and chakram. HE is two handed here. This was built by the asura sculptor mayan. Sukracharyar prayed to this Lord and got his eye sight back. So, this place is very special for eye sight., People who have deficiency in eyes or eye sight may visit this temple to benefit from his blessing. One can see chatur bhuja garudan here

18. Thirumangalakudi
Swami: Prananatheswarar
Ambal: Mangala Ambikai

19. Swami: Soorya Narayana
   The temple dedicated to one of the navagrahas – the sun god. But it also has the other 8 grahas in separate sannidis. Soorya gives darshan her with his consorts – chayadevi and ushadevi. Guru bagavan is seen facing surya.

20. Swami: Pattabhirama
Last but not the least, we had been to the rama temple. Here rama is present in a sitting posture with sita during pattabhishekam. Shatrugna is holding the chamaram while bharata the chatram. Lakshmana is hold rama’s bow. One can see anjaneya sitting below holding veena in one hand and the great divine book of ramayanam on the other hand.

Utsava murthy is kothandarama.

Rama is in full grace apt to his qualities.

The holy pilgrimage was coming to an end. I did not feel bad that we could not see many. I had a sense of satisfaction that with two naughty boys, we were able to cover some of the important ones. Of course, we cannot take credit for what we saw or what we got. It is purely by HIS grace that we got a very good darshan and blessing at all places we went.

I hope he gives us more opportunities to see him again and again at different places in different forms.

After all the perumals and shivas and murugans and ambals, we went to one of the most anticipated place – the home of mathematics genius Srinivasa Ramanujam on Saaranga pani sannidi street. As I entered it, the hairs in my hands stood up. There was an emotion of happiness, a sense of awe and a feeling of sadness that there was not one to continue his lineage. There were proofs of ramanujam displayed, few photographs of his, his mother ,komalat ammal and his wife, janaki ammal. It is maintained by sastra university. I felt that there could have been few books or some kind of autobiography of his which people could refer or buy. It is well maintained. I was discussing with sundar that India has so many genius but very few get recognition. One tends to get lost in the vast expanse of people and causal attitude. If India would have recognized this genius early, we would have gained so much. Even the recognition that he got was not given by India by but Europeans. Such is the sad state of our country. Even today, I am sure there are many people who can excel in various fields but it is the lack of opportunity that has deprived these people from coming forward. We are mostly lost in the world of fantasy, hollywood, kollywod and others.

Anyway, I don’t want to end this blog in a low note…let us hope for the best. With so many temples and a rich divinity here in our land, there is definitely hope that we will produce many more genius.

A few general information. Most of the temples open at around 8a.m and close by 12 noon. The evening timing is from 4.30.p.m to 8.30 p.m. The road condition on the whole is good but the road to engan murugan is a little bad. Food in kumbakonam is not very good for brahmins. Mami's mess is supposed to be a brahmin's house who cook and cater for food. Otherwise, hotel archana near the kumbeshwara temple in bazaar street is quite good. The tiffin varieties is tasty.

So, have a great spiritual tour to kumbakonam.
Ram Ram

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Beauty of Belur and Heaven of halebeedu

Sundar was very eager to see belur and haleebeedu. He has not seen the beauty and glamour of karnataka. So, we decided to look at belur and halebeed as it is close and a good destintion for a weekend.

Well, I need not detail about the history or the type of architecture. One can find them in the numerous websites.

Though I have seen it a couple of times during my school days, each time you see, it is an enthralling experience. What is so enthralling about this? A temple which is 900 years old?A temple which took 3 generations to build? The admiration of the kings for the ladies?

I wondered? what did I wonder?
Which engineering college did those artisans go to? How intricate were the carvings? Their imagination was a wonder. Is it ever possible to have a marvel in this age?

Everything that girls use these days -pony tails, bob cut, boy cuts, skirts, middies, minis, skirts - You name it, you can find it here.

The various mood of ladies are depicted in an exemplary way.
The famous scenes of ramayana and mahabharatha are carved to perfection. various moods of GOD, the avatars of maha vishnu are true to life and attractive. The star shape of the temple ,the balcony system shows the depth of imagination and intellectual thinking

What struck me the most were some of these - you can typical look for these when you these places...

Beautiful strings on the drum that is held by ladies. It looks like a rope tied around the drum though it is not. The nails carved are so true to life, the curves on sole of the feet, the carving of the intestine of hiranya kashipu which lord narasimha wears as a garland, the water drops dripping froma ladies hair after she has a hair bath, a lizard trying to catch an insect on the jackfruit, the scorpion carved below putana who tried to kill krishna, shiva's dance inside the stomach of an elephant, varaha swamy, vamana avatar, ravana lifting the himalayas. govardhana giridhari krishna. The jewels carved are so exhaustive and detailed. The 64 pillars inside the sanctum sanctoram of belur have varied designs and no two designs are the same.

It seems the small chain on the head of Shantala, the queen, can be seen to be still moving, her bangles can be still felt to be moving. The guide there says that there was a pillar which used to rotate but because of the beam weight , crashed and now is immovable. All said and done, each carving is a wonder and a marvel in its own and every artisan who has contributed to this wonderful piece of architecture is surely a reason to put India in the world map as a country which is rich in history and creativity.

Now, to the flip side - There are statues which are either stolen or disfigured specially in halebedu. Some were robbed many years back, some stolen to foreigners for petty thousands of rupees. We, as Indians, have to know the value of our art and heritage, be proud of it and protect it. It is the duty of every INDIAN.


After a long long stint, so long that I even forgot the password of my first blog site. Now, I am back in action and hope not to hibernate again. For those, who want to see my earlier blogs, visit

Hopefully, will be posting more regularly