Monday, 20 August 2012

Kerala temple tour

Where do I begin? Should I start with the nail biting beginning or the thrilling end? Does back waters get to the front lines or the beauty of kerala houses and their living. Should the beauty of the temples take predominance or the deities residing in have their first go? How about the food here or should I be the neat roads?

Well, anything said is less. Our train was scheduled at 9.p.m and unfortunately, we left at 8.p.m which  was pretty late. Not only have we got entangled in this smasara sagara, but also in these traffic jams and signals. My mother, father , aunt and shriram reached the yeshwanthpur station at 8.40.p.m after putting a brave fight to Bangalore traffic. We were worried if sundar and his parents would make it. It was 8.50.p.m and the tension was mounting. I called sundar and he said “You pepole carry on, don’t think we can make it”. My heart sank and shriram was almost in tears. Then I asked him “Where are you. I can request the TTR to delay the train by 5 minutes”. “I am in G15 coach” came the answer. “Oh god..there is a time to have fun and play” I thought and was relieved that they made it.

The train journey as usual was a pleasant one but this time it was more enchanting because it was kerala’s greenery everywhere and drizzle all the time. We reached Bagavat gardens in chenganur and halted there to get ready for our first DD in kerala.

There are totally 11 DDs (divya desams) in Kerala. We covered only 8 which are in close proximity. Since the tour was specifically to see the divya desams, we started from chengannur which has the most number of DDs. Else, one can start from trisur too and come down to chenganur.

Some common information about the temples in kerala.

All the Vishnu temples that we saw have swami in standing posture and four armed – shankam, chakram, gadha and padmam. There is no separate thayar sannidhi except in thirupuliyur. In all the others, Swami has locked mahalakshmi in his heart.

Every Divya desam we visited, we saw people reading ramayanam. I am not sure if it was because that it was the last day of the adi month. But all said and done, people here are very pious and more devoted. The temples are spic and span and very well maintained. All of them have the dome shaped gopuram. None of them have mosaic flooring or artificial lighting. The entire temple and specially the garba gudi is fully illuminated with lamps. This gives a special aura and devotion to everyone in the temple. People maintain pin drop silence unlike other temples where a lot of gossip and loud talking is done.

All temples in kerala open in the morning by and close by 11.30 a.m. The evening timing too are from 5.p.m to 7.p.m. Since 16th was the beginning of the avani month for them, we were lucky that all temples remained opened till 8 to 8.30.

All Men must remove their shirts, vests before entering the temple. ladies usually are in sarees. Though salwar is allowed in most of the temples, it is better to wear sarees while visiting guruvayur. Rules may change any time.

Usually the temples dont accept any kind of offering from devotees. Everything is done from the temple. Also, the only prasadam one gets is fresh and original chandanam.

Each of the pancha pandavas have built a temple for Maha Vishnu in and around chengannur.

15/8/2012 – The Chenganur train (Kochuveli Garib rath epress) reached chenganur at 10.30. We halted at Bagavath gardens, a decent hotel.

We visited three temples on 15th evening. I have given the name and details according to the order in which we vsitied

  1. Thirupuliyur (DD No.86)
Swami here is called by the name of “Mayapiran”, Thayar is called “Porkudi nachiyar”, Thirtham is Pragya Saras and Vimanam is called Prushotaman. This temple was build by the second of the pancha pandavas, Bhima.

  1. Thiruchenkundroor (DD No. 87)
The Swami is called by the name of “Imayapiran”. Initally, built by the devatas, the first pandava, Yudishtra renovated this temple. Yudishtra was very depressed when drona, his guru died because of his lie. In order to do paschatapam, he renovated this temple. 

  1. Thiruvanvandoor (DD NO. 89)
Swami here is sung by the name of “Pambanai appan”. Nakula, the fourth pandava is said to have built this temple. One can see lord krishna doing kalinga mardanam on top of the gopuram. Namma alwar has sung pasurams here

16/08/2012 Morning:

  1. Aranmulla (DD No.88)
Swami here is called “Thirupuralappan” and thayar is called padmasini. The thirtam is pampa tirtham and has vamana vimanam. Arjuna after killing karma felt bad in the way he killed karma and did penance here. He then built this temple for mahavushnu. Lord ayyappan’s jewels are stored in this temple and are taken to sabari malai when needed. There is a “banni” tree, where the pandavas hid their weapons when they were in the 13th year of their exile in incognito.

Sine it was the last day of the month of Adi, a grand alankaram or decoration of lamps with flowers and other material was done which looked great and divine.

  1. Thiruvalla (DD No. 90)          
Swmi here is called “Sri Kolapiran Perumal Temple” We also saw abhishekam to the lord here.

  1. Thirukadithanam (DD No. 91)
Swami here is called “Adbutha Perunal” built by the last pandava, sahadeva. It is said that at the end of kali yuga, perumal here will vanish which was lead to deluge of the entire world. Also, kunti devi breathed her last here.

Chenganur is a lovely place with narrow roads and houses all along the road. You can never see any deserted place. All houses have a big garden showing their love for mother nature. The constant rain with occasional drizzle gave a mystic feeling and one wondered how can a place be so unpolluted and so serene.

16/8/2012 Evening

We checked out of the hotel and left to ernakulam which has the remaining two DDs. We hired a scorpio. The journey is something to remember and relish, All through we could see back waters. It sure lives up to the name as “God’s own country”. Surprisingly, the number of apartments are quite few in ernakulam. Most of them are independent houses with a lot of space for garden and greenery. We had booked rooms in Vedanta Wakeup but the attitude of the people here was more foreigner friendly. So, we took a home stay nearby called rampart homestay which was cosy and well equipped. This is very close to the Arabian see backwater.

To visit the other two DDs, we took a ferry from our place to ernakulam. The ferry ride was enjoyable specially for the kutties. It is better to take  aferry from here. A Taxi would mean a waste fo time and money. From ernakulam, we hired 2 taxi to reach the two DDs. Time was ticking and we were not sure if we could make it to the last DD. Sundar, kids, myself and my mother-in-law came by one of the taxi and when we were almost close to the temple, there was a block in the road which was very disappointing. But HE lives up to his word. If we try climbing two steps for his sake, he climbs down 10 steps to lift us and this proved it. The temple remained opened till 8.30.p.m that day due to celebrations for the last day of the adi month. HE not only gave us darshan but also gave us an opportunity to see the seeveli and we also got s special blessing in the form of a garland from the lord. Our intention was only to see the lord but he blessed with more than what we asked for.

  1. Thirukarkarai, Edapally (DD No.92)
Swami here is called by the name “Sri katkarai Appa Perumal temple”.

  1. Thirumoozhikalam, (DD No. 93).
This is situated near cochin Air Port.
Swami here is called “Moozhikalathan Perumal”.

With this, we ended the Divya desam tour and thank GOD for having givn a good and satisfactory darshan at all places.

            17/8/2012 Morning: Chotanikare, Kalady 
            17/8/2012 Evening: Trissur
We staryed at the home stay. On 17th morning, few of he ladies visited chotanikare.

An important note: If you want to cover chotanikare, kalady and trisur in one day, one has to start as early as 6.a.m

We checked out at 8.a.m. and left to the abode of he great jagadguru, Shri Adi Shankara. It was pouring constantly all the way. We reached kalady at 12.00. noon. The ashram is maintained by shringeri sharada mutt. One can see the Samadhi of Sri Shankara’s mother Aryamba, the exact place where he was born and the poorna river which flows just behind his house. The vibration here is something which one must experience. A small temple for shringeri sharade is established here. Guru anugraham is something not all get. The guru has to identify his shisyas and it is a bhagyam if one gets a guru. With the hope and faith of getting this anugraham in life…we proceeded to thirusur to have a darshan of Lord shiva who is known by the name of vadakum Nathan.

Trissur Vadakum Nathan temple is spread over a huge area which is maintained in an excellent manner. The lush green lawns gives a serene look. The Lord here is Lord Shiva which is fully formed of ghee and doesn’t melt at all.  The alankaram is great and definitely is a treat to the eyes. This place has a great history.

Parashurama wanted to do tapas and aimed his arrow. The arrow fell at this temple. Since, there was no temple or GOD installed there, he requested Lord Shiva to come down and give darshan. Lord Shiva along with his consort parvati, blessed parashurama and ordered him to build a temple here. Since the lord himself chose this place to reside, kerala is called “God’s own country” and Thiru Siva Perur came to called as Trissur. And since Lord Shiva who resides in kailash came down all the way to the south, he is called vadaka Nathan (Lord of the north) here. There is a particular order in which open has to go round the prakaram which is displayed at the west entrance. Over one lakh lamps are lit in the temple during shiva rathri. The temple is open till between 4.a.m to 11.30 a.m in the morning and from 5.p.m to 8 pm in the evening.

After this satisfying darshan of the lord, we proceeded to the place that all were looking forward to - guruvayur. We checked in at Gokulam resort. There ar emnay hotels available around the temple. We took the hotel at west nada which is around 5 minutes walk from the temple. East nada also has many hotels and are very close to the temple.

Sundar and I had planned for the nirmalya darshan of Lord guruvayurappan on the next day.

18/8/2012 – Guruvayur

Got up at 1.30.a.m, had bath and went to the temple for nirmalya darshan of the lord. The temple opens at 3.a.m. It is better to be there at 2.30 itself. The crowd is not much at this time and we get to see the lord without any alankaram. Small made and four armed, your hair stand up with awe and devotion. This happens without your knowledge and involuntarily. Such is the megic of HIS presence there. That Lord who sustains the whole world, That kid who played wonders in his childhood, that krishna who gave the world the knowledge of gita, that damodara who played rasa kreedai with gopis, that lord who is a friend of friends, a lord of lords, a child of children was attracting people from far and wide in his small garba griha illuminated with only lamps. This is another beauty of temples in kerala – no artificial lighin whatsoever. The radiance is just magnificent and divine.

After having the nimrlaya darshan, sundar and I went to another round of darhsna where we got to see the shankabishekam (abhishekam with the conch). We bathed the Lord with tears of Joy and thanked him for having given this wonderful sight.

We returned to the hotel and got kids ready for another round of darshan. And this time it was the lord fully decked and dressed up. What we thought was only nirmalayam but he gave a better one. Time and again he re-instates that when we aspire to see him once, he gives us double/triple the joy. It is very true too that one should not ask favours from the Lord. When we ask for something material, he grants our wish but when we don’t ask him, he will give 100 times more than what we wished for. And as the saying goes, we don’t get what we desire, we only get what we deserve.

The rudra theertham is the temple pond is of significane and also the Shiva temple at mammiyur is a must see after seeing guruvayurappan. It was at the instruction of lord shiva that guru and vayu installed guruvayurappan here. Hence, this temple must be visited. Just ½ km from the temple, we can walk upto this temple. One can also get fresh banana chips near the temple.

In the evening, we went to the elephant camp which is around 3kms from the temple. There are around 63 elephants in the camp which is fully maintained by the temple. It is a good attraction for kids to see so many elephants at one place. Then we visted the Venkata perumal temle and parthasarathy temple which are close to the railway station.

Whatever I write or say is short of words to express the happiness and the ecstacy in me. One has to experience these feelings by actually going to these places. I hope this blog will give some guidelines to people who read it.

Fully satisfied and happy . we left to our destinations on 18th night.