Srimathe ramanujaya namaha
During the month of June and July we were blessed to have darshan of
Sriya: pathi in many divya desams in Pandiya nadau (Madurai) and Choza
nadu (Thanjavour and Kumbakonam). I will give you a brief account on
our trip that may help you to plan similar one in the future.
June 26th and 27th 2007
During these days we have visited the following divya desams.
3. Thiruth thaNkaal
5. Thirukkudal (Madurai town)
As you probably aware Thiruppullani is close to Ramanathapuram Junction
and there are comfortable trains from chennai to reach this town. But
now due to broad gauge conversion there is no train service to
Ramanathapuram and to visit Thiruppullani you can only travel upto
Madurai by train. It is always preferable to cover the longer distance
by a night train from chennai and then hire a car/van to visit the
temples. This will help you to be fresh in the morning after good sleep
in the train.
We (me, Lakshmi, Vidhya,my father and father in law) left chennai on
25th night by Nellai express and landed Madurai around 7 AM. We had
already arranged for a Qualis and the van was waiting at the station
and we have commenced our road journey straightaway thru the National
Highway to Thiruppullani via Ramanatha puram. It takes around 2 to 2.30
hours to reach Thiruppullani. With the help of Sri Raghuveeradayal
swamin we have booked our accomodation at Sri Ahobila mutt. Now you
have the option of staying either at Sri Ahobila mutt or at Sri Andavan
ashramam and contact details are given at the bottom of this page.
Upon reaching Thiruppullani we got ready for our holy bath at temple tank (pushkarani)
and then at Sethu (Bay of Bengal). It was nice to see the temple
pushkarani with full of water as in most of the divya desams the temple
tank is used for playing cricket by the local boys. Carefully walking
on the slippary steps we took a quick dip as the fish in the pond
trying to get a taste of our skin. Then we have proceeded to Sethu
which is about 3 km from the temple.
There are four locations around Thiuppullani and Rameswaram that is
considered to be sacred to have holy dip. Sethukkarai, Nava bhashanam,
Rameswaram and Dhanushkoti are those four. Out of this, Dhanushkoti got
sunk under the sea in 60's and for srivaishnavas Sethukkarai is considered
to be important. Nava bhashanam has nava grahas in the sea and you can
imagine the crowd there to have holy dip based on the recommendation of
the astrologers. We have restricted our trip only to Sethukkarai and it
was a pleasent experience to sit at the shore and doing sankalpam while
the waves are teasing you and trying to wet the pooja items and you
have to keep an eye and ready to move further to preserve them. The
brahaspathi swamin has performed prayachittam ciitng all the possible
sins that one can imagine of (of course adiyen would have scroed full
marks on this) and we were reminded of Saranagathi gadyam of Sri
Ramanuja where swami lists various sins committed by him( it is not Sri
Ramanuja who will ever commit sins but it is for us who will recite
this and seek pardon from the Lord).
Although the sea was calm it wasn't easy to take holy dip. Salt water
was iritating the eyes and there was no plain surface beneth the water
and it was rocky mostly. Vadhyar swami explained that Sri Rama
was lying down at the shore on dharpa grass meditating on Samudra raja.
We were thrilled to stand on the shore where Rama had walked over with
HIS divine feet. Be it historical or divine we were thrilled to be
there enjoying every minute of our stay at the shore. It was told that
donating cloths at the shore of Sethu is considered to be good and we
have donated vastrams (sari and dhothis) to the locals and it was
around 11 AM and we were worried that the temple might be closed by 12
Noon which means we have stay till late evening for darshan. So we have
rushed to the temple.
The temple is
huge and long prakarams.
There are sannidhis for Kalyana Jagannathan, Dharpasayana ramar and
pattabhisheka ramar. Another important thing. Bhagavathas who don't
have children come here and have holy dip at Sethu and partake
Palpayasam prasadam from this temple. It is well known fact that
Perumal accepts their prayers and bless them with children. The
Palpayasam prasadam at this temple is very famous and the taste is
By noon time, we could seek the blessings of Perumal from all sannidhis
and it was ekadasi and what a blessing. We did not plan to be on a
ekadasi here but it was just a coincidence. We all had ekadasi prasadam
at Andal mami's house, which is just ten houses from Sri Ahobila mutt.
With lots of affection she had served us and her hospitality is still
fresh in our mind. Although living hand to mouth, there are such
bhagavathas in many divya desams who serve the yathrikas with great
care and affection. We were moved by her gesture and love and of course
for the tasty prasadam.
BY 3PM, we left Thiruppullani thanking perumal for giving an
opportunity to be there and it was a memorable experience. Now here are
the details of Sri Raghuveeradayal swamin at Thiruppullani.
Srirangam Srimad Andavan Ashramam South Car Street,
Aradhakar Govindachariyar phone 9894233598
ashramam manager Sridhar
Our next stop was
Thirukkoshtiyur. This is the first visit for adiyen and as you are
aware in this divya desam only Sri Ramanuja got the title Emperumanar
from Sri Thirukkoshtiyur nambi after knowing Sri Ramanuja's passion for
fellow bhagavathas even if accounts for breaking his promise with
acharya that he will not reveal the meanings of the sacred mantra. The
popular story is that Sri Ramanuja climbed the gopuram of the temple
which is just few yards from Thirukkoshtiyur nambi's house and shouted
the meaning of the dwaya mantra so that every one can hear and attain
salvation. Looking at the height of the tower (gopuram) it is not clear
whether any one could have heard him from down below and other vesion
is that he has revealed the secret meanings to his sishyas near a
sannidhi. adiyen is not getting into a debate on this right here as so
much has been written about this in our srivaishnava groups.
This temple is also huge and we were happy to see the temple is well
maintained. Since it was around 6PM, we were asked to climb the gopuram
to see the place where Sri
Ramanuja was supposed to have shouted revealing the meaning of
rashasya mantra. One can easily see the house of
Thirukkoshtiyur nambi from the top of the gopuram. One of the koil
sippandhi came with us and gave a moving account of the episode. The
stairs leading to the top were narrow and not steep. One has to crawl
under the small entrance at the top of the gopuram to reach the terrace
from which one can have good view of the town. Sri THirukkoshtiyur
nambi's upadesam to Sri Ramanuja has been inscribed on a stone culvert
and you can read them here (image
1 image 2)
We had good darshan of Sri Sowmya narayanan and HIS consorts. Sri
Madhavan bhattar was kind enough to take a tour of the temple
explaining all the details. Most of you may not be aware of a separate
temple for Sri Hayagreeva which is located just 2 min drive from the
main temple. This sannidhi has deities of Sri Hayagreeva and Swami
desika. The aradhakar of this sannidhi must be in his 80's and was
very fragile but was very happy to receive us and gave us good darshan.
He was very humble and even willing to host us at that time, although
we came without prior information. adiyen would request all bhagavathas
who are visiting Thirukkoshtiyur to pay a visit to this sannidhi also.
After our brief chat with Sri Madhava bhattar we have continued our
journey to Madurai and our plan was to halt for the night and commence
the next day's tour from Madurai. We stayed at college house hotel
which is very close to Railway Junction and Kudalazhagar sannidhi. We
were exhausted after a tiring day but felt extremely happy for
worshipping emperuman at two divya desams.
On 27th we got ready early in the
morning and commenced our trip to Sri villiputtur via ThiruththaNkaal.
Actually this divya desam is being called as Thiruththangal rather than
ThaNkaal. Again this is first visit to this divya desam and adiyen was
thrilled to add one more new divya desam in my list of divya desams
visited.Thangal is a small town and the temple is right in the middle
of the town. Unlike Kudal or sirvilliputtur,this temple is not crowded
at all and we cold have good darshan of Ninra Narayanan and even thayar
is in standing posture in this divya desam. Since utsavem was going on,
Utsavar was blessing the devotees from another room so could have an image of the utsavar
here. Even the gopuram style
was different from other divya desams. Learned bhagavathas can provide
some insight into this difference. After spending an hour or so,
we have proceeded to Srivilliputtur.
Srivilliputtur needs no introduction and even a kid is well aware of
Sri Andal and thiruppavai. After travelling for about an hour we have
reached the temple and as we were entering the temple drizzling has
commenced. First we went to Rangamannar sannidhi and worshipped Sri
Rangamannar and Sri Andal and Sri Periazhvar. Actually 26th was Sri Periazhvar's
thirunakshatram and today vidayatthi utsavam was going in the
temple. We were just in time as Sarrumurai was going on and we got
theertha prasadam along with the goshti. We had been to the kannadi arai (the
room with mirrors all around) and the birth place of Sri Andal, the
nandavanam and vada patra saayi sannidhi. Sri Andal sung thiruppavai
for this perumal only and this is the original sannidhi in
srivilliputtur. We were thrilled to walk in the garden where sri Andal
was first cited by Sri Periazhvar and the well on which Sri Andal used
to see how she looks with the garland ( no mirrors at that time !) and
we were indeed blessed to worship perumal in 4 divyadesams which are
not located closeby.
We had prasdam in our of our friend's house and commenced our return
journey back to Madurai. In the evening we went to worship Kudal azhagar. After this
we went to Oththakkadai where there is a narasimhar temple. The
uniqueness of this temple that sri Narasimha is in standing posture
here and the temple is located at the foot of Yanaimalai. It was around
30 min drive from the city and we were under tension since our return
train was at 9 PM. The city was getting crowded with more and more
traffic being a week day but the driver has managed to reach the
station well in time. Due to shortage of time we could not revisit
Thirumogur and Thirumalirumcholai although we had been to these temples
couple of years ago.
Our pilgrimmage covering 5 divya desams in two days came to an end. We
have travelled around 600 KM in two days and if any one of you are
planning a trip and need any further assistance drop a mail at
trip to Chozha nattu divya desams ( June 30th and July 1st)
Our next trip was to divya desams around kumbakonam and Thanjavavour
and there were two purposes for this trip. Mainly to oversee the status
of our nitya aradana kaimkaryams that is being done by our trust in
many temples in this area. My wife Lakshmi wanted to complete her
tally of all the 40 temples in choza nadu. Few of them were left during
her earlier trips so we used the time to cover them as well.
Myself, lakshmi,my father and my friend Sri Santhanam were the team and
Sri Rajendran was our driver from Kumbakonam. We have been using his
services for many years and he owns his cab and tours the temples
around kumbakonam and he resides in Oppiliappan koil. Besides the
location of the temples, he knows exactly where the archaka resides so
that he can bring him in the car in case the temple is not open for
darshan. One has see his driving skills thru the narrow roads with
thorn shrubs on both sides. Further he plans the trip so well that we
don't any temple en route. If we were late after completing darshan, he
will gently remind to leave quickly so that we are not disappointed by
seeing the closed temple. Since most of the temples are located
in remote areas, you need some one like him to guide through.
Sine lots of information is available in our web page itself about the
temples in Choza nadu, I will give brief account only.
On 30th morning we have reached Kumbakonam by Rockfort express.
Although this train has been now extended beyond Trichy upto Kumbakonam
via Thanjavour the train name is still rockfort express only. This is
the only train now from chennai to Kumbakonam after the gauge
conversion. Unfortuantely this train reaches kumbakonam around 8 AM
which is very late to commence the day as most of the temples will be
closed around 12 Noon. But we were helpless. After our bath and
breakfast our first visit was to Thiruvelliyangudi. We have been doing
kaimkaryam in this temple and after our brief stay we have proceeded to
Therazhundhur. In this divya desam we have established a big garden to
offer flowers to perumal. Nanadavanam is being
maintained by our trust.
Despite our efforts, we are not happy to see that the maintenance is
not upto the mark. Regular weeding is not happening and even they are
not watering the plants from the borewell since it
electricity and it is projected that temple don't have resources to pay
electricity bills. We are now in the process of overcoming these
obstacles and it is disheartening to see that local politics is
dampening our sincere efforts. Not only here. In each of the temple
there is one issue or another that needs to be attended to.
After Therazhundhur we were rushing to ThiruIndhalur( Mayiladuthurai).
It was already 11.30 AM and Rajendran was rushing thru his shortcuts to
reach the temple before it is closed after uchikala pooja.
Generally the temples are closed at 12 Noon and reopened by 5 PM. We
also thought of changing our boarding point to Thanjavour instead of
Kumbakonam as it will be convenient to board after visiting Thanjai
mamanikkoil. We were wondering what to do if the temple is closed
before we reach as it was already 12.15 PM. Hearing our plan to visit
railway station to modify our ticket, Rajendran suggested that we can
as well start our tour next day from Thanjavour and board the train at
Kumbakonam itself thus saving time from the visit to station. He
quickly reveled his revised trip plan for next day morning and it was
just amazing. But we ended up at reaching all these temples at
different time than originally informed but thankfully it did not
create any confusion and we could worship all the temples.
By the time we reach parimala rangar temple it was around 12.45 but it
was not closed. We were indeed lucky as the intution of the bhattar to
keep it open little longer than other days being a satarday could be
the reason. Further Paimala rangan has decided to give HIS darshan to
us so who can stop us. We were discussing the Thirumangai azhvar's
anger with this perumal and his pasurams on Indhalur. There was no
electricity so the perumal was worshipped only in the light ofGhee wick
It was well past 1 PM and our lunch was forgotten. We need to cover
thalachchangadu and Parthan palli before reaching Thirunangur for our
prasadam. All of us were tired but did not want to miss out any temple
in the schedule. Our next stop was at Thalachchangadu. We were happy to
see that the temple is now in much better shape than it was 3,4 years
back. Sri Thiruvengadam our local coordinator and temple trustee is
taking care of the temple well. Please visit this temple which is
located midst of fields in a remote area. The well water here is very
sweet. Now we have bhattar for the full day till 6PM. Efforts are on to
arrange for his house near temple so that he can stay and do service.
We need help to renovate the old and damaged mandapam nearby and
convert to a living quarters for him. Let us hope that
Nanmadhiyapperumal will do sankalpam for this.
Our next stop was at Parthan palli. Sri Lakshmana dikshitar welcomed us
and patiently explained the developements in the temple and gave
darshan of the Lord. We were delighted to see the Moolavar with Silver
kavacham donated by a overseas devotee. Here also we are doing small
kaimkaryam. Finally we came to Thirunangur and had our late lunch at 4
PM at Sri Kannan swamin's house.
Lot has been written about Thirunangur temples and kaimkaryams here so
adiyen will not elaborate much. We have now decided to restrict our
kaimkaryam only to THiruvaN purushottamam leaving Vaikundha vinnagarm
and Thiruvali and THirunagari. We could not get darshan at
Thiruvanpurushottamam since there was no bhattar even around 5 PM and
we have to proceed. We went to Thiruthevanar thogai and
Thiruththerriyambalam before leaving Thirunangur. Next was Thirunagari
and after a brief chat with Sri Alinadan swami we have rushed to
Seerkazhi is a big town and the temple is also big with good crowd. We
could get good darshan or ulagalandha perumal. It was around 8 PM and
we were fully exhausted and slept the entire journey back to
Oppiliappan koil. We have booked rooms in the newly built temple
devasthanam building and for just 100 rupees you can get a decent room
with attached toilet.
On 1st July we have commenced our tour with the viswaroopa sevai of Sri
Oppiliappan. How many times we have come to this temple and perfomed
how many kalyana utsavams here but still one can't feel fully satisfied
seeing the tall Oppar il appan. The another great advantage is that we
can do darshan of the perumal even from a long distance since HE is
very tall. In my humble opinion viswaroopa sevai is the great one in
any temple. In that early hour it is easy to meditate on the Lord and
even during summer that early morning will be pleasent despite poorly
ventilated and crowded temples. We could not move so easily but we were
remembering Rajendren's instructions last night that we must leave
latest by 6.30 AM if we have to cover all the temples as per our
By 7AM we left for Thanjai mamanikkoil. Now Sri Sampath is coordinating
our kaimkaryams at vennar bank. We went to Narasimhar and Manikundra
perumal temples before neelamega perumal temple. We were delighted to
hear that finally Govt has given approval to proceed with renovation of
Neelamegapperumal temple. You may aware that our divya desa kainkarya
trust has commited to renovate Thayar sannidhi and Sri Hayagreevar
sannidhi and we are glad that this kaimkaryam is finally coming thru.
The cracks in the temple walls have widened over the years and hope
this kaimkaryam is commenced soon.
Due to shortage of time we have to skip THirukkandiyur from our
schedule and we have rushed to THirukkudalur. Rajendren sensed that the
bhattar won't be at the temple and he suggested to first go to his home
before going to temple. As expected bhattar was at home and it appeared
some social function at his home. Initally he pleaded that he can't
make a trip but finally he agreed to send his deputy along with us. So
we had good darshan at THirukkudalur. We have been told that the temple
is in need of donations for nitya aradanam but adiyen read that another
group has already working on this kaimkaryam. If you have any details
on this please email me.
After Thirukkudalur we went to Kabistalam. Our trust is doing
kaimkaryam in this temple. Since we did not inform the bhattar he was
away but we could have darshan here. In this temple there are many
hurdles to do kaimkaryam but somehow our humble bit is being done. Now
we have recommenced our monthly thirumanjanam and let us hope that this
temple will shine in the years to come.
After a brief visit to Sri Ramakrishnan's house (our local coordinator)
we have rushed to Pullambhudhangudi. Here the temple underwent
samprokshanam recently and the temple is being maintained very well.
This temple and Sri Aadhanur temple are under the patronage of Sri
Ahobila mutt and it was nice to see clean temple. From here we went to
adhanur. As we were entering the temple, we were told that archaka has
gone to Narasimhapuram where brindavanam of five azhagiya singars are
located. We have rushed there so that we could seek blessings of
acharyas and bring the archaka with us to adhanur temple. But once we
reached the brindavanam we were told that he has already left. So we
have to come back to adanur temple. Finally he came and gave us darshan
of perumal thayar. We have requested him to come with us to
Narasimhapuram and we were blessed to seek blessings of five
azhagiyasingars. See this
link for some images of this punya sthalam.
Finally we have reached Nathan koil (nandhipura vinnagaram) around 12
Noon. Our trust is also involved in various kaimkaryams here and two
day utsavams are also undertaken by our trust. We had our prasadam here
and the cook from Srivilliputtur has given us a treat with traditional
food on plantain leaf. After all that running around in the hot sun, we
relished the prasddam and we could also share with another goshti of
ladies who was on a divydsesa tour from chennai. They were so thankful
as it was unexpected by them and they were openly thanking
us/kainkaryaparas for the gesture.
Back to Oppiliappan koil for brief rest and by 5 PM we went to
kumbakonam town to visit Chakrapani, Sarangapani and Ramaswamy temples.
After many years adiyen is coming to these temples and one senior
archaka has accompanied us at sarangapani and ramaswamy temples and
arranged for good darshan. Rajendran managed to drop us at Station well
in time for our return journey to chennai. appa stayed back as the
sravanam was just after two days. He has been travelling from chennai
to Oppiliappan koil for every sravanam for almost 4,5 years now and
there is big goshti travelling like this.
Hope you have enjoyed my ramblings on our trip. In fact adiyen wanted
to write in detail but it was getting postponed for want of time. If
you need any help to visit any of these temples please let me know.
Also please visit the kaimkaryam link to know about our current
activities and your support is welcome. We are also looking for
volunteers to oversee our kaimkaryams who are based in
Thanjai,Kumbakonam area. If you know some one who can assist us, drop a
Thanks for your patient reading. Don't forget to see the updated
virtual tour page with lots of new images.