Srimathe ramanujaya namaha

Dear bhagavathas,


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.

1. Thiruppullani
2. Thirukkoshtiyur
3. Thiruth thaNkaal
4. Srivilliputtur
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 unique.

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.

04567-254242 (res)  
04567-221233 (off)

Srirangam Srimad Andavan Ashramam South Car Street, 
Thiruppullani 623532
phone 04567-254247
Aradhakar Govindachariyar phone 9894233598
Cell:    9443559597
ashramam manager Sridhar
<>phone  9943784885

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

Second 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 is consuming 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 arathi.

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.

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 schedule.

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 line.

Thanks for your patient reading. Don't forget to see the updated virtual tour page with lots of new images.


dasan venkat