Archive | February 2019

462. Kasi Yathra – II

There is a saying about Kasi Kalabairavar temple, “Even air won’t enter Kasi city without the permission of Kalabairavar.  We will be get rid of all the worries and threats by our enemies, if we fell into the feet of Kalabairavar”. So, our first visit in Kasi was really useful to recharge our mind and body.

After returning to our room, we had lunch. Immediately we started to visit more places. We were taken to Birla Mandir by jeep.  The Birlatemple in Varanasi is called as Shri Vishwanath Mandir. It is one of the famous temple for its architectural beauty and serene factor. The temple has the highest temple tower in the world. The temple is 77 metre long. The temple is completely made of marble. There are 9 shrines inside this temple. In the ground floor, there is a large Shiva temple. In the first floor, there are shrines for Durga and Lakshmi Narayan. Other main temples are Hanuman temple, Ganesh temple, Parvati temple, Nataraj temple, Saraswathi temple and Nandi. The complete prose of the Gita is inscribed on the walls along with pictures. Since it is a replica Kashi Vishwanath temple, it is called as the New Vishwanath temple.

Next, we went to Thualasi Manas Mandir. It is located at Durgakund very close to the Durga Temple in the Varanasi city. It is made up of the white marble in the year 1964 and looks very attractive having beautiful garden. The temple is dedicated to the Lord Rama and constructed by the family of Banaras. The temple has beautiful images of the Ram, Sita, Lakshhman and Hanuman.  It is believed to be built at the same place where Tulsidas wrote the famous Indian epic, Ramcharitamanasa. The walls of the Tulsi Manas temple are engraved with verses and scenes from the Ramcharitammanasa, the Hindi version of the Ramayana. I lost my cheppal in this temple. My husband was very careful as he left the cheppal in the jeep itself.

Then, we went to Durga temple nearby. Durga temple is also known as the Monkey temple because of the presence of huge number of monkeys, situated in the Durga Kund, Varanasi.  It was built in the 18th century. Durga temple was constructed by a Bengali Maharani in the north Indian Style with multi tiered shikhara.  The statue of Goddess Durga is not human made; it was appeared by its own in the temple. This temple is made up in the square shape with the red color stone representing the color of the Matha Durga.

I will talk about more and more temples in my next blog.

461. Kasi Yathra – I

After bringing mud from Rameswaram, we started our Kasi yathra, as planned. We had booked tickets through Shri Raghavendra Tours, Coimbatore, already.  As our friends and relatives have given good opinion about the organisers, we were happy to join in this group. It was a 8 days trip.  Food, accomodation, sight seeing and srartha arrangements were done by them very nicely.  As we preferred AC III tier travel, we booked tickets ourselves. There were 35 tourists in this group.

The organiser provided ID card, a cap, a plate and a tumbler to each tourist, before the journey.  First, we went to Chennai from  Coimbatore by Intercity Express.  From Chennai, we travelled to Varanasi  by Sangamithra Express. The organiser served food to all the tour participants in their seats, even though the seats were in different compartments.  We enjoyed the travel, as we were in AC compartment. But, our friends in II class sleeper faced some problems as many people got into their compartments, as the train moved towards North India. Finally,  we got down at Mughal Sarai Junction, after travelling for 38 hours, in this train.

The organiser arranged 4 jeeps for our travel from the Juncion to Gaudiya Mutt, Sonarpura, Varanasi. We were provided good rooms. After keeping the luggage, we brushed our teeth. Hot coffee was served to us. We were taken to Kedhar Ghat for doing Ganga Snana, by a local guide.  Snana Sankalpa was done by a Prohith.  We happily took bath in Ganga river for which we were longing for. Then, my husband and male members did srartha sankalpa, in that holy place. After that, we returned to our room.

After having tiffin in the meaning, we started our local sight seeing visit.  Our first place of visit is Shri Kala Bairavar temple.  Whoever lands in Varanasi will like to visit this temple. Five persons travelled in an auto. The journey was about 45 minutes. The auto driver himself took us inside the temple, as we have to walk through narrow roads from the parking place. The temple is in Vishweshwarganj area. The entry to the temple is narrow there is outer mantapam where one can see the Lord. The entry to inner sanctum is at the back where one can have clear darshan.  The Lord is on His vahana Dog and has silver face. All around the temple there is narrow path to circumvent the temple to the side of the path there is elevated platform where are seated Brahmins with inventory like  thread and other items. They also have ‘Danda of Peacock feathers’ to bless the pilgrims. They will wave it on the pilgrims to wade off sins.

This is the history of Kala Bairava temple. Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma are the three main Gods of Hinduism. Once, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu got into a fight regarding who is the supreme among all three. All the Vedas pronounced Lord Shiva as the supreme power. Both Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma laughed at this conclusion. Shiva got angry and went into a rage that created a ferocious light. Lord Vishnu surrendered but Lord Brahma continued to stare at the light, which caused one of his heads to burn out. The light that was created by Lord Shiva became a being called as Kal. Kal walked around the world with the head of Brahma in his hand. When he entered Kashi, the head dropped to the ground and his sins washed away. Kaal stayed back in  Kasi.

I will continue the details in my next blog.

460. Trip to Rameswaram – III

In Rrameswaram,  first day trip ended with visiting Danushkodi and other temples. Next day, we did srartham for our ancestors in Uttaradhi Mutt. After lunch, we took a taxi to visit some other places in Rameswaram.

First, we went to Devipattinam. Devipattinam is a coastal village situated in the Ramanathapuram district. Devipattinam is 65.9 Km distance far from Rameswaram island and 13.8 Km distance from Ramanathapuram via the east coast Road.  Lord Rama installed the nine stones representing the Navagrahas, (the 9 planets), to worship before commencing the war with the demon king Ravana, who kidnapped Rama’s wife Sita. It is believed by the pilgrims that by took bath in this sea and worship the 9 planets, all our karma related problems and Navagraha dhoshams  will be rectified.  This Navagraha temple is located a few meters from the seashore and is located inside the sea.

After worshipping Navagrahas,  we moved to  Utharakosamangai. Thiru Uthirakosamangai is a renowned Shiva temple believed to exist from 3000 years ago. The presiding deity Managalanathar is believed to have preached the meanings of Vedas and other auspicious secrets of Hinduisms to His consort Managalambigai at this holy place. Yet another most significant aspect of this temple is the Lord Nataraja idol. Lord Nataraja is considered to be the dancing form of Lord Shiva. The unbelievable fact about this idol is that Lord Nataraja stands as a six feet tall statue carved out of a single emerald stone. Once a year, on the day of Thriuvadhirai Star during the Tamil month Margazhi, Lord Nataraja can be worshipped without the sandal paste. There is a separate shrine in this temple where 1008 distinct idols of Shiva Lingams are found and they are called as Sahasra Lingam. 

Sethukarai , meaning the edge of the sea at Sethu, a tiny village near Tirupullani, finds a prominent place in the Ramayana. It is believed that Lord Rama constructed a bridge of floating stones across the sea to Srilanka , with the help of Hanuman and His army of vanaras. Interestingly, a Hanuman temple is here facing the sea. People take a holy dip in the sea and worship Lord Hanuman , invoking His blessings. It is also said to be the place hwere Rama accepted the surrender of Vibeeshana, brother of Ravana. It is a very small temple and is visited be many pilgrims to Rameshwaram, which is about 70 KM from here. It is easily reached from Ramanathapuram by road in about 90 minutes. .

Finally, we went to Thirupullani. Located at a distance of around 70 km from Rameshwaram, Sri Adi Jagannatha Perumal Temple, popularly known as Thirupullani Temple, is one of the 108 Divya Desam temples.  In this Thirupullani temple, the main deity is Lord Dharba Sayana Rama. The speciality of this temple is that Lord has been shown in reclining posture. There are also separate shrines for Goddess Padmasini, who is the consort of Lord Adi Jagannatha, Goddess Shridevi, Goddess Bhudevi, Lord Krishna. The image of Lord Krishna in this temple has been shown depicting Lord dancing on a snake.

Finally, the taxi driver dropped us in Mandapam Railway station, as trains to Rameswaram go upto Mandapam only. We returned to Coimbatore, carrying sweet memories about the historical place, Rameswaram.

459. Trip to Rameswaram – II

After visiting  Ramanathaswamy temple at Rameswaram, we returned to our room and had lunch. We started immediately started for Danushkodi, by auto.

The auto driver was narating many interesting news about Danushkodi, while travelling.  Access to the place is through a bumpy ride of around 45  minutes. It is about 20 miles from Rameswaram. It is situated to the South-East of Pamban and is about 18 miles (29 km) west of Talaimannar  in  Sri Lanka. The town was destroyed during the “1964 Rameswaram Cyclone” and remains uninhabited in the aftermath. It is a nice place to visit for the historic point of view and it is really awesome to have the experience of being at a place all around the Sea. On the right, we have Indian ocean and on the left,  Bay of Bengal.  We got ashtonished to see the Ramaseethu stone which floats on water and used by Lord Sri Ram.  There are no trace of  Rama sethu, a mythological bridge constructed between Rameshwaram and Lanka to bring back Goddess Seetha. The sun rays casted silver streak on the waves.  The Dhanushkodi Beach is one of the few major attractions this quaint town has to offer. The white sand beach is mostly deserted.

Next, we visited Jada Theertham.  Around 3.5km from Ramanathaswamy Temple, on the way to Dhanushkodi Village,  Jada Tirtham is known among the Hindu devotees for the sacred pond. It is believed that when Rama was about to worship Shiva Lingam in Rameshwaram after killing Ravana, he washed his Jata (matted hair) in Jada Tirtham. There is a temple next to the pond of Jada Tirtham.

Our next place of visit is also connected with Ramayana. We can remember the mountain mentioned in the Ramayana from where Hanuman was about to fetch the medicinal herbs to save Laxman. Yes! It is Gandhamadana Parvatham which was carried by Lord Hanuman on his shoulders. This utterly pious and quaint religious spot is 3 km away from the centre of the town. A double storied temple of Lord Rama houses the imprints of his feet on a chakra. It is also considered to be the highest point in Rameshwaram, so you can have a birds’ eye view of the whole island from the peak.

Then, we visited Panchamuka Anjaneya temple. Highly revered by the Hindus, the temple of Five Faced Hanuman is only 2 km from the Ramanathaswamy Temple. It is believed that Hanumana revealed his five-faced form for the first time in this place. The statue of Lord Hanuman is smeared with sindoor and worshipped with utmost devotion. The temple here enshrines the statues of Rama, Laxman and Sita. There is a floating stone in the temple which is believed to have been used during Sethu Bandhanam as mentioned in the Ramayana.

Next, we moved to visit Kothandaramaswamy temple. An approximately 500 year old temple located at the southernmost tip of this island, Kothandaramaswamy Temple is yet another pilgrimage destination in Rameshwaram. The temple is very close to the sea and appears as an ideal place to trace the footprints of Rama. The temple here has the idols of Rama, Sita and Laxman along with Vibhishan. It is believed that Rama did the last rites of Pattabhishekam of Vibhishan in this place. The temple walls are scribled with the paintings depicting the same story.

Our next place of visit was Lakshmana Theertham. A sacred pond dug near the temple of Laxmana, Lakshmana Tirtham is a divine place close to Ramanathswamy Temple. The temple of Laxmana contains several instances of Ramayana engraved on its walls.

Jatayu theertham  is a memorial sort of construction which was built in memory of the great loyal eagle of Ramayana called Jatayu who informed Rama about Ravana’s misdeeds and abduction of Sita. He sacrificed his life while fighting with Ravana to save Sita.

Then, we saw Satchi hanuman temple. According to a popular event from the Hindu Epic Ramayana , this is the place where Lord Hanuman informed Lord Rama about the whereabouts of Goddess Sita (consort of Lord Rama, who was abducted by the demon king Ravana). As an evidence of her well-being, Lord Hanuman gave God Rama the choodamani (jewellery) of Goddess Sita.

We moved to Krishna Pranami Mangal Mandir. The sculpture at entrance  is spectacular. It is actually a Charity Trust maintained by private organization and it has a Krishna Temple and an art gallery inside it specially for visitors, pilgrims and tourists. Idols of Radha and Krishna are inside this temple. The art gallery audio, video sessions inside this temple. The Tale of Krishna and Avatars of Vishnu were depicted here. There is an electric moving statues inside the Ashram. This place Have a Electronic Gallery about Lord Krishna life stories through moving Robotics.

Our final visit was to Dr. Abdul Kalam’s residence. At present, his residence has been converted into a museum that stocks his childhood memoirs.  The place is ideal to get a glimpse into the extraordinary life of this simple man, right from childhood to his research days. Several pictures and awards of Dr. Kalam are kept on display in this two-storey building, which is maintained by his elder brother.

Finally, we returned to our room to take rest. I will continue to tell about my next day trip in my next blog.

458. Trip to Rameswaram I

We have got a plan to visit Kasi alias Varanasi. Before that we wanted to visit Rameswaram.  Actually, I don’t have any idea about the city Rameswaram.  It is in Pamban Island  separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel and is about 40 kilometres from  Mannar Island, Sri Lanka. It is in the  Gulf of Mannar, at the tip of the Indian peninsula. Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, is connected to mainland India by the Pamban Bridge. Rameswaram is the terminus of the railway line from Chennai  and Madurai. Together with Varanasi, it is considered to be one of the holiest places in India to Hindus.

We had already booked a room in Uttaradhi Mutt. After takng bath and doing Theertha Sankalpa there, the mutt people arranged for a guide. He took us to have the theertha snana. Rameswaram has 22 Theerthams in the form of wells in various parts of the temple. They are Mahalakshmi Theertham, Savithri Theertham, Gayathri Theertham, Saraswathy Theertham, Sethu Madhava Theertham, Gandamadana Theertham, Kavacha Theertham, Gavaya Theertham, Nala Theertham, Neela Theertham, Sangu Theertham, Sakkara Theertham, Brahmahathi Vimochana Theertham, Soorya Theertham, Chandra Theertham, Ganga Theertham, Yamuna Theertham, Gaya Theertham, Siva Theertham, Sathyamirtha Theertham, Sarva Theertham and Kodi Theertham.  Taking bath in all these Theerthams purify the body as well as the mind.  It is believed that this water is holy and also having medicinal qualities.

The guide took water from each well with the help of a small bucket and rope. Then, he poured it on our head. There were lot of pilgrims everywhere. All were taking bath very happily. Even small children were enjoying. Then, the guide took us to the Samudram to do Samudra Snana. We took a handful of mud and preserved for our Kasi yathra trip. We returned to our room, by walk, changed dress and moved immediately to the temple again.

Adi Shankaracharya propagated the idea of Hinduism through Advaita Vedanta and the town of Rameshwaram stands as a testimony of his faith. One of the four pilgrimage places, Char Dham of India, it modestly invites followers of Lord Shiva from everywhere to pay visit at least once in their lifetime to the Jyotirlinga installed in the Ramanathaswamy Temple. Vaishnavites are also not left in their devotion to come to this place which is believed to be associated with Lord Rama, incarnation of Lord Vishnu as well.

The temple and the island of Rameswaram have acquired this name because, Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva, the God of Gods here on return from Sri Lanka. According to legend, after killing Ravana  Lord Rama returned with his consort Goddess Seetha to India first stepping on the shores of Rameswaram. To expiate the “dosha” of killing a brahmin, Lord Rama wanted to offer worship to Lord Shiva. Since there was no shrine in the island had despatched Sri Hauman to Kailash to bring an idol of Lord Shiva.

However, Hanuman couldn’t return with lingam on time owing to which Goddess Sita has created a lingam herself. Lord Rama then worshipped Lord Shiva at the pre decided auspicious moment. Pleased, Lord Shiva blessed Lord Rama and upon his request also manifested himself in the lingam. It is the believed that the same lingam is now present in the sanctum of the temple. As per the legend, the lingam brought by Hanuman from Kailash has also been kept in the temple. The lingam is known as Vishwalingam or Hanumalingam. As per the instructions of Lord Rama, prayers are offered at Hanumalingam first before offering prayers to the Lord Ramanathaswamy.

There are shrines of Goddess Visalakshi, Parvathavardhini, Lord Vinayaka and Lord Subramanya and Perumal as well. Another important idol is of Nandi, this massive statue with a height of 17.5 feet and a length and width of 23 and 12 feet respectively moves devotees not only with its religious aura but also with incomparable sculpting excellence.

After having the darshan of all the Gods, we returned to our room. I will describe the remaining details of Rameswaram trip in my next blog.

457.My visit to places in December 2018-II

After visiting Namakkal, we moved to Thiruchenkode. I already visited this place some 30 years back. At that time, I could climb the steps easily to have the darshan of Lord Ardhanareeswarar.  This time, I feared that I could not climb steps that much easily.  The hill top temple can be reached by climbing up 1206 steps, made of stone. To my surprise, proper road was available so that we could go by car to the top.

The town has a hill, which is about 650 ft. height . The temple is dedicated to  the unique half-male half-female of Lord Shiva. It is perhaps the only temple in Asia where this rare form of the Divine is enshrined as the principal deity. The deity here is also known as Madhorubagan  and Ammaiappan.  (mother-father).  An eternal spring runs under the feet of Lord Ardhanareeswarar. The famous Chenkottu Velavar Temple, dedicated to Lord Murugan , is also situated on the same hill.

Thirugnanasambandhar praised this temple in Devaram.  Great poets and saints like Arunagirinathar, Ilango adigal, Kaviraja pandithar amongst others have enlogised this holy place in their divine poems.  Lord Arthanareeswarar is giving salvation to all souls, from the hill top temple. Lord Sengottuvelavar and Lord Adhikesava Perumal in separate shrines as presiding deities.

With happy faces, we came back to Coimbatore, after finishing our wonderful tour of the year 2018.

 

 

456. My visit to places in December 2018-I

During the last week of December 2018, I visited some places with my sister’s family. We started in our car and first went to Dharapuram Hanumantha Rayar temple. The Famous kadu Hanumantharaya swamy temple, Dharapuram was installed by Sri Vyasaraja Theertharu.  The Swamy’s right hand blesses the devotees and left hand carries the flower Sowganthi. People from all over India visit this place year around and it is believed that everyone’s wishes come true by the grace of Sri Hanumantha here.

Next, we went straightaway to Eachamalai Mahalakshmi temple.    As per Periapuranam,  when Kurumba Nayanar came to know that Lord Shiva decided to recall  his guru Sundaramurthy Nayanar to Kailash, Kurumba Nayanar decided to reach Kailash before his guru, with the help of Yogas  as he could not live on earth, in the absence of his guru.

Shri Aadhi Mahalakshmi was the family deity of Kurumba Nayanar. She came from the milk ocean when Asuras and Devas churn milk ocean. Lord Vishnu  was distributing Nectar to Devas  and poison to Demons. One demon named Andhakasura slipped  to avoid poison, he saw Mahalakshmi and started to chase Her. She reached gMettur Mahadhanapuram,  where Kurumbas were grazing their cattle.  Goddess Mahalakshmi hid Herself inside a hole.  Ravana  was doing penance there. He thought that Mahalakshmi came there to kill him. So, he left for Lanka and Andhakasura chose Ravana’s place for hiding.

Kurumbas looked with surprise when Mahalakshmi consumed the sheep’s milk. They dig a wet place and found Mahalakshmi in Suyambu Roopa. She asked the Kurumbas to protect Her from the demon. Kurumbas covered Her with woolen cloth. Andhakasura fought with Kurumbas and captured Mahalakshmi. When the kurumbas started to break three-eyed coconut in their heads, worshipping Lord Shiva, He appeared and saved Mahalakshmi. This place is called Eachamalai.

Eachamalai is located in the outskirts of Poomparai village, 18 KMs from Kodaikanal town. More than for the spiritual reasons, the temple is popular for its scenic beautiful surroundings.  This temple is built as per Kerala Architectural style. We can visit once this place to have the darshan of Goddess Mahalakshmi and enjoy the beauty.

Next, we came to Namakkal and had the darshan of Lord Narasimhar and Lord Anjaneya. I will continue the details of visit in my next blog.