Suddenly we planned to visit some temples in and around Kumbakonam and Thanjavur. We didn’t expect that we could visit 29 temples in four days (including journey from Coimbatore to Kumbakonam and back). I wish to share some important information about the temples visited by us and also our experience.
We visited all the Navagraha temples and some more temples. In all the Navagraha temples, the main deity is Lord Shiva and the graha sannnidhis are in the outside prahara only.
Since we had gone during working days, there was no rush. We had very good darshan in all temples. We could talk to the Archagars regarding the Sthalapurana and important festivals in many temples. We carried flowers only to all the deities. In some temples, they refused to do Archana since we didn’t carry coconut and banana. Everywhere, the parking fee is very high. We spent about Rs.1000/- as parking fee, overall. I wish that the parking and public toilet may be made free to the devotees, in all the temples. Another big problem is the disturbance by the beggars. Many beggars are lazy and simply want to earn money, by just sitting in front of the temple. We offered money only to the old people and physically disabled.
We started on Monday morning by 7.10 AM by Shatabdi Express, from Coimbatore. The journey was OK. Since we carried tiffin, we purchased coffee only in the train. The quality is not good. My husband’s friend arranged for a taxi to pick up us from Kumbakonam station. We asked the driver to take us to all the temples, for 4 days. He had already booked a room for us in Swamimalai. The lodge was near the temple. Very few vegetarian hotels are available near the temple and the food is OK.
As per the advice of my husband’s friend, we started by 4 PM to visit Thingalore. It is about 26 KM from Swamimalai. It is situated on Kumbakonam to Thiruvaiyaru route. We had very good darshan there. Since it was Monday, there was little rush in the temple. Here, the Moolavar is Kailasanathar. Just like Guruvayur, Annaprasanam for infants is done here by many devotees. The Graha Chandra removes all obstacles in our life and fulfills our desires such as marriage, child boon and good education.
Then, we returned to Swamimalai. After some time, my husband’s friend came and checked the facilities for us in the lodge. Then, he took us to Swamimalai Murugan temple. He is very popular there and the Archagars gave respect to him. They treated us well and they ask us to sit in front of Lord Muruga. We had close-up darshan and we got malai-mariyadhai.
In Swamimalai, the main deity is Swaminathaswamy. As per Hindu legend, once Lord Brahma insulted Muruga, the son of Shiva. Brahma told that he could create all creatures in the world with the help of four Vedas. On Muruga’s request he started reciting Vedas. He started with the Pranava Manthram “Om“. Muruga asked Him to tell the meaning of it. Since Brahma could not answer, Muruga imprisoned Him. Lord Shiva went to rescue Brahma. Shiva asked Muruga to explain the meaning and He extolled the meaning of the Pranava Mantra (Om) to his father at this place and hence attained the name Swaminathaswamy. Brahma was released. The shrine of the son Muruga is atop the hillock, while the father Shiva’s shrine is located at the basement. There are sixty steps and each one is named after the sixty Tamil years. Swamimalai is 4th of Arupadaiveedu temples. The peacock is not the Vahana of Muruga here and the elephant is the divine vehicle.
There are three prakarams and three entrances in this Murugan shrine. The southen entrance is the main entrance to the temple and the main temple tower (Raja gopuram) – with its 5 tiers – is located above this entrance.There is a temple dedicated to Meenakshi Sundareswarar ( depicting Lord Vishnu giving his sisters hand in marriage to Lord Shiva ) – this temple is known as Kizh Koil . The main temple that enshrines Lord Muruga as Swaminadha swami is known as Mel Koil.
We spent some more time in the temple and returned to the hotel, after thanking my husband’s friend.