Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kudanthai Chakrapani Koil


The Only Temple in India exclusively dedicated for Chakrathazhvaar
Chariot Festival on Maasi Magam (March 9) is a special feature at this temple

One of the three historical Perumal Koils located in the heart of Kumbakonam is the Chakrapani Koil, where Lord Vishnu is said to have appeared before the Sun God, cooled his over heated state and brought him out of his arrogant behaviour.

Chakrapani koil is about a kilometre West of Saarangapani Koil (http://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2007/10/108-divya-desam-thiru-kudanthai.html) and North- West of Ramaswamy Koil (http://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2009/01/kudanthai-ramaswamy.html).

While there are several temples with prominent Sannidhis for Chakrathaazhvar (ThiruMogur is one-http://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2007/12/thirumogur-kaalamegha-perumal.html,Srirangam is another), this is the only Vishnu temple exclusively for Chakrathaazhvaar.

Lord Chakrapani is seen with 8 hands, each holding a weapon. Chakrathazhvaar, who has 3 eyes, is also called Trinethradhari.

The story
Once upon a time, the rishis found it difficult to undertake their penance at this place as they were continuously troubled by Asura Jalanda. Around the same time, the Sun Lord’s heat in this region was becoming unmanageable. When asked the reason for this over heated state, the Sun Lord replied in an arrogant tone that he was the only source of light and heat and it was his choice to decide the intensity.

The rishis undertook penance at this place invoking the blessings of Lord Vishnu to save them, both from the asura and the heat.

Answering their prayers, Lord Vishnu appeared here and hurled the chakra in his right hand to kill the Asura. This chakra was said to have had the power equivalent to several times the Sun’s rays.

Sun God goes into hiding
Seeing the powerful Chakra swirl from the hands of Lord Vishnu, a threatened Sun Lord went into hiding. A worried Devas came down in a large group here and requested Lord Vishnu to give back the powers of the Sun God so this place could receive the sun rays again.

Realising his folly, the Sun God too came out from his hiding, invoked the blessings of Lord Vishnu here and apologised for his arrogant behaviour. In memory of this event, the Sun God performed special poojas for Sudarshana Moorthy on Maasi Magam.

Maasi Magam- Chariot Festival
The Lord goes out on a chariot procession around the four streets on this day. On this same day- Maasi Magam- Theppotsavam takes place at the Saarangapani Koil. An interesting feature is that the Maasi Magam day is celebrated across all Saivite and Vishnu temples here in Kumbakonam, making it an important festival for this temple town. This year(2009), Maasi Magam falls on March 9 (Monday).

Chakrathazhvaar seen with Sudarshana Valli

To prevent the possibility of this place becoming over heated again, Sudarashanavalli Thaayar is seen alongside Chakrathazhvaar (while normally one sees Vijayavalli Thaayar next to Chakrathazhvaar). There is a separate sannidhi for Vijayavalli Thaayar.

Bhaskara Kshetram
As the Sun God asked for Saranagathi and regained his full powers, this place is referred to as Bhaskara Kshteram.

5 different kinds of Poojas
Inside the sanctum, one finds Brahmma, Agni, Ahirbadri Rishi, Goddess Mahalakshmi and Sun God, each of whom is said to perform 5 different kinds of poojas for Lord Chakrapani every day.

Devotees Wishes Fulfilled
Entering this temple is said to provide positive energy for devotees who pray with sincerity. Just undertaking a simple Prathakshanam around the Perumal and Thaayar Sannidhi is believed to fulfil all the wishes of the devotees.

Sudarshana Homam, Thirumanjanam and Sahasranamam Archanai are special at this temple. Gothumai Payasam is a speciality at the Chakrapani temple

FestivalsChariot Festival on Maasi Magam
10 day Brahmotsavam in Chitrai along with Sarangapani Lord
Pavitrotsavam in Aavani
Theppotsavam on Vaikasi Pournami

Quick Facts
Moolavar: Chakrapani seen with Sudarshana Valli
Thaayar : Vijaya Valli(Separate Sannidhi)

Time : 7am-12noon and 430pm-9pm

Contact: Soundara Raja Bhattar@ 94863 10896

How to reach the temple
Auto from Kumbakonam Bus Stand /Railway Station will cost about Rs.40 -50/-.
Auto from Sarangapani or Ramaswamy Koil will cost about Rs.25.

Where to Stay
Green Park/ Hotel Aditya(Within a Km of Saarangapani Koil)
Retiring room in Kumbakonam Railway Station

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Trichy Junction AC Lounge Update

AC Lounge at Trichy Junction turns into a nightmare
The new AC lounge on Platform 1 at the Trichy Junction was launched last year and had proved to be quite useful and convenient for short trip travellers in the last 6 months, given both the facilities and economical costs.

However, irresponsible behaviour of some of the passengers is turning the stay at the AC Lounge into a nightware.

Here are three broad irritants that passengers have experienced of late:

1. Non-stop loud cell phone conversions from within the lounge, quite unmindful
of other passengers

2. Passengers using the high quality sofas as a sleeping place- leading to limitation of space for other passengers (the AC lounge was launched at an economical charge of Rs. 10/- for the first two hours of stay, but it looks like the passengers are converting this into a mini retiring room)

3. The notice board outside the AC Lounge clearly states that eatables are not allowed. Again, unmindful of this message, passengers have begun using the lounge as a dinner table. This has now led to rats inside the Lounge.

The AC Lounge was quite a novel concept when launched but poor implementation is leading to a lot of irritant passengers.

The TPJ Station Manager and the concerned staff would have to take quick corrective action, lest this really nice concept turns against them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal Thanjavur


Handsome, Slim looking Lord in Thanjavur who solves all the problems of devotees
Muthuswamy Deekshithar composed Sri Prasanna Venkatesa Bhajegam in praise of this Lord

A beautiful old temple situated in the heart of Thanjavur is the Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal Koil. Built during the period of Achutha Nayakar by Maratha King Pratap Singh, the temple is right in the centre of the famous four Raja Streets of Thanjavur. In earlier times, the Lord was called ‘Malai Eriya Perumal‘.

It is believed that Lord Vishnu appeared one night in the dreams of Pratap Singh as Venkatesa Perumal. Answering the King’s prayers, Lord is said to have asked the King to pick up the idol of the Lord along with the Thaayar lying behind in the temple tank and install at the temple here. One has to climb about 10 steps to reach the temple. Believed to be a Prarthana Sthalam, Prasanna Venkatesan Perumal is said to solve all the problems of devotees.

On the Northern side of the temple Vishwaksenar Sannidhi. There area also sannidhis for the 12 Azhvaars, Adi Kesavaperumal and Krishnan with Rukmani and Satyabhama. About 100 yards to the East of this temple is the South Facing Lord Ranganatha temple.

Kutcheri at the temple
One of the highlights in the year, is the special kutcheri every evening at 6pm for 15 days beginning Aadi Amavasai. On the 10th day, the Utsava deity, decorated in a special alankaram is taken out on a street procession.

It is said that Muthuswamy Deekshithar, one of the Sangeetha Mummurthigal, composed Sri Prasanna Venkatesa Bhajegam in Vasantha Bairavi Raagam in praise of this Lord.

Festivals
Chitrai Utsavam, Puratasi Brahmotsavam, 18 Garuda Sevai, Aipasi(Revathi Nakshatram)and Aavani(Thiruvonam) Thiru Kalyana Utsavam, Margazhi Adhyana Utsavam
During Hanuman Jayanthi in Margazhi, Lord Hanuman is taken out on a street Procession.

Temple Administration
The temple comes under the administration of the Thanjavur Palace, headed currently by Sri. Babaji Rajah Bhonsle. Under his able leadership, most of the Perumal koils in and around Thanjavur have received a face lift.

Quick Facts
Moolavar: Prasanna Venkatesan East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar : Alamelumangaia, Padmavathi Thaayar
Temple Time : 7am-11am and 5pm-830pm
Priest : Gunasekara Bhattar @ 04362 224008 or Srikanth Bhattar

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chennai Mayavaram railway route

Madras- Chidambaram-Seerkazhi Main Line rail route remains suspended
Will the train travellers get to travel on the Madras-Chidambaram-Seerkazhi route in the near future?


It has been a few years since the old and the ever popular Madras-Trichy main line rail route was suspended. This section saw popular trains such as Chozhan and Kamban Express running through the green fields and near the temple towers(Rock Fort Express also used to run on this line before being shifted to the Chord Line).

The reason for this suspension of services was the broad gauging of the main line between Villupuram and Mayiladuthurai / Kumbakonam. It seemed a very noble cause then. What however has become a nightmare of passengers has been the unreasonable delay in conversion of this less than 150km stretch between Villupuram and Mayiladuthurai.

Given the importance of the towns on this route – the sea port of Cuddalore, the education hub and temple town of Chidambaram, the temple and agricultural towns of Seerkazhi and Mayiladuthurai, one would have hoped for a fast conversion of the meter gauge line to broad gauge to facilitate passenger traffic between Madras and Mayiladuthurai and going up to Tiruchirapalli. The extension of this line beyond Mayiladuthurai takes one to religious/ port towns of Nagore- Nagapattinam (Velankanni) and Tiruvarur.

Reverse Conversion
While one would have expected the railways to have commenced conversion of Villupuram-Cuddalore-Chidambaram route, interestingly, we saw a very fast conversion of Trichy-Thanjavur-Kumbakonam stretch of 90kms, ahead of the Maha Magam ( a few years ago) which has now been extended by another 35kms to Mayiladuthurai.

Deadlines
Years have passed. Several deadlines seem to have slipped by. And the broad gauge conversion of the Main Line still remains a mystery. A weak Coloroon bridge is the unending reasoning of the railway authorities. In this age of technological advancement, it seems a rather poor excuse not to find a solution for a weak bridge.

Buses on this route, including the private operators, are making hay while the Coloroon Bridge continues to remain weak. Bus services on this stretch have expanded dramatically. One visit to the Chidambaram and Cuddalore bus stands late in the night or early in the morning(4am) would confirm the happy state of affairs for the bus operators on this route.

In the last fortnight, authorities have run test services on the 20km route between Mayiladuthurai and Seerkazhi but the important Madras-Mayavaram section remains disconnected.

Will 2009 see the resumption of services of this once famous Madras-Chidambaram-Kumbakonam-Trichy Main Line Rail Route? One will have to wait and watch. Till then, it will continue to be a happy journey for the bus operators!!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Gunaseelam Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal Koil

A 5000 year old temple that helps cure all kinds of diseases and rehabilitates mentally challenged people
Lord is said to protect devotees from evil forces and is believed to instil positive energy

Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal koil in Gunaseelam is located about 25kms North West of Srirangam on the Trichy- Namakkal- Salem highway on the Northern banks of Cauvery near the Upper Anaicut (Mukkombu).

The temple bears absolutely no resemblance to what it was a quarter of a century ago. With devotees’ contribution, the hereditary trustees have been able to transform the temple into a very impressive one. Currently, interesting paintings and photographs adorn the inside of the temple, nice solid flooring welcomes you leading to the handsome Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal seen in a Standing posture facing East. Being a parikara and prarthana sthalam has its obvious advantages in attracting devotees, yet the effort taken by the trustees in giving this temple a complete face lift is commendable.

The story
In Bhavishyotra Puranam, one finds reference to the significance of this temple in Gunaseela Mahaatmiyam. Thaalpiya Maharishi along with his disciple Gunaseela Rishi once went to the Himalayas. On his way back, Gunaseela Rishi stayed back at Tirupathi and was so attracted to Lord Venkatachalapathy that he wanted the Lord to appear in Gunaseelam and bless the devotees.

He came back, bathed in the Cauvery and undertook severe penance here in his ashram in Gunaseelam. Impressed with his sincerity, the Lord appeared before him along with Goddess and promised to remain here till the end of Kali Yugam. Pleased with the darshan of Lord Prasanna Venkatesan, Gunaseela Maharishi continued to offer his daily poojas to the lord from his ashram here.

At the end of the Dwapara Yugam, the Gunaseela Maharishi’s Guru wanted him to go to Naimisaaranyam. Gunaseela Rishi designated his young disciple to continue the daily poojas. However, floods in the Cauvery and dangerous animals in the forest led the disciple to flee the place and thus the poojas came to an abrupt end. The Lord decided to hide himself in a pit.

King of Uraiyur builds the temple
Several years passed. Later Chola king Nyana Varma, who ruled this place with Uraiyur as the capital, used to visit Gunaseelam regularly. Every day, cowherds would milk the cows from near the pit and carry the milk all the way back to his court.

One day, to everyone’s shock, the milk that was filled to the brim of the pot vanished all of a sudden. An invisible voice wanted the king to dissolve the pit by pouring milk. The king brought in his army and used 1000s of litres of milk to complete this exercise. Once dissolved, Vaikunta Vasudevan is said to have appeared before the king as Prasanna Venkatesan. As per the king’s wishes, the Lord agreed to remain here till the end of Kali Yugam and help fulfil all the prayers of the devotees, who visit this temple.
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Delighted at the darshan of Lord Prasanna Venkatesan, the King shifted from Uraiyur to Kallur, (this place was then called ‘Badra Chakra Pattinam’) near Gunaseelam and built the beautiful Gunaseelam temple and laid down the process of the daily poojas as directed by Prasanna Venkatesan. He also allocated a lot of land for the temple as well as funds to undertake the daily pooja formalities.

Curing of Diseases
One of the special features of the Gunaseelam temple is the power of Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal to cure people from all kinds of diseases. The Lord is also said to help childless couples, if they bathe in the Cauvery and offer prayers for 48 days at Gunaseelam. It is believed that the Lord protects devotees from evil forces and keeps away enemies with the stick he wields in his right hand. Belief also is that sincere prayers to Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal will help remove any negative energy in devotees who visit here.

Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre
In addition to the complete reconstruction of the Gunaseelam temple, the trustees have also set up a mental health rehabilitation centre that has the official stamp of the Tamil Nadu Government license. The centre is equipped with individual rooms and toilet facilities. A psychologist visits the centre once every week. There are volunteers who take care of these mentally challenged people on a daily basis.

The curing process
Sacred water is splashed on these mentally challenged people each day during Uchi Kaalam (noon) and Artha Jaamam (night) for 48 days. Belief is that one will get cured if they sincerely offer their prayers to the Lord and follow this process.

Since Tirupathi Lord himself appeared before Gunaseela Maharishi, it is believed that those who are not able to go to Tirupathi can visit Gunaseelam and all their wishes are said to be fulfilled here.

Visiting this temple on a Saturday is special. Lord Prasanna Venkatesan is said to have asked king Nyana Varma to visit the temple every Saturday and offer special poojas.

Festival
Puratasi 11 day Brahmotsavam including 9 day Chariot festival
Chitrai Theppotsavam
Aavani 3 day Pavitrotsavam

Quick Facts
Moolavar : Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal East Facing Standing posture with Goddess Lakshmi on his chest
Utsavar : Srinivasan with Sri devi and Bhoo devi
Temple Time : 830am-1pm, 4pm-830pm
Contact : KR Pichumani, Hereditary Executive Trustee
Telephone No. : 04326 275210/ 275310 or 94863 04251

How to reach Gunaseelam

1. Take Namakkal/Salem bus from Trichy (about 45mts)
2. Car from Srirangam will cost about Rs.400-500. One can also visit Thiruvellarai and Uthamar Koil Divya Desam while visiting Gunaseelam.