Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thiru Moozhikalam

Lakshmana as the Moolavar deity

Located about 30kms North West of Ernakulam Railway Station is the Moozhikalathan Divya Desam in Thiru Moozhikalam. The temple dates back to the Ramayana period and is a temple dedicated to Lakshmana.

The story

Pleased with Haritha Rishi’s penance, Lord Vishnu initiated the Rishi with the doctrine of attaining moksham. Hence, this place is called Thiru ‘Mozhi’ Kalam. In course of time, this became Moozhikalam.

Lakshmana Kshetram

Baratha, who came in search of Raama, was suspected by Lakshmana to have come to battle with Raama. Lakshmana is said to have prepared himself to taking on Baratha only to be cooled down by Raama. Having wrongly suspected his brother Baratha, Lakshmana is believed to have come here to repent for his wrong doing.

Baratha is also believed to have come here and met with Lakshmana.

Much later and in course of time, it became a tradition here to worship Lakshmana as the Moolavar deity.

Quick Facts

Deity : Moozhikalathan
Goddess : Mathuraveni Thaayaar
Azhvaar : Thirumangai and NamAzhvaar- 14

Temple Time : 5am-11am, 5pm-8pm

How to reach:

This is about 32kms from Ernakulam Junction.Will take about 1 hour by car/auto.

There are buses from Alwaye(Aluva) to this temple. One can also get down at Alwaye Railway Station to reach this Divya Desam.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sundara Perumal Koil Papanasam

Abhimana Perumal for the Lord of Azhagar Koil and Oppiliappan

Located about 8kms West of Kumbakonam is the historical several centuries old temple of the handsome Soundara Raja Perumal in Sundara Perumal Koil near Papanasam.

The Story
Cursed by a rishi, Indra was struck with an illness. To relieve himself from the curse, he came here and undertook penance under the Vanni Tree in Sundara Perumal Koil. He was to donate pumpkins to Brahmins but when he could not find a Brahmin, it is believed that Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a Brahmin and appeared here before Indra.

Later, Lord Vishnu provided darshan to Indra as Soundara Raja Perumal and relieved him of his curse. In a thanking gesture, Indra  installed the idol of Soundara Rajan and built this temple.

Abhimana Perumal
According to the puranas, Sundara Raja Perumal is said to be the Abhimana Lord for Pulla Bhoothang Kudi Rama, Lord of Azhagar Koil and Oppiliappan.

There is a separate sannidhi at this temple for 18 step Karuppiah(similar to Azhagar Koil) who acts as the security for this temple.


There are also separate sannidhis for Vishwaksena, Yoga Narasimha, Kannan, Anjaneya, Azhvaars and Garuda.

Festivals


Puratasi Navarathri is the only big festival at this temple. On Vijayadasami, Sundara Raja Perumal goes out on his only street procession of the year.

Quick Facts

Moolavar : Soundara Rajan East Facing Standing Posture
Goddess   : Soundara Valli-Separate Sannidhi
Utsavar    : Sundara Rajan
Time        : 630am-12noon and 4pm-830pm
Priest       : Sundara Raja Bhattar @ 94446 56944

How to reach Sundara Perumal Koil
Buses between Kumbakonam and Thanjavur stop near the railway level crossing at Sundara Perumal Koil ( about 2kms West of Swami Malai and 5kms East of Papanasam). The temple is about 1/2km from the bus stop. Car from Kumbakonam will cost about Rs.200-250/-

ThiruKatkarai Divya Desam near Kochi

Vamana Kshetram


Located 10kms North East of Ernakulam, close to the Science and Technology University near Edapalli is the 1200 year old Thiru Katkarai Appan Divya Desam where Lord Vishnu displays his Vamana Avatar to the devotees.

The story goes that Lord Kaatkarai Appan came here as a Vamana Moorthy to end the troubles caused by King Bali. To mark this event, it is believed that Lord Vishnu visits this Divya Desam every year on the Thiruvonam day in Aavani.

This is known as a Vamana Kshetram. Katkarai Appan is seen with Conch, Chakra and Padma Hastam.

Bali is said to have invoked Lord Shiva every day. Hence, one can see a Paramasivan Sannidhi to the right of the Perumal Sannidhi, with Bali seen invoking the blessings of Sivan.

Special Plantain Trees


Another story goes that a King tried to plant several plantain saplings but none grew into a full fledged tree. He then decided to present the Lord Katkarai Appan with a Golden Plantain Sapling.

Pleased with the commitment of the devotee, the Lord is said to have blessed him with a huge number of well grown special plantain trees at this place, now referred to as ‘Nenthram banana’.

Festivals

Onam is the biggest Festival at this temple


Quick Facts

Deity : Katkarai Appan Standing Posture
Goddess : Perunchelva Naayaki, Vaathsalya Valli
Azhvaar : NamAzhvaar- 11( 3612-22)
Temple Time : 5am-11am and 5pm-8pm

Priest : S. Venkatan @ 99952 16368 or 97475 36161

Manager : Vinod @ 94462 05706

President : Janardhan @ 0484 257 6653


How to reach Thiru Kakkara:

4kms from Edapalli railway station
An auto to the Divya Desam will cost Rs.100/- from Ernakulam Railway Station
A taxi-to and fro- from Ernakulam railway station will cost Rs.300-350/-.

There are direct buses from Ernakulam Town to this temple (Edapalli)

Moozhikalam Divya Desam is about 25kms West of here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thiru Vanvandur Pambanai Appan temple

‘Naradiya Purana’ comprising of 25000verses was created here 
Nakula, the younger Pandava, created the temple at Vanvandur

Nam Azhvaar praises Vanvandur Lord as the one who has a dark face with red lips, lotus eyes, lotus feet and has Discus and Conch as his identification marks

Located about 7kms North of Chengannur and about 5kms South West of Thiruvalla on the Erimala route, on the banks of the Pamba River is the Pambanai Appan Divya Desam in Thiru Vanvandur.

Narada Purana
Cursed by Brahmma in the course of a heated argument, Sage Narada undertook penance invoking Lord Vishnu to relieve him from the curse. Narada is said to have got the boon, from Vishnu, of being the one to disperse and spread ‘truthful wisdom’ in this world. Delighted at having had darshan of Lord Vishnu in his full form, Narada is said to have created the ‘Naradiya Purana’, an extensive document comprising of 25000 verses.

Pandava Temple


As seen in the other stories relating to Divya Desams around Chengannur, the Pandava brothers visited these temples and created a temple each in this region. One of the younger Pandava brothers, Nakula, renovated the Thiruvanvandur temple. Lord is seen here with Conch, Chakra, Spear and Mace.

At the Western entrance, one finds sculptures relating to Kalinga Narthana and also Dasavathara.

Nam Azhvaar provides hints to locate Van Vandur Perumal
Nam Azhvaar in his Tiruvoimozhi verse presents identification marks to locate the Lord of Thiru Van Vandur

ஒரு வண்ணம் சென்று புக்கு
எனக்கு ஒன்று உரை ஒண் கிளியே
சேறு ஒண் பூம் பொழில் சூழ் செக்கர்
வேலை திருவன்வன்டூர்

கரு வண்ணம், செய்ய வாய் , செய்ய கண்
செய்ய கை , செய்ய கால்

சேறு ஒண் சக்கரம் சங்கு அடையாளம்

திருந்தக் கண்டே - Tiruvoimozhi 6-1-7


Festivals

Ashtami-Rohini Krishna Festival
11day Festival in Dhanur
Uthiratadhi 10day festival in Kumbham

Quick Facts

Moolavar  : Paambanai Appan, Kamalanathan West Facing Standing Posture
Goddess   : Kamalavalli Nachiyar
Azhvaar   : NamAzhvaar- 11 Paasurams
Time        : 5am-1130am and 5pm-8pm

Contact   : Parameswaran @ 0479 2427808


How to reach Vanvandur:


About 7kms North of Chengannur Divya Desam and about 5kms South of Thiruvalla
An auto from Thiruvalla bus stand will cost Rs.75/-

It is best to take a taxi from Chengannur or Changanacheri to visit the 6 Divya Desams around this place. It will cost. Rs.600/- to visit all the 6 temples and will take about 5 hours if you start at 5am either from Chengannur or Changanacheri.

Thiruvazh Marban Thiruvalla

Vallabha Kshetram


Located about 30kms South of Kottayam on the Ernakulam-Kottayam-Kayankulam rail route is the Thiru Vazhmarban Divya Desam in Thiruvalla. Interestingly, the sanctum has been constructed in such a way that one cannot see the feet of the Standing Thiru Vazhmarban.

The Moolavar Lord is also known by the names of Vallabhan and Kolapiran. This place is referred to as the ‘Vallabha Kshetram’.

The other Thiru Vazhmarban temple in Malai Naatu Divya Desam is in Thiruvan Parisaram
http://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2009/04/thiruvazhmarban-in-thiruvanparisaram.html

Historical Reference

One can find a number of historical inscriptions inside the temple. There are references to the Thiruvalla Lord in Garuda Puranam and Matsya Puranam.

The Story

A spinster who used to undertake Ekadesi penance at this place was constantly disturbed by an asura. Pleased with her prayers, Lord Vallbhan disguised himself as a Brahmachari and killed the asura using his chakra. The Chakra is said to have fallen at the place where the temple is situated currently.

At the end of her penance, she found the Lord’s chest being blocked by the Brahmachari and immediately realised that the Lord had himself come down here to protect her from the Asura. She requested the Lord to stay put here displaying his handsome form.

It is believed that the Lord here protects all the devotees from evil forces.

Another story goes that KandaaKarnan, a Shiva devotee, undertook penance invoking Lord Vishnu. It is believed that Vishnu appeared before Kandaa Karnan and provided him darshan as Vallabhan.



Prarthana Sthalam for childless couples-Performance of Kathakali

Childless couples who offer their sincere prayers at this temple are said to be blessed with children. As part of this prayer, it is a tradition to organise Kathakali to invoke the blessings of Lord Vallabhan. Another tradition is that the Lord is presented with 12000 ripe bananas, half of which is distributed to the devotees.

In centuries gone by, ladies were allowed inside the temple only on a couple of specific occasions in the year but this is no more the case.

Thirumangai Azhvaar's Praise

Thirumangai Azhvaar, who has not sung praises of too many of the Malai Naatu Divya Desam Lords, has dedicated 10 verses to Thiruvalla Lord and has referred to the Lord as ‘ Valla Vaazh’.

'உருவின் ஆர்பிரவி சேர் ஊன் பொதி நரம்பு
தோல் குரம்பையுள் புக்கு
அருவி நோய் செய்து நின்று,
ஐவர் தாம் வாழ்வதற்கு அஞ்சினா யேல்

திருவின் ஆர வேதம் நான்கு ஐந்து தீ
வேல்வியோடு அங்கம் ஆறும்
மருவினார் வல்லவாழ் சொல்லுமா வல்லை
ஆய் மருவு நெஞ்சே'


Festivals

10 day Festival in Poosam
Kathakali Festival is the most popular festival at this temple

Every Saturday morning, there is a special pooja at this divya desam similar to the one at Thiruvanparisaram.

Quick Facts

Moolavar       : Thiru Vazhmarban, Srivallapan Kolapiran East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar         : Selva Thirukozhunthu Nachiyar, Vaathsalya Devi
Azhvaar         : Thirumangai Azhvaar  and Nam Azhvaar – 22Paasurams
Temple Time: 5am-1145am and 5pm-8pm
Contact         : PK Unnikrishnan Pothi/ Govindan Namboodhari @  0469 2700191

How to reach Thiruvalla
By train:
Thiruvalla is about 15 minutes by an express train from Kottayam. Get down at Thiru Valla Railway station. The temple is about 4kms from the railway station. An auto from the station to the Divya Desam will cost Rs.40-50/-

By bus: Buses ply every 5-10minutes from Kottayam on the Thiruvalla route.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thiru Kadithanam Chenganacheri

This is one of the three Kadigai Kshetrams in India
Sahadeva created the Krishna Idol and built the Arputha Narayana temple

Located 4kms east of the Chenganancheri Railway Station (Kottayam-Kayankulam rail route) is the Arputha Narayanan Divya Desam in Thiru Kadithanam. This is one of the three important Kadigai Kshetrams in India, the other two being Thiru Kadigai in Sholingur and Thiru Kandam(Kadinagar) in Devapriya(North).

Stay here for one Kadigai and attain Moksham

Legend has it that those who visit the Arputha Narayana Perumal Koil in Changanachery and stay here for at least one Kadigai (24minutes) will be liberated from all sins/curses. Also read http://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2009/03/sholingur-narasimha-at-thiru-kadigai.html

NammAzhvaar's praise of Arputha Narayanan of Thiru Kadithaanam:


"அற்புதன் நாராயணன் அறி வாமணன்

நிற்பது மேவி இருப்பது என் நெஞ்சகம்
நில் புகழ் வேதியர் நான் மறை நின்று அதிர
கற்பகச் சோலைத் திரு கடித்தானமே"


Pandava Brother created the temple

This is one of the five temples amongst the Kerala Divya Desams in this region that dates to the Mahabaratha time. Sahadeva, one of the Pandava brothers, is said to have consecrated this temple. This is one of the special Krishna temples in India specifically dedicated for moksham.

Nam Azhvaar praises the Thiru Kadithanam Lord as under in his Tiruvoimozhi verse:

"கோயில் கொண்டான் திருகடிதானத்தை
கோயில் கொண்டான் அதனோடு என் நெஞ்சகம்
கோயில் கொள் தெய்வமெல்லாம் தொழ வைகுந்தம்
கோயில் கொண்ட குடக்கூத்த அம்மானே"


King Rukmangatha, who belonged to the Surya Dynasty is said to have passed on the fruits of his Ekadesi penance to the Devas and sent them back to their abode (Deva Logam).

Narasimha Sannidhi


There are separate Sannidhis for Narasimha (on the Western side behind the Arputha Narayana Sannidhi), Krishna and Chandra.


‘Festival of Dance’ to Conceive


There was a festival of dance here at this temple. The belief was that ladies dancing with buckets on top of their head and undertaking prayers to Lord Arputha Narayanan would help them conceive.

PeriAzhvaar has made a reference to the above ‘dancing’ in one of his famous verses:

"குடங்கள் எடுதேற விட்டுக் கூத்தாட
வல்லவேன் கோவே மடங்கொள் மதி
முகத்தாரை மால் செய்ய வல்ல வெண் மைந்தா"


Other Festivals

Karthigai Deepam
10day festival in Virchigam
Narasimha Jayanthi

Quick Facts

Moolavar : Arputha Narayanan East Facing Standing Posture
Goddess   : Karpagavalli
Azhvaar   : NamAzhvaar- 11
Time        : 5am-11am and 5pm-8pm
Priest : Vasudevan Namboodari @ 94972 22107 or 0481 2435711

How to reach Chenganacheri
This Divya Desam is located about 4kms East of Chenganacheri in Thiru Kadithanam
Many express trains on the Kochi-Kottayam-Trinvandrum stop at Changanacheri.
(Chennai-Trivandrum Express arrives here at 445am and Chennai Trivandrum mail arrives at 8am)

An auto from the Chenganacheri Railway Station to the Divya Desam will cost Rs.50/-

Chenganancheri is about 2 hour drive from Ernakulam. Buses every 5 minutes on the Kottayam- Chenganacheri route.

Best to have food/lodging at Kochi

One can start the Divya Desam trip here with Thiru Kadithanam and end with Chengannur. The other option is to start with Chengannur and end with Chenganachery

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thiruchittaru Imayavarappan Divya Desam in Chengannur


Dharamaraja built this temple to repent the killing of his Acharya Drona

Located about 1km West of the Chengannur Railway Station (Ernakulam-Kottayam-Kayankulam rail route) is the East facing Imayavarappan Divya Desam in Chengannur, a temple that dates back to the Mahabaratha period.

This Chengannur Divya Desam is better known as the Dharma Raja temple. This temple is also referred to as the Thiru Chitraru Vishnu temple in Thiru Chenkundroor.

There are 5 other Divya Desams in Chengannur-Thiruvalla-Chenganacheri region near Kottayam, referred to as ‘Anju-Ambalam’ (Five Temples of Pandavas). It is important to note that most of the Divya Desams in this region close at 11am. Hence, one has to plan the trips starting very early in the morning around 5am.


The story

An asura, who had obtained lofty boons from Lord Shiva troubled the Devas at this place. Lord Subramanya is said to have come here and killed the asura.

Unhappy at being the cause of the death of his Guru Drona(by announcing the death of Aswathama, 'the elephant'),Dharma Raja, the eldest of the Pandava brothers, came to this place and undertook penance to get peace of mind. He is said to created the idol and built this temple. This is believed to be the first of the Vishnu temples built by the Pandavas in this region.

Another story goes that Imayavars (Devas) undertook penance at this place invoking the blessing of Lord Vishnu. Hence, the Lord here is referred to as ‘Imayavar Appan’.

Festivals

Panguni Ashta Nakshatram 10 day Brahmotsavam
Thiruvonam Nakshatram Aaratu (last day Utsavam) - The Lord goes on a procession to the Pamba River for an Abhishekam

Ashtami-Rohini- Birthday celebrations of Krishna

Dasavatharam Utsavam- The Lord gets decorated in different avatarams. On the last day, he takes on the Mohini Avataram

January -7 day Sapthaham Festival- During this Utsavam, Bhagavatham Parayanam takes place every day

Quick Facts

Deity : Imayavarappan East Facing Standing Posture
Goddess : Shengamalavalli
Azhvaar : NamAzhvaar- 11 Paasurams (3480-90)

Temple Time : 530am-10am and 5pm-730pm

Priest : Mohan Rao (quite unlike a priest, this person has a moustache-and no beard)

Telephone number : 94976 74799 or 0479 2456672

How to reach Chengannur:


Chengannur is located about 120kms South of Ernakulam (Kochi) and about 20kms North of Kayankulam on the Kottayam- Kayankulam/ Kollam (Quilon) rail route. It is just 90minutes away from Ernakulam by most of the super fast express trains that ply on the Thrissur-Kottayam-Kayankulam-Trivandrum rail route.

The Imayavarappan Divya Desam is at walking distance from the Chengannur Railway Station

6 Divya Desams- Half a day car trip

One can start off the visit to the 6 Divya Desams from either this Divya Desam or from Puliyur (Bheema Kshetram).

It is better to take a taxi from the Chengannur Railway Station and cover the 6 Divya Desams in one half of the day. The taxi to cover Puliyoor, ThiruChittaru, Aranmula (Parthasarathy Temple), Thiruvan Vandur, Thiruvalla (Vallabha Kshetram) and Changanacheri will cost Rs.600/-.

For car pick up from outside the Chengannur Railway Station, contact: Driver Mohan @ 99466 73868.

Staying Facilities

It is best to stay in Kochi and cover these 6 Divya Desams and the 2 Divya Desams around Kochi( Thiru Moozhikalam and Thirukatkarai) in one day.

Location of the 6 Divya Desams in the Kottayam region

1. Puliyoor- 6kms West of Chengannur on the Mavelikara Highway

2. ThiruChittaru - 1km West of Chengannur Railway Station

3. Aranmula- 10kms East of Chengannur on the Pamba river banks

4. Thiru Van Vandur- 6kms North of Chengannur Divya Desam and 4Kms South West of Thiruvalla

5. Thiruvalla- 10kms North of Chengannur and 10kms South of Changanacheri

6. ThiruKadithaanam- 20kms South of Kottayam (Northern most of these 6 Divya Desams)

Parthasarathy Temple Aranmula Thiruvaaranvilai

Arjuna created the Parthasarathy idol as a thanks giving gesture to Lord Krishna
Lord Ayyappa’s ornaments for the Sabarimala Makara Jyothi Festival are taken from here
Nam Azhvaar refers to both the place Thiru Varinvilai and the Lord Thiru Kuralappan in his Tiruvoimozhi verses

Located about 10kms East of Chengannur Divya Desam on the Southern banks of the Pamba river is the Thirukuralappan Divya Desam in Aranmula. This Divya Desam is referred to as Thiru Vaaran Vilai and symbolises Arjuna’s thanks giving gesture to his sarathy (charioteer) Krishna who guided him through the Mahabaratha war.

The Story
The Pandavas who visited different Divya Desams in Kerala built one temple each in these Divya Desams in the Chengannur- Changanacheri area. These temples (Divya Desams) are now popularly referred to as ‘Anj-Ambalam’ by the devotees here.

The Parthasarathy Perumal Koil in Thiruvaaranvilai in Aranmula was built by Arjuna, who came here at the end of the Mahabaratha war to undertake penance repenting for the killings of his relatives, especially his brother Karna, who he unceremoniously killed when his chariot was grounded to the earth.

Brahmma is also said to have undertaken penance at this place wanting to have darshan of Lord Vishnu in his Vamana Avataram and as a thanking gesture for having secured back the Vedic Scriptures from the asuras.

Tulabharam, an age old practice, continues to take place at this temple and one can see the big Tulabharam hanging as one enters the temple from the eastern side.
Ornaments for Sabarimala Lord
Lord Ayyappa’s ornaments are kept here through the year and are taken from here to Sabarimala 2 days prior to the Mandala Vilakku during the Makara Jyothi period.

Aranmula Boat Race
An annual boat race takes place at the Pamba River which runs right next to the Aranmula Divya Desam.

Nam Azhvaar's praise 
Nam Azhvaar in his Tiruvoimozhi verse refers to the Lord of Vaarinvilai as Govinda, Madhusudhana and Hari and to this place as surrounded by gardens, with non stop recital of Vedas.

கூடுங்கொல் வைகலும் கோவிந்தனை   மதுசூதனைக்  கோளரியை
ஆடும் பறவை மிசைக்கண்டு கைதொழுதன்றி  அவன் உறையும்

பாடும் பெரும் புகழ் நான்மறை வேள்வி ஐந்து ஆறங்கம் பன்னினர்வாழ்
நீடு பொழில் திருவாறன் விளைதொழ
வாய்க்குங்கொல்  நிச்சலுமே - Tiruvoimozhi 7-10-3

Name of the Lord and the place
Nam Azhvaar in his praise of this divya desam says that the place where Lord Thiru Kural Appan resides is Thiru Vaaran Vilai.

ஆகுங் கொல் ஐயமொன்றின்றி
அகல் இடம் முற்றவும் ஈர் அடியே

ஆகும் பரிசு நிமிர்ந்த திருக்குறள் அப்பன்
அமர்ந்து உறையும்

மாகம் திகழ் கொடி மாடங்கள் நீடு
மதில் திருவாறன்விளை ..

Festivals
10 day Brahmotsavam in January
Big Pushpa Abhishekam in May
12 day Kalapam Festival in November when the Lord is decorated completely with Chandanam is a beautiful sight to watch
In March every year, the Goddess(Devi) from Punnan Thottam temple, about a km east of this temple visits Lord Parthasarathy at the Aranmula Divya Desam and the two are seen together for a day.

Quick Facts
Moolavar  : Thiru Kural Appan East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar     : Padmasini Thaayar
Azhvaar   : NamAzhvaar- 11 (Thiruvoimozhi)
Time        : 5am-11am and 5pm-8pm
Priest      : Krishna Kumar Namboodari @ 94471 16689 or 0468 2212170

How to reach Aranmula:
10kms East of Chengannur. There are state transport buses to this Divya Desam from the Chengannur bus stand, opposite the railway station. One can reach the temple in about 30minutes by bus.

Taxi to cover 6 Divya Desams
It is better to take a taxi from the railway station and cover the 6 Divya Desams in one half of the day. The taxi to cover Puliyoor, Thiru Chittaru, Aranmula, Thiruvanvandur, Thiruvalla and Changanacheri (Arputha Narayana Perumal) will cost Rs.600/-.

It will take about 20minutes by car to reach the Aranmula Parthasarathy temple from Chengannur Thiruchitraru Divya Desam. Almost the entire stretch runs alongside the Pamba river.

For car outside the Chengannur Railway Station, contact: Driver Mohan @ 99466 73868.

Puliyur Divya Desam Chengannur

One of the two ' Puliyurs' among Divya Desams
Nam Azhvaar refers to this Divya Desam as ' Kutta Naatu Siru Puliyur' in his Tiruvoimozhi Verse
Bheema Kshetram
Indra went on a Tiger to destroy the demon
Located 6kms West of Chengannur Railway Station on the Mavelikera State Highway is the Maya Piran Divya Desam in Thiru Puliyur. This is one of the two ‘Puliyur’ Divya Desams, the other one being Sirupuliyur in Kollumangudi near Mayavaram.

The Pandavas are said to have visited the Divya Desams in Kerala and each of the five Pandava brothers are believed to have built one temple in this region (around Chengannur). Bheema undertook penance at this place and created the Puliyur Divya Desam. Hence, this place is referred to as Bheema Kshetram. With the five Pandavas creating five temples, these temples have now been come to be referred to as ‘Anj Ambalam’ ( Five Pandava temples) to folks in this area.

The Story
King Sibhi’s son Vrishadarbi faced personal illness and his kingdom experienced drought. He wanted the Saptha Rishis to help him out of his troubles, in return for which he promised to fill their coffers. Unhappy with this move to tempt them with money, the Rishis not only refused the money but also decided against helping him out.

Not to be outdone, and angry with their refusal to relieve him of his problems, he undertook a yagna out of which appeared demon whose task it was to kill these Rishis. Fearing for their lives, the Rishis invoked the blessings of Vishnu, who directed Indra to protect them. Indra came on a Tiger and killed the demon. Hence, this place is called ‘Puli’yur. Lord Vishnu provided darshan as well as moksham to the Saptha Rishis.
Nam Azhvaar's reference in Tiruvoimozhi

Nam Azhvaar in his Tiruvoimozhi verse differentiates this Puliyur from the one in the Chozha region in Tamil Nadu by referring to this Divya Desam as Kutta Naattu Thiru Puliyur. He praises Maya Piraan as one who stands resplendent  like a pearl mountain with striking eyes, chest and beautiful lips.

 கரு மாணிக்க மலைமேல் மணித் தடம்
தாமரைக் காடுகள் போல்
திருமார்பு வாய் கண்  கை உந்தி
கால் உடை ஆடைகள் செய்ய பிரான்

திருமால் எம்மான் செழு நீர் வயல்
குட்ட நாட்டு திரு புலியூர்

அரு மாயன் பேர் அன்றிப் பேச்சு இலள்
அன்னைமீர் இதற்க்கு என் செய்கேனோ

Festivals

Makara Atham Nakshatram - Brahmotsavam
Thiruvonam Makara Sankara Nakshatram- Kavadi Aattam

Quick Facts

Moolavar : Maya Piran East Facing Standing Posture
Goddess   : Por Kodi Nachiyar
Azhvaar   : NamAzhvaar - 11
Temple Time : 5am-11am and 5pm-8pm
Priest : Unni Krishnan Namboodari @  99478 31069, 0479-246 4825

How to reach:
Chengannur is on the Ernakulam-Kottayam- Kayankulam rail route and is about 40kms South of Kottayam. From Chennai, one take the 2695 Trivandrum Express (5am arrival) or 2623 Trivandrum Mail (820am arrival) to Chengannur. An auto from the Chengannur Railway Station to the Puliyur Divya Desam will cost Rs50/-

Taxi to cover 6 Divya Desams
It is better to take a taxi from the railway station and cover the 6 Divya Desams in one half of the day. The taxi to cover Puliyur, Thiru Chittaru, Aran Mula, Thiru Van Vandur, Thiruvalla and Changanacheri (Arputha Narayana Perumal) will cost Rs.600/-. For car outside the Chengannur Railway Station, contact: Driver Mohan @ 99466 73868.

A few additional points to note
Almost all the Divya Desams in Kerala open at 5am and close by 11am. They don’t open again until 5pm
Shirts (for men) are not allowed inside these Divya Desams
It is better for men to wear a Veshti and for women to wear saree

The priests in these Divya Desams are non talkers. Hence, do not expect any chatting up with the priests

Those wanting to visit these Divya Desams in and around Chengannur/Thiruvalla should ask for ‘Anj Ambalam’ if they want any directions (Divya Desams/Azhvaars/108 temples are not references easily understood in these places)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ranganatha Swamy in Srirangapatna

Lord Ranganatha displays his special 'Yoga Sayanam' posture at this temple

Located about 16kms North East of Mysore off the Bangalore- Mysore Highway on the banks of the Cauvery is the Lord Ranganathaswamy temple in the island town of Srirangapatna. Lord Ranganatha is seen in a reclining posture referred to as Yoga Sayanam. This is one of the important Swayambu Ranganatha Kshetrams.

The Story
The devotees cleansed their sins by bathing in the sacred Cauvery. With even Ganga coming here once a year, Cauvery accumulated all the sins and was stuck with a dosham and took on the ‘Rakshashi Roopam’.

To rid herself of this, she undertook penance and sought the help of Lord Vishnu. Pleased with her prayers, he came down to this place. Delighted at the darshan of Lord Ranganatha, Cauvery undertook service at the feet of the Lord and was immediately relieved of the sins. Hence, to this day, one can see Goddess Cauvery at the feet of Ranganathaswamy at this temple.

Gouthama Kshetram

Another story goes that Gouthama Rishi, who wanted darshan of the Lord, undertook penance at this place. Lord Ranganatha is said to have displayed his special ‘Yoga Sayana Kolam’ to the Rishi. Hence this place is also referred to as Gouthama Kshetram.

Garuda

A special feature at this temple is the large granite pillared structure of Garuda, the credit for which also goes to the Vijayanagara rulers who were great devotees of Vishnu.

Construction
The sanctum of Lord Ranganatha is said to have been built by Ambi, a dancer, about 3000 years ago.

The temple itself was built much later, in the 9th century AD, by Thirumala Raya. During course of time, the temple has seen renovations and improvements thanks to the efforts of the Hoysala and Vijayanagara rulers More recently the Wodeyars of Mysore, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan had also contributed to the temple.

Architecture


The Ranganthaswamy temple has a mix of chozha, Vijayanagara and Hoysala style of architecture. The temple tower that one sees on the Eastern side was built during the Vijayanagara rule. One can see different forms of Vishnu at this entrance.

Festivals

Opening of Swarga Vaasal on the Pongal day (at this temple, the opening is on the first day of Utharaayina period)

Ugadi Moolavar Thirumanjanam

Kodai Thirunaal Festival immediately follows Ugadi

Ranga Jayanathi- The evening sees a special decoration of the Lord in a ‘Ranga Mudi’

7day Oonjal Utsavam

Garuda Utsavam(Visakam full moon day)



Quick Facts

Moolavar : East facing Ranganathaswamy in Yoga Sayanam
Goddess : Ranganayaki Thaayar
Utsavar : Kasturi Rangan

Time : 6am-1pm and 4pm-8pm
Priest : L Vijaya Sarathy Bhattar- Pradhana Archakar
Tel : 94488 77648, 08236 292422
Address : Sriranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna 571 438 Mandya District
Email : srirangaviji@yahoo.com

How to reach Srirangapatna

Chennai-Mysore Cauvery Express stops at Srirangapatna( arrival 740am) – right at the Western Eastern entrance of the temple

Buses every 5 minutes between Mysore and Srirangapatna

Srirangapatna is about 120kms from Bangalore on Mysore Highway

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thiru Narayana Perumal in ThiruNarayanapuram(Melkote)

Ramanuja stayed here for 12years during his exile from Srirangam and consecrated the temple laying down detailed processes for poojas
Selva Pillai Sampath Kumaran’s Vaira Mudi Utsavam in Panguni is a must see at this temple


ThiruNarayanapuram is referred to as ‘Dakshina Badri’

Located about 35kms North East of Srirangapatna on the banks of the Cauvery in the Pandavapura Taluk-Mandya District of Karnataka at the foot of the Yadava Giri is one of the most sacred and historical Vaishnavite temples - the Thiru Narayana Perumal Koil in ThiruNarayanapuram (now Melkote), one that dates back to the Kretha Yugam. Brahma’s sons Sanatkumaras brought their father’s pooja idol ‘Lord Narayana’ and installed it at Melkote.


An interesting feature at the Thiru Narayanan temple is that there is a separate sannidhi for the Utsava deity, ‘Selva Pillai’ (Sampath Kumaran) not seen anywhere else. Only one day in the year, are both Moolavar and Utsavar deities seen together at this temple to celebrate the home coming of Selva Pillai Sampath Kumaran(Photograph below)

The Story- Ramanuja consecrates the temple
Driven out of Srirangam by the chozhas, Ramanuja came to a place called Thondanur (Bhaktha Puri) near ThiruNarayanapuram.The daughter of the Jain King Bitta Deva, who was ruling the region with Thondanur as his headquarters, had developed a disease. Using his powers, Ramanuja cured the king’s daughter.

Later, Ramanuja found him self short of Thiruman (the special thick white ash that Vaishnavites wear on their fore head). That day Lord Narayanan appeared in his dreams and informed him that he was residing in a pit in a hill nearby and that the Thiruman he is looking for can also be found there.

With the help of Bitta Deva, Ramanuja came to Thiru Narayanapuram and located the moolavar lord and performed consecration of the temple.

Story 1 of the Utsava deity as Rama Priyan

After Lord Rama had given his pooja idol, Ranganatha, to the newly crowned Lankan King Vibheeshana, he was left without an idol for his daily poojas. Brahmma is said to have provided this idol to Rama. Later, Rama passed this on to his sons Luva and Kusha. When Kusha’s daughter got married to a Yadava prince, this idol was given as part of the gifts to be given by the Bride and thus this idol landed up in the lunar dynasty from the solar dynasty.

Years later, when Balarama came to this place on a religious trip, he found the moolavar deity resembling the idol at his home, back in Dwaraka. Krishna and Balarama came back to this place with the idol and they decided that this was the ideal Utsava deity for Thiru Narayanan and placed it here. The Utsava deity having been Rama’s pooja idol was called ‘Rama Priyan’.

Story 2 of Rama Priyan becoming Selva Pillai
Coming back to Ramanuja, while he was happy to have found the moolavar deity of Thiru Narayanan, Emberumaanar was keen to have regular festivals at this temple round the year. However, he found he could not do this as there was no Utsava deity, the processional idol.

Once again, the Lord came in his dreams and suggested that his utsava idol was now under the custody of a sultan king. Immediately, Ramanuja approached the king briefing him of the situation at the temple. The king asked Ramanuja to identify his idol amongst the many that the king had taken custody of. Unable to find his Lord, Ramanuja spent the night there. The next morning he called out ‘Adiyen Vareeren Enthan Selva Pillai’ and like a small child, the lord ran up to Ramanuja, from the chamber of the princess, and sat on his lap.

Delighted at finding the processional deity, Ramanuja brought the Lord back to Thiru Narayanapuram. With the Lord having reacted to Ramanuja’s call of ‘Selva Pillai’, the name stuck and from that day, Rama Priyan came to be called ‘Selva Pillai. Unhappy at the departure of her favourite Lord, the princess followed suit and joined Selva Pillai at Melkote and she is said to have remained there ever after serving at the feet of the Lord.

Having found the Utsava deity, Ramanuja stayed here for 12 years and set up processes for daily poojas, rituals and annual festivals.

One day, when he was performing his pooja at Kalyani pushkarani, he heard the news of the death of the chozha king and decided that it was time for him to head back to Srirangam. He brought 52 Bhattars (Aivattiruvar) from Srirangam to perform the daily poojas at this temple - http://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2007/05/108-divya-desam-thiruvellarai.html

Unhappy on hearing the news of his proposed departure from Melkote, the people for whom he was so dear, wanted him to stay back.

As an alternate, Ramanuja created a bronze image of his and left this behind with a request asking them to always take care of his beloved ’Selva Pillai’. Ramanuja is seen here with an ‘Ugantha Thirumeni’

Architecture

Over the last 1000 years, Vijayanagara kings, the Hoysalas and more recently the Wodeyar dynasty have made significant contributions to this temple.

Dakshina Badri

The ThiruNarayanan Temple is also referred to as the ‘Dakshina Badri’. A reference to this is found in 12 chapters under the topic Yadava Giri Mahatmiyam in the Narada Puranam.

One of the four Swayambu Kshetrams


ThiruNarayanapuram in Melkote is one of the four famous Swayambu Kshetrams, the others being Srirangam, Kanchipuram and Tirupathi.

Araiyar Sevai
One of the other highlights at this temple is the continued performance of the Araiyar Sevai, an artistic song and dance enactment of the Naalayira Divya Prabandham. This is one of the four Vishnu temples in India where Araiyar Sevai is still performed, the others being Srirangam, Srivilliputhur and Azhvaaar Thirunagari.

Archakas of Melkote
A special mention must be made of the archakas of ThiruNarayana Perumal temple. In these days of short cuts every where, these Bhattars follow every pooja ritual with a commitment that is sublime.

Festivals

Vaira Mudi Festival in the Tamil Calendar month of Panguni is the most important festival at this temple and attracts several thousand devotees. On the 6th day of the Brahmotsavam, Selva Pillai is adorned with a diamond crown and taken on a street procession.

Ashta Theertotsavam during Raja Mudi Brahmotsavam in Karthigai is another popular festival.

RAJA MUDI
Thai Punarvasu festival - This is a special festival commemorating Ramanuja’s arrival in Thiru Narayanapuram on the Makara Shukla Punarvasu day

Krishnaraja Thirunaal (9days), Aadi Pooram (for Thaayar)are a few of the other important utsavams at the ThiruNarayanan temple in Melkote.

Prarthana Sthalam
Childless couples who bathe in the Kalyani Pushkarani for 8 days and offer sincere prayers to ThiruNarayanan are said to be blessed with a child.

Quick Facts:

Moolavar : Thiru Narayanan
Goddess : Yathu Giri Naachiyar

Utsavar : Selva Pillai (Sampath Kumar)
Utasava Goddess: Kalyani (Selva Nayagi)

Temple Time : 730am-1pm, 4pm-6pm and 7pm-830pm
Contact : S.Narasaraja Bhattar
Contact Telephone number: 94487 54696, 94488 13124 or 08236 298 913

How to reach

Take 6222 Chennai Mysore Kaveri Express, Get down at Pandava Pura (715am arrival)
Take Tumkur bound bus and get down at Jakkanahalli junction (about 15kms from Pandava Pura)

Auto from Jakkanahalli to Melkote temple (about 5kms) will cost Rs.50/-.

One can reach Melkote in 2 hours from Bangalore ( about 135kms) via Mandya- Jakkanahalli.