ECR Surprises 1 (Sanyasi Hill):
As a devotee of Shri Aurobindo and The Mother of Pondicherry, I used to visit the Ashram atleast once in a quarter for the past 8 years (after coming to Chennai in 2000) and everytime we straight go to the Ashram, do some shopping and return. Only this time, I had a big list of temples in ECR, mainly got through the friends of this Blog.
(For a full list of temples in ECR with their Wikimapia locations and photos if I had visited, see ‘Around Chennai – South’ directory page here)
We started off by 6 AM and after Mayajal, there was a heavy downpour. First I drove with the parking lamp on, then with the headlights on and by the time I near Mahabalipuram, the driving became too risky and we had to halt for about 15 minutes and then proceed.
My first temple in the list was Sri Malaimandala Perumal temple at Sathurangapattinam (Kalpakkam) but while passing through this, the rain was so heavy that I dropped the idea and thought I have to drive straight to Pondy as usual. But surprisingly, the rain stopped when we approached the 2nd temple at just about 5 kms.
It was Shri Pramiki Vittala temple at Vittalapuram. This is a temple with archeological importance. Built by the Vijayanagar empire in the same style as the famous Vittala Temple at Hampi. After Mahabalipuram, in about 5 kms, Thirukkazhukundram-Kalpakkam road will cross the ECR. From this 4 way junction, Vittalapuram is at about 4-5 kms on the right side of ECR.
A short note on the Hampi Vittala temple: This has a monolithic ratham (temple car) and about 100 musical stone pillar groups. Each pillar group has 7 pillars that produce the Sa-ri-ga-ma-pa-tha-ni. Interestingly each pillar group produces the sound of a different musical instrument. What an archeological marvel but unfortunately it is in ruins without the deities! People will definitely ooze out blood out of their eyes when they see this. Coincidentally, we had seen Hampi just a week back!!. Of course, I don’t think the Vittala temple at Vittalapuram here can match the Hampi temple but atleast it will be in the same model, I believe. The temple was closed both while going ( 7:30 am) and on return (3PM) and so could not see the inside. I will cover this when I visit this temple.
My 3rd temple in the list was the Thirupuleeswarar and Vaikuntanatha Swamy Temple at Voyalur suggested by Mr. R.V.Subramanian of this Blog reader. This is another temple with archaeological importance by the Vijayanagara empire, again.
Links: Location Photos
The next in the list was the Kandaswamy temple at Nergunapattu and following was just what the information I had about the temple from Mannaikosai, also a reader of this Blog, from internet :
” நெற்குணப்பட்டு கந்தசாமி கோவில் – தொண்டை மண்டலத்தில் கடற்கரை நகரமாம் கல்பாக்கம் அருகே மலைகள் சூழ இருக்கும் எழில் கொஞ்சும் திருத்தலம். சிதம்பரம் சுவாமிகள் திருப்போரூருக்கு போவதற்கு முன், இத்தலத்து முருகனிடம் உத்தரவு பெற்றுச் சென்றாராம். ஒரு பெரிய கல்வெட்டு ஒன்று வெட்டவெளியில் கிடக்கிறது.இங்கு சன்யாசி மலை என்று ஒரு குன்று இருக்கிறது. இங்கு ஒரு லிங்கம் மலையுச்சியில் உள்ளது. பௌர்ணமிக்கு மலை வலம் வருதல் சிற்ப்பு. சித்த்ர்கள் வாழும் மலை.
கல்பாக்கம் – மதுராந்தகம் சாலையில் இத்தலம் உள்ளது. சுமாரான கிராமத்து சாலை. பேருந்து உள்ளது”
The place is exactly half way between Chennai and Pondicherry. i.e., 76 kms from Chennai and 76 kms from Pondicherry. After Kalpakkam, Pudupattinam and the long Palar bridge at Voyalaur, there is a road to the right side that goes to Maduranthakam. Take that road for about 2-3 kms and you will reach Nergunapattu. The Kandaswamy temple is about 100 meters inside from the main road on the right side.
The Wikimapia geographical location of the temple is here.
Chidhambaram Swamigal, the founder of Thirupporur Kandaswamy temple, before going to Thirupporur, got permission from this Murugan as said above. There was no priest in the temple. It is an ancient temple with rich heritage and spiritual values but not so impressive from the view point of architecture and maintenance. Shiva, Amman, Murugar and Vinayagar shrines are cramped within a small place.
Then I was looking around for the Sanyasi hill but nowhere could I find any traces of a hill. I thought I had mixed the information of two places wrongly and so decided to leave. But something sparked inside and advised me to enquire there. So I went to a group of people over there and enquired. Yes, the place is around and it is just about a km from there by walk but have to go around for 4-5 kms to go by a vehicle. A village man, with the smell of the previous night’s hangover offered to come along with us in the car to show the route and I hesitantly allowed him. We then took again the Maduranthakam road for a km and it joined with the Koovathoor – Maduranthaham road (Koovathur is right on the ECR road). And from that junction, in about a km towards Maduranthaham, we have to take a right to a village road and take several left and right turns to have a glimpse of the hillocks finally. We had to stop the car at a distance and walk over. We could see a group of 4 hillocks there.
First we were taken to a Village Kanni koil under a mammoth banyan tree. I am not an expert, but from the look of it, doesn’t it look to be atleast a thousand year old? It is a fantastic and picturesque place any nature lover will love it. The temple is completely engulfed by the Banyan tree.
The temple underwent a colour wash very recently and throws a fresh look. The sculptures at the top of the temple are beautiful looking.
There is a lone palm tree.
The sculpture at the outside of the temple is also artistic. I don’t know whether our Kollywood has already captured this place but this is a place of a movie climax.
Then we were guided to the Sanyasi hill. It’s flat to the height of 4-5 floors of a building and anybody including elders can walk easily.
On top of it, we could see a huge Shiva lingam in a small half-height compounded sanctum without roof with a neem tree right inside the sanctum. The Nandhi is just outside facing Shiva. A lovely place indeed and no doubt, it could be a place of Siddhars.
Incidentally, it was a Pradhosha day and we felt very blessed to be there (but no pradhosham is being conducted there). The lingam is very big and majestic indeed and here He is:
In the adjacent hillock, there are 3 sunais (water streams) that supply the abhisheka water.
Thirukkazhu kundram hill is visible from here (If you download the picture and zoom it you can see it).
From another side, IGCAR at Kalpakkam is also visible (Don’t forget to take the Binoculars when you go).
This is definitely a place for a weekend pleasure as well as spirituality.
All in all, it took us about an hour and the guy who showed us around was very enthusiastic and showed us with passion towards the place. We could see the sense of belongingness in him. At the end, since we were very happy with him, I offered 100 Rs but to our big surprise, he refused to even look at the money. With all his hangover smell and our hesitancy, finally he proved to be “not an ordinary man” – a typical experience one could encounter in a place of Siddhars!, is itn’t?
We continued our Pondicherry journey by joining ECR at Koovathur. More surprises were in store for us – the downpour continued till the Tollgate near Pondicherry!
Location (Sanyasi Hill) :
Wikimapia location is here
Take the ECR beyond Mahabalipuram, Kalpakkam, long Palar Bridge upto Koovathur (76 kms from Chennai) and take the right side road to Maduranthaham. Go for about 3-4 kms and you will see a main road cutting to the right. Proceed going straight beyond that for another about a km and then you have to turn right in a village road. From there, the place is around 2 kms but you have to take seveal left-right turns.
Do’s and Don’t's:
- Don’t go alone and if you have ladies, go in sufficient number.
- Take along a village person to show the route
- Return before 5 PM
- If you know any meditation techniques, be ready for it.
- Go with Binoculars.
- It’s a flat hillock and not so difficult to climb/ walk. So you can take elders easily.