Visit to Padavedu Kottaimalai Sri Venugopala Swamy Temple
Padavedu is centrally located among Vellore, Thiruvannamalai and Arani in the Vellore – Polur (Thiruvannamalai) route. While going from Vellore, there is a junction called Santhavasal at 32 km from Vellore town and from this junction you have to turn right (towards west) and travel further for about 6 kms to reach Padavedu.
Note: Normally there is no need to go through Vellore and the shortest would be through Arcot – Arani but since the road is being laid in that route, it is better to go through Vellore now.
Chennai (Adayar) to Vellore Highways junction – 142 km
Vellore Highways junction to Santhavasal – 37 km
Santhavasal to Padavedu Renugambal Temple – 6 km
From other places:
Thiruvannamalai to Padavedu – 55 km
Aarani to Padavedu – 23 km
- Padavedu is the avatara sthalam of Parasuramar, one of the Dhasavadharams of Mahavishnu
- Padavedu was the capital of the Sambuwarayars
- There are more than 10 ancient temples of 12th century Sambuwarayar period – Sri Renugambal Temple is the most popular of them and it is one of the important Sakthi Sthalams
This is our second visit to Padavedu exclusively for the Sri Venugopalaswamy Temple and the travelogue on my earlier visit to Padavedu for the other temples is available here.
Along with the other temples of Padavedu, this ancient temple for Sri Venugopala Swamy is also of the Sambuvarayar period. It opens only on Saturdays from 9AM to 4PM and is located on top of the Raja Gambeera Mountain popularly known as Kottaimalai at a height of about 2500 feet. The mountain is around 4 KM away from Sri Renugambal temple on the western side. The only route available is a ghat road running through a thick and beautiful forest. A breath taking journey to this temple can be performed by a specially made tractor. For Rs 1500, you can be the Ubhayadhar for the Abisheham and due to the limited seats, the Ubhayadhars’ family is given the first preference in the tractor. The tractor takes people to the foot of the temple from where there are about 350 steps to climb. En route one has to pass through a few iron bridges constructed around the hill which are engineering marvels.
We were asked to assemble in front of the TVS office, opposite to Indian Bank, on the way from Renugambal Temple to Ramar Temple at 6:30 – 6:45 AM. The tractor has a seating for 6 people at the front for weight balance and a specially made trailer to carry pooja items where people can stand also. Every individual abhisheha and annadhana items were loaded and the tractor started from TVS Office just before 7 AM. We were 6 seated in the front, 8 seated around the driver and about 8 standing at the back in the trailer.
I got down at the Draupadhi amman temple junction to buy breakfast from a small hotel there and in the meanwhile, the tractor went and picked up some people including the bhattacharyar at the Ramar temple.
The Draupadhi amman temple junction is an important landmark since all the routes to different temples branches off here. Veera Anjaneyar temple is located just near the junction; in one direction, we have Ramar temple, Vel Temple and Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar Temple; in another direction we have Renugambal Temple and the Subramanya Swamy Temple; in another direction, near the junction we have Ammaiyappa Eswar Temple and in the other direction we have Chinna kottai Varadharaja Temple and Kottaimalai. Synonymous to the way all the temples are being maintained here, this junction was also very clean and we have seen people cleaning the area during that morning hours. It is a picturesque village scene with 2 mammoth Banyan trees with their large branches cut off evenly and the presence of an Anjaneyar idol under one tree; a headless village god sculpture, Draupadi amman temple and the Veera Anjaneyar temple. This junction is much cleaner and more beautiful than our (city) Beasant Nagar area after the take over of city cleaning by Neelmetal Fanalca. Our Blog friend R.Balaji and his friend in a bike (from chennai) met us here and they joined later at Kottaimalai. I don’t know whether this junction has appeared in any Tamil movies, if not I wonder how this escaped the eyes of our Kollywood people. A lovely place to have a village “Katta Panchayat” scene!
The real journey to Kottaimalai started by about 7:30 AM from this junction. There is about 2 kms of travel on the plains through beautiful paddy, sugarcane and plantain fields.
The ghat road starts here and people coming in their own four wheelers park the vehicle here and continue either by tractor or by walk.
The tractor journey is a further 4 kms around on the ghat road. Unfortunately we sat around the driver’s seat and it was not so nice there. While going up very steep, we were pushed back and there was no support at the back and so it was very difficult to maintain the equilibrium.
It was a bushy and not-so-dense forest with plenty of trees and it was not a thick and rain forest kind. The path was easily walkable and many people came by walk. Many people came by bikes as well. We saw 4 bikes that had reached the top but also some who could not reach the top. Those who could not reach the top had left their bikes as it is in the midway and complete by walk, like our friend Balaji. You have to be little careful while coming by two wheelers because there is a chance of the bikes getting wheeled up easily while climbing steep heights due to the weight of the pillion rider as happened to a bike in front of our friend Balaji’s eyes.
There are more ghat road photos in my flickr set here
At one point, the road is very steep along with a sharp hair-pin bend and it requires a real skilled driving. It was a little scary, to be true.
Midway there is a way going to Shenbaga Thoppu dam – around 3 kms from there.
Hill Climbing through Steps
The tractor journey ends here and we have to cover the further distance by climbing through steps. After thanking the God here by lighting camphor for a safe passage so far, people start climbing through steps carrying the whole abisheha and annadhana items.
The highlight of the journey being the breath taking views all the way during this climbing through the steps.
There were many trees grown over the rocks and the stone walls.
Don’t forget to take binoculars – all the Padavedu temples are clearly visible from here.
Beautiful view of the Shenbaga Thoppu Dam
Finally we are at the top. The climbing through steps took us about an hour spending some time enjoying the breath taking views, the breeze and what not. It was not at all strenuous and very enjoyable all the way to the top.
Well, the pleasure does not stop here…
If at all we are tired, all the pains vanish once we stand here for a few minutes. Since this is a a mountain standing alone with lot of mountains around and due to the 2500 feet height factor, a very strong and cool breeze blows out here. One has to stand very carefully with a firm grip on the ground, else we will be easily thrown off. A few tribe hamlets with beautiful and uniform housings are seen from the top (through binocular). A helipad is also under construction.
Will there be a better place to rest alone?
A cave like structure and a possible hide-out from the enemies.
After enjoying the breath taking views around, we enter the temple. All the dwajasthambams I have seen so far are of either wood or metal and I don’t remember having seen any, made of stone. Here is a beautifully carved out stone dwajasthambam with the lightning arrestor at the top.
There are two water streams (sunai) on either side of the temple and water from one of them (right side photo) is very clean and is being used for drinking and abhisheham.
Front view of the temple
It is a small temple with only the main shrine and a small Amman shrine.
The heights of pleasure is waiting at the sanctum where the beautiful Lord Venugopala Swamy is standing in a very stylish posture playing flute along with his consorts Rukmini and Satyabhama.
Earlier we started from Chennai the previous day by 4:30 AM and at about 4 AM got a phone call that a college friend of my brother-in-law had met with a serious accident during the mid night and had been admitted in Appollo. We started anyhow and while nearing the Sriperumpudhur Rajiv Gandhi memorial, my car made a frightening big bang of noise and came to a halt. We found that half of one tyre got completely torn off (imagine, we were on a highway). Also, one of the nuts got worn out such a way that there was no grip for the tool. Somehow, with the help of a person brought from nearby, we could change the tyre and after that we didn’t have the mood (or rather courage) to continue the journey. We returned back to chennai and informed the Bhattacharyar about the cancellation of the trip. We had already booked the room at Padavedu and for the abdhishegam. After a few phone calls here and there, our Blog friend R.Balaji who planned the Kottaimalai trip the same day, asked me “So what? whatever the bad omen that came had gone in the morning itself. Why don’t you start afresh in the afternoon?” That triggered me to think about making the next attempt and immediately went and changed all the 4 tyres and started the trip by 12 noon. Also, I specifically changed the route via Kanchipuram-Cheyyar-Arani.
We were supposed to be one of the two abhisheha ubayadhars but I don’t know what happened to the other, we became the sole ubhayadhar that day. The abhisheham was conducted by a young bhattacharyar and we could see a great devotion in his duties. During the abhisheham, the feeling that we have come all the way up to see You, Sri Venugopla, in abhisheham, is something marvellous. Also, the feeling that Sri Venugopla Swamy had been so kind and lovely to invite us/ accept us and give His dharshan after so much hindrances had been really heart rendering and brought tears. One has to be lucky enough to have His dharshan is my opinion, especially after the incident.
What makes this temple so special is the sincerity of the people working for the temple. Right from salt to rice, all the abhisheha and annadhana items are to be carried over from the ground level to the mountain top. The whole cooking is being done at the mountain top and I was told that annadhanam is being done to all people till around 4:30 PM when the temple closes, whatever may be the crowd and the situation. I was also amazed with an incident I have seen while coming in the tractor. It stopped midway in the forest and I was wondering why. A woman got down and carefully packed up the cow-dungs on the road in a plastic bag to be used for watering the temple entrance at the top. Such was the sincerity.
On coming back to the room, I had another miraculous experience. My daughter was not feeling well the whole afternoon with a headache and feverishness. In the room, she got a very high fever and the radiation of heat itself was too much. I was a little sad that we were unable to cherish the memories of the day. I went out, got some Crocin, Metacin and an Amruthanjan and arranged the dinner food and then was talking to the Bhattacharyar outside the room for about 15 minutes. When I went back to the room, she told me that she got her illness reversed and was in great hungry and completed all the chappathis. Her fever unbelievably subsided completely in just 30 minutes. I never witnessed it for any of us in my life – even if a crocin or metacin can bring down the fever drastically, normally, it will just reappear in a few hours and takes atleast 3-4 doses to become completely alright. But here, she was in total contrast (like a dual role movie) before and after 30 minutes. Indeed, it was unbelievable for us.
Originally, I had planned to return the same evening to Chennai but since I felt too tired I cancelled it and started by 5 AM the next day and reached Chennai (via Vellore) by 8 AM.
1. During a Purattasi Saturday, sun rays falls on the foot of the deity and raises to head during the early morning hours. Some say that this happens on the third Saturday and some say that no one knows on which Saturday of the month, this will happen. There will be 100s of people staying overnight to witness the event and the place wears a festive look with good lightings. Lot of Annandhanams by many people take place on the mountain top and along the way. The temple will be open for the entire overnight and the Abhishehams will be completed before 5:30 AM itself on that day.
2. You can call up either Vasudeva Bhattacharyar (91596 32669 / 04181 248303) or the TVS office (04181-248279 or 04173-320444) to inform your plan to Kottamalai. Else, if you want to make a wish and start just like that without any prior planning, you can still do that like many others. The tractor comes and goes and while walking, if the tractor passes by and if there is a seat, just get in, else continue walking. From 9 AM to 4 PM the temple is open and you can visit any time during this period.
3. This is a temple not to be missed since this has something for all types of people – divinity aspect, beautiful sceneries, cool breeze (i believe some people come there, just sleep over the rock and go home) and above all, a place to shed some calories – so near Chennai.