This is a part of the 4 part travelogue on Thirunelveli Temple tour:
Note: This is a gist of travel information only and I am not repeating here the temple timings, the archagar phone nos, temple legends and other details from the religious aspect since they are already documented in the ”Directory of the temples around Thirunelveli 1 and 2”.
My main purpose of taking a lodge at Kallidikurichi / Ambasamudhrm area was to take a bath at the Tamirabarani river and enjoy the beautiful surroundings but unfortunately both of them were not fulfilled since this was our first trip and we had so many temples to visit. We vacated the lodge and started off the day with the journey towards Thirunelveli.
The early morning view of Kallidaikurichi from Baskar Lodge:
We first went to Karanthayar palayam Sastha temple at Kallidaikurichi but that was yet to be opened and so we went straight to Karisoozhntha mangalam, about 3 kms diversion from Pathamadai. There are many sacred temples in this village. First we wanted to see the Natarajar temple but it was not yet opened and luckily the nearby Narasimhar temple bhattar called the Gurukkal over phone and informed about our arrival. In the meanwhile, we went to the other planned one in our trip, the Narasimhar temple being maintained by the Malayala Namboothris. Though the temple is a small one in a remote place, it is popular among a section of the people for its speciality. Lord Chakrathazhwar / Narasimhar are the main deities with Venkatesa Perumal as the urchava idol in the front. The speciality being that Lord Narasimhar holds chakra in all His four hands (no conch).
The temple is atleast 1000 years old as per the inscriptions and around 30 permanent Garuda sevas are taking place every year apart from the temporary ones. During the Garuda sevas, the temple is kept open from morning to evening continuously. Again, a beautiful Tamirabarani bathing ghat is by the side of the temple which is considered very sacred.
By this time, we were told that the Natarajar temple Gurukkal has arrived and so we went there. It is another one of the Pancha Natarajar temples including Chidambaram, the deities of which were made by the same sculptor.
It’s small temple and so we quickly finished the dharshan.
We then went to the nearby Sudalai MadaSwamy temple. It is said to be the jeeva Samadhi of Sage Pathanjalai but not sure how far it is true. As with all Sudalai Madaswamy temples, this is also by the side of graveyard in a somewhat frightening atmosphere.
People on a short trip have to decide whether to cover Karisoozhntha mangalam. In our case, we ended up not having time to visit one of the most important temples of Thirunelveli region – the Krishnapuram. So manage your time efficiently.
We then reached Kodaganallur Shiva temple by 9:15 AM, one of the Nava kailasams.
The temple is being maintained very well. Being a Sunday there was a big pooja organised and people started pouring in but the lone Gurukkal without any assistant was managing the pooja and people very efficiently and very briskly. We had a nice dharshan there.
From there we moved to Pazhavoor Thirumeni Azhagar Sastha temple, a very small one and was closed by that time. The surrounding looked like a tiny Dhanushkodi with the ruins of an apparent agraharam that should have been very vibrant once.
Then we had our breakfast at Suthamalli in a not-so-good restaurant (there was no other option). From there we moved over to Mela Venkatanathapuram Venkatachalapathy temple. There were plenty of marriages taking place with a huge crowd but we had a nice dharshan of Perumal. This has been considered as the Thirupathi of this region. It is a small temple very well maintained.
Roadside view while going from Mela Thiruvenkatanathapuram to Keexha Thiruvenkatanathapuram.
Very close to the Mela Thiruvenkatanathapuram, there is another Perumal temple at Keezha Thiruvenkatanathapuram. The Perumal is said to be having “dhana regai” in his hand and so the coins kept in His hand are considered very sacred and they can solve any type of financial problems. So, have some coin changes with you when you visit.
It is again a very small temple and finished the dharshan quickly and moved over to the Kunnathur / Sangani Nava kailasa temple at a walkable distance from there. The temple is also very well maintained and is in a beautiful environment. The Nandhi is having a sort of horse face and is considered very special.
By this time, it was 12 noon already and we came to a point that no other temple would be open at that time and so we decided to proceed towards Thiruchendur which is kept open all through the day. On the way, we passed through Thirunelveli town and the driver took us to the Kurukkuthurai Murugan temple right on the Tamirabarni river.
The temple was closed and we could see only the ambiance. The water level was very less and it would have been a much more beautiful scenery when Tamirabarani is in full flow.
We then proceeded to Mela Pudhukkudi Arunchunai Kaatha Ayyanar temple. We passed through a place full of palm trees on a land of red sand. There were no houses, no people, no vehicle for about 5-6 kms and we could see only trees and red sand all over.
Then as we entered the temple, what a sight it was! There were about 50+ four wheelers inside the campus with a huge crowd. It was full of massive trees and the whole of the place was covered with tree shadows. On top of it, there was a big pond full of lilly flowers. This is the ancestor temple for a particular section of people in this region. A very beautiful temple indeed and another “not to be missed” one.
There were big Marudha trees inside.
Again, all these areas are typical movie shooting spots. There is another Karkuvel Ayyanar temple nearby but we didn’t go due to want of time.
Then we went to the nearby Vana Thirupathy Sri Srinivasa Perumal constructed by Chennai based Saravana bhavan. I normally avoid the newly built temples for obvious reasons but this is being much talked about by visitors to this area. It’s a tourism facility with the Saravana bhavan hotel, a place to rest with rest rooms, many shops etc., I was hesitant to go to this temple built by a person tangled in many murder cases but unfortunately I did. As expected, the temple is a PURE COMMERCIAL house as is the case with any other modern day temple and the hotel is TOO COSTLY for its location. A single pomegranate juice (the quantity was also less) was charged Rs 110/= in the a/c dining hall. Surprisingly the hotel was full at 3 PM! Though I have taken around 1500 photos of around 45 temples in my trip, I had not taken a single photo of this place as I don’t want to give a place in my memory for this . Instead we could have visited the nearby Karkuvel Ayyanar temple.
We then reached Thiruchendur by about 4:30 PM and the town was in complete shamble with trenched roads and traffic diversion everywhere. Being a Sunday there was a significant crowd also. We just had a “glimpse” of Lord Muruga and went to the Valli cave. After purchasing the ticket and getting in we found the queue was moving very slowly and so we came out without seeing.
To visit this temple on a holiday was a grave mistake we did. Though Palani is a more popular Murugan temple every visit of ours to Palani is highly memorable and pleasant. Somehow our second visit to Thiruchendur is also not all that pleasant.
From there, then we moved to Serntha Poo mangalam, the last of the Nava Kailasams.
The temple was open but there was no archagar. We had our dharshan and moved over to the next temple, Rajapathy Nava Kailasam. Originally there was no temple just for this Nava Kailasam alone since the trace of the temple could not be found anywhere and only the linga bana was present. Now a brand new beautiful temple has been built with many shrines. The temple and all the shrines are completely painted with white and no other colour was used. Since we visited during night, it was a grand sight of the temple in full white with a soothing effect. We had a wonderful dharshan and delicious prasad as well.
By this time, it was already 7:20 PM and we were doubtful of seeing another temple but anyway moved over to try Then Thirupperai Nava Thirupathy temple.
It was 7:50 when we reached Then Thirupperai Nava Thirupathi and indeed it was just the closing time but luckily was not yet closed. The screen was put on in the main shrine in preparation for the last pooja of the day. During the wait time, we had an interesting experience. There was one more family from Chennai with two girl kids, one of them was very naughty going all around and playing. We were enjoying her play all through. About 4-5 kittens were also moving all around waiting for the dinner of pongal Prasad. When we were offered Tulsi leaves, the kid, after eating it, suddenly remembered something and asked for some leaves from everyone and offered them to the kittens! What a merciful mind she has!
We had visited about 40 temples in this trip and we never had a chance to enjoy the play of any kid like this in any of the other temples. What is so special in a kid playing? Yes, it is something special here. Only on the next day, we could relate that to the temple legend. The Perumal of this temple enjoys the play of the kids in the street and so He asks the Garudan to move away. So the Garudan of this temple is present in the inner sanctum completely sidelined and Perumal is enjoying the kids’ play! What a chance it was for us to join Perumal in enjoying the kid’s play! The Thayar shrine was closed already and so we decided to come back on the next day also.
So far we had covered only 6 Nava Kailasams and a single Nava Thirupathis and we were worried whether it could be possible to complete the Nava Thirupathis, Nava Kalasams and also the Nellaiyappar temple which by itself requires more than an hour, within a single day. So, though we have taken lodging at Hotel Janakiram in the Thirunelveli town, we decided to stay at Azhwar Thirunagari to save some time. We were searching in the late night for accommodation at Ahobila mutt, a Chettiar choultry and other places but we couldn’t get an accommodation anywhere. Finally somebody suggested to take lodging at nearby Srivaikundam. So we went to Srivaikundam and finally could get one at a newly opened Senthilandavan Guest house. We could also finish our dinner at the nearby hotel and call off the day.
To be continued…