This is the concluding part of our Tirunelveli temple trip.
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 Tirunelveli 1 and 2”.
We wanted to save as much time as possible since we had so many more temples to visit on the last day. So we got ready and were present at the Srivaikundam Nava Thirupathi by 6:30 AM sharp but to our dismay we were told that the temple will open only by 7:45 AM! (It’s too lazy to wake up Perumal at that time!). Then we went to the Srivaikundam Nava Kailasam where the temple was kept open and renovation works were going on even at that time but the Gurukkal was not there. Anyway, we could see the Lord through the doors and were going around various shrines. The temple is one of the biggest in the Nava Kailasa temples and very beautiful with wonderful sculptures in pillars and many mandapams.
Sri Boothanathar is considered very special in this temple
By the time we completed all the shrines, the Gurukkal also had arrived. We had a nice dharashan of God and Goddess. The renovation work is going on only outside the main shrines and so the main deities are under regular worship. After that we completed our breakfast and then went back to the Nava Thirupathi temple again. It is also a huge and very beautiful temple, well maintained by TVS. The temple has numerous sculptures in various pillars and mandapams.
An exclusive blog post is needed for the sculptures of the Perumal and Shiva temple of Srivaikundam.
The Srivaikundam bridge:
One nice aspect of Nava Thirupathis is the temple timings. Normally the Perumal temples are very strict in their timings and they close between 1 and 4 PM come what may, whereas here, in many of the temples, the closure time is between 1 and 2 or between 1 and 1:30 only such that you can complete all the nine temples very conveniently before 2 to 3 PM. Srivaikundam, Azhwar Thirunagri, Then Thirupperai and Thirukkolur are the only temples which close very early by 11 AM itself (However, opening the temple at 7:45 AM is too lazy, especially for such popular temples and hope something will be done for this also).
Our next temple was Azhwar Thirunagari Nava Thirupathi. The sthala vruksham tamarind tree is more than 1000 years old and it is under this tree, Nammazhwar remained from birth to 10+ age without any food or water. Under the tree, now there is Nammazhwar shrine and the sanctity of the place can be felt very easily.
Then we visited the following temples in the given order. I give the time of arrival at the temple (the time of the first photo with my camera) in bracket so that you can have an idea of how long it will take to go from one temple to the other.
Thirukkolur Nava Thirupathi (9:26 AM)
We visited Then Thirupperai Nava Thirupathi (10:10) again since we could not see the Thayar shrine the previous night. Like the previous night, this time also we had to wait for about 20 minutes for the pooja to complete. At that time, 20 minutes wait was too much for us. After the wait, we visited all the shrines and had the delicious prasad also.
Thiruppuliangudi Nava Thirupathi (12:48)
The Ranganatha Perumal of this temple is very tall so that you can not see His foot from the sanctum. There is a separate window outside the shrine in the praharam through which only we can have the dharshan of Lord’s feet.
Only in this temple, we had to wait between 1 and 1:30 for the lunch break but otherwise we had completed all the Nava Thirupathis conveniently by 1:45 itself without any wait in any temple.
Our next temple was the Morappanadu Nava Kailasam and so travelled back towards Tirunelveli. While passing through Srivaikundam, we bought some packed food at a hotel just opposite the Government Hospital.
On the way to Morappanad, we saw only the exterior of the Karungulam Perumal temple on a small hill since it was closed.
We also passed through the Vittalapuram Pandurangan temple and it was also closed.
We reached Morappanad Nava Kailasam by 3 PM. Since the Tamirabarani flows towards North here, it is considered very sacred to take a bath here.
Here, we had our lunch of the packed food we bought at Srivaikundam. The quantity of each pack was high and quality was just ok. We called up the Gurukkal over phone only to find out that he was at Ambasamudhram and will come only by 5:30 PM, meaning a wait of 2 hrs and possibly missing Nellaiyappar temple. So we decided to leave the temple (this is the only temple which was left out in our Nava Kailasa temples) and proceeded towards Nellaiyappar temple in the Tirunelveli town. Since the temple will open only by 4:30 PM, the driver suggested to take rest at the Science Centre! With plenty of trees and (badly maintained) rest rooms, it was a good option with an entry ticket of just Rs.5! Since there was no sufficient crowd, we could not go to the 3D show or the planetary show and simply rested for about 45 minutes.
Our final destination was the grand Nellaiyappar temple which is bigger than even Madurai Meenakshi amman temple in size. It needs atleast 2 hours to completely see the temple and we had visited all the shrines and saw numerous wonderful sculptures.
Again, this temple requires an exclusive blog post and it is very difficult to express the beauty of the temple and sculptures in words. It has to be seen and enjoyed, especially the Kanthimathi amman!
Since the famous Iruttukkadai Halwa shop opens only for some specific time in the afteroon, we informed the Standard Cabs people to buy Halwa for us. We went to Standard Cabs, collected the Halwa, complemented the driver and the company, took dinner opposite the railway station and boarded the train for Chennai.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable and satisfying trip but the biggest upset was the missing out of Krishnapuram temple and no Tirunelveli pilgrimage is complete without a visit to Krishnapuram and the Nellaiyappar temple. We missed exploring lot more of the Ambasamudhram, Kallidaikurichi areas in the day time (especially the shooting spots!) and also missed taking bath at Tamirabarani. Two days more would have permitted us to explore around Thenkasi, Kutralam, Sencottah and Sankaran koil. All these only mean that this trip is just the TIP OF THE ICEBERG!
Note: The information on the Tirunelveli temples over the internet is very very limited excepting some info on the Nava Thirupathis and Nava Kailasams. This is yet another Kumbakonam and Kanchipuram but is highly under-explored and under-exposed! I request the temple lovers to focus some attention towards this region and popularize the temples for the sake of devotees.
Thanks for your patient reading..