Visit to temples around Kangeyam – Day 1
I had been waiting for an opportunity to visit Chennimalai and Sivanmalai Murugan temples for quite some time and finally it got realized during the last week of Nov 2018. We started from Besant nagar by about 5:30 AM and reached Koogaiyur by about 10:30 AM where there are 5 shiva temples in a small village. A detailed travelogue has been written in my previous post. It took us till 12:45 in Koogaiyur and then we started for Kangeyam through Salem / Perundurai. On the way, just after Seshanchavadi, we finished our home food lunch at a nice place under a tree which looked as if it was made for that purpose and proceeded to Ilampillai. My wife wanted to visit Ilampillai, around 15 kms after Salem, to buy some sarees for an upcoming function. It is said to be a wholesale market for sarees as being hyped in social media. Yes it’s a (not so big) wholesale market but ONLY for cheap artificial silk sarees, no other type but we were aiming cotton sarees. So it was a waste of time and with some disappointment, got back to the Salem – Coimbatore highway and proceeded towards Perundurai for Kangeyam. On the way, we saw Texvalley, a wholesale textile market, opened by Modi Govt in Aug 2014 with 1500+ shops. We could have visited it instead of Ilampillai but it was already late evening and there was no chance. At Perundurai in the highway, we had to take the diversion to Kangeyam through Chennimalai. It was a horrible single road state highway to drive in the night! With great difficulty of driving, finally we reached Kangeyam and took lodging at Manis Lodge, a big and decent enough room for that little town with very spacious car parking inside.
Our very purpose of the trip was to visit Chennimalai and Sivanmalai Murugan temples and on net research I found that the Kongu region is full of Murugan temples, most of them are on hills and many of them are sung by Arunagirinathar in his Thiruppugazh. (Later, from a Gurukkal of a temple, we came to know that there are whopping 383 exclusive Murugan temples in Kovai, Thiruppur, Salem, Erode, Pazhani region alone!). We planned for about 8 Murugan temples and 2 Thevara Padal Petra sthalams at Avinasi and Thirumurugan poondy and found Kangeyam is the centre place for all and so decided for two full days of stay there.
Places visited during the trip:
Some of the striking features of the Kongu region temples:
- In all the temples we visited we saw Murugar is standing alone and Valli & Deivanai are present together in a separate shrine/temple
- Most of the temples are present in small to big hills with thick bushes. You can see and hear the Murugar vahana – Peacocks – in plenty, all around the hills
- All the temples are being maintained very clean – spick and span – no piece of paper or tree leaves anywhere
- All the temples have been renovated recently and so the ancientness is somewhat lost except in Uthiyur Murugan temple.
1. Chennimalai Murugan temple
Our first temple to visit around Kangeyam was Chennimalai Murugan temple.
- Sri Balan Deva Rayar offered the Skandha Sashti Kavasam for the first time to the world here
- A 3000 years old temple
- A miracle took place on 12.02.1984. A bullock cart with two bulls climbed the hill in full footsteps
- Lord Muruga is present in Dhandayuthapani posture
- Arunagirinathar sang Thiruppugazh on this Murugar and got Padikkasu from Him.
- 3 Bulls individually bring in Abhishega theertham everyday through the footsteps
- With Lord Muruga present as a Chevvai graham at the center all the other Navagrahas are present in the koshtams around him
- Sri Valli and Deivanai lived here as Amirthavalli and Sundaravalli. They are present with Prabai in a single stone in a separate temple, about 200 steps behind the main Murugar temple
- One of the 18 Siddhars, Pinnakku Siddhar lived and attained Mukthi here. His meditation cave and shrine are present in a separate campus about 300 steps behind Valli and Deivanai temple.
- Once in 12 years water from a Sunai overflows
- Saravana Mamunivar lived here and wrote the legend of this temple from the copper plated got from Kanchipuram as directed by Lord Murugar. His Samadhi is also present here.
We started off from Kangeyam by 6:30 AM and it was a half an hour drive to Chennimalai. We couldn’t even have coffee since no hotel was open at that time. Unlike other hill temples, this is a long and flat hill with 1320 steps but there is also a road for vehicles to the top. Since it’s a flat hill, it won’t be all that difficult to climb, I guess (we went by vehicle). The hill base from where the vehicle road and steps start is a beautiful location with a temple tank and at that morning time, it was very lovely and pleasant to be there. Given another chance I would like to climb by steps just to enjoy the nature. During the drive, we saw plenty of peacocks crossing the road, roaming around and their sounds are heard all over. In other hill temples we visited in this region also, peacocks are seen and their sounds are heard.
Since it was an early morning there was no crowd and we had a pleasant dharshan. Lord Muruga is standing alone as Dhandayuthapani.
Behind the Murugar shrine, another 200 steps of flat climbing will lead us to Valli & Deivanai shrine. As in other temples of this region they are present together in a separate single shrine. The shrine was locked and nobody was there but the deities can be worshipped through a small hole in the door.
Even further behind the Valli & Deivanai shrine another 300 steps of flat climbing will lead us to the Pinnakku Siddhar cave and shrine. He is one of the 18 ancient Siddhars and got knowledge under Pambatti Siddhar. The Siddhar cave is a small room for 4-5 people to sit with a tiny room like cave where the Siddhar used to meditate. There is also a small open shrine for Sri Mahamuni and a temple for Sri Thannasiappan. The poojari just came in and we had a nice dharshan.
Apart from being such a significant temple for Lord Murugar and the Siddhar, it is also a beautiful hill to trek and climb, enjoy the nature, enjoy the peacocks and other birds, breath the fresh air at the hill top, especially when you come on a normal day during the early morning hours.
The full photo album is here
The video of Chennimalai Murugan Temple:
2. Sri Thirunthaar Kuzhali ammai sametha Sri Thirumugam malarntha nathar and Sri Thirukkan Narayana Perumal temple at Mukasi Pidariyur
In my list, I had noted down an exclusive Bairavar temple at Chennimalai but could not find any info in the net. So I enquired the Chennimalai Gurukkal and he directed us to a nearby Shiva temple at Mukasi Pidariyur, about 7 kms from Chennimalai, en-route Perundurai. It is a sub temple of Chennimalai Murugan temple and Lord Bairavar is present here in a separate shrine with eight hands as Ashtabuja Bairavar. It was an unplanned visit here but we were very lucky to be directed here. This is a medium size temple but very beautiful in a village atmosphere with a very sincere maintenance.
The very first striking feature of the temple was the drainage system for the abhishega water in all the shrines. The abhishega water outlet pipes of various shrines were laid underground without obstructing the pathway around the shrine and interconnected without any trace of abhishega water! They looked very perfect and clean without any foul smell unlike in many other temples! I think people who are in temple construction should check this out to get a few tips.
The other striking feature was the pathway to various shrines. They were painted with a paste of cowdung and turmeric powder and bordered with while lines. This seems to be a common practice in this region and I saw this in a house and another temple also later. The mix of cowdung and turmeric paste gives yellowish green colour to the pathway and with the white border it gives an awesome look. It seems devotees paint this in Shiva shrine on pradhoshams, Murugar shrine on Karthigai and Sashti days, Bairavar shrine on Ashtami days etc., so that the whole temple gives a fresh look on all days.
The entrance to the temple has a huge parking space filled with plenty of trees.
Here Bairavar is seen in a separate shrine with eight hands as Ashtabuja Bairavar
Vinayagar is present as Dasabuja Valllaba Vinayagar with 10 hands and His consort on His lap.
From the 600 years back Chennimalai inscriptions, the Chennimalai region was called as Pidariyur and so this temple is being considered as Aadhi Chennimalai temple. Originally the temple archagars for Chennimalai went from here only. Srirangapatnam Hyder Ali donated lands for this temple.
When we went, an ear piercing ceremony for a kid was getting arranged and families in groups started assembling. A very ideal place for that kind of a function. I love this temple and the environment so much that I certainly like to visit this again leisurely for an abhishegam or a family function.
Contact: Sri S.Balaji Gurukkal @ 99420 46011 / 98424 48399 / 94861 97884
The full photo album is here
3. Sri Kuzhanthai Velayuthaswamy Temple at Thindalmalai
Thindalmalai is at the entry of the busy Erode city while coming from Perundurai, at about 8 km from the city centre. The temple is located on a small hill with about 150 steps.
This is another Murugan temple in Kongu region sung by Sri Arunagirinathar in his Thiruppugazh. At the base of the hill, there are two Vinayagar shrines, one under the Arasamaram (Peepal tree) surrounded by Nagars and the other Siddhi Vinayagar in a separate shrine. Also at the base there is a shrine for Idumban.
At the top of the hill, Sri Kuzhanthai Velayuthaswamy shrine is located along with a separate shrine for urchavar where Lord Murugar is seen with Valli and Deivanai. Thannasi siddhar cave is located north west of the main shrine. Only on Karthikai festival special poojas are performed in this Thannasi siddhar cave.
As with the other Murugan temples in this region, this also is maintained spick and span with clean toilets, spacious and neatly laid parking space, very limited shops etc., The temple itself is on a small hill but they have made additional little artificial rock setups that spoil the natural look of the hill. Further I assume there is a plan to make this a sort of a theme park as inferred from the digital banner kept there so that this serves not just as a temple but as an all-in-one weekend gateway, just like ISKCON, for the Erode city crowds.
By the time, we finished Thindalmalai temple, it was already noon and it was not possible to go to the next temple in our list. So we decided to go for lunch and shopping at Erode town. Luckily we found a Corporation car parking area in the Brough road close to the textile market itself. Hanumantharayan koil street has shops selling only bedsheets, towels etc., and the area between Brough road and Hanumantharayan koil street is filled with plenty of shops selling all kinds of textile materials. It was pathetic to see there are enormous no of shops but no buyer. When we were the only ones to roam around, they were calling us to every shop and it was sad to see that. A new wholesale textile market had been opened by Modi Govt in Aug 2014 with 1500+ shops could be the reason that this market is deserted. The textile materials here are very cheap indeed. The queen size double layer blanket was only 280 Rs and the single layer Queen size was half that price! Southern Textiles and Sai Southern Textiles are the shops that manufacture sarees and so they are good also. We spent close to 3 hours in shopping around and then started for our next temple.
4. Kaithamalai Śrī Vetri Velayudhaswami Temple, Uthukuli
This temple also located on a small hill just at the outskirt of Uthukuli town.
There are about 300 steps to climb but there is a road for vehicles also.The unique thing in Kaithamalai is that the temple car is in the hill and devotees pull it in the slopes.
Like the other Murugan temples in this region, this is also maintained very clean. By the time we went it was late evening and we were the only ones. Most of the Murugan temples in this region are deserted on normal days but very much crowded on occasions like Sashti, Karthigai etc.,
The full photo album is here
The video of the temple:
5. Sivanmalai Andavar Temple
Our next temple then was Sivanmalai Andavar Temple, another Murugan temple which is sung by Arunagirinadhar in his Thirupugazh.
This is located at 4 kms from Kangeyam in the Kangeyam – Uthukuli/ Thiruppur route,
It was a night drive from Uthukuli but since it was a double road, there was no problem unlike the previous evening horrible drive of Perundurai – Kangeyam.
There are about 500 steps to climb and there is road for vehicles upto the top itself. Since it was night, we couldn’t enjoy the beauty of the hill much.
Though the main deity is Vennieeswarar/ Nanjundeeswarar as a Swayambu lingam with Parvardhini Amman, the temple is more popular as Murugan temple. Next to Chennimalai, this is the most popular temple in this region. On most days the temple chariot will be pulled by some devotees as their prayer and the Prasad will be issued but on the day of our visit there was no chariot pulling.
At the base of the hill, there is an ancient Shiva temple which we couldn’t visit.
Murugar is said to have gone to Vallimalai on the advice of Narada, married Valli there and brought Her to Sivanmalai to make it their beloved abode. Like Parvathi in Kancipuram, Valli also did penance in Sivanmalai, which included thirty two sacred duties. Later Murugan went to Thiruthani and brought His consort Devayanai also to reside with Him in Sivanmalai.
Sage Agastya came to this mountain and performed penance in order to gain knowledge about the Agamas. He also created a natural spring on this mountain from the waters of the Ganga which he brought in his Kamandalam. It is said this miracle took place on Karthigai Pournami day (full moon in the month of Karthigai) and thus it is venerated by devotees as a special day.
Legend has it that the mountain is a piece of Sanjeevi parvatham. Hanuman prayed here after being directed by the sage Vyasa. He was accorded as much power and strength as Vishnu-Narasimha after his penance in Sivanmalai. Hanuman, it is believed, even carried flowers from the banks of the Ganga to worship at Sivanmalai.
Many miracles are said to have taken place in Sivanmalai involving celestial beings like Indra whose kingdom was restored to him after a battle with the Asuras.
Cursed by Agasthya, King Nakutan became a snake. Sage Dhurvasa asked him to pray to Sivanmalai Murugan who restored his original form.
Generally in any temple the first pooja will be done to Vinayagar but here, the first pooja is done to Murugar and it is considered that Vinayagar Himself worships Murugar here.
If the peacock of Lord Murugar has its head towards North and its tail towards South, it is considered as Celestial peacock and the vice versa is called demon peacock. Here the peacock is present in the form of Celestial peacock.
All Navagrahas are facing the Sun God. This posture is considered as the one free from “Navagraha vakrams”.
Butter and curd are offered to God here.
Subramanya swamy is present with four hands and a single face sitting on peacock.
We see Hanuman in separate sanctum here.
There is a place with 18 steps called ”Pathinettampadi or Sathya padi” which was used as a court to solve disputes. There is an Arthameru with imprint of foot steps. It is figured in the tamil literature ‘Kuravanchi’.
There is a place called Valliarachal where Valli stayed, meditated and performed her duties.
It is considered that there are Ashta(8) Durgas around the temple in 8 directions. They are Alampadi Vanasatchi (Kattammai), Pappini Angala Parameswari, Kangeyam Aayi amman, Valuppur amman, Thangamman, Athanur amman, Kariya kaliamman and Selva Nayahi amman.
There is a Kailasanathar-Gnanambihai shrine in the Southern corridor which is considered as the most ancient of this temple
There is a shrine for Jurahareswarar on top of the hill. People worship here to get relief from fevers.
Innumerable Tamil Scholars have immortalized Sivanmalai with their songs of praise. Sivanmalai is featured in the Sivanmalai Puranam, Sivanmalai Pillai Tamizh, Sivanmalai Mayil Vidu Thoothu, Siva Thangaratha Sadakam and Thanipadal.
There is an unique custom being followed here wherein an object will be kept in an exclusive glass box as per divine order which has an attached significance. The Sivanmalai Andavar will come in the dream of any devotee asking him to place a specific object in the temple. This will be informed to the temple Gurukkal and divine approval will be sought. If approved, the object will be kept there till the next order. Cycle, Gun, Pen/Pencil, Gold coin, Sand, Water etc., are some of the objects that were kept in the past like this. It is said that when water was kept tsunami disaster came.
When we went 3 sickles were kept and people attribute this to the fall of Communism and the death of Nel Jayaraman.
Sthala vruksham: Thoratti
Once upon a time the Chola king Muchukunda was afflicted by leprosy. He heard from the sage Gautama that he would be cured if he took a dip in the holy theertha (waters) of Sivanmalai. He did so and was miraculously cured, giving credence to the sanctity of Sivanmalai. The various other theerthas are: Agasthya, Anuma, Indra, Brahmananda, Mangala and Veera theertha.
The full photo album is here
After visiting Sivanmalai we returned to Kangeyam lodge, took dinner and rested.