Friday, 27 November 2015

Maakaleswarar – Shiva Temple, Irumbai Maakalam

This temple praised by Gnanasambandar is one among the three Maakalam temples in India. The first one is located in Ujjain, second near Mayiladuthurai (Ambar Maakalam) and third one is this temple known as Irumbai Maakalam.

The entire temple is now renovated with beautiful paintings on the inner walls of the temple and it is a delight to have Darshan. The Shiva lingam here is an aggregate of three pieces and one can see that there is a metallic strap kind of arrangement on the lingam. The temple is open from 7 am to 12 noon and from 4 pm to 8 pm daily.

Lord Siva: Maakaleswarar
Ambal (Goddess): Kuyil Mozhi Ammai
Sthala Vriksham : Punnai
Theertham : Maakala Theertham

How to reach
This temple can be reached either from Tindivanam or Puducherry. The placed called Irumbai is located on the highway 66 from Tindivanam to Puducherry passing via Kiliyanur. Temple is located at about 2 kms inside from the highway. There are no direct buses to the temple. Auto facility is available from a nearby place called Thiruchitrambalam Koot road which can be reached by bus from Tindivanam.

Temple Legend
Kaduveli Siddharwas performing penance under a tree in this region. There was no rainfall which resulted in an acute drought and famine. The King ruling that region wrongly thought the drought was due to the penance of Kaduveli Siddhar, hence he distracted his penance with the help of a beautiful dancer. Kaduveli Siddhar came out of his trance but he was not agitated when he realized that the intention of the King was to save the people from the drought. He took pity on the people and prayed to the Lord for rainfall. In due course there was substantial rainfall alleviating the worries of the King and his people. There was a grand festival organized to celebrate the prosperity and the same dancer who had earlier distracted the penance of Kaduveli Siddhar was dancing before the procession. While dancing, one of her anket fell down and the Siddhar immediately tied the anklet to her leg with an intention that there should not be an interruption to the performance. However, people who are gathered around mocked at him for his act. The Siddhar when he realized that the same people whom he saved from the drought are ridiculing him got angry and prayed to Lord Shiva because of which the Siva Linga inside the temple exploded into three parts. The King and his citizens realized their mistake and appealed to him to forgive them. Siddhar’s anger subsided and the three pieces of lingam got restored as one piece.
Another legend is that Parvati has worshipped the Lord in this shrine to absolve her sins of killing two demons. These demons – Amban and Ambasuran wanted to marry Parvati, agitated by this atrocious act of demons, the great mother took the form of Mahakali and slayed them.

Nearby Attractions
Puducherry is very close to this temple. Auroville dome will be visible from the Tindivanam-Puducherry highway.

Two more Paadal petra sthalams – Kiliyanur and Olunthiyapattu are located at a distance of about 12 km from this place. Thiruvakkarai another shrine is located at about 25 kms from here.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Jalanatheeswarar - Shiva Temple, Thakkolam

This temple sung by Gnanasambandar is located on the banks of Kosasthalaiyar river about 7 kms from Arakkonam. The Shiva lingam is made of sand and believed to be still embraced by Parvathi Devi because of which the lingam is not touched by anyone including the priest(lingam is referred as Theenda Thirumeni nathar). Since Kamadhenu worshipped in this temple, it is believed praying in this temple will get better farm yields.
Lord Muruga of the temple is praised by Saint Arunagirinathar in his Tirupugazh hymns.
The temple is open from 8 am to 12 noon and from 4:30 pm to 7 pm daily.

Lord Siva: Jalanatheeswarar, Umapatheeswarar
Ambal (Goddess): Giriraja Kannikambal
Theertham : Parvathi Satya Ganga Theertham, Kosasthalai River

How to reach

This temple is located at a distance of about 7 kms from Arakkonam railway station. Arakkonam can be reached from Chennai by electric train. It can also be accessed from Thiruvallur-Perambakkan road.

Temple legend

As per the legend, once upon a time there was a water spring emanating from the mouth of Nandhi and also there was a stream of water flowing near the Shiva lingam. Hence the ancient name for this temple was Thiruooral (ooral in Tamil means oozing of water stream).

Thakkan had enmity with Lord Shiva and he conducted a grand Yagam (sacrificial ceremony) without inviting the Lord. In order to correct Thakkan and teach him a lesson, Shiva sent Veerabhadra to destroy the sacrifice. Having recognized the impending doom, Thakkan cried out aloud in agony. Hence this place is referred as Thakkolam (Thakkan + Olam, which means crying aloud in tamil).

Also Kamadenu the divine cow, Indira, Chandra (moon), Yama, Saptha Kannikas – seven divine virgins, Sages Uthadhi and Theerkatha have worshipped the Lord in this temple.

Nearby Attractions

There are several significant Shiva temples around this area as given below.

1.       Sri Gangatheeswarar Temple
2.       Sri Somanatheeswarar Temple
3.       Sri Thirumambazhanathar Temple - (a wellknown pancha pandavars legend story associated with this temple)
4.       Sri Palleeswarar Temple
5.       Sri Theneeswarar Temple
6.       Sri Yammaneeswarar Temple

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Divine Weapons used in Ramayana and Mahabharata

1. Brahmasira (Brahma's head)- this is the most powerful divine weapon. In Mahabharata, it was used by Ashwatthama to destroy the future generation of Pandavas after they had conquered the Kauravas. Arjuna also had the knowledge of this weapon and counteracted when Ashwatthama used it. This is not used in Ramayana.

2. Brahmastra - Another mighty weapon of Lord Brahma used in both Ramayana and Mahabharatha. Arjuna, karna, Drona, Bhishma, Ashwatthama, Bhima, Satyaki, Yudhishthira, Dristidyumna had the knowledge of this weapon in Mahabharata. In Ramayana Rama, Ravana, Meghanathan (Son of Ravana), and Lakshmanan had knowledge of this weapon.

3. Narayana astra - this weapon belongs to Lord Vishnu. In Mahabharata, it was used by Ashwatthama against Pandavas when he came to know that his father Dronarcharya had been killed by them. In Ramayana it was used by Meghanathan against Lakshmana. One peculiar nature of this weapon is that the weapon's force would increase several times with the resistance offered to it. The target should not even think of counteracting the weapon. The only way to escape is the total surrender which was effectively done by Pandavas and Lakshmana to escape the wrath of this weapon.

4. Pashupata astra - This is another powerful weapon graced by Lord Shiva. In Mahabharata it was used by Arjuna against Jayadaratha and also in Inrdaloka to fight against the enemies of his father Indra.  In Ramayana it was used by Lakshmana against Meghanathan.

5. Naga Pashaa - This weapon belongs to Nagas, it is a deadly weapon capable of  binding the target in coils of thousands of venomous snakes. It was effectively used by Meghanathan in Ramayana to bind both the mighty Rama and Lakshmana. They were revived from this weapon with the help of Garuda. 

6. Naga Astra - Another powerful weapon pertaining to Nagas was used in Mahabharata by Karna against Arjuna. However, Arjuna was used from this weapon by the tact of Lord Krishna who pressed the entire chariot into the ground by a few inches to save Arjuna. Karna did not use the weapon second time since he had earlier promised his mother Kunti that he would use it once only against Arjuna.

7. Sakthi Astra - this powerful weapon belongs to Indra and it was graced to Karna in return for his magnanimous gift of giving away his mail (shield on the chest) and ear rings to Indra. However Indra had told him that it can used only once and Karna was planning to use it against Arjuna. But Karna faced a situation where he had use it against Ghatothkachan to save the army of Duryodhana from mass destruction. 

8. Agneya Astra - this weapon belonging to Agni is capable of discharging huge inexhaustible flames that cannot be quenched by normal means. Used in both Mahabharata and Ramayana by great warriors (Maharathis).

9. Varuna astra - this weapon belongs of Varuna and this would release huge volumes of water and generally used to counter the Agneya Astra.

10. Vayu Astra - this weapon pertains to Vayu and is capable of unleashing very high speed gale winds against the armies.

11.Bhargvastra - Parasurama is the lord of this weapon and it is almost equaivalent to Brahamastra in its power. It was given by Parasurama to Karna in Mahabharata. Unfortunately Karna could not invoke this weapon when he was in dire need due to a curse given by Parasurama.

12. Aindra astra - this weapon of Indra is capable of showering arrows from the sky and used by Arjuna and Bhishma frequently in Mahabharata war.

13. Mohini astra - this weapon belongs to Mohini, one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu. This is capable of creating illusion in the vicinity of usage. This was used by Meghanathan in Ramayana and by Arjuna in Mahabharata. 

14. Sudharshan Chakra - this is the most reverred weapon of Lord Vishnu, it was used in Mahabharata by Lord Krishna to kill Sisupala and also in the Kurushetra war where He hid the sun with this chakra there by creating an illusion of sun set during Jayadratha's killing.

All these divine weapons are mighty celestial beings who reside within the blessed warriors who got these weapons by their severe penance and devotion to the respective Lords of the weapon. They were invoked by the respective chants with extreme concentration and purity of mind. These weapons never fail to annihilate the targets but there were some exceptions.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Paadal Petra Sthalangal Map - A google map of 276 temples of Lord Shiva

 Comprehensive Map of all the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalangal (276 Lord Shiva Temples reverred by Thirugnanasambandar, Appar, Sundarar in Devaram). Separate color codes can be seen for each of the region in which these temples are located. Along with the location, brief details about each of the temple is provided. Please provide your comments and suggestions.

Click on the link given below

Paadal Petra Sthalangal Map

Monday, 9 November 2015

Manikandeswarar – Shiva Temple, Thirumalpur

This Shiva temple has a unique feature among the Paadal Petra Sthalams where one can have the Darshan of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu simultaneously. Inside the sanctum, it is blissful to see Mahavishnu standing exactly opposite to Mahadeva and offering his prayer. I feel devotees worshipping in this temple will be bestowed with the grace of both the Lords.

Another interesting feature is the presence of Nandi in the form of statue with a monkey face. Nandi and Ravana had a quarrel once when the latter insulted both Shiva and Nandi. Enraged by the insult, Nandi cursed Ravana that his destruction will be accelerated by an army of monkeys. This curse later supported Rama to slay Ravana. There is also a Shivalinga – Choleeswarar installed inside the temple in memory of the great chola king – Parantaka Chola.

Inspired by the greatness of temple, Thirugnanasambandar has sung 2 hymns and Appar has sung 4 hymns. This temple is open from 7 am to 12 noon, 5 pm to 8 pm every day.

Lord Siva: Manikanteswarar, Maal Vanagiya Eswarar
Ambal (Goddess): Anjanatchi, Karunai Nayagai Ammai
Sthala Vriksham : Vilva tree
Theertham : Chakkara Theertham

How to reach
This temple is located at a distance of about 20 kms from Kanchipuram on the Kanchipuram-Arakkonam Route. There are bus services available from Kanchi and Arakkonam. There are electric trains from Chennai Beach to Thirumalpur directly although the service is very limited, if using this service alight at Thirumalpur railway station and from there share autos are available. It is better to travel during day time as it will be difficult to navigate in the night in Thirumalpur.

Temple Legend

Lord Vishnu once waged a war against the rishi Thutheesi in order to protect a king named Kuban. He hurled his Chakra against the rishi but due to spiritual powers of the rishi the Chakra lost its cutting edge. Mahavishnu desired to get the Sudharshana Chakra from Shiva which He had used to slay the mighty asura Chalandran. Mahavishnu started worshipping Shiva in this temple by offering 1000 lotus every day. One day Shiva wanted to test Him and made one of the lotus flower to disappear resulting in a shortage. When Vishnu noticed the shortage, He immediately offered His own eye in place of the 1000th lotus. Extremely pleased by His ardent devotion, Shiva blessed Vishnu with the Sudharshan Chakra and restored His beautiful eyes.

Once Parvathi closed the eyes of Shiva with her hand playfully which resulted in the temporary disruption of functioning of the universe. In order to remediate this error, She constructed the lingam from the sand and offered Her prayers. This lingam is the presiding deity in this temple, worshipped by both Parvathi and Vishnu.

Nearby attractions
Kanchipuram – plenty of temples around to visit
Takkolam – Another paadal petra sthalam is located about 12 kms from here.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Kachabeswarar Temple, Thirukkachur Ala Temple

This beautiful temple is located in a calm place just 2 kms from Singaperumal Koil railway station. This is one among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalam, Sundarar has sung a hymn.  This is also a Thirupugazh vaipu sthalam.

When Sundarar visited this temple, he was so tired and hungry; Lord Shiva out of His love to his ardent devotee, took the form of a mendicant and collected food from the nearby homes and provided food to him. Hence the lord is also known as Virunthittaeswarar (Virundhu in tamil means feast, hence Shiva is referred as one who offered the feast to Sundarar) 

There is another Shiva temple on the hillock nearby. The main deity is Oushadheewarar, also called Marundheeswarar (lord of medicine) and Goddess Irul Needi Ambal. This temple is referred as malai koil (hill temple) by the locals. Prayer at this temple will cure ailments.

This temple is open from 8:00 am to 11:30 am and from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm daily.

Lord Siva: Kachabeswarar, Virunthitta eswarar
Ambal (Goddess): Anjanatchi, Kanni Umayal
Sthala Vriksham : Ala maram (Banyan tree) – this corresponds to the star Magam, hence those who are born in this star will have better benefits by worshipping here.
Theertham : Koorma theertham

How to reach
There are frequent electric trains from Chennai Egmore to Singaperumal Koil. It is better to hire an auto from the railway station to cover both Kachabeswarar Temple and Marundeeswarar temple which is located in a hillock nearby. The auto charged Rs 200 from the railway station to cover both the temples and drop back to the station.

If travelling by road, take the Singaperumal level crossing on Chennai-Chengalpattu GST and after about 1 km take the right turn which will lead to the temple.

Temple Legend
As per the legend, Lord Vishnu worshiped Lord Shiva in the form of a Tortoise (Tortoise is referred as Kachabam in ancient tamil, hence the name Kachabeswarar). Devas and Asuras once decided to churn the Paarkadal (ocean of milk) in order to get the Amirta (divine nectar of immortal life), Meru mountain was made the axis of churning and Vasuki the giant serpent was used as the rope for churning. However, the entire weight of Meru mountain has to be held in place in the ocean for which Lord Vishnu graced to take the task. Before engaging, Lord Vishnu worshiped Lord Shiva in the form of Tortoise to make it a success. 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Gnanapureeswar - Shiva Temple, Thiruvadisoolam

This Paadal Petra Sthalam sung by Gnanasambandar is located in a place called Thiruvadisoolam about 9 kms from Chengalpattu railway station. The temple being located in a forest zone is quite scenic with surrounding hills. I visited in an evening and the glimpse of sunset from this location was awesome.

Thirugnanasambandar on this long yatra to Siva temples was once crossing this place. Because of the long walk in a hot sunny day he was very tired. Completely exhausted by weariness and hunger he took rest in the shade of a large tree. A shepherd boy herding his cattle nearby, saw Gnanasambandar, took pity on him and offered curd to satiate his hunger. Gnanasambandar gladly ate the curd, got rejuvenated and explained to the boy about his yatra. The boy mentioned to him about a Siva temple nearby and offered to guide the way. He accepted the suggestion and followed him, upon reaching the temple tank the boy suddenly vanished. Completed surprised by this event, Gnanasambandar prayed to the Lord and Shiva appeared before him, the boy was none other the supreme Lord himself.

The temple is open from 8 am to 12 noon and from 4pm to 7 pm daily.

Lord Siva: Gnanapureeswarar, Idaichuranathar
Ambal (Goddess): Govardhanambigai, Imaya madakodi ammai
Sthala Vriksham : Vilva tree
Theertham : Kaatchi kulam

How to reach
Thiruvadisoolam is about 60 kms from Chennai located on the Chengalpattu-Tiruporur road. There are regular electric trains from Chennai Egmore to Chengalpattu. Those travelling by train from other locations can alight at Chengalpattu railway station. From railway station, I hired an auto to visit this temple as well as nearby Karumariamman temple and drop back to the Chengalpattu railway station. The auto charged us INR 400 (total distance 20 kms). The other option is travel by bus from Chengalpattu bus stand (which is opposite to railway station), those buses bound for Tiruporur can be taken. The bus stop is Thiruvadisoolam and from there a walk of about 1 km to the temple. But the bus frequency is very limited and usually very crowded, hence I opted for the auto.

The other options are accessing by road from Tiruporur or Thirukazhukundram.

Temple Legend
 Ambal worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of cow and showered milk on the lingam.

Nearby attractions
 There is a Karumariamman temple nearby at about 2 kms from this temple, the statue of Amman is about 51 feet and extremely beautiful. Also there is a Perumal temple adjacent to the amman temple which is very good with Perumal looking like Thirupathi Perumal.

There is also a Bhairavar temple which is recently constructed near this temple.