The festival of lights is here this year . I travel down memory lane. Last year , Before diwali we set out on a tour to temples around Thanjavur.
We left Hyderabad to reach Chennai. Stayed a night at my SIL’s house . We shopped(for Diwali) till we dropped at Rmkv, pothy’s, SKC and at shops in Pondy Bazaar. Then we took a bus to Neyveli in the evening to Bala’s mama’s house .
We celebrated Diwali at Neyveli with my husband’s aunts , uncles,cousins and MIL. As is the custom with Tambrahms, We got up early before sun rise, Had ganga snanam(the oil bath), lighted crackers, ate deepavali marundhu (this is taken before having the sweets and savouries and is made of medicinal herbs, aids in digestion). After having brunch, we(me, bala and our children) set off for Pondicherry in Bala’s cousins car.
Pondicherry is 60 kms from Neyveli . The roads were bad, we managed to reach in one hour or so.Then we drove 8 kms on the road parallel to beach to reach auroville. But to our luck all the craft and artisan workshops which I wanted to show shreya and sharun were closed. (the lady in charge told me that they are closed only on two days in a year one was diwali and the other was pongal. But we had a nice drive from auroville to Pondicherry. We went into the cashew orchards, got in and out of all the little shops that were open, had a pizza at a open air pizzeria. This pizzeria was amidst a small patch of plaintain trees. Each table had a board game. So till your pizza was baked you could play draughts,chess and keep yourself busy.
(my children and my husband at Pondi beach)
Then we crossed all the antique shops on the road and reached Pondy beach. I intended to buy some papier mache items (especially the reclining ganesha) but pondy’s handicraft store Pudumai was closed . so we sat for some time at the beach , then headed back home. We were very hungry.Enroute to neyveli not a single hotel was open for business. So came back home ate and slept.
Next day morning we left to siruvacchur along with MIL and mami in a car. My sthala puranam for siruvacchur is in my previous blogs. In the morning there was no heavy crowd in the temple. So had a good darshan of the god. We sat in front of the god when the alankaram was being done.A teenaged girl and her grand mother sang songs in praise of the goddess. When the door of the sanctum was opened . we went in to light the maa vilakku and again had a good darshan . After the final deeparadhana . we left to trichy.
We headed to samayapuram koil. It was too crowded. Managed to see the godess from far.The queque was very lengthy.
My grand wish of seeing the Ranganthar koil at srirangam was fulfilled. Actually My husbands grand parents house is in lalgudi. After my marriage, i have visited lalgudi many times but could never visit Sri rangam. I once tried getting into the temple when i was in the seventh month( carrying shreya)but the temple was crowded so could not get in.But now the wish was fulfilled.
Well, what shall i tell about the temple ? Words fails me to describe the feelings i felt at the temple. The god sri rangar had abhyanga alankaram that day. Had a good darshan . Showed shreya and sharun the sthala purana paintings and translated the pictorial story to them. There was a small museum within the temple precints , we saw that as well. The architecture and grandeur with which the temple has been built shows the excellent craftsmanship and knowledge of that generation. Went around the temple shops. The temple shops around srirrangam are famous for kalchatti pathirams.(stone vesssels).Then after some refreshment, we left to Lalgudi.
Day 2: We now had to visit our oor deivam at vadavakudi a tiny hamlet near tiruvaiyaru. The village surrounding the temple once belonged to my husband’s ancestors. The place is called Sathanur. The temple land belonged to them. The god here is Kalyana subramanyar along with his consorts valli and deivanai. Actually this temple is managed by a gurukkal whose house is beside the koil.This temple is in a sleepy town and does not have many worshippers. So the income for the gurukkal is very less from this temple. After doing the morning puja, he closes the temple and visits the temples in the adjoining villages. So when we went we had to wait for the gurukkal to come from the neighbouring village. Till such time we went to the nearby kaveri tributary. We walked across the fields(me in my madisar) to reach the Cauvery tributary. The water was shallow. So we waded across the river and reached a small Island on the river. Sharun and shreya picked up some shells. Played in the river for a while and walked back to the temple.
By then the gurukkal had arrived. We sat through the abhishekam, alankaram, pooja then as is our custom we lit the mavillaku and worshipped the god. We had lunch at the gurukkal’s house and set off to Tiruvaiyaru.
At tiruvaiyaru, we took a detour to reach the jeeva Samadhi of Saint Thyagaraja. There shreya sang the thygaraja keerthana ---- Raghu nayaka . This jeeva Samadhi is again on the banks of the River Cauvery. This is the mecca of Carnatic musicians. Carnatic musicians all over the world congregate here in the month of January every year to sing on his birth anniversary.(It is the death anniversary. I stand corrected. Pl. see comments section) Shreya and sharun again picked up some shells from this river as a memoir.
Now our next stop was Kumbakonam.The town of temples. Here we headed straight to the Mahamakha kulam. Had a dip at this kulam and went to a relative’s house (opp. The kulam)since the temple was still not open for the evening darshan.
AT 4.00 p.m WE went to the kumbeswarar temple at kumbakonam. It was not very crowded and so had a good darshan. Here again I translated the story of the origin of the temple to shreya and sharun. Then we visited a exhibition within the temple(Poom Puhar), I bought a beautiful statue of Lord Ganesha made of Papier mache.
Then enroute to Trichy we visited Thiruvalanchuzhi. This place has a pillayar temple. The uniqueness of this temple is that Ganesha is made from the foam of the sea water(kadal nurai). so no garlands of flowers or abhishekam for this god. All flowers and the darba grass are laid at the bottom of the idol.
From there we went to nearby Swami malai (one of the aaru padai veedu),Papanasam (has 108 lingas) This is also the point where lord Hanuman took a giant leap into Lanka. And the world renowned Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar temple. The tranquilness and beauty of this temple cannot be described but has to be felt. To think that the temple structure will be 1000 years old in 2010 is unbelievable. The vimanam (tower) of this temple is built with bonding and notching(no mortar used) . It truly is an architectural wonder. Look at the native wisdom, without technology and engineering studies to help them this wonder called ' Peria Kovil' ( big temple in Tamil) has weathered many conditions - natural and manmade.
After winding a very fulfilling tour , we reached lalgudi by night.
DAy 3. We spent a day in LLI, Bala's Grandmother's house where his older mama , mami chittipatti and annathatha stay. We are all blessed to have so many elders at home to guide us.
Sharun and shreya enjoyed their love, affection and care of them all along with their own patti and chinna mami. They enjoyed drawing the water from the well in the backyard( this sharun said he enjoyed the most during this trip.) The next day we left LLI to reach chennai in the afternoon(pallavan).
Day 4. Here we enjoyed the day with Bala's sister's family. We went around Besant nagar beach. had dinner outside reached home late in the night.
Day 5. We did the daily need shopping like pickles,vattals and boarded our train back to hyd.
A very fulfilling and wonderful trip.
P.S. This blog has been lengthy. hence could not do justice to what I saw on the country side of Thanjavur. The whole of Thanjavur is a treat to your mind,soul and eyes, more so if you are a Tanjorean.