view from the road
view from temple side
above the entrance at the path leading to the main sanctum...could'nt catch the full view because of the asbestos sheet over head
12 kms from our hotel on dusty roads through villages led us to Pillayarpatti....a Ganesh temple which had been on my wishlist for more than 10 years...and I have been just 90 kms away from this temple during my past many visits to our grand parents place at Trichy but never got an opportunity to visit this temple. This time it was not even on our itinerary when we started off from our place...well...like they say "You will get there only when you are meant too and not one moment sooner..."
When our car cruised from the main road into a bylane with temple arch, we were flanked by small shops selling pooja items, tiny souvenirs...what opened at the end of the road was a beautiful view of two temple towers and in the forefront was a clean temple tank fringed with coconut trees with the typical horizontal white and clay red painting....it made a divine sight and was an indicator that this temple was well maintained and I could already feel the energy of the place. As we parked and walked to the main temple sanctum....we saw a few people selling arugam pul ( grass) and paneer roja malai ( scented rose garlands) but the best part was nobody forced it on us like in many temples.
Once inside the temple when i queued up behind the devotees for my turn in the high ceilinged granite hall, I was totally awe struck when I looked up. Absolutely wonderful and colorful( technicolor...not earthy colors at all) mandalas and paintings from mythology adorned the ceiling. I was gaping for a long time at the artistic ceiling as the sanctum was crowded. Here is where I saw the crowd in this region that too numbering may be around 50. And when my turn to see the mammoth idol of the Lord came....this was again the only temple so far where I heard the priest say "Niruthhi, nidanama parungo"( Stop, stay a while and see)....Absolutely divine sight under the golden glow from the oil lit tamps ( no electric lights in sanctum) which my eyes still behold, what I felt as I stood there for more than 2 minutes is indescribable. The fragrance of the roja malai, the glow diffusing from oil lamps, the aroma of the vibhuti(sacred ash), the arugum pul malai ( garland made from grass) with all these, I could feel the absorption of the enshrined energies. No wonder, they call ancient temples as energy centers and this temple built according to agama shastra (temple architecture) authenticated that theory.
Again all around the temple,there are mini sanctums like in many shiva temples and huge framed photos from Mythology adorn the main walls. The temple like I said so well maintained by the nagarathar trust is one of the 9 temples managed in this region and this is a very ancient rock cut temple dating back to 1091 and 1238. More about the temple history here.
We drove out of the temple after buying the famous pillyarpatti pillayar from one of the many shops .
Our next stop was the Lakshmi kuberar koil just 2kms away.
Lakshmi Kuberar temple
Throught out the route, we saw many famous temple indicators like vairavan kovil, thamizhthai kovil, Ariyakudi etc...but it was'nt possible to go to every temple due to time constraint.
Kuberar kovil fell on our way to Kunrakudi on the main road...and this was my first visit to Kuberar kovil...never been or heard of a kovil for Kubera( God of wealth). So, when the husband's co-driver my daughter negotiated on the muddy track ( no road) to reach a white building called Lakshmi Kuberar Kovil, i was surprised for it's gopuram in no way looked like the regular temple gopuram and this temple is just 2 year old.
A white building like exterior and the entrance was flanked by two shops selling all knick knacks related to wealth like the happy man kubera and other feng shui type items. The temple was very unique in that it had two levels. Onthe ground level was a lotus structure in the sanctum which the priest said was the peetam and one had to climb stairs to reach the level above the lotus structure. Where Lord Kubera's idol was consecrated and above the idol of Kubera on the wall was the idol of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Another unique feature was the kubera vibhuti(sacred ash) which was green in color.
The temple also had a mini pond like a well in the ground level where coins were thrown. Again a well maintained temple where a few antique bharnis were sold (clay pickle jars).
After seeking Kubera's blessings, we now drove towards Kunrakudi which was just 2 kms away. While negotiating the muddy track to reach the main road, we saw a snake slithering across the road in front of our car. The daughter who was driving immediately wanted to know from her paati (grand mom) sitting in the rear seat, if it had any significance like a black cat crossing the road and the mil who does'nt believe such superstitions jokingly said " No, drive ahead, it is an invitation from Lord Murugan to visit his abode"(Lord Murugan's vehicle is a peacock which clutches a snake in its claw)
Kunrakudi - The abode of Murugan with his consorts valli and Devasena is another 1000 year old temple situated on a 30 metre hillock with more or less 100 steps to reach the abode.The name Kunrakudi itself in tamil means a hill colony. Built by Maruda pandi, a king who ruled this area. When he was suffering from an ailment,the vibhuti prasadam from this temple is said to have cured him.
When we reached the foot hills, we had a tough time escaping from the mendicants who were dressed in orange. After passing through the soda and pooja offerings shop which doubled as shoe depository, we were greeted by the temple elephant which was trained to bless with its trunk on our head when we offer a coin. We then climbed the 100 odd steps which were carved out of the hill and reached the top where a divine sight of the 6 headed Lord( Arumugam) with his consorts beckoned to bless us. Yet another moment which sent us into a trance and yes the vision of the lord under the glowing diyas is embedded in my mind. The granite pillars and the ceiling had such a cooling effect even in that hot weather and the breeze from the windows drew me to them. The view from there was rustic and had a oldworld charm . I could see red tiled roofs and old little houses from there and dried vegetation reminding of hay. It instantly reminded me of an aerial picture my husband clicked in the Italian town of Pisa. There is so much of unsung beauty in our countryside which can make beautiful picture postcards.
Forgot to click pictures here but enjoyed the beautiful views from the top and we walked down the steps only to run into an orange robed mendicant who call themselves as siddhars or andis ( don't know what they are called) and start asking for alms after forcefully predicting a few things about us.
That was the mini temple trail around Karaikudi which we completed by 11a.m in the morning......so many ancient temples to see in this region... God willing, maybe another visit will help complete.
Our next stop was Athangudi, famous for handcrafted tiles.