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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tirumangalakudi Temple

22-1-2014: This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is known as Prananatheswarar. His consort here Mangalambikai. The main deity is in the form of a Swayambhu(or self formed) Lingam.The unique feature of this temple is that all the presiding deities are named Mangalam indicating prosperity.
Deity/Category Name
 Parvathi Mangalambigai
Vinayagar Mangala Vinayagar
Vimanam (Tower) Mangala Vimanam
Location Tirumanagalakudi
Theertham (Temple Tank) Mangala Theertham
Legend: The temple is glorified by Thevaram hymns The temple is believed to have been built by a minister of Kulothunga Chola I with the tax money amassed. This invited the wrath of the king and he ordered punishment to the minister. The minister's wife worshiped Mangalambigai of this temple to save her Mangalyam (holy thread worn by married woman). The minister was punished and his corpse was brought to Tirumangalakudi. The moment it reached the place, he came back to life due to the effect of the presiding deity. From then on, the place is believed to provide aegis to Mangalyam. Also when Navagrahas were cursed to have leprosy by Brahma for relieving a saint from leprosy as they do not have authority to change destiny, Brahma asked them to go to Thirumangalakkudi and pray Kol Vinai Theertha Vinayagar (Ganesh who absolved sins of planets) to be absolved from their sins.
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The entrance gopuram
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The Mangala Theertham

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tiruvidaimarudur Temple - Kumbakonam

22-1-2014: Mahalingeswarar Temple in Tiruvidaimarudur is a 2000 year old Shiva temple.It is one of the 275 sthalams where the three of the most revered Saivite Saints Appar, Sundarar and Tirugnanasambandhar have glorified the temple with their hymns. The temple was built during the Chola period and widely expanded during the Nayak period in the late 16th century. There is a separate sanctum to Goddess Brihatsundarakuchambikai.  
Legend: The name "Kumbakonam" is believed to be an allusion to the mythical pot (kumbham)of the Hindu God Brahma that contained the seed of all living beings on earth. The kumbha is believed to have been displaced by a Pralaya(huge flood that led to the dissolution of the universe) and ultimately came to rest at the spot where the town of Kumbha-konam now stands.The drops of nectar believed to have fallen in five shrines around Kumbakonam, namely Mahalingeswarar temple at Tiruvidaimarudur, Tirudharasuram, Tirunageswaram,Tiruvorgam and Tirupadalavanam.
Another legend is that of  a Chola prince who killed a Brahmin and was in turn, pursued by his spirit (brahmahatthi) The Chola prince entered the Mahalingeswarar Temple and prayed to Siva for relief from the clutches of the brahmahatthi. The Chola prince made his way out through another entrance thereby saving himself. This practice continues till day where people take the second entrance to exit the premises after worship. There is a sculpture of Chola brahmahatthi on the eastern premises in one of the inner gopurams.
The Temple Tank
The Gigantic white Nandi or bull erected in front of Shiva's sanctum
Ammunu Bai -  In 1775: Pratap Singh the Maratha King fell in love with Ammunu Bai. After their marriage Ammunu Bai lit one lakh oil lamps in the temple sanctum
The lovely bronze statue of Ammuni Bai - see how exquisitely the hair, plaits,sari pleats and ornaments are sculpted
Natarajar and Sivakami
The Temple Chariot and the huge pillared corridor below
Durgai as Mahisasuramardini - the destroyer of all evil

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tirubhuvanam Kambahareswarar Temple (Kumbakonam)

The Kampahareswarar Temple at Tirubhuvanam near Kumbhakonam is the last in the series of four Chola masterpieces along with Brihadeeswara Temple, Gangaikondacholapuram & Darasuram. The front mandapam here is again built in the form of a huge chariot. The Vimanam here is larger than that of Darasuram, and is about 120 feet in height. Sculptured panels depicting scenes from the Ramayana adorn this temple.Shiva is worshiped as "Kampaheswarar" as he removed the quaking (Kampa) of a king who was being haunted by a Brahmarakshasa . 
There is a separate shrine for Sarabeswarar a fusion of man, eagle and lion - the deity is believed to have relieved the devas (celestial deities) from the fury of Narasimha after he slayed Hiranyakasibu the demon. A sculpture of Sharbeshwaramurti in the Tribhuvanam temple is seen with three legs, with body and face of a lion and a tail. It has four human arms, the right upper hand holds axe, noose is held in the lower right hand, the deer in the upper left hand and fire in the lower left hand.
The magnificent colorful Vimanam
Amazing Chola architecture
It was a bright and sunny day - The Vimanam was bright and captivating !
A huge niche image of Lingodbhavar  - above and below
This is one of the largest Lingodbhavar images I have seen
Beautiful sculptures in stone
Sarabeswarar - Bas relief on ceiling
The tank into which the abhishekam water collects
We are happy to be here

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pullamangai Temple near Kumbakonam

22-1-2014: Pullamangai is located on the outskirts of Pasupathi Koil, Papanasam Taluk, Thanjavore District, Tamilnadu, South India. It is easily accessible by vehicles from Thanjavore and Kumbakonam.
The Chola temple is located on the western corner of the main street here.Going by the inscriptions and other archeological evidences,this temple might have been built during the early years of Chola king Parantaka Choladeva-I (907-953 AD). This is a Thevara sthalam and Saint Gnanasambandar has sung hymns of Lord Siva here.This temple is located in the banks of Kudamuruti River. Since this temple's Sthala Vriksham is “Ala Maram” ( Banyan Tree) hence it is also referred to as “Alandhurai”.Also there is a legend that Parvati is said to have taken the form of a Chakravaha bird and worshiped Shiva here, hence the name Pullamangai.(pulla means bird).
The temple is in a state of complete neglect. There is growth of wild weeds and plants on the precious vimanam which is full of exquisite sculptures.Government needs to take some fast action to prevent further deterioration and restore the temple to good shape. Otherwise this precious and priceless jewel of a temple will be lost soon !(The matter has since been reported to Archeological Survey of India and positive action is expected soon)
Pullamangai -multi armed Durgai also called Mahisasuramardini - holding umbrella-standing on buffalo's head-hands holding Conch-wheel-sword-bow-mace-trident-shield-ankusham
Pullamangai vimanam- poorly maintained - see the growth of wild grass & plants above & below



Exquisite sculptures - an artists delight. The Ganesha is amazingly beautiful
Beautiful niche image of Lingodbhavar
Exquisite Bas Reliefs on stone
Teen Devian emerging after an exhilarating visit to Pullamangai Temple

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pullamangai Village

22-3-2014: We motored towards Pullamangai located around 5 Kms from Kumbakonam to see the Tiruvalanthurai Mahadevar Temple. We reached around 9.30 am but the priest had not arrived. We had to wait for nearly one hour for him. Meanwhile we stretched our limbs and meandered around for a while. We befriended the village kids and took a few pictures.They looked happy and healthy. We asked them if they went to school and they said no.That was sad to learn. We were given to understand that in a nearby house a family owned two looms and produced Kanchivaram pattu (silk) saris.When we evinced interest we were invited to see the saris. We had a nice interaction with the village folk and saw a nice collection of beautifully woven saris. By this time the temple priest had arrived and opened the temple doors. We bid good bye to the kids. It was a beautiful experience:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Someswarar Temple-Kumbakonam

22-1-2014: We got up early showered had coffee and visited the nearby Someswarar Temple. It was so early that even the priest had not arrived and the doors to the main sanctums were locked. While we peeped through the iron bars to get a darshan of the deities the priest arrived and unlocked the doors.
Kumbakonam is a temple town with many Hindu Temples located in and around it. Majority of the temples are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Someswara Temple is a Shiva Temple around 1000-2000 years old. The Goddess is known as Thenar Mozhial Somasundari.This is a Thevara Sthalam and Saint Tirugnana Sambandar has sung hymns in praise of the Lord here.The Shiva Lingam is Swambhu or self formed.
Temple Legend: Lord Brahma was much annoyed when the great flood or Pralayam took place and was in a dilemma as to from where he had to begin creation again.  He surrendered to Lord Shiva for guidance.  Lord Shiva said, “Gather sand from as many holy places as possible and mix it with nectar and make a Mayakumbam-pot.  Fill this pot with nectar and keep the creation seed "Srushti Beeja".  Place a coconut on the pot and decorate with mango leaves.  Cover the pot with threads.  Keep it on an Uri or pot holder so that it does not fall on sides.  This pot would float on the Pralayam or great flood.  I will come there.”
 Kumba the pot fell from the Uri and floated in the pralayam. A Lingam appeared at the place.  Moon(Soma) worshiped the Lord here, hence, Lord is praised as Someswarar.
Someswarar Temple
The SomeswararTemple Tank -Kumbeswarar Temple Gopuram can be seen in the background
Someswara Temple Tank
Mango Tree in Bloom at Someswara Temple- amazing that the mango tree has bloomed in January

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Udalayur Agraharam (Village)

On day 3 of our trip we left Thanjavur for Kumbakonam by the 3.30 passenger train. The train was crowded. Though we did not have any reserved seats we managed to edge ourselves into some seating space. The journey lasted around one hour. We were picked up at Kumbakonam by a Toyota Innova and driven to Udayalur Agraharam (village) where we were scheduled to spend the night.at Chandras newly acquired heritage house. It was a beautiful village and simple house with bare essentials. Renovation was under way and many basic facilities had not yet been created. Water had to be drawn from an open well and toilets were outside in the back yard. There were no fans and there were mosquitoes flying around. Since facility was inadequate we did not stay there but went off to Kumbakonam and checked into Hotel Atithi.
Thanjavur Railway Platform & Railway tracks
Agraharam house
The Agraharam Houses - observe the neatness,brightness & cleanliness.
Wooden Pillars and wooden roof beams & rafters
Resting on a wooden cot - tired but happy
Sitting on the porch and cheerfully posing for a picture