We reached Hotel Chela and after taking some rest, quickly discussed the plan again. The overall plan was to visit, Kumbhakonam, Chidambaram, Trichy, Thanjavur and Navagraha Temples.
The Surya temple was built around the 11th or 12th century C.E. The other temples were built earlier, ranging back to 7th-9th century.
Below are the nine temples and as they are called in Tamil.
We started our pilgrimage by visiting Mangal Temple.
The weather was cloudy with cool breeze. With an excellent breakfast, we hit the road to the first temple of our trip.
The temples in Tamilnadu are not just grand but also beautifully sculpted and many have mural paintings as well. These temples, where the prayer is continuing since over one thousand years, are very powerful place for meditation.
Soon we were at the Sevvai temple.
The temple has Bhairava in the East, Veerabhadra in the West, Kali in the North and Karpaga Vinayaka and Durga in the South.
|Mural painting at Sevvai Temple|
The next ritual is an offering a mixture of salt and peppercorns.
There is a separate shrine dedicated to Mars at this temple. It is believed that the person who prays to Mars will be bestowed with strength, bravery and victory. A visit to this temple is said to remove obstacles, caused by Mangal Dosha, to marriage.
Vaitheeswaran Koil is one the main centres of Nadi Astrology or Palm Leaf Astrology.
The temple is open daily between 6 AM to 1 PM and then 4 PM to 9 PM.
Getting blessed, we proceeded to Chidambaram. Chidambaram is famous for Shiva Nataraj Temple. It is the place where Shiva is in famous "Tandav Nritya" pose.
Chidambaram Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva where he is worshipped in the form of the Cosmic Dancer or Nataraja. It is also one of the panchabhoota sthalams - representing five basic elements. This is the Akasa Sthalam representing 'Space' among the Pancha Bootha Sthalams. The others are - Tiruvannamalai (Tejo sthalam - Fire), Kanchipuram (Prithvi sthalam - Earth), Kalahasti (Vayu sthalam - Air), Tiruvanaikaval (Jambukeshwar,Trichy - Appu sthalam - Water).
The Chidambaram temple houses the Akasha Lingam of Shiva. Chidambaram hosts the most ancient set of the 108 Karana stone carvings, the key dance movements of Nataraja. The temple complex is spread over 40 acres (160,000 m2) in the heart of the city. Many thousands of devotees come to this auspicious temple to pay homage to the Dancing Siva.
The Temple houses the Shiva and Vishnu in the same complex,where a devotee can have darshan of Lord Shiva and Lord Govindaraja(Lord Vishnu) from a single place.
After visting Shiva Nataraja Temple, we proceeed to Poompuhar. Poompuhar is the place where River Kavery meets the Sea. It was early a capital city and famous for trade with Romans.
Poompuhar is a town in the Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu. It was once a flourishing ancient port city known as Kaveripattinam, which served as the capital of the early Chola kings. It is located near the mouth of the Kaveri river, aside the sea coast. Ancient pottery dating back to the 4th or 5th century AD have been discovered off shore around this town.
The ancient city of Puhar was destroyed by the sea around 1500 years ago. Scientists speculate that this could have been the effects of a Tsunami possibly around 535 AD. This tsunami is mentioned in the Tamil Budddhist poem Manimekhalai, which relates that the town Kaveripattinam or Puhar was swallowed up by the sea due to the Chola King not holding the annual Indra festival, causing the wrath of the sea goddess Manimekhalai.This event is supported by archeological finds of submerged ruins off the coast of modern Poompuhar.
Silappathikara Art Gallery
This is a beautiful building.Scenes from Sillappathikaram, the Epic of the land have been given lively shapes in stones on the walls of the Gallery. These sculptures carved by the sculptors of Mamallapuram Art College.
From Poompuhar we visited Ketu Temple and then Budh Temple. Then finally Shani Temple, before retiring for the day.
The temple for Kethu is located at Keezhperumpallam in the vicinity of Tiruvenkaadu near Mayiladuturai (near Chidambaram).
Raahu and Ketu are associated with the legend of the churning of the milky ocean.
It is located at Tiruvenkadu near Mayiladuturai, Poompuhaar.
This is a temple dedicated to Aghoramurthy (Shiva) and to Budha. It is also known as Aadi Chidambaram.
There are several shrines of significance here, including those to Durga and Kali. The image of Natarajar here is of great beauty. Worship to Aghoramurthy's fiery form is said to be of significance on Sunday nights.
The present structure of the temple as well as the beautiful bronze images in this temple are a contribution of the Great Chola emperor Raja Raja Chola I. Some of these bronzes were recovered in treasure troves unearthed here.
Darbaranyeswarar Temple at Tirunallar is the shrines of Shiva and Shanishwara (Saturn). It is situated near Karaikal and it falls under the Pondichery. This temple is known for its shrines to Shiva (Dharbaranyeswarar) and the grand shrine to Shanishwara.
A lot of people visit this place, when the planet Saturn makes a transit between zodiac signs, an event that happens once in two and a half years.
Tirunallar is best accessed, driving from Mayiladuturai or from Nagapattinam.
We started with Chandra Temple, then to Guru and Rahu Temples. Then after lunch visited Surya and then Shukra temple. Thus completing our Navagraha Temple trip.
The Kailasanathar temple known as the Navagrahastalam associated with Chandra the moon, is located in the hamlet of Tingaloor is located close to Tiruvaiyaru near Thanjavur in Tamilnadu.
The small temple here has a small shrine dedicated to Chandra.
Legend has it that there lived a merchant Appoodi Adikal in the village of Tingaloor, who was a devotee of Shiva. Appoodi Adikal held saint Tirunavukkarasar in high regard and looked forward to the day when he would be able to host the saint poet. The day arrived, but his son got killed by a venomous snake bite while the saint was being hosted. The saint moved by Appoodi Adikal's devotion is said to have miraculously restored the lad to life.
This is regarded as a 'Gurusthalam' where Dakshinamurthy is held in great reverence, attracting huge crowds when Jupiter transits between zodiac signs.
This Shivasthalam is known for its shrine to Raahu.
Sekkizhaar, the author of Periyapuranam, named the temple that he built at Kunrattur after this temple.
Legend has it that the mythological serpents Aadi Seshan, Dakshan and Kaarkotakan worshipped Shiva here. Legend also has it that Nala worshipped Shiva here as in Tirunallaar. Gowtama muni, Paraasharar and Bhageeratha are also associated with legends related to this temple.
This temple was built by Gandaraditya Chola son of Parantaka Chola I. The inner mandapams and the outer mandapams were built by Sekkizhaar and Govinda Deekshitar.
There is a shrine to Raahu in one of the prikrams. The Piraiani Nudalaal Ambaal shrine is situated in the inner mandapam near the Naganathar shrine, while the Girikuchambika shrine is housed in a separate sanctum.
Suryanaar Koyil is located in the hamlet of Tirumangalakkudi near Kumbhakonam and Mayiladuturai near Thanjavur in Tamilnadu. This temple, dedicated to the Sun God, also houses shrines to each of the other eight celestial bodies, the Nava Graha.
Inscriptions from the period of Krishna Deva Raya, speaking of endowments made to this temple are also seen here.
The Suryanar temple faces west. The presiding deity here is Suryanarayana in a chariot like vimaanam, representing the sun's chariot. There are also shrines to Kasi Viswanathar, Visalakshi and Brihaspati (Guru) in the sanctum. Shrines to the other celestial bodies are located outside of the sanctum.
This Shivasthalam is associated with Sukra, the plant Venus. It is located in a quiet hamlet near Kumbhakonam.
Bramha is said to have been blessed with a vision of Shiva's marriage with Parvati here. Agni is said to have worshipped Shiva here, hence the name Agneeswarar.
Inscriptions from the Chola and Vijayanagar periods are seen in this temple.
In the Evening we visited following temples at Kumbhakonam:
1. Kumbheswarar Shiva Temple
2. Ramaswamy Temple
3. SharangPaani Temple
4. Nageswar Temple
5. Kashi Viswanathar Temple
Kumbakonam dates back to the Sangam period and it rose to be a prominent city between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, when it served as a capital of the Medieval Cholas.
Kumbakonam is known as the "temple town" due to the prevalence of a number of temples here.
The name "Kumbhakonam" is believed to be an allusion to the pot, which according to Hindu legend, contained the seed of all living beings on earth. The kumbha is believed to have been displaced by a pralaya or deluge and ultimately came to rest at the spot where the town of Kumbakonam now stands. This event is now commemorated in the Mahamaham festival held every 12 years.
We started for Thanjavur at about 9 in the morning and reached an hour later to Thanjavur.
Tanjavur is one of the oldest cities in India and has a long and varied history dating back to Sangam period. The city rose into prominence during the rule of the later Cholas when it served as the capital of the Chola empire.
We took a hotel and after taking some rest staretd our Tanjavur trip by visiting first to Brihadeswar Temple. It is also know as the "Big Temple" as it has the largest Shiva Lingam in the world. The other two are at GangaiKondaCholaPuram and Angkorwaat.
The Brihadeeswarar Temple