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Old 20th February 2024, 17:42   #1
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Two-day Temple trip in Chozha Country

Two-day Temple trip in Chozha Country

They say we got independence on August 15th from the British but I lost my independence on 10th February to a girl who looked like British in complexion. Normally for our anniversary we never did anything special but this year she planned outside temple visit. My mother expired (of old age) in Dec ’23 and as per various sources (from sastra experts to family friends) we should abstain from temple visits up to 13 days, up to 45 days, up to 3 months, up to 6 months and until the first death anniversary. I think the rule was for one year originally which is a long period for people who regularly visit temple and so some authorities (whom they trust) gave concessions. But everybody was unanimous in banning Kula Deivam (Family Deity) temple visit for a year and so we did not do our Wayanad visit on son’s birthday this time. Since wife is also in this group, after confusing herself and me (occasionally), finally decided to end abstinence from 45 days (which incidentally was her birthday and Pradosham day suitable for regular Lord Siva temple visit in Cuddalore).

Some time back she had given me a bucket list of temples she would like visit which I had marked in GMaps. Now she asked for places from that list for one day trip from Pondy. There were 2 temples near Seerkazhi with that she added 3 more temples (in Thirukadaiyur (overnight stay) and next day Thirunallaru and Thirumeyachur). Our Spresso 2nd year service is due only in March but I preponed it in January itself. Reason was that since our 2-year warranty coincides with 2nd year service I wanted to have time of at least a month between these two (with service first) so that if any problem comes after service, we would have warranty period still intact.

10.02.2024:

First 2 temples are connected with (Thirugnana)Sambandar, a great Tamizh saint-poet of 7th Century CE and one of the 63 prominent Siva devotees called Nayanmars. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambandar

1. Sivaloka Thyagar temple, Thirunallur, Achalpuram 2. Sattainathar temple, Seerkazhi. The 2nd temple was where Sambandar was born and the first temple was where he got married.

Sivaloka Thyagar temple, Thirunallur, Achalpuram:

Deities: Sivaloka Thyagar and Tiruvenneetru Umai Ambal.
We started at around 6 AM from Pondy. Until then wife was telling we had to visit the 2nd temple first as per chronological order in Sambandhar’s life. But while driving she changed her mind to visit Achalpuram first as that was on the way first. So reached Achalpuram temple around 8.30 AM via Cuddalore and Chidambaram (Bypass). We need to turn left for Achalpuram after Kollidam bridge on Chidambaram-Seerkazhi Road. There was some renovation work going on (probably consecration or Kumbabishekam) and the temple was virtually empty. We had to wait some time for the priest to arrive and after that the visit went smoothly as there was no devotees. As per legend Sambandar got married at the age of 16 and after the marriage dissolved himself with Lord Siva along with his wife and others who attended the marriage (including 3 more Nayanmars). Temple was neat and clean. We left at 9.30 AM as wife was satisfied and moved on. ( She normally does ordination( Archanai) followed by recitation of Songs /verses for 30 minutes minimum).

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Kedilam River Bridge
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Cuddalore - Chidambaram Road
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Chidambaram Bypass
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Kollidam Bridge
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Achalpuram Road
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Sivaloga Thyagar Temple
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Temple Inside
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Temple Views
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Outside
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Renovation Work
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Ambal Temple

Sattainathar Temple, Seerkazhi:

For reaching Seerkazhi we could have retraced the same road but took village roads via Alalasundaram and joined main road at Puthur. As we could not find any decent hotel for breakfast on the way, reached Sattainathar temple but since there was not toilet facilities in the temple decided to finish breakfast before visiting temple. Found a decent hotel in front near bus stand (Vasantha Bhavan, a decent hotel with single toilet at the backside) and finished a quick breakfast of idli/vadai (as it was already 10 AM) and reached the temple again.

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Towards Seerkazhi
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Breakfast stop

This temple is bigger than the other one. As per legend here Sambandar sang his first song at the age of three. His father left him alone and when he returned found drops of milk in his son’s mouth. When enquired the child showed the sky and sang his first song. From then onwards the legend spread that Parvati (consort of Lord Siva) breast fed the child. This temple has three levels.

1. The Brahmapureeswarar shrine is housed in the lower level. Brahmapureeswarar is accompanied by Thirunilainayaki. The Hindu god Brahma is believed to have worshiped Shiva here.

2. The second-level houses Periyanakar with Periyanayaki on a Thoni(boat), hence the name Thoniappar. According to Tamil legend, during one of the biggest deluges that submerged the planet earth, Tamil god Siva is said to have carried the 64 arts on a raft (called Thoni in Tamil) somewhat similar to Noah story.

3. Sattainathar is also housed here in the third level. This legend is connected with Lord Vishnu. Mahavishnu incurred a dosham for having sent King Mahabali to underworld (story of Vamana Avatara). He wanted to get relieved of this and prayed here. Shiva wanted to show that there is no difference between Him and Vishnu and He took the skin off Vishnu’s body whereby the dosham was removed. Sattai in Tamizh means dress or shirt.
We have to buy tickets for reaching second level where the view was good. But in the third level it was difficult to see Sattainathar due to absence of lighting and we came back after seeing the aerial view of the temple. Around 12.30 we left the temple took lunch again at Vasantha bhavan (Ok) and moved on.

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Sattainathar Temple entrance
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Inside the temple
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Temple Views
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Second level
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Third level
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Aerial Views
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Sattainathar
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Steps to reach levels
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Gopuram inside
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Pond
.....Continued

Last edited by kvsneela : 20th February 2024 at 18:11.
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Old 20th February 2024, 17:59   #2
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Re: Two-day Temple trip in Chozha Country

Two-day Temple trip in Chozha Country-32.bhairavar-temple.jpg
Bhairavar Temple

Thiru Narayana Perumal (Thirumanimadam) temple, Thirunangur:

Deities: Narayanan Perumal (Vishnu) & PundareekaValli (Lakshmi):
This was not in the original plan. Wifeís sister had sent a notice before we started about a function in this temple and since it falls on the way to our next destination (Thirukadaiyur) we planned to have a peek here. There are 11 Perumal (Vishnu) temples in and around Thirunangur. Every year on the next day of new moon day in the Tamizh month of Thai, Garudasevai (Vishnu Idols on Garuda from 11 temples will be taken around) is performed in the night for few hours. For that purpose, the Utsavamurti (each Siva/Perumal temple have 2 idols. One is fixed in sanctorum called Moolavar and other one for taking in procession called Utsavar) from all temples are brought to the main temple (Narayana Perumal temple) at noon.

As many roads were blocked inside the village by police , we had to park the car outside before the entry point. When we reached the temple at around 1.30 PM none of the idols reached the temple and so wife decided to proceed which was suitable for me also as it was hot and I was very much tired but my relief was short lived. As we were walking towards our car, one by one the idols started to come in and wife refused to leave this opportunity to see all the idols in one place. I threatened her that if this continued, I wonít accompany her in future trips but she did not budge (knowing very well that is not going to happen as I also donít have any other alternate to get relief from routine life). As I was waiting for her to finish, I could observe closely. The Palanquin in which the idols were carried was very heavy (even with 3 people each on the 4 sides, they struggled to maintain the balance). They needed to take rest every few steps. No wonder it takes nearly 12 hours to travel few couple of kms (procession started in early hours from each temple). After wife was fully satisfied, we moved on to Thirukadaiyur.


Two-day Temple trip in Chozha Country-33.thirunangur-entry.jpg
Thirunangur Entry
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Parking
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Devotees waiting for the Idols
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Idols procession arriving

Abhirami temple, Thirukadaiyur:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amrita...Abirami_Temple

Deities: Amritaghateswarar - Abirami
We did not book any hotels for our night stay as lot of hotels are available in such a small place. The reason is that this place is famous for its marriage functions and 60th year and 80th year functions. In our previous visits we had no need for accommodation as those were one day visits. This time our plan was to stay overnight and searched for rooms as we reached the temple at around 2.30 PM (temple opens only at 4 PM). But since next day was auspicious day all the major hotels were fully booked as people come in buses with friends and relatives with advance booking the full hotel. Finally we could get at Hotel Bharath in top floor without lift (3rd ) ,a non AC room without TV and Western Toilet which was ok as we have the same setup in our home except the toilets ( rate was only 500/-) and also just few meters from the temple. I did not try in other hotels like TTDC which were a bit away from the temple. Took some rest and visited the temple at around 5 PM. I returned back after an hour but wife stayed until dinner time (as usual). She called for dinner at 8.30 PM which we took at the next building called Mani Iyer restaurant. (Food was ok). During dinner she informed that she had changed the plan for next day (which was Thirunallaru originally) as she had arranged to see the abhishekam for Abhirami idol at 5.30 AM( 3500/- fees) . For me it did not make any difference as my purpose of these trips are just to escape from routine life rather have any connection with divine forces. So, we decided that she will go alone in the morning (got confirmed from the hotel that it wonít be problem for her to go alone in the early morning hrs. In fact, she informed me afterwards that marriages were already going on when she reached the temple).

As per legend Abhirama Pattar (nee Subramanian), 18th century saint, told the king (probably Sherfoji I of Marata Dynasty) who asked him about the day which Subramanian replied as full moon day whereas actually it was new moon day. The king ordered him to prove otherwise he would be killed. The Subramanian sang songs on the deity Abhirami called Abhirami Andhathi at the end of which goddess herself appeared and threw her ear ring which became full moon.

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Thirukadaiyur Parking
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temple elephant
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Temple Views ( Cameras not allowed in Main temple)
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Hotel Bharath


11.02.2024:

Lalithambigai temple, Thirumeyachur, Peralam:

Deities: Megadnadhar & Lalithambigai.
I woke up at around 6.30 AM (my usual time) and wife returned at around 8.30 A.M. She had brought some offerings from the temple like Puliyodharai (tamarind rice) and sweet Pongal which became our breakfast. Then she gave the option of returning home without visiting any temples further. But since I had taken rest full night and that was being Sunday (and there is no urgent work back in home also), I decided to continue with our actual plan by missing only Thirunallaru. (Also, from my experience, I knew that though she was ready to return home, internally she would like cover maximum temples and I did not want to disappoint her). Next in the list was Lalithambigai temple at Thirumeyachur near Peralam. From Seerkazhi 2 roads are going south. One via Mayiladuthurai, Thiruvarur and the other one is towards Nagapattinam. We were in the second route and Peralam is in the first route as both are running parallelly with 25 Kms across. Proper route would be via Mayiladuthurai or Thirunallaru. But GMaps showed direct village route across (via Thirukalacheri and Kothangudi) which I took as I was confident from the previous experiences in village roads in Tamil Nadu. As expected, I was not disappointed and in fact this was the best route in the entire trip. As these areas situated in Cauvery delta, whole route was full of green fields and water canals by the side of the road.


Two-day Temple trip in Chozha Country-45.-towards-peralam.jpg
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towards Peralam
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Interior Road

From Peralam, 2 roads are going towards the temple. One turns right in Peralam itself (not so good road) and the other one turns right after crossing railway line (better and shorter road). But since there was traffic jam, I had to take the first road. As usual temple was not crowded much and we could finish by 12.30. Returned to Pondy via Mayiladuthurai, Seerkazhi, Chidambaram and Cuddalore. On the way finished lunch at Anandha Bhawan on Seerkazhi bypass (only decent hotel on this side of the road in that area). Reached Pondy at 5 PM.


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Approaching temple
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Lalithambigai temple
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Temple Views
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Temple inside
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Exit Road
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Mayiladuthurai Road
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Anandha Bhavan

Important points:

1. Due to the ECR road expansion project most of the places in this route we have to face diversions which are also not good many places. Cuddalore to Chidambaram is 75% completed and now the road directly joins Chidambaram bypass road. Seerkazhi to Thirukadaiyur also had some problems in places. Dust could not be avoided. It is better not to use this route for next 1/2 years unless emergency.

2. Thirukadaiyur and Peralam temples have toilet facilities but not the other temples so it is better plan for bio breaks.

3. For Thirukadaiyur it is better to book in advance (in case of overnight stay) especially on auspicious days to be on the safer side.
Our Spresso behaved as expected. Every time I take the car for outstation trips I come back with a grin in my face. Small foot (Auto like) saved the situation many times especially in small village roads. Buying manual version helped at least on two occasions in this trip. First in Thirukadaiyur when I was coming out of parking lot (which had a climbing slop at the gate), one Creta was also turning inside so that I had to stop on the slop. But I could squeeze through a small gap by managing the clutch. Same thing happened again near Chidambaram in railway level crossing. Again, could manage with manual clutch. I donít know how an Automatic (especially AMT would have behaved) in these types of situations.

Last edited by kvsneela : 20th February 2024 at 18:06.
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Old 21st February 2024, 12:36   #3
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Re: Two-day Temple trip in Chozha Country

Very nicely written., Reminds me about my drive through that side of the country in 2017 (when we covered Sirkazhi, Chidambaram) and again in 2020 (covering Mayiladuthurai and Thanjavur) - both with Kumbakonam as the starting point.

The architectural beauty of those temples has to be seen to be believed and enjoyed.

On a side note, call me old-fashioned or whatever, while it is okay to photograph the artistic / architectural brilliance of the temple, I personally do not like to photograph the "Garbhagriha" and the deities.
Note: It is just my 2 cents. To each their own.

Cheers!
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Old 21st February 2024, 13:46   #4
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Re: Two-day Temple trip in Chozha Country

A nice travelogue with beautiful photos. Good to see that the architectural wonders of yester-years are well maintained. Thank you and keep on munching miles.
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Old 22nd February 2024, 12:48   #5
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Re: Two-day Temple trip in Chozha Country

Quote:
Originally Posted by callvvijay View Post
On a side note, call me old-fashioned or whatever, while it is okay to photograph the artistic / architectural brilliance of the temple, I personally do not like to photograph the "Garbhagriha" and the deities.
Note: It is just my 2 cents. To each their own.

Cheers!
Dear Vijay..
My wife told the same thing when I took the picture. I just wanted to see the feedback..
Posted so that people who could not make these trips can see the deity in picture atleast ...(Already these pictures are available in internet plenty)..

Last edited by kvsneela : 22nd February 2024 at 12:56.
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Old 23rd February 2024, 14:44   #6
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Re: Two-day Temple trip in Chozha Country

Quote:
Originally Posted by kvsneela View Post
Dear Vijay..
My wife told the same thing when I took the picture. I just wanted to see the feedback..
Posted so that people who could not make these trips can see the deity in picture atleast ...(Already these pictures are available in internet plenty)..
Sir, Please give a high-five to your wife on my behalf - as we both are in the same side!!
While I agree that these pictures are available in the public domain, I, for one, am up against clicking the deity.

I'm residing just a few streets away from the famous 32-feet Anjaneyar temple in Nanganallur and it is my practice to do a pranam to the deity during my daily walk/jog. On many occasions, I see people clicking the picture - and worse, taking a selfie with the God! And, whenever I see this happening, I show them the board which says to avoid photographs and stop them.

Cheers!
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