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Diwali tour part 6 – Kumbakonam

Long long ago , during the great deluge, Brahma collected all the seeds of creation in a pot of nectar, which floated down the water, and finally came to rest at one place. The story goes on, with Siva appearing as Kiratamurthy (hunter) along with his wife Parvati, and shattering the pot with his arrow. The nectar spilled over, creating a pool, and the broken pot took the form of a Shiva lingam. Since the lingam originated from a pot (Kumbham), and was the fist form taken at the beginning of creation, this lingam came to be known as Adi Kumbheswarar and this place is known as Kumbakonam (Kumbham = pot, and Konam = crooked, for the pot broke crookedly). The pool formed by the nectar is the holy Mahamagham tank, where, it is believed, the nine holy rivers come to take a bath and purify themselves once every 12 years. This is celebrated on a grand scale, and thousands and thousands of devotees arrive here to have a dip in this sacred pond on that day. For a small city , Kumbakonam has an

Diwali Tour Part 5 – Pancha Aranya Sthalams

Kumbakonam is a town which is filled with, and surrounded by temples. What is amazing about these temples is that each and every one of them is huge, and has an interesting story to go along with it. While some are historical, and others are based on mythology, there are some which are based on the geography of the area they are placed in. One such group of temples is the Pancha Aranya Sthalams . Aranyam means forest, which is what this whole area must have been, once upon a time. Even today, in spite of so much development, electricity and water reaching the most far flung areas, this part of the land bears vestiges of the days gone by. Somehow, when we visit these temples, we are reminded of the jungles which once surrounded them. The five temples which collectively make the Pancha Aranya Sthalams are Thirukkarugavur Alangudi Avalivanallur Haridwaramangalam Thirukollambudhoor Thirukkarugavur The Thirukkarugavur temple is a famous one , for it is the abode of Garbharakshamb

Diwali Tour Part 4 – Thiruvaiyaru

Thiruvaiyaru – literally (in Tamil) the holy land of five rivers is about 15 Kms from Thanjavur. The five rivers are the tributaries of the Kaveri and form a sort of network around this town, giving it its name. The main temple here is to the lord who shares the name with the town – Panchanadeeswarar in Sanskrit, or Ayyaarappan in Tamil. From Diwali 08 - Thanjvur Trip Thiruvaiyaru Temple Gopuram From Diwali 08 - Thanjvur Trip Detail of Ravana Lifting Kailas on his ten heads, on the Thiruvaiyaru Gopuram The story of how the temple came into being is an interesting one. A king’s chariot once got embedded in the ground. While digging around the wheels of the chariot to get it out, they chanced upon a lingam. A wise minister advised them to dig further, but carefully, and they were rewarded for their efforts with the idols of the goddess Dharmasamvardhini, Vinayaka, Muruga, and also a Nandi. To top it all, they also found a Siddhar (saint) deep in meditation underground. The

Diwali Tour Part 3 – Thanjavur

Thanjavur – it was a jungle when the Cholas decided to make it their capital. They not only built what was to be their signature-temple here, they made it the centre of their cultural and literary activities. Their temples were built not just for prayer and religion, but they were also the seat of the fine arts – music, dance, sculptures and paintings – and also their records, which were etched on the walls of these temples. The Brihadeeswara temple (now popularly known as the Big Temple) was built by Raja Raja Chola. His son, Rajendra Chola celebrated his conquest of the north right up to the Ganges, by building Gangai Konda Cholapuram. The grandson, Raja Raja II is credited with the grand temple at Dharasuram. These 3 generations of Cholas greatly enriched this land now known as Thanjavur. Later rulers, the Pandyas, Nayaks, and the Mahrattas left their own marks on this city, making it what it is today. We made two visits to Thanjavur during this trip – the first was on the