Skip to main content

Featured Post

The Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves , located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri, about 11 Km off the coast of the Gateway of India, Mumbai, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to these caves, excavated probably in the 6 th century CE, is awe-inspiring, and also thought-provoking. Over the years, I have visited the caves a number of times, and also attended a number of talks by experts in the fields of art, history and archaeology on the caves. Together, they help me understand these caves, their art, and the people they were created for, just a little bit better. Every new visit, every new talk, every new article I read about the caves, fleshes out the image of what the island and the caves would have been like, at their peak. I last wrote about the caves on this blog, in 2011, almost exactly 11 years ago. Since then, my understanding of the caves has, I would like to think, marginally improved. Hence this attempt to write a new and updated post, trying to bring to life, the caves of Elephan

Suchindram - Of Indra's purification, and other stories

Moving on from Kanyakumari, let me take you to one of the most beautiful temples we visited on our Southern Jaunt - Suchindram. This is a special post for me, since its about what I love the most - a temple and its stories. However, even more importantly, this is the 1000th post on the blog! Besides, I have now been blogging for over 8 years, and it has so far been a fantastic journey, with too many highlights to mention here. As I pen this thousandth post, I would like to thank all of you, my readers, for it is you who have made this journey memorable. Meanwhile, I hope and pray for many more journeys, and stories to share with all of you.....

Vishnu (left), Shiva (center) and Brahma (right) on the gopuram of the Suchindram Temple

Suchindram. What can I say about this amazing temple, that hasn’t already been said before? The legends are many, and oft repeated, and as for the architecture, better and more knowledgeable people have written pages on it. I spent a little more than an hour there, and while inside, simply stared around me in wonder, awed by the impressive work, spellbound by the intricacy on display. And no, I did not click any photographs either.

So, once again, what do I write?

Let me begin with the stories, for the stories are what interest me the most.

One of the oldest stories of the temple is where the town gets its name from. It is said that this is where Indra worshipped Shiva, and was released from Gautama’s curse. Suchi means purification, and thenceforth, the town came to be known as Suchindram – the site of Indra’s purification.

Another story is closely aligned to the legend of Kanyakumari. He is the Lord who falls in love with the virgin goddess, and the truant groom who turns back on the way to the wedding, because the cock has crowed. The cock of course is Narada, doing the Gods a favour by stopping the union of the Lord and his beloved, for the virgin goddess is the only one who can slay the demon Banasura!

There are stories galore, but let me tell you one more – sometimes considered the most important one, related to the lord who resides here. He is called ‘Sthanumalayan’, a form of the trinity – Shiva (Sthanu), Vishnu (Mal) and Brahma (Ayan) (See first pic). The story goes back to the time of the sage Atri and his wife, Anasuya, who was considered the epitome of chastity. The gods decided to test her and arrived at her doorstep, begging for alms, when the sage was out. When she offered them food, they refused, saying they would only accept alms from someone who wore no clothes. Anasuya thought for a moment, and then, bringing water from her morning’s puja, sprinkled it on the three visitors, turning them into babies. She then proceeded to feed them. The sage arrived to find his wife with three children, divined the reason, smiled, and went on with his prayers. Meanwhile, the goddesses were worried at the prolonged absence of their husbands, and eventually arrived at Atri’s ashram, where they recognized in the three children, their husbands. They accepted the greatness of Anasuya and begged her to restore their husbands, which she did. However, the gods stayed back here, at the foot of a tree, as three lingams, a constant reminder of their descent on earth, and the greatness of Anasuya.

The lingam in the main sanctum is considered to be a form of all the three gods, and thus his name. Besides, the temple also houses the original lingams at the base of the tree, and shrines to Lord Vishnu, and a wide variety of deities.

One of the most popular deities in the temple is Anjaneya, or Hanuman, whose 18 feet tall monolithic statue is one of the prime attractions here. The statue is an ancient one, which is believed to depict Hanuman in the manner he showed himself to Sita in the Ashoka Vana at Lanka. It is said that this idol was buried during Tipu’s attack of this region in 1740, and subsequently forgotten. The statue was re-discovered only in 1930, and installed here.

Incidentally, the main offering to Anjaneya here are white butter and betel leaves. These offerings are so huge in quantity, that the statue is almost always covered with white butter. It is hard indeed to see that it is made of granite!

So much for the stories. As to the architecture, I can only reiterate that there is so much to see here and appreciate, that a short visit like mine is barely enough to scratch the surface.

The most impressive and unique feature of the temple, according to me of course, is the interesting depiction of the Navagrahas, which are depicted, not on a platform, as is usual, but on the ceiling! Lamps are lit on the base as an offering to them.

The musical pillars are another huge attraction here, but sadly, they have been so misused, that they are now covered with iron grills. This is true not just for these musical pillars, but also for the many, many monolithic compound pillars (multiple pillars carved out of a single one, from a single stone) in the temple. Some of the more beautiful depictions of the Gods as well as Dwarapalakas have also been covered with grills to prevent people touching them.

The temple is a massive one, with rows and rows of pillars, each one more beautiful than the other, and shrines to almost every deity you can think of. There are also stories associated with many of the minor deities, but there is no way I can do justice to any of them, so I will not even try to. This is one of those temples you must visit and experience the divinity and the beauty for yourself.

The only part of the temple I have photos of, are the gopuram, which is said to be among the tallest in South India. It is visible from across the town, and so covered with detailed figures, that it is difficult to identify every one of them. Here is a glimpse, to give you an idea.

Finally, before I end this post, I should clarify that this post isn’t meant to be a complete resource of information about the temple. It is just my impression, from the short time I spent there. For more information and any queries about the temple, please head over to the temple website. It is quite detailed and even has contact numbers.


  • Location: Suchindram is about 13 Km from Kanyakumari. There are frequent buses from Kanyakumari as well as Nagercoil.

This post is part of my series on my #summertrip 2015, and I hope to take you along with me as I recount stories from my month long trip, which took me across the country. To get an idea of all the places I visited, and what you can hope to read about, click here

Related Posts:
  • Kanyakumari


  1. Glad to know in detail about Suchindram temple. Congratulations on your 1000th post!

  2. What a lovely religious post about Suchindram temple.

  3. I'm glad to read your 1000th post! Thanks for bringing one of the ancient temples of South India in the focus. I'm sure people will love to know the wonderful history of the Suchindram Temple. Also, the stupendous pictures show the beauty of the temple and its excellent craftsmanship.


Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment for me so that I will know you have been here....

Popular posts from this blog

The Havelis of Bikaner - A Photo Post

The lanes are narrow , twisting and turning amidst buildings old and new. Crumbling old structures with intricate workmanship stand side by side with art deco buildings, and more modern constructions, which follow no particular style. Autos, bicycles, motorcycles and vans rush past, blowing their horns as loudly as possible, while cows saunter past peacefully, completely unaffected by the noise. In the midst of all this chaos, children play by the side, and women go about their chores, as we explore these by-lanes of Bikaner, and its beautiful Havelis. Facade of one of the Rampuria Havelis

Ladakh - Planning The Trip

Over 2000 Km by road, in around 10 days. Stunning landscapes, wonderful people. That sums up our Ladakh trip. But how did it actually work? How did we make it happen? Read on to find out!  Leh, the capital of Ladakh , is accessible by air and road. Flying into Leh is the easiest, and time-saving option, while the road is the time consuming one, but with the added advantage of driving past some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country. Each option has much to recommend it, and we chose the road for just one reason – altitude sickness. Altitude sickness was one of my biggest concerns, since I suffer from motion-sickness. Yes, I do travel a lot, but that is despite my condition, and, over the years, have learnt how to handle it. I struggled with it when we visited Nathu-La in Sikkim, and wondered if I would be able to manage a week at the even higher altitudes that we would encounter in Ladakh. This was the reason we stuck to a basic plan, of only 9 days in Ladakh, though we

Bhedaghat - Home of the 81 Yoginis

The Narmada flows down the mountains , carving out a path for herself as she makes her way down to the plains of Central India. She cascades from the rocks, her fine spray making it appear as if billows of smoke (dhuan) arise from the flowing streams of water (dhaar), giving it the name Dhuandhar. Dhuandhar Falls The force of her flow creates a gorge , smoothening and carving out the rocks into fantastic shapes, the pure white of the rocks standing starkly against the shades of the water. It is a joy to cruise down the river in a boat, seeing the natural contours created by the river, now famous as the Marble Rocks. We are at Bhedaghat, located on the banks of the Narmada near Jabalpur, where thousands of visitors turn up to see these natural landscapes, creations of the sacred Narmada, and pay obeisance to her. However, to me, the most interesting thing about Bhedaghat, isn’t the falls or the rocks, or even the river. What makes Bhedaghat special is t