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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

Our Tirunelveli Temple Run: Part 3 - Birdwatching at a Temple!


Thiruppudaimarudhur Narumbunathar Temple

Driving through the fields, we followed the road to what appeared to be a huge wall looming in the distance. My attention, however, was captured by a board. My Tamil is not too good, and the only word that I recognized was ‘paravai’ – bird. I perked up at once, though I knew well I had no time to go looking for birds. “I am not here for birdwatching, but to visit temples”, I reminded myself. The road led to a series of stone gates, their arches having long fallen. The temple spire visible between them was a beautiful sight.




As we alighted from the car, someone hurried up. “The temple is about to close. Go in soon!” he said, and my mother and mother-in-law began running towards the doors. I was just about to join them when a cry distracted me, and I looked up to see this….



A painted stork!

I just stood there, stupefied, till my mom called out to me, to hurry, and I turned back after just one quick click. The temple itself was huge, and wherever I turned, I could see beautiful sculptures. A lifelike statue of a patron (probably one of the Pandya kings) stood in the first courtyard, and I wished I had brought my camera inside. Further in, the main sanctum housed the lingam. The lord here is called Narumbunathar, and his consort is Gomathi Amman. Both are interesting, for, while the Lord, in his Lingam form, leans slightly to the side, Gomathi Amman is said to be made of Rudraksha beads!



As with all temples, the stories associated with this one are many, and interesting. The oldest legends relate to the Gods, when Indra prayed for salvation here, under an Arjuna tree, and was blessed by Lord Shiva. One story talks of a king who, on a hunt, arrived here, chasing a deer. He managed to hit the deer, but the animal disappeared into one of the Arjuna trees. Hitting the tree with an axe, the king was surprised to see blood. Eventually, they found the ancient lingam here, which was then housed in a temple. Another story talks of the Karuvoor Siddhar, who wanted to visit the temple. The river was in spate, so he prayed to the Lord to help him cross. The Lord leaned to hear him better, and the lingam forever leaned to one side! The sage of course, crossed the river easily with the Lord’s name on his lips! There is yet another story of Brahma’s son, Manu, arriving here to pray to the Lord, and the Lord appearing from the Arjuna tree to bless him.

The one constant in all these stories is the Arjuna tree, called Marutha Maram in Tamil. The town takes its name from the tree, and was first called Maruthur. What remains of the original tree is still preserved in a shrine on the riverbank, behind the temple.

The old tree, preserved in a shrine on the riverbank, behind the temple. 


Continuing with the association with Arjuna trees, there are three important temples associated with the same tree – at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Thiruvidaimarudhur near Thanjavur in Tamilnadu, and this one. The Lord at Srisailam is Mallikarjuna, and the temple itself is called Mallikarjunam, for the Lord is said to represent the top of the Arjuna tree, its head, so to speak, with the flowers. At Thiruvidaimarudhur, He is the trunk, and here, at Thiruppudaimarudhur, he is the base. Together, they represent the Arjuna tree in its entirety.

The temple is huge, and there is much to see. However, most interesting are the murals in the tower. Sadly, we arrived at the temple as it was closing for the morning, and I was unable to see them. If you plan to visit, keep plenty of time for this, since it’s worth it. Meanwhile, go through this link, and see the paintings, which will surely encourage you to visit soon!

The bank entrance of the temple. See how fortified the temple looks, with its multiple walls?


Meanwhile, as the priests began to shut the temple, I hurried outside to see if the birds were still there. They were, and I spent the rest of our time there clicking them! One of the attendants, seeing my interest, explained that the birds arrived every year, just in time to nest, laid their eggs, raised their young ones, and left, only to return the next year! They only used the trees around the temple to nest (not surprising, considering that the temple stands on the riverbank, amidst a grove of trees), and the villagers considered them divine. The grove around the forest has recently been demarcated as a sanctuary, and this was the board I had seen as we approached the temple.

A flock of painted storks, adults and juveniles


Juvenile painted storks, on a nest


 We lingered a little here, since it was almost noon, and the temples would close. But soon, it was time to move on, so we could have lunch, and then relax a bit, before starting out on the second half of our Temple Run for the day! As I got back into the car, I was happy, for I had never imagined that my Temple Run would also include some Birdwatching!



Thiruppudaimarudhur Narumbunathar Temple:
  • Location: Thiruppudaimarudhur is about 8 Km from Veeravanallur, near Ambasamudram, in Tirunelveli District.
  • Timings: 5 to 11AM, 4 to 8 PM.




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

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      Comments

      1. I have gone through the virtual link. It is a must visit place. Thank you for sharing.
        As you have written the paintings are awesome

        ReplyDelete
        Replies
        1. Thank you Ranjana.. and you are welcome. glad you liked it. Hope you go to the temple someday soon!

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      2. Binge reading your posts on temples in Tirunelveli. Very informative. Thanks a lot.

        ReplyDelete

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