Thursday, July 30, 2009

My visit to temples - part I

Garbarakshaambikai temple – Thirukarukaavoor

We started our pilgrimage this time with the visit to Garbharakshaambikai temple in Thirukarukaavoor.
We boarded Rockfort express on Thursday night and reached Kumbakonam on Friday morning at 730 am. On reaching Hotel ARK, we enquired about Taxi availability as we had decided to take a taxi to visit various temples around Kumbakonam. The trip was mainly for my mother-in-law who wanted to visit this temple and a few more in this area.
At 900 am we got into the taxi and headed straight to Thirukarukaavoor. I started questioning the taxi driver with the little knowledge I have on that region and he patiently answered all my queries. The trip became adventurous when he said that after a point, we have to cross a makeshift bridge on foot and then take an auto to the temple as the bridge on top of the river (which was totally dry ) was broken! He parked the car and we started crossing the bridge which was made of wooden planks nailed and ropes tied on the sides.Many two wheelers were also crossing the bridge along with us! It was good fun for me though my mother in law was a bit scared. We managed to cross it and took an auto and reached the temple. The auto driver was prepared to wait and we bought all the pooja materials and entered the temple.
Tamil nadu temples never fail to astonish me every time I visit! How those days with no great mode of transport, people managed to build such huge temples? Just shows how people those days dedicated their life for service to God and fellow men! The use of temples are multipurpose as the temples were used for functions, as hiding places during battles, as an exercise ground (just doing one pradakshinam around the temple a day is enough is as good as your walk for 15-20 minutes) and of course the main reason being to pray!

We first worshipped at Lord Shiva’s sannidhi. The God is called Mullaivananathar – this place was once upon a time a Mullaivanam – full of jasmine shrubs and you can see the mark of a Mullai climber across the Lingam, hence the name Mullaivananathar.

Just in front of Shiva is Karapaga Vinayagar. The Ganesha, Lingam and Nandhi are swayambu here. This sannidhi was quite calm and not much crowded. We did a pradakshinam and proceeded to Garbharakshambikai sannidhi

Garbharakshambikai – Garbhathai rakshikum ambikai – Goddess who protects the womb. The name of the town also means same – Thirukarukaavoor – Karu kaatha oor –
The place/temple that protects the womb/foetus
As we entered this sannidhi, we could see the crowd, many families with their small babies who were there to thank the Goddess for granting their wishes. We could see many couples who had come to pray to the Goddess to grant them a child. The walls have illustrations of the history of this temple – Once upon a time there was a sage Nidruva maharishi and his wife Vedigai who did not have children and after many years of prayer Vedigai conceived. She was in the third semester of pregnancy and Nidruva maharishi was away, when Sage Urdvapada came to visit them. Vedigai could not get up and welcome him home as she was too tired. Urdvapada maharishi cursed her and the foetus started slipping out of her womb. Garbharakshambikai put the foetus in a pot and saved it and child Naidruvan was born!

Goddess Garbharakshambikai statue is quite a tall beautiful one with special alankarams for Adi 1st day and Friday wearing a green nine yards sari and many flower garlands. We could see the karunai in her stature and waiting to grant our wishes. We had to wait for 15 minutes for darshan and had a very good darshan.
We went for pradakshinam and realized that we forgot to put our offerings in the hundi. We requested entry into the sannidhi once again and stole another glance at the Goddess!
Satisfied, we came out, got into the auto and reached the bridge again. With great enthusiasm I crossed the bridge and got into the car to proceed to the next temple!