Monday, August 24, 2009

Waterbodies of India I

Being a Chennaite, I love our Marina Beach. In fact when we were young, visit to the Beach was our favourite outing. Amma and Paati used to take us all to the Beach from our house in Nungambakkam and Appa would join us there straight from office. The standard meeting place was at the Kannagi statue. At first I was very scared by the huge sheets of waves. I remember my eldest sister Sujatha used to lift me and every time a wave came, she used to bend down and dip my feet in the water. She is 10 years elder to me and must have been about 14-15 years when she did that. I am not sure if I would have had the courage to do such a thing at her age. Thank you Sujatha for introducing me to the beach! Slowly I came to know water was fun and fell in love with it.

My first river bath was in the Thungabhadra. I may have had the chance to have a dip in Cauvery earlier than that, but I do not remember it. About Thungabhadra, we had been to Adoni to my mother’s uncle’s (Kittappa Chittappa) place for summer holidays and went to Mantralayam from there. I actually do not remember the temple now, but I do remember bathing in the river very well. I was about six years old. My parents just made me stand in chest deep water. Appa joked that he could feel a few fishes biting him. I started jumping in the water and wanted to get out immediately as though the small fishes were going to eat me whole!

In 1985, we all went to Patna for my uncle’s (SV Prasad) wedding. Ganga flowing in Patna is called Akanda Ganga as she runs in a very wide path there. It was very nice and pleasant to have a bath here and I realised that I liked river bathing too. After the wedding, our family alone proceeded to Allahabad. Here again we bathed in the Triveni Sangamam. Here, we could very clearly see the colour difference where the Ganga and Yamuna met. River Saraswathi is supposed to come from underneath and invisible. This trip was really enjoyable and I would like to make a separate blog on this North India trip. Our next stop was at Varanasi where we bathed in the Ganga on 2-3 days. In spite of so much of junk being thrown in, the river remains pure!

After Varanasi, Appa took us all to Rameswaram. On the way to Rameswaram, we went to Thiruchendur. What a sea it was! We went in for a dip but many of us fell into the water as the sea was very rough, but it was great fun.

At Rameswaram, the sea is very calm, almost like backwaters and only during high tide, it is a little wavy. So it was almost like bathing in a river. We all enjoyed it so much! I am very happy to have visited Rameswaram four times so far. The last trip was with my husband, mother-in-law, brothers-in-law and their families and was real fun. Twice we went to the sea for bathing and both the times it was at high tide and very wavy.

Dhanushkodi – what a beautiful place! Out of the four visits to Rameswaram so far, I have been to Dhanushkodi thrice. Each time this place looked different. My second visit was after the tsunami and I could see that the sea had come way inside eating into the shore. At Dhanushkodi we could see the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean joining at a point. During the latest trip, we performed some pujas there and had the opportunity to stay for a longer period. While the men were busy with the puja, I was very happily walking on the beach collecting shells. The kids and I were very keen to go as much as possible into the sea and at one point we all just sat inside the sea and enjoyed the waves crashing on us. As it was morning, the weather was mildly sunny and the water was quite cool. I really love the sea here and would like to visit again.

On my third trip to Rameswaram which was a package trip with about 100 odd people, we all went to Devipattinam. I have heard about this place first in Kalki’s Alaiosai and then from my sister Sujatha. The Navagraham here is said to have been worshipped by Lord Rama on his way to Lanka. The uniqueness of this Navagraham is that during high tide, they are completely submerged in the water and only during low tide, can we do puja or pradakshinam. After having bath in the sea here, we did the perambulations around the Navagraham in waist-deep water.

Though Kumbakonam is my hometown, I have bathed in the Cauvery only once during my visit to Nallur with Appa.

Hope to have a bath in Cauvery once again and also visit the other Holy Rivers of India!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Miss U Chintu


For a long time, I did not realise the love I had for animals. None of us at home had any aversion towards animals, but with a huge family, there was no question of a pet at home at all!

My eldest sister, Sujatha, has a few dogs at home. These are quite huge and though they are quite friendly, I get a bit scared by their size.

When my third sister Jayashree took in a stray dog, I realised that I liked Princy very much. In fact, I have become so close to Princy, that nowadays when she sees me, she wags her tail so much that Jayashree keeps saying that with so much of wagging, the tail may fall off! As soon as I go nearby, she jumps on me and licks my hand.

For a short while, my second sister, Sundari, had a cat in their house in Bombay and it was a friendly one.

My eldest sister-in-law, Saraswathi Manni feeds a cat which comes home 4-5 times to her door and calls for attention. Manni does not allow the cat inside the house and the cat also understands her terms and conditions perfectly. Only I try to go near her and touch her, but she shies away.

A couple of months back, my second brother-in-law, Nagaraj Anna brought a 45-day-old Labrador from his friend’s house. I went to see the puppy only two days after he came. He was such a lovable baby! I was there for more than an hour and half the time he was asleep. I put him on my lap and he went to sleep there. He was so small and cuddly. Even my husband, who does not have a great love for animals, was fascinated by him. He had such lovely grey eyes. Anna and family named him Chintu.

The following weeks saw us making frequent visits to Anna’s house to see Chintu. Each time we could make out that he had grown up a little more and had become more and more adorable. He was growing rapidly and became too heavy to lift after 3-4 weeks. His eyes also changed to such a lovely shade of honey brown.

He loves people so much. He is crazy about any visitor and ready to jump, lick and also mildly bite them. He barks so sweetly. When my sister-in-law, Indra Manni, scolds him for biting people, it is great to see him objecting (by barking) to her scolding. Anna says that there is a constant fight between Manni and Chintu and he is the peacemaker between them. Though Chintu loves both Karthik and Krishna (Anna’s sons), Krishna is his favourite and he listens to whatever he says. Krishna also allows him to do all the jumping, licking, biting and playing that he wants. He is allowed to roam around the house freely except the kitchen and he has a great time playing around. He hates to be alone and loves having many people paying constant attention to him. It is a lovely sight to see him waiting to greet you when you enter the house.

Yesterday Anna gave us the sad news that he had to give away Chintu to his friend as the people living in the neighbouring flat were objecting to having a dog in the building. Others in the family were too upset to even talk to us. Can’t blame them, my husband and I also got so upset!

Good bye Chintu, hope you have a great life in your new family!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My visit to Temples - Part V

Kailasanathar Kovil, Kanchipuram

I had the chance to visit this temple only on my fourth trip to Kanchipuram.

This trip was with my mother in law, sister in law (Saraswathi Manni) and niece (Shwetha). Manni and Shwetha were planning the trip and I got a chance to join them.

First we went to Kamakshi Amman temple, Ekambareswarar temple and then to Kailasanathar temple. In my earlier visits I had been to Kamakshi temple, Ekambareswar temple and a few other temples, but this was my first visit to Kailasanathar temple.

It seemed to be away from the buzz of the town and looked more like a tourist spot minus the crowd. There were a few shops selling assorted stuff on the left and on the right side was the temple. The first impression I had of the temple was – oh, this reminds me of Mammallapuram (another favourite place) The temple had Pallava stamp all over. There was a board mentioning that it is maintained by the archaeological survey of India as a monument, and what a monument it is! The architecture is GRAND. All structures are made out of limestone and typical Pallava style of work. So many statues, pillars and intricate carving! It was built by Rajasimha Pallava (Narasimha Pallava II)

I would have liked to spend more time there but we were on a half a day trip to the town and on a tight schedule.

We went inside the sanctum and there was lone Shivalingam. It is a huge Lingam with stripes on it. Instead of the usual path for pradakshinam, there was a small entrance on either side of the Lingam. Manni told me that one has to bend and crawl inside the entrance on the left and then the path becomes large enough for one to walk around and again at the exit on the right side, a crawl. This signifies the birth and death cycle – if you go inside and come out, you are in a new janam and your earlier sins are washed away! Only a few people ventured the crawl, I definitely wanted to try but was a little scared because of my size. The kurukkal in the temple encouraged me by saying that size does not matter, even small made people may find it difficult to go in, just pray to God and get in. I managed it, went in and walked around the path. Crawling out was easier than crawling in. I really loved the experience and have been ever since describing it to sisters and friends about it.

Thank you Manni and Shwetha for taking me there!

Next trip to Kanchipuram, I hope to spend more time in the town and especially this temple to study the architecture in detail.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Visit to Temples - Part IV


This is a temple that I want to visit very often, but so far have had the opportunity to visit just the once. Nallur is a Sivan temple near Kumbakonam. When I was young, I was not aware of the existence of this temple. In 1974, an astrologer reminded my Pattu Paati of this temple and a yearly pooja our family was supposed to perform to the Kaali here.

My father gathered information about the temple and the yearly rituals to be performed. I had the chance of visiting this temple only in the year 1989 with my father for that year’s mandakapadi (மண்டகபடி) which is usually on the third Monday of the Tamil Karthigai month. It was raining heavily when we reached Kumbakonam. We had a bath in the Cauvery River and proceeded to the temple. When I saw the Shiva lingam, I fell in love with the Lord! Appa had earlier told me how the colour changes every 2 ½ hours but his description had not prepared me for what I saw with my own eyes!

The Goddess at the temple is Girisundari Ambal and I prayed to her for a good career. I had just finished my graduation that year and had been wondering about what to do. The Goddess blessed me with a good job.

This temple is a Maada Kovil. Kochengan Chola built many such Shiva temples. In a Maada Kovil one has to climb 10-15 steps to reach the sanctum. It is said that he built such temples to ensure the elephants do not reach the sanctum.

Lord Shiva is called Kalyanasundareswarar here. When Shiva married Parvathi, the whole world went to Himalayas to witness the wedding. With the result, North was pulled down by the weight and South went up. To level this, Shiva sent Sage Agastya down south, assuring him that he will be able to see the wedding (கல்யாண காட்சி) in Nallur. Behind the Lingam, one can see huge structures of Shiva and Parvathi in Kalyana kolam.
Another name of this Lord is Panchavarneswarar – meaning Lord of five colours. Nobody knows out of what material the Lingam is made, but the Lingam changes colour every nazhigai (2 ½ hours). I had the chance of seeing the colour change from a reddish shade to a golden colour. கண் கொள்ளா காட்சி! The Lingam also has hole-like marks (வண்டு குடைந்த லிங்கம்). The story behind this is once Bhrigu Maharishi said that he will pray only to the Lord and not Goddess Parvathi. When Parvathi said that it is not possible as they were Ardhanareeswara, Bhrigu Maharishi took the form of a vandu (bee) and went through the Lingam to pray only to the Lord.
This is the only Shiva temple were Shadaari (சடாரி) is offered. Usually Shadaari is part of Vishnu temples. It is said that Appar (திருநாவுக்கரசர்) had Lord Shiva’s Paadha darisanam here and that is why devotees are offered Shadaari on the premises.
It is said that when Kunti was in this region, she was advised to have a bath each in the seven seas to cleanse the sin of having had a child before marriage (Karnan). As she wondered how to manage this humungous task, all the seven seas came into the temple Pushkarani (pond). The Pushkarani here is called Sapta Saagaram. The conch (சங்கு) that is kept at the Lord’s feet came out of this Pushkarani. It is said that bathing in this Pushkarani cures all diseases.

Girisundari Ambal is a small but very beautiful Goddess. As I have mentioned earlier, my career took off only due to her blessings!
The Kaali here is very powerful and to this day in my parents’ house for any wish to be fulfilled, we pray to this Kaali and put some coins in a knot and keep it. Once the wish is fulfilled, the knot is opened and the coins are offered to the Goddess.
Every year my father makes it a point to collect money from all his cousins and their children’s families for the yearly mandakapadi and ensures the money reaches on time. He also goes to the temple for this occasion whenever he can.
So far I had the chance of going to this temple only once. I strongly believe that you can visit any temple only if the God is ready to give you darshan. Within a year, I tried visiting this temple twice, once was during the last year’s ritual when the trip was cancelled due to heavy rains and now during the recent trip to Kumbakonam, we decided to go to the temple, but in the last minute we were informed that it is too out of the way from the other temples and difficult to cover. Hope Girisundari grants me a darshan soon!

My Great Ancestors - III

Lakshmi Paati

Lakshmi Paati – called as Bombay Paati (because she spent many years in Bombay) by all in the family is the eldest in our family (born in 1911). She is my mother-in-law’s mother. Though she is bed ridden now, she was a very active person until the last 3-4 years. I remember Paati and me taking a bus back from Adyar to K K Nagar in 1995 when she was 84 years old! Nowadays though she is a bit confused at times, most of the time she responds to our questions. These days the favourite question and answer session between Paati and me is:

I : பாட்டி, நா யார் சொல்லுங்கோ
Paati : ஜெயமா? ஜானகியா? And a few other names will also follow.
I : இல்ல, நா லக்ஷ்மி
Paati : என் பெயரும் லக்ஷ்மிதான் (with a guffaw)

If I ask her what she ate, she does not remember. But once any slokam is played on the tape/TV, she will start whispering the slokams along and her feet will be tapping to the tune.

Nobody would have suffered like Paati, losing her brother, husband early in life, son, daughter-in-law in their prime, daughter, sons-in-law in her old age. But for her attitude towards life, she would not have survived so many losses! She just follows the motto “do your duty and leave the rest to God!”

I met her 15 years back when I got married and from that time, I have never seen her worry or cry over something. Always a cheerful attitude and ready to do any help that she can to her children!

When she used to come and stay with us in our K K Nagar house, many times I have teasingly asked her “பாட்டி, Singapore போலாமா ”, USA போலாமா", she never said “எனக்கு எதுக்கு அதெல்லாம்” always used to say “okay, போலாமே” எப்ப flight பிடிக்கலாம்?".

I got to hear this funny story from Paati. Once, my father-in-law and Paati came by bus from Perambur to K K Nagar. My father-in-law went in the front near the driver seat to chat with the him leaving Paati in a seat in the back. As soon as she saw the K K Nagar Pillayar Temple, Paati thought they have reached home and worried that son-in- law will leave her and get down, hurriedly got down from the bus! Our house in K K Nagar is two bus stops ahead of Pillayar temple. Only after the bus left, did she realise that my father-in-law had not got down and the bus stop was not right. While my parents-in-law were worried about her, Paati hurriedly walked all the distance and reached home. In her panic, she did not even think of taking an auto! It was great to hear her laughingly narrate the story.

My husband says that Paati is more modern in her outlook than any of her daughters.
Once when he was in school, Paati was taking care of him and his brothers at home when my mother-in-law was out of town. My husband and his brother wanted to make omelette at home which was a taboo. Paati indulged her grandchildren’s wish and allowed them to do it! This is only a sample of her modern outlook!

Her will power is also worth a mention; she had a fall in 1996, broke her thigh bone and had an operation. She travelled back to Madras with her daughter (Hema Chitti) from Coimbatore by train in December 1996.

Even when she is bed ridden today, all her body parameters are perfect; she does not have BP, Sugar or any other ailment. It is just plain old age and system is slowing down to a snail’s pace.

I am very happy to have had the chance to know this Paati and have some good times with her.

Love you Lakshmi Paati!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Great Ancestors - II

Saraswathy Paati and her beloved grandson Duraju

Saraswathy Paati is my grandmother, Pattu Paati’s mother. As Pattu was the eldest child of Saraswathy Paati, she got married at an early age to my grandfather, Raja Thatha and my father Durairajan was born to them on September 28, 1933. Though Appa was born in Madras (In my family only Appa and I were born in dear Madras, all my sisters and my mother were born in our hometown Kumbakonam), he spent his early years in Kumbakonam with his dear Paati Saraswathy.

I do not remember this Paati alive as I was just about three years when she passed away (1900-1972) . I can only recall seeing her body in their house in Mint Street, Madras.

Paati was an embodiment of love and affection, she showered so much of love on her eldest grandson (my father) when he grew up there. He was given preferential treatment over her own sons, a couple of them being the same age group as my father.

To this day my father talks about his Paati’s cooking and the variety of food she used to feed him. When any dish made by any of us comes out very tasty, he says “Saraswathy Paati, Saraswathy Paati” meaning, it is as good as what Paati used to make! That is a great compliment in our household because even my Raja Thatha who is a connoisseur of food admits that his mother-in-law was one of the best cooks!

One interesting story my father tells us often is that when he was a kid, Paati gave him a few annas and a vessel (சொம்பு) and asked him to buy oil from a shop two streets away. Appa being a kid spread his hands and ran like an aero plane, bought the oil, ran back home in a flying posture, spilling all the oil. Paati, with all her love for her grandson, did not scold him. Today, I am able to understand the difficulty she would have faced with that loss of money and oil as those were very tough days

When she became old, she used to come and stay in our house for short periods. Our household followed the rule of women eating only after the men and my Thatha used to have his bath, pooja and lunch quite late. Saraswathy Paati used to get hungry by then but had always been too scared that son in law will be angry if she eats before him. My mother used to force her to eat when she was hungry and not wait for my Thatha to have his lunch. Of course, this was followed in our house as a general practice and not because the men will get angry. My Thatha never checked who ate before or after him, he used to go about his activities busily.

Recently a few details my Rajamani Chittappa gave me about the tough time Saraswathy Paati had with her husband (TPK Thatha) made me appreciate her value even more. Hats off to her tolerance!

I wish she had lived for some more years, so that I would have had the chance to meet this great person!

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Great Ancestors

Affectionately referred to as ‘Nayana’ my great grandfather was a remarkable man. His children had begun calling him Nayana (Nayana meaning Father in Telugu) when he had been working in Andhra Pradesh and the name just got stuck and even we, his great grand children and others who knew him refer to him as Nayana. His real name was Kandaswamy. I was about 7 years old when he passed away but I do remember him very well.

In fact the first room where he used to have a cot for himself when he used to come and stay with us in Madras was referred by us as Nayana Room. Nayana had nine children who he called his ‘Nine Gems’. He was justified in calling them Gems as each of his children has come up so well in life. All credit, of course, goes to Nayana who single-handedly brought up his children after he lost his wife when his ninth child (Durai Thatha) was less than two years old. He ensured all his sons were at least a Graduate with some of them being double graduates. He got both his daughters married into good families.

I have heard many stories about Nayana from my parents and grand parents.

He had a twin brother named Venkatraman and a sister Valambal. If fact, the story of how the twins were born, is quite interesting. Nayana’s parents (Vaidyanathan and Lakshmi) got Valambal Athai married very young and she became a child widow (virgin widow). As she was also widowed early in life, Valambal Athai prayed to God that her father’s lineage should continue and because of her prayers her parents had twin sons! The twins were born with a gap of about 24 hours, don’t know how Lakshmi Paati bore the pain for 24 hours! They named their sons Venkatraman (after our Kula Deivam – Thirupathi Venkatramana Swami) and Kandaswamy (after our Ishta Deivam – Thirutani Murugan).

At one stage in life, as they had financial difficulties, I heard that one of the brothers used to go for work and help the other study and then the other way round.

When Nayana sought Rajalakshmi Paati’s hand for marriage, her father asked Nayana, “How will you take care of my daughter?” and Nayana raised both is hands up in the air and answered with pride, “With my two hands.” His father-in-law was impressed as his daughter’s would-be was determined to work hard and take care of his wife. And Nayana did just that. This particular story I have heard from the horse’s mouth. Nayana used to gaze at Rajalakshmi Paati’s photo that we have at home and tell us all that the jewels she was wearing were all bought by him.

Nayana lived up to the ripe age of 92 (1885 – 1976) and I do remember that even during his last trip to Madras for one of his grandsons’ wedding, he was quite strong and used to walk regularly up and down our long balcony. That trip, he was very clear it was his last trip to Madras and even when my mother suggested that he stay back for some more time, he insisted that he will go back to Bombay. He was staying with one of his sons (Pattapa Thatha) in Peddar Road, Bombay. After he passed away, we came to know that he had got his time of death predicted by one of his friends long ago and was ready to move on when the time came!

He was very independent and used to have his money, medicines, soaps and powders separately and in fact used to offer others balms for headaches. Of course, he never forgot to take things back from them after use!

He was strong enough to bear the loss of two of his sons and daughters-in-law in their prime.

The main characteristic he inculcated in his children was honesty in their profession, which all his children followed and still follow! In fact this trait of honesty and hard work has carried down to the next generation, our generation and the next one too!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Paati’s house – Pachaiappa Mudali Street

During this pilgrimage trip, I was very keen to check out my Paati’s house in Kumbakonam – of course, it is not Paati’s house anymore as she sold it long ago. I recall staying in this house on a couple of occasions when I was a kid. Once was during my Babu Mama’s wedding and the next was during his child Anu’s birth. I am able to recollect only some incidents from these trips, but my love for the house and hometown Kumbakonam developed mainly because of my mother’s interesting narrations of her happy childhood days there.

When we reached Kumbakonam during my first trip, I remember travelling by bullock cart from the station - I still cannot forget how I kept on hitting my head on the side of the cart as I did not know how to balance and sit. I hated the journey, though it was quite a short one and had an aversion to bullock carts for a long time after that.

Paati’s house had a fairly big thinnai (porch) in the front, a narrow passage to the main hall with its mitham (open courtyard) and an oonjal (swing) in the hall. There were two rooms on either side of the oonjal, one towards the entrance was used as kitchen and Paati had let out the other room to a family. From the other end of the mitham, there was another passage leading to the backyard. Though the first trip was for my Mama’s wedding, I don’t remember the wedding as such as I was too young then. The second trip was more fun as I was about 8-9 years old and I had my cousins from Bombay for company as they were also there for the occasion. There was a big pond right opposite Paati’s house, and it definitely had water and was clean during my earlier trips, but this recent trip I felt sad to see that it was not a pond anymore but just a junkyard with some shrubs and lot of garbage dumped in it.

Mama took us all to Thanjavur Periya koil (Brahadeeswara Temple). I also remember that we had ilaneer (Tender Coconut) to drink near the temple. I think that was the first time I drank ilaneer in my life. We also visited my mother’s cousin Paaru in Swamimalai. During our stay in Kumbakonam, each night after an early dinner, Mama used to take us (all his nieces and nephews) to Venkata Lodge to have cold rose milk. I really looked forward to those walks to Venkata Lodge to have that drink. Also one evening we had snacks in Venkata Lodge, it is quite different from the hotels nowadays we all sat on the floor and were served tiffin in vazhai ilai (banana leaf).

During my latest trip when I enquired about Venkata Lodge, nobody seemed to know about it, maybe I asked the wrong people.

I used to hang out with my immediate elder sister Sabitha and my cousin Rohini as we are of similar age group and one day I quarrelled with them (rather they quarrelled with me) and the next day morning they took off to Mahamaayi Koil (Amman Koil) without me. I was quite upset when I came to know that they had gone to the temple leaving me behind. But they came back running from the temple as they were scared of the Poojari (Priest). I was quite happy that they had had a bad experience there.
During the recent trip, my mother asked me to visit Mahamaayi Temple if possible. When I checked in Kumbakonam, people didn’t seem to know it as Mahamaayi Temple, but only as Padavettu Mariamman Temple. Unfortunately, I could not find the time to visit the temple.

I remember that we used to have bath drawing water from the well there and Paati used to have some cows in the back yard. I also tasted pachai sundaikkai kootu first time in Paati’s tenant’s house and acquired a taste for it.

The oonjal in the hall used to be my Paati’s favourite place and she used to rest on it immediately after lunch. All of us loved the oonjal as we never had one at our house in Madras. All of us went to the MGR movie Neethiku Thalai Vanangu there. It is one of the very few movies of MGR’s that I don’t like as it does not have a happy ending.

With all these memories, I took an auto to Pachaiappa Mudali Street to check out the house, but alas, I could not recognise the structure as there were 2-3 houses in front of the erstwhile pond, but none resembled my Paati’s house! Finally I came to the conclusion that the house which was converted to an office only should have been my Paati’s house because of the location (the beautiful thinnai was gone) and when I came back to Chennai, I crosschecked with my mother and she confirmed that Paati’s house was indeed converted into an office.

Paati’s house is history now! Sigh…

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My visit to Temples - Part III


Thiruvalanchuzhi -my earlier and first visit to this temple was with my father in 1989 on a rainy November day. That time when I heard the history of how this temple came about I was quite fascinated by it and my fascination is still the same.
When the Devas and Asuras churned the paarkadal for the celestial nectar, (amirtham), they forgot to pray to Pillayar and that is why alahala visham (poison) came out first. Realising this, Lord Indra, made a Pillayar out of the foam of the ocean (கடல் நுரை) and prayed to this Pillayar. He is said to have taken this Pillayar to different places in different Yugas and brought it to the earth in a chariot. Here the Pillayar sannidhi itself is in the shape of a chariot with the wheels half hidden in the ground. As this Pillayar is made out of kadal nurai, it is white in colour, also called Vellai Vinayakar or Shwetha Vinayakar and abhishekam is not performed on this Pillayar.

Once river cauvery flowed into a dwaram and she was brought out by a Rishi and she takes a circular route around this place from the right side - வலஞ்சுழி . Hence the name Thiruvalanchuzhi.

Pillayar sannidhi is in the front and there is quite a big temple behind. The presiding deity is called Karpaga nadeswarar in Linga form and Goddess is called Periayanayaki
The temple was almost deserted when we reached as it was almost closing time. Ucchikala puja was just completed and we could pray at Karapaga nadeswarar sannidhi, but
Goddess Periayanayaki sannidhi was closed and we could see the Goddess from only from outside.
On the side of the prakaram is Ashtabuja Durgai – looking very regal and beautiful. It is said that before each battle Raja Raja Chola – the greatest king of the Chola dynasty used to come and pray to this Durgai and won all his battles.
The archakas forced us out of the main temple as it was closing time and we came back to Pillayar sannidhi. We spent about 10 minutes admiring the work on the pillars there. There are many pillars all over the temple and the work done on these pillars are so intricate.
This is a very small town and we heard that most of the time this temple has very less crowd.

Though it wasn’t a very hot day, we found it was not easy to walk barefoot in the midday sun. We jogged back to the car wondering if we can cover our next temple –Swamimalai when our driver gave us the good news that Swamimalai temple will not close in the afternoon that day as it was Aadi Friday and Aadi krithigai. So we proceeded to Swamimalai.

My visit to Temples - Part II


Our car driver was very happy to take us to visit Patteeswaram during rahu kaalam as rahu kaalam is the best time to visit Durgai. Little he knew that we were scared of crowds! This again is a massive temple, quite ancient. The main deity is Lord Shiva – Thenupureeswarar. I have a special love for this Lord as he has come in my dream once!
Goddess is Gnanambikai. Of course Patteeswaram Durgai is quite famous, what a majestic deity. Luckily I had visited this temple at leisure before because this time, we could just have a glimpse of Durgai. We are quite worried that we will lose each other in the crowd until we reached the main temple behind. There must have been atleast 600-700 people near Durgai sannidhi with the queue reaching upto the main temple. We had to satisfy ourselves with just the glimpse and proceeded to the main temple of Gnanambika sametha Thenupureeswarar.

The divine cow Kamadhenu’s daughter, Patti worshipped Thenupureeswarar and hence the name Patteeswaram for this place. Lord Rama also worshipped to Shiva here for dosha nivarthi after defeating Vaali.

Thenupureeswarar sannidhi was calm with only a few people and we could have a great darshan. History also says that when Thirugnanasambandar visited this temple in high summer, Lord Shiva ordered the Siva ganas to hold a muthu pandal (an umbrella like shelter made of pearls) for Thirugnanasambandar for shade. Also Lord Shiva asked Nandi to move aside for Sambandar to have quick and easy darshan. In this sannidhi Nandi is not right in front of Lord Shiva but moved to one side!

The architecture of this temple is grand. I have to mention about the stone chain (a linked chain made out of stone) that hangs from the ceiling.

Gnanmbika looked very beautiful and grace flowed from her eyes. While entering the temple, I had bought lemon malas for Durgai but we offered these malas to Gnanmbika as we could not go near Durgai sannidhi.

Outside the sannidhi of Gnanambika, on the prakaram walls, we could see illustrations of Patti worshipping Shiva and the Thirugnanasambandar episode.

We also had the opportunity of spending some time at the Durgai urchavamoorthy sannidhi where paal abishekam was being done for the urchava Durgai as it was Aadi Friday.

We came out crossing Durgai sannidhi again and had another glimpse of the beautiful Goddess.

We then proceeded to our next temple - Thiruvalanzhui