Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sabai trip 2017 - part I

During our yearly trip to Esthelle, it started with a casual talk (at least for us ladies of the gang) about attending Rama’s father in law, Jayaram Mama’s sathabhishekam in July and making a temple trip out of this. Though we ladies did not discuss much about this further, the guys made a meticulous plan as usual and in March when the train ticket booking opened, few including Ranga were given the responsibility of booking tickets. Booking happened smoothly and the guys made some visits to Srivanchiyam and Kumbakonam for the accommodation booking. Soon, it was time to travel and with some last minute cancellations and modifications, the strength for onward journey was 39. All assembled as early as 10:00 pm for train departure at 1130 pm on 14 July, 2017.

We split into three different gangs right from the beginning, the kutties, the ladies and the guys who were the noisiest. Once we all boarded, it was our (ladies) turn to make all the noise, loudly discussing about the temples to be visited. 

pics courtesy Renu

We finally decided that unless we leave by 8:30 am, we may not be able to cover that many temples in the morning session. Jagan promptly challenged us that we will not get ready before 9:30 am. We slept over that and railways seemed to be on Jagan’s side, delaying the train by almost an hour. But the gutsy ladies as always loved the challenge and assembled for breakfast by 8:00 am. 

We were trying to pose for our official photographer Satish when he got a call that his mom was sick and our spirits dampened when Jayashree and Satish had to rush back to Chennai.
Enthusiasm returned when we all got into the tempo travellers to proceed towards the temples.

First visit was to Thirumeeyachur, Lalithambikai temple:

My earlier visit to this temple was with my mother-in-law and Saraswathi Manni way back in 2009. It was so late in the evening then that we could not visit the main shrine but had darshan of only Lalithambikai. This time it was bright and sunny and we could see the temple was beautiful.

We had darshan of Meghanadhaswamy before the kurukkal narrated about the temple.

“When Surya was cursed, as saabhavimochanam, he carried the God and the Goddess around the world on an elephant. He was impatient to get back his powers and asked the Lord about it. Angered by Surya’s impatience, Ambal was about to curse him again. The Lord pacified the Goddess as otherwise the world would become dark again.”

A very beautiful statue of the Lord pacifying the Goddess is sculpted as Goshta Murthy. One can see a serious Goddess from one side and a smiling profile on the other. 

pic courtesy Kalai

The kurukkal also explained that it is a temple within temple with shrine of Lord Sakalabhuvaneswarar and Goddess Minumekalayal (what a beautiful name!).

The sanctum is built in the form of Gaja prishtam (backside of an elephant) as Surya carried the Lord and Goddess on an elephant.

After having darshan of the many lingams, Gajalakshmi and Bhairavar, we came out of the prakaram to see Lalithambikai. What a beauty Lalithambikai is! There was only our group and the kurukkal allowed us to recite Lalitha sahasranamam for almost half an hour there. With a very satisfied darshan and prasadam of a pair of bangles, lemon and kumkum for each of us, we proceeded towards Thilatharpanapuri.


As the name suggests, this place is associated with tharpanam that was performed by none other than Lord Rama! The temple is flanked by veda padashala on either side with young boys clearly reciting slokas.

At the entrance, we had darshan of Adhi Vinayakar. This is the first form of Vinayakar, so he gives us darshan with human face!

We then entered the main shrine. Here too a young kurukkal explained in detail about the temple.

“When Lord Rama tried to do tharpanam for his father Dasharatha, fungus grew on the pindam. He promptly prayed to Lord Shiva who guided him to this Mandhara vanam where he could do tharpanam so that Dasharatha could attain Mukti. The four pindams he made became Shivalingas which can be seen at the temple.”

One can have darshan of Sri Rama sitting in meditative pose along with the four lingams nearby. The Lord who gave mukti to Dasharatha is aptly named Muktiswarar and he is waiting there to give mukti to our ancestors if we pray, which I did promptly!

The beautiful looking ambal also has a lovely name, Swarnavalli. The kurukkal went on to explain that in Thirumeeyachur, Goddess Lalithambikai is blessing the devotees in the form of Durga, in Thilatharpanapuri Goddess Swarnavalli is blessing the devotees in the form of Lakshmi and in Koothanur in the form of Goddess Saraswathi. We were blessed to have darshan of all the three Goddesses on the same day!

Dakshinamurthy in the Goshta deivam was so striking with the Sanagadhi munivar clearly seen in the sculpture!

The Mandharavanam still has some Mandhara trees and in the shade of one of the trees, we could have darshan of another Shivalinga. 

We went on to perambulate around Navagraha and had darshan of Naalvar (Appar, Sundarar, Thirugnanasambhandar and Manikkavachagar) and a very beautiful looking Perumal with Sridevi and Bhoodevi on either side. Please do not miss the leg posture of the Devis!

With satisfied darshan we proceeded to take blessings of Kalvi kadavul Saraswathi.


This temple has a lone sannidhi of Goddess Saraswathi looking beautiful in a white sari with green border, holding the veena. A few boxes of pens were bought and placed at the feet of the Goddess and later distributed to the kids. While perambulating the sannidhi, we could see a small idol of the Goddess with lamps being lit in the front. There were many bundles of white coloured saris kept on one side which must be offerings by the devotees. We could also see a statue of Kambar who was an ardent devotee of the Goddess.

Our morning session of temples completed, we proceeded to the mandapam at Sri Vanchiyam were Rudhra ekadasi had completed and lunch started. We had sumptuous lunch, took the blessings of Mama and Mami and went back to the hotel for siesta. 


After the so called siesta which was actually another chatting session, we left for Thirunageswaram. The kids stayed back at the hotel with the elder ones taking care of the younger lot!

guys ready
pic courtesy Ranga

The massive size of this temple awes me every time I visit!

This time we entered from a different gopuravaayil, had darshan of Vinayakar and Subramaniar and proceeded inside to pray at the main sannidhi of Lord Naganadhaswamy.  Rahu Bhagawan had prayed to Lord Naganadhaswamy to get relieved from his curse and hence this temple is Rahu parihara sthalam.

We perambulated around the inner prakaram and reached Pirayani Amman sannidhi. A beautiful looking Goddess! This time also I heard the kurukkal narrate that on Karthigai full moon day (Karthigai deepam), rays of Moon fall at the feet of the Goddess. As I did during my earlier visit, I wished again that I get an opportunity to have darshan of the Goddess on Karthigai deepam day!  

We just had a glimpse of Navagraha sannidhi and proceeded towards the outer prakaram to have darshan of Rahu Bhagavan with his consorts Nagavalli and Nagakanni. It was a little less crowded as it was not Rahu kalam time. After deeparathanai, we went around the huge outer prakaram. Could not resist taking photos there like my earlier trip with my sisters J

Well outside the prakarams, beyond the dwajasthambam, on our left we could see the corridor leading to the sannidhi of Girigujambikai. Goddess Girgujambikai is flanked by Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswathi on either side. All the three Goddesses are swayambu and no abhishekam is performed here. Only a kaapu is done once a year. We had a good darshan of the Goddesses and moved on to the next temple.

Oppiliappan Temple:

Quite a famous temple and visited by most of us earlier, we entered to offer a small prayer to Garudazhwar, before we made a beeline to see Lord Oppiliappan, who is considered elder to Thirupathi Venkatachalapathy.  The Lord was looking majestic with Markendaya Maharishi on his right and Bhoomidevi Thayar on his left. After a good darshan, we shared with each other the legend of the temple - when the Lord wished to marry the Goddess like any other parent, Markendaya Maharishi  told the Lord that his daughter is too young and any mistakes in cooking may please be pardoned. The magnanimous Lord said that he was ready to eat even salt free food and hence all the neivedyam to this Lord is salt free! We did buy the salt free thattai which was so yummy despite being saltless! On our way out, we could not resist taking a selfie with the temple elephant! J


Not having heard about this place or temple earlier, I thought this is a temple of Mahavishnu!

The name is actually Ivarpadi –meaning 5 different sets of people have prayed to the fearsome Goddess Prathyankara here. They are none other than Lord Krishna with his consorts, Rukmini & Sathyabhama, Agasthya Maharishi, Panchapandavas, Indrajit, son of Ravana and Sugriva.

It was dark by the time we entered the temple. There was a ferocious looking statue of Karuppanna swami on a chariot like structure complete with his weapons and a dog. The next thing I noticed was the writing on the wall stating that the temple is surrounded by mayaanam on all 8 sides and instructing the devotees not to talk anything ill. We walked through the corridor to enter the sannidhi of Goddess Prathyankara. The ceiling in front of the sannidhi was covered with strings of Rudhraksha beautifully. On either side of the garbagriham, we could see Sarabeswarar and many other forms of Goddess Kali plated in copper.

The Goddess herself was looking benevolent. The kurukkal explained that the Goddess was swayambu and hence no abhishekam was performed, but only punugu kaapu for her. It is a miracle that the smoke emanating from the yaagam performed in front of the sanctum with bundles of red chillies is not fiery!

Behind the sannidhi of Goddess Prathayankara is the sannidhi of Lord Agastheeswarar. Here again the ceiling was decked with Rudhraksha bead strings. We had good darshan and deeparathanai. On our right we could see Goddess Dharmasamvardhini blessing us. We prayed to her and went back to our tempo traveller. The man taking care of the mayanam, followed us, forcing us to give him some money which we did mainly out of fearJ

Nachiyar Koil:

We enquired at Ayyavadi about closing time of Nachiyar Koil as we were worried that Vishnu temples close earlier. We were informed that it is open up to 8:30 pm and proceeded there.
Having heard stories of Kal Garudan from childhood this temple is one of my favourites. I have always been fascinated by how the weight of an idol can increase and decrease like that! I once again heard with reverence as the priest narrated that this is the only temple where a stone idol is used in procession. This Garudan is taken out in procession only twice a year, once in Marghazi and the next in Panguni, where he carries his Lord and Goddess. As the Garudan is brought out of his sanctum, four people carry the idol, by the time the procession leaves the main sannidhi of the Lord, eight people have to lift and down the steps it needs 16 people to carry the weight, beyond this, it is 32, then 64 and outside the temple it will be 128 people carrying the Garudan with his Lord and Goddess.

On the way back, the weight reduces gradually that the number of people required becomes 64, 32,16, 8 and then 4. This miracle never fails to fascinate me!

When we visited, they had applied thaila kaapu so we could see only the face and uplifted hands of the Garudan.

After Garuda darshan, we went to the main sanctum. Another fascinating place! Huge idols of Lord Srinivasa Perumal, Goddess Vanjulavalli Thayar, Pradhyumnan, Purushottaman, Anuriddhan near the Lord and Balaraman and Brahma near the Goddess!  The smallest idol is that of the Goddess which is almost 6.5 feet! The other idols must be about 8 feet tall. We stood in awe at the sight of such huge idols so beautifully decorated. During deeparathanai the priest explained how the Goddess is important in this shrine and hence the name Nachiyar Koil. The Lord came in search of the Goddess and married her here and the Garudan helped the Lord find the Goddess. The priest went on to say that from the entrance as you walk in, one can see the Goddess first as she is in the centre. Also in the urchava moorthy idols, the key bunch is with the Goddess showing that she is the boss here J

We walked down the steps to have darshan of Lord Narasimha, Utharadhi mutt Anjaneyar and after pradakshinam, went further down to have darshan of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana on one side and Hanuman reverently standing facing his Lord Rama.  Next to Hanuman sannidhi was the Samadhi of the pair of Garuda pakshi who had attained moksha at the temple.

As we reached the dwajasthambam to prostrate, I realised that this is the only Vishnu temple where we can directly see the Lord from the dwajasthambam!

We called it a day and went back to hotel for dinner and settled down early so that we can get ready for the Sathabishekam and more temple visits next day.


  1. Hi Lakshmi
    Super. Really enjoyed reading through your blog. Hmmm....Now you have tempted me plan a trip....lovely photos

  2. Hi Lakshmi
    You have taken us back in time with your effervescent narrative peppered with matching pictures. Let this spur many such future visits.

  3. Superb write up along with lovely pics. Welcome back to the world of blogging Lak! I am so glad I will get to see more of Tamil Nadu temples through your blog. :D

  4. Hi Lakshhmi,your blog is very inspiring and you have taken me again with pics & words. Very nice & keep it up!

  5. I would highly appreciate if you guide me through this. Thanks for the article…
    Nice One...
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