Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sabai trip 2017 - Part II

view of Mahamaham Tank from the hotel

The second day dawned with a wake-up call by the hotel at 5 am as we were to leave early for Srivanchiyam to attend the Sathabhishekam. As usual the ladies and kids got ready quickly despite the teenagers wearing saris and half saris with their respective mothers' help.

 All assembled at the entrance by 6:30 am and we reached the mandapam by 7:30 am. 

After a heavy and tasty breakfast, we sat at the function for 30 minutes before walking to the temple which was across the road. 

What a calm place! The best thing about these ancient temples is that they are less commercial and we can connect to the Supreme without distractions. But this time it was our own group making some noise pulling each other's legs when we entered the temple and walked towards Gupta Gangai. The sacred Ganges is said to flow hidden in the Pushkarni and hence it is called Gupta Gangai. The Kulam hardly had any water and we washed our feet and sprinkled the water on our heads, with the piped water below the steps of the kulam. We did not miss taking group photos in the scenic area with coconut trees around. 

After praying to the Gangai karai Vinayakar and another Vinayakar in front of the sanctum entrance we went to the sannidhi of Yamadharmaraja and Chitragupta.

Legend has it that the benevolent Lord Shiva granted a separate sannidhi for Yamadharmaraja when Lord Yama wished that he is worshipped by humans as generally we are so afraid of Lord Yama that we do not even wish to see Him in our dreams!  So he is first visited here before one has darshan of Lord Shiva and Ambal. 

It was abhishekam time for Yamadharamraja and accountant Chitragupta when we reached the sannidhi and the place was packed with people. In spite of it, we could get a clear view of the Lord and could pray to Him for longevity before we went into the sanctum to worship Vanchinaadhar. The kurukkal was getting ready to perform abhishekam to the Lingam which is usually done only after abhishekam for Lord Yama. We could see a good deeparathanai and heard the Kurukkal's speedy narration about the temple which was not too clear.

We went around the sanctum to Ambal sannidhi. We prayed again to the Goddess for longevity of spouse and as we were wondering if we should do a more leisure round about the temple as we could only glance through the other sannidhis, we were called from the mandapam to attend the Go puja. Once at the mandapam, after the Go puja, some people went to visit another temple.

Rajini and I stayed back waiting for an opportunity to get back to the temple. We had our own reasons—she felt so connected to Vanchinaadhar and wanted to recite Shivapuranam and I wanted to have a relaxed round to gather details about the temple. The moment we had a chance, we escaped to the temple. Rajini settled in the outer prakaram to recite the slokam and I started right from outside. Having had only a glimpse of my favourite Lord in the earlier round, I stood and prayed to Balamurugan who is on the right side of the sanctum as we enter. 

In the sanctum this time, again the kurukkal was narrating about the temple. This time he was clearer.
·         The timeless Lord had changed direction during Pralayam and hence pujas are conducted on the other side also during certain times
·         Mahavishnu prayed to Lord Vanchinaadhar to beget Mahalakshmi with Love - Hence the name Srivanchiyam - Sri - Mahalakshmi, Vanchai - love and affection
·         Abhishekams are first performed to Lord Yama and only after that to Lord Vanchinaadhar
·         Lord Yama is the vehicle of Lord Shiva here
·         Rahu and Ketu are depicted in a single idol here and hence it is Rahu-Ketu parihara stalam

I continued my perambulation of the inner praharam and had darshan of Saha Uma Skandamurthy, Koshta murthies - Dakshinamurthy, Lingorbhavar, Brahma, Durgai and Shandikeswarar nearby.

Next was the sannidhi of powerful Mahishasuramardhini, and then the dancing Lord Nataraja with Sivakamasundari. Opposite to Mahishasuramardhini was Yoga Bhairavar, Suriyan, Chandran and Rahu-Ketu in one idol. What a beautiful sculpture!

I noticed a Vennai vinayakar on the Lord's right side at beginning of the outer prakaram which was missed by us earlier. This small Ganesha was smeared with butter all over. People nearby mentioned that this butter prasadam was a cure for stomach ailments. I had a bit and took some in a paper for the others at the mandapam. The outer prakaram has the idols of 63 nayanmars, Meenakshi Sundareswarar, Subramania swamy with Valli and Deivanai, Theyulingam, Kailasanathar and Dharmambal on right corner behind the main sanctum and a Sani Bhagavan. A board said that it is effective to pray to this Lord Saturn on Saturdays of Aani (June 16- July 15). We seemed to have missed it just by a day! Anyway, each and every thing in this world happens only because of Him! Avanindri oru Anuvum asayadhu. So better appreciate what we get!

The right side of the outer prakaram had Shiva lingams of Thiruvidaimaruthur,   Sayavanam, Thiruvenkadu, Thiruvayaru, Mayiladuthurai followed by Kshethra Lingam with Durgai Amman.

Satisfied with my tour of the temple I went in search of Rajini who was sitting at the sanctum. We were just in time to see the final abhishekam and deeparathanai. I wanted to have the darshan of the Goddess again. The kurukkal here had told us during the earlier darshan that this Goddess Mangalambikai is considered as all the three Goddesses - Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswathi in one! We were really blessed to have darshan of the three Goddesses one after the other on the earlier day and as One on this day!

He went on to say that in the first part of the day, the Goddess is worshipped as Parvathi and after that as Lakshmi and in the evening as Saraswathi. We were really lucky to see her as Parvathi in a blue sari first round and totally different alankaram as Lakshmi in maroon sari this time!

I was really happy with the detailed tour and we went back just in time for abhishekam for Mama and Mami! Next was a delicious lunch followed by taking blessings from the Sathabishekam couple—Yes, we believe in taking blessings only on a full stomach—and then a grand photo session of the Sabhai.

Our next stop was to meet another Sathabhishekam couple, this time it was Balaji's uncle and aunt in Koonthalur. The kids went back to the hotel with one of the guys, Vidyanand fondly called Vidyanand chacha to take care of them and it was the elders who went to Balaji's uncle's place. It was vengala kadaila yanai, literally. The peaceful house was turned into a market place with so many of us making a racket. After taking a look at the typically traditional place with mitham, koodam, thazhvaram etc, we headed to their garden. I am sure even now, people there may not know what had hit them that day, it was like monkeys in a vineyard, one picking keerai, another a shrub, pointing to this plant and that tree.

Finally the narthangai tree turned us all crazy. About 20 narthangais at different ripened stages were on the ground and the tree was full of them. We asked for a few bags and picked and plucked, picked and plucked and it went on for more than 20 minutes. Of course, we took a break for some photo posing near the hay stack! 

Lucky for them, we did not have time to visit their other garden which they said was full of lemon trees. I was fascinated by the orange tree, thrilled to hear that Arisilaru was flowing just beyond their wall. (it is another issue that there is no water in it right now!). But arisilaru reminded me of Ponniyin Selvan mudhalai story!!

Finally with bags full of narthangai, narthangai leaves, vasalai keerai, lemons (plucked by them from the other garden), we attacked the snack and coffee offered. Next was oonjal session. It was thrilling to see the old fashioned oonjal that was hung in the mitham with natural light falling on it. We took turns to play in the swing and were photographed, courtesy the guys!


After some discussion, a dozen of us decided we wanted to see more temples and took off in one tempo traveller. We told the driver Suriyan temple and he took us in time for temple opening in the evening. As we could see Lord Shiva right away, we did not check any boards and just entered. We then realised it was Thirumangalakudi and not the Suryanar temple we were thinking of. We were blessed to see this Lord Prananatheswarar and Goddess Mangalambikai.

The place is called Thirumangalakudi with the temple having five mangalams - Mangala Vinayakar, Mangala theeratham Mangalambikai, Mangala vimanam, Mangala kudi.
A board in the temple detailed the legend stating that Kalama munivar came to know that he is to be affected by leprosy and prayed to the Navagrahas to save him from this disease. The Navagrahas said they were not in a position to do so which angered the Rishi who cursed that the Navagrahas get affected by the same disease. The Navagrahas then prayed to Lord Prananatheswarar to free them from this disease. 

The board further said that the Chola King Kulothunga 1 had ordered beheading of his minister Analvaanar as he had used the tax collected to build temple. Analvaanar's wife prayed to Goddess Mangalambikai for her Mangalyam and the beheaded minister came back to life. The minister's wife further prayed to the Goddess that women who pray for their Mangalyam may please be granted this boon which the kind Goddess does!

Suryanar Koil

When they prayed to Lord Prananatheswarar to relieve them of leprosy, the Navagrahas sat in penance in Suryanar Koil which is about 5 minutes distance from Thirumangalakudi.
I was a bit disappointed by this temple as I found it too commercial. During my earlier visit with my parents and Durai thatha/Rajeswari Chitti many years ago, this temple was so calm, whereas this time we had a guide like guy insisting on showing us the temple as though we were new to Tamil Nadu!

Still, the crowd was less and we had very good darshan starting with Lord Suryan without whom the world cannot survive! He gave darshan along with his consorts Usha devi and Chaya devi. Right in front, facing him was Guru Bhagavan. After darshan here, we exited this sanctum to pray to the other Navagrahas positioned in different directions like how they are seen in other temples but in separate shrines.

By then it was 4 pm and we debated if we should go to Kanjanur (Sukra sthalam) or Kadhiramangalam (Vanadurga temple) or Thirubhuvanam (Sarabeswarar). Majority opted for Thirubhuvanam as Rahu kalam was nearing and Sarabeswarar darshanam during Rahu kalam is special.


What a temple! And what weather! The heat all through the morning had led to a mild drizzle as we entered the temple. We broke into a small run to escape the showers.
We prayed to Lord Vinayaka and climbed the steps to enter the sanctum of Lord Kampahareswarar. The kurukkal explained that praying to this Lord relieves one of nervous problems, to Goddess Dharmasamvardhini for a good life and Sarabeswarar for any black magic issues. We had a good darshan and climbed down from side entrance. By then the drizzle had stopped but the prakaram was damp and cool to walk on. Such a huge prakaram! There were so many things to see that I wished we had a little more time, but alas, we had a train to catch that night to come back to Chennai!

We had darshan of Koshta deivam – Dakshinamurthy, Lingorbhavar. Brahma in the form of Annapakshi above and Mahavishnu in the form of Varaham below were clearly visible with the Adi mudi kaana mudiyatha Jyothi Lord Shiva! I was amazed by the detailing of this sculpture. On the other side was Sandikeswarar and then a huge Durgai with steps leading to her sannidhi. Praying to this Goddess, we proceeded to have darshan of Dharmasamvarthini aka Aram valartha Nayaki!  Seeking her blessings for a good and happy life, by 5 pm very much within the Rahu kalam time we went for darshan of Sarabeswarar.

There was long queue, but we could see the ferocious, winged Simha muka Lord with Prathyankara as one wing and Sulini as another, lifting the angry Narasimha in his claws and taking a flight. Though I had heard about Sarabeswara Murthy and visited the local Sarabeswarar temple in Koyambedu once with my sister Jayashree, I have not seen such a detailed sculpture of this Lord before. Like the Kurukkal in Lord Kampahareswarar sannidhi explained, the sannidhi of Sarabeswarar has 4 Gods in one form – Lord Shiva as Sarabeswarar, Goddess Prathyankara as one wing, Goddess Sulini as another wing and Lord Mahavishnu as Narasimha.

We stood aside taking some snaps while few of us lit some ghee lamps opposite the sannidhi.

Calling it a day, we started back to Kumbakonam with more pictures of the beautifully sculpted temple. We could not resist buying garden fresh snake gourd and some jackfruit.

Adhi Varahaswamy Temple, Kumbakonam

As we neared the hotel, a few were still unhappy about missing Kumbakonam temples and Sowmya was keen on having darshan of Adhi Varahaswamy.

Sowmya, Hema and I got into an auto and asked him to take us to this temple and show us how many ever temples possible on the way, not to go in, but just Gopura darsanam!. Having no sense of direction, I could not resist asking him if we will pass byPachiappa Mudhali theru on the way!  With no chance for that, I had to be content with a glimpse of Ramaswamy temple, Kumbeswarar temple wall, Sarangapani Ther on the way and reached Adhi varaha swamy temple. With a lone sannidhi, Adhi Varaha swamy with Goddess Lakshmi on his lap is said to be the first appeared Lord in this temple town hence the name “Adhi” Varahaswamy. The bhattacharyar also said Kumbakonam is also called Varaha kshethram like Tirupathi. We went around the temple and prostrated in front of the Dwajasthambam. We were also lucky to get some sweet poha as prasadham in two dhonnais.

Returning to hotel in the same auto, it was time to pack, have dinner and leave for the station. Waiting in the station, all of us were dead tired after a fun filled, bhakti filled trip. All of us settled down in the train as soon as we boarded and the only thing we talked for a while was about when the next trip would be! Hope God grants us more such enjoyable trips soon!


  1. This looks really good Lak. Loved the koil pictures and the write up, especially your visit to that house with the haystack and naarthanga tree. Please continue to write regularly