27 April 2011

Our Visit to Srirangam Temple and Thiruvanaikaval Temple, Trichy.

On sunday the 24th April, 2011,  I had been to Srirangam Temple and Thiruvanaikaval Temple in Tiruchy with my family, and had good darshan of Lord Ranganathar and Thaayaar. We also visited the Thiruvanaikaval Temple, which is only a few miles from Srirangam, and had good darshan of Sri  Jambukeshwarar and Akilandeswari Amman.  

On our trip to these two temples.....

Myself and my husband, Ramachandran, together with  two of my family friends, left for Trichy early in the morning by about 4.30 am by car. It was a joyous ride through out the journey. My husband, known for his jovial way of keeping the conversation going, and also the two friends, Bhaskar and Shankar, saw to it that we had a pleasant, enjoyable journey right till our return to Chennai.  Inspite of the inclement weather prevailing upto Melmaruvathur, we made our way cautiously throughout.  As time went by, the weather became sultry and very very  hot and humid.  Keeping in mind that we had to reach Trichy by 10 am, we did not stop anywhere, except  for a small cup of coffee, to refresh ourselves, and by 9.30 am we made it to Trichy.

My friends who accompanied us, had combined this trip with a wedding they had to attend and this being the case, we all headed straight to the marriage hall  in Amma Mantapam, Therku Vasal,  where the wedding was taking place.  Once they made their presence felt at the wedding, we left straight for the Srirangam Temple. Being sunday and knowing that this ancient and famous temple would be crowded,  we had already made arrangements with a close collegue of mine, a retired Tasildhar, to helped us around this temple. I should mention here and show my gratitude to this  wonderful, simple person, Mr. Sadagopan, who is 80 plus years old, was so influential every where he took us.  I should pay my respects to him by saying that he made this temple visit of ours worth every second!  We could see all the Gods and Goddesses in all of the sannathis at very close quarters, with the help of our Tasildhar friend, which was very very satisfying for all of us. A memorable visit on the whole,  I should say.

Though I have already written about this great temple, a small re-capture of this spectacular Temple for my viewers one more time: 

Om Namo Narayanaya

Srirangam Temple Gopuram
Srirangam is the foremost of the eight self-manifested shrines [Swayam Vyakta Kshetras] of Lord Vishnu . It is also considered the first, foremost and the most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples [Divyadesams]. This temple is also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Periyakoil, Bhoologa Vaikundam, Bhogamandabam. In the Vaishnava parlance the term "KOIL" signifies this temple only. The temple is enormous in size. The temple complex is 156 acres in extent. It has seven prakaras or enclosures. These enclosures are formed by thick and huge rampart walls which run round the sanctum. There are 21 magnificent towers in all prakaras providing a unique sight to any visitor. this temple lies on an islet formed by the twin rivers Cauvery and Coleroon.

Sri Ranganathar, Srirangam
Besides the presiding deity Lord Ranganathar, the temple complex comprises of many other sannathis and about 53 upa-sannathis.

Sri Ranganayaki, Srirangam

The other sannathis in the temple are:

Thayar Sannathi
Chakkarathazwar Sannathi
Udayavar [Ramanujar Sannathi]
Garudalwar Sannathi
Thanvanthiri Sannathi
Hygrevar Sannathi

As I had earlier said,  all of the above sannathis were very crowded being sunday.  Nevertheless, with the help of our Tasildhar, we could have very good darshan in all of the sannathis.  On the whole it was an enjoyable trip to this ancient temple, so rich in its historical importance.   

For more on SriRangam Temple, you may see my earlier posting:

Our next visit was to the Thiruvanai Kovil, Tiruchirappalli only a few kms away from Srirangam Temple.  

Thiruvanaikoil is a beautiful small urban village at Tiruchirappalli district in Tamil Nadu of Southern India. Thiruvanaikoil is also familiarly known as Tiruvanaikoil, Tiruvanaikaval.

Thiruvanaikaval East Side Gopuram
Thiruvanaikoil is around 3 Kms away from the heart of Trichy city and adjacent to Srirangam another small historic town and one of the holy places in India. Thiruvanaikoil and Srirangam are in the banks of river Cauvery. Literally these two places form an island, surrounded by river Cauvery and river Coleroon.

Sri Jambukeswarar Akilandeswari Temple of Thiruvanaikoil

Thiruvanaikoil temple is one of the Panchabhoota Stalams [signifying the 5 natural elements) and represents water ['Neer']. The other four temples are Kalahasti for wind[('Kaatru'], Tiruvannamalai for fire ['Neruppu'], Kanchipuram for earth ['Mann', 'Bhoomi'] and Chidambaram for space ['Aagayam']. As this temple represents water this is also called as 'Appu sthalam' and the Shivalinga ['Swami'] here is called as 'Appu Linga'.

Kubera Lingam, Thiruvanaikaval
Even today you can see water oozing out near the Shivalingam idol in the temple. 

Sri Akilandeswari Amman - Thiruvanaikaval

The goddess of this temple is 'Akilandeswari' ['Amman']. The Amman is also called as Akilandanyaki. Akilandeswari is pronounced as 'Akilam - Aanda – Eswari' [Akilam – Universe, Aanda – Ruler, Eswari – Goddess]. We were really blessed  and fortunate to be at  get close quarters in  both the sannathis and pray to the Lord  and Goddess in a very satisfying manner.  The Goddess Akilandeswari  was breath-taking in the way the alangaram was done, not to miss Her ears edorned with Chandran and Suryan.  The Amman still stands before our eyes in all her glory!

History of the Temple

The Formation of 'Appu Lingam' [Parvathi’s Penance]

Once Devi Parvati mocked at Lord Shiva’s penance for betterment of the World. Lord Shiva wanted to condemn her act and directed her to go to the earth from 'Kailayam' and do penance. Devi Parvathi [Akilandeswari] as per Shiva's wish found 'Jambu' forest [Thiruvanaikoil] to conduct her penance. Devi made a Lingam out of water of river Cauvery (also called as river 'Ponni') under the 'Venn Naaval' tree [the Venn Naaval tree on top of the saint Jambu] and commenced her worship. So, the Lingam is known as 'Appu Lingam' [Water Lingam].

Lord Siva at last gave darshan to Akilandeswari and taught her Siva Gnana. Devi Parvati took 'Upadesa' [lessons] facing East from Shiva, who stood facing West. So as the temples idols are also installed in the same direction. Such places are known as 'Upadesa Sthalams'. As the Devi was like a student and the Lord like a Guru in this temple, there is no 'Thiru Kalyanam' [marriage] conducted in this temple for Lord and  the Devi, unlike the other Shiva temples.

Temple Archakar dressed like Devi Akilandeswari
performing Ko Pujai
As Akilandeswari worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple, even today at noon the 'Archakar' [priest] dresses like a female and does Puja to Lord Shiva and 'Ko Maatha' [Cow]. This noon pooja is very famous and pilgrims wait for this pooja every day. For the purpose of this pooja the temple is growing a 'Karam Pasu' [complete black color cow]. Annabhishekam to Lingam [Abishekam with cooked rice] is a daily ritual at Thiruvanaikoil. 

The Legend of the Name - 'Thiru Aanai Kaa'

There were two Siva Ganas [Siva’s disciples who live in Kailash] by name 'Malyavan' and 'Pushpadanta'. Though they are Shiva Ganas they always quarrel with each other and fight for one thing or other. On top of all in one fight 'Malyavan' cursed 'Pushpadanta' to become an elephant in earth and the latter cursed the former to become a spider in earth.

Legend of the Temple Thiruvanaikaval
Both the elephant and the spider came to Jambukeshwaram and continued their Shiva worship. The elephant collected water from river Cauvery and conducted Abhishekam to the lingam under the Jambu tree daily. The spider constructed his web over the lingam to prevent dry leaves from dropping on it and prevent Sunlight directly felling on Shiva.

When the elephant saw the web and thought that as dust on Lord Shiva and tore them and cleaned the Linga by pouring water. This happened daily. The spider became angry one day and crawled into the trunk of the elephant and bit the elephant to death killing itself. Lord Siva, moved by the deep devotion of the two relieved them from one other curse.

As an elephant worshipped the Lord here, this place came to be known as 'Thiru Aanai Kaa' [Thiru – Holy, Aanai – Elephant, Kaa [Kaadu] – Forest]. Later the actual name 'Thiruaanaikaa' become 'Thiruvanaikaval' and 'Thiruvanaikoil'.

In the next birth the Spider was born as the King Ko Chengot Chola and built 70 temples and Thiruvanaikoil is the one among them. Remembering his enmity with the elephant in his previous birth, he built the Lord Shiva 'Sannathi'[Sanctorum] such that not even a small elephant can enter. The entrance on the sanctorum of Lord Shiva is only 4 foot high and 2.5 foot wide.

Lord Jambukeswarar

Thiruvanaikoil is also called as 'Jambukeswaram' and the Lord as Jambukeswarar, Jambunathan and Jambulingam. The myth behind this is, there was a Sage by name 'Jambu Munivar' [ sage]. He once got a rare and sacred 'Venn Naaval' [Venn – White, White variety of Naaval fruit] fruit and he offered that fruit to Lord Siva. The Lord after eating the fruit spitted the seed. Jambu Munivar took and swallowed the seed, as it is sacred as the seed came from the Lord’s mouth. Immediately a 'Naaval' tree began to grow in the Saint's head. The Saint prayed to Lord Siva that He should take his abode under that tree. 

The Vimanam of Lord Shiva Sanctorum-"Venn Naaval tree"
Lord accepted and asked him to continue his penance in the forest on the banks of river Cauvery and said that he will one day come there and abode under that tree. After many years Devi Akilandeswari worshiped Lord Shiva under that tree during her penance. Thus as he took adobe under the tree on Jambu Munivar he was called as 'Jambukeshwara' and the place is called as 'Jambukeshwaram'. Also thus the 'Venn Naaval' became the 'Sthala Vriksham' [Temple’s Sacred tree]. The Shiva Lingam is placed under the Venn naaval tree in this temple. Even today you can see that Venn Naaval tree at the temple, which is said to be many hundred years old.

At about 3.30pm, after having had a good darshan in Thiruvanaikaval temple, it was time for us to leave for Chennai, so as to reach our homes before dark. 

As we were all very tried, we decided to  stop over for a good refreshing cup of coffee and here, I should mention about the Kumbakonam Degree Coffee Stall by the roadside after Melmaruvathur.  Since this Stall was not open as early as 6.30 am in the morning, while we were proceeding towards Trichy, we made up our minds that we should have this tasty "Kappi" atleast on our return...

The coffee and tea  offered here is excellent and this small Stall is ever crowded with the passengers passing by, wanting to taste their good "Filter Kappi".   To our disappointment, coffee was over for the day[as were were a bit late in coming there], we could however get only to taste the good Tea offered by them.   Hats off and good job done to the people running this small shop! Whenever we go on this route, we see to it that we never miss this Coffee Stall!   Very tasty " Kumbakonam Filter Kappi"!! 

Feeling well refreshed, even though the traffic was heavy while returning, we reached Chennai at around 9pm.  It was a good, enjoyable trip to Trichy indeed! 

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