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72 HOURS, 11 DIVYA DESAM & 7 OTHER TEMPLES:

A TRIP REPORT

It all began on vaikunta ekadasi afternoon when amma thought of a trip to sri rangam and
kumbhakonam during my holidays. I agreed to the trip joyfully. Rajeevanna also agreed
that very evening and so did dachi mama and family. Suhas mama accepted the moment
we told him about this. We planned to start on 23rd night. It was very hard to get the train
reservation as many people had already booked. No trains, no buses. What else is the
mode of transport?? We thought of going by car when the idea of tri ranga darshanam
passed by my mind. Car was booked, dachi mama prepared bellad mithai and kodbale,
amma prepared chapatti, sweet rotti and tomato gojju. The stage was set for a grand trip.

23rd December my exams got over. I came back home and helped amma with the
household work. Everything was packed. We were supposed to start at 2am on 24th
December. Everyone was ready by that time. Surprisingly there was not much delay in
starting. At 2:15 am we were all inside the Chevrolet tavera. Rajeevanna, sukeerthi and
me at the back, amma, shanta aunty and dachi mama in the middle and suhas mama next
to the driver. The driver was going at a decent speed. I slept off in the car and woke up at
srirangapattanam.

SRIRANGAPATTANAM: It was 5am when we reached this place. The main deity is sri
ranganatha perumal. It is also called adi rangam meaning “the first ranganathar.” It is the
first and also the biggest moorthi of the three. We saw tayar sannidhi, hanumar sannidhi,
srinivasar sannidhi and desikar sannidhi. All the other sannidhis were closed. So we just
bowed outside itself. When we came out it was 5:30. Only mangalarathi was done
everywhere. Nowhere was archane performed because it was too early.

After srirangapattanam we started towards shivanasamudra. The road from


srirangapattana to shivanasamudra was horrible. We killed time by eating biscuits and
cursing the road. By the time we reached shivanasamudra the biscuit packets we brought
were empty. It was already 8:30am. Thanks to the road, the 2 hour journey was prolonged
by an hour. Our bases were flat by the time we reached shivanasamudra, everyone eager
to get down. We got down and entered the temple.

SHIVANASAMUDRAM: The temple is the smallest of the three. Here also the main
deity is ranganathar. There was a not small not big queue by the time we went in. before
entering we saw the utsava moorthy. There was a golden idol of rama-lakshmana-seetha.
It was shining brightly. The ranganathar here is no different from the one at
srirangapattanam except for the size. This is called Madhya rangam meaning “the middle
one.” We also saw tayar sannidhi. Tayar here is called ranganayaki. Hence the temple is
named as “sri ranganayaki sametha sri ranganatha swami devasthana”. We took a group
photo and left the place. Outside the temple we saw an idol of hanuman. The nameplate
above it said “SRI VEERANJANEYA SWAMI SUGREEVA” but there was no trace of
sugreeva.

We started towards sri rangam. In the car we had our breakfast. The road was a decent
one till the ghat section. On the way dachi mama said that there was a possibility of
finding wild animals. I was eager to see an elephant or a deer. But all that I saw was a
peacock. The elephants and the deer disappointed me. After this part of the road there
was nothing but dogs, hens and chickens. We stopped under a tree for lunch. From this
place the road was again a horrible one. I felt that the roads in tamilnadu are the worst
ones in the world. The traffic is also horrible. The people have zero road sense unlike the
people of Bangalore who have negligible road sense. With our legs and back in pain we
reached sri rangam.

SRI RANGAM: It is the first of 108 divya desams. It is also called the antya rangam
meaning “the last one”. Here also main deity is ranganathar. The temple is one of the
biggest in India. When we entered there was a large queue. Many people from shabari
malai had come to the temple. They were the main queue by passers. With a great deal of
difficulty we entered the temple. We took a special ticket inside and had darshanam. The
archakas inside are very arrogant and rude. They won’t let us see the god even for a
minute. In hardly 15 seconds they pushed all of us out. Here the time taken to enter the
temple is much much much more than the time they give to see the lord. After the
darshanam in the temple we went around the temple. There are a lot of sub sannidhis in
this temple. But most of them were closed. We went to tayar, lakshmi varahar, lakshmi
hayagrivar, kodanda rama, vasudeva, lakshmi narayana and desikar sannidhi. The
lakshmi varaha and lakshmi hayagriva sannidhi is recently opened for public. There was
an utsavam also going on. Ranganathar was on the ashwavahana. They didn’t let any one
of us touch the utsavam. I felt this very unusual because in all temples they let the public
touch the utsavam. After a good darshanam in all the sannidhis and the utsavam we
returned to the lodge. We had lunch and slept nicely.

On the second day it was planned that we would visit pillaiar, gunasheela, dashavatharam
sannidhi and a few temples in kumbhakonam. We were strictly instructed by dachi mama
that all of us must be ready by 6:45am. But only me, dachi mama, amma and shanta
aunty were ready. With all delays and savarane we started at 8am. We first went to
uttamar koil, the 2nd divya desam of the trip.

UTTAMAR KOIL: The palce is also known as thirukambanur. Main deity here is
purushottamar. It is a temple where Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and lord Shiva are found
in the same place. Purushotamar murthy is of ranganathar. There are many sub sannidhis
here like saraswathi, rama, Krishna, desikar and lakshmi narayana. The lord appeared
before kadamba maharshi and hence this temple is known as kadamba kshetram. It is
also known as Bikshandar koil, as kailasapathi is seen here as Bikshatana murthi in
digambara form begging for alms with his biksha pathram. When thaayaar gave bikshai
to Sivan, the patharam became full. Hence thaayaar is known as Poorna Valli, poorna
meaning complete or full. By the side of the lord resides kamba maharshi, in his nabhi
lord brahma is seen and mahalakshmi in vakshasthala of the lord. The paintings of
dashavathara and ashtalakshmi are seen on the walls of the temple. There are a lot of
sheep and chickens around the temple. Dachi mama showed us a sheep which was as
motionless as a vigraham. After darshanam here we proceeded towards gunasheela.

GUNASHEELA: The main deity here is prasanna venkatesha perumal. The lord has a
chavati in his hand on seeing which all diseases will be cured. This is the place where all
illnesses are cured. There was a long queue when we entered. Amma, shanta aunty,
sukeerthi and suhas mama stood in the queue while me, rajeevanna and dachi mama
spent time taking snaps of the beautiful paintings on the walls. The tanjavur paintings in
the temples are indescribable. The doors of the temple have carvings of dashavatharam
and every sub form associated with the avatharam. There was Vishnu sahasranama
chanting going on in the temple. The fact is that I visited this temple with rajeevanna as
soon as I finished my PU and after that I have been hit by wheezing only once. There has
been remarkable improvement in my health thanks to the lord. There are no other
sannidhis in the temple. After the darshan here when we came to the exit we saw a goat
bowing down to the lord. It was such an amazing and touching incident. From here we
proceeded to thiruvellarai.

THIRUVELLARAI: The lord here is pundareekaksha perumal. The temple is on a tiny


hill called swethagiri. The prakaram is very big. The lord is in sitting posture. Perumal is
flanked by the Sun God (Suryan) on the right and the Moon God (Chandran) on the left,
each facing the moolavar. Gadruda and Adisesha, in their human form, can be seen to the
right and left, respectively, of Perumal. Next we see, Markandeya to the right and
Bhoomipiraati to the left, both in seated posture performing tapas. In front of the
Moolavar is Pankaja nayaki and Pundarikakshan Utsava murthis.
The moolavar who is on top of the hill has to be approached by climbing 59
steps. The first 18 of these are said to represent the 18 chapters of Bhagavad Gita. The
next 4 steps represent the four vedas. After crossing these, one reaches the Bali peetam.
After offering prayer at Bali peetam, one has to cross 5 more steps, which represent
the Pancha boothams. After which we find the affromentioned Naazhi kEtta Vaasal. Then
one goes around the hill in a pradakshina form, crossing two entrnaces viz., Utharayana
and Dakshinayana. After crossing these entrances, there are eight setps representing
the Ashtaakshara Mantram. Then comes the final 24 steps that represent the Gayatri
Mantram.
In the above paragraph I made a mention of Naazhi kEtta Vaasal. Here I’ll describe
what exactly it is. It is said that one day there was a delay in Perumal returning after his
rounds in the village. Thaayaar asked Him as to why He was delayed and arrived late at a
particular entrance. Lord is reported to have told her the reason and only then entered the
temple. Sicne then this entrance is known as Naazhi kEtta Vaasal.
After the darshanam at thiruvellarai we returned to the lodge. amma, me, rajeevanna,
shanta aunty and sukeerthi had lunch in a hotel(mamas had chapatti which we carried).
After a small nap we started towards the next divya desams. We went to thiruoraiur but
the temple was closed. So we proceeded to thiruanbil.

THIRUANBIL: The lord here is nambi perumal(utsavar is sundararaja perumal). The lord
is in bhujangashayana posture. Tayyar is sundaravalli nachiyar. There are a few
vigrahams of desikar and other alwars. There is one tayyar sannidhi. Anbil was in
existance before the Pandavas. Perumal is said to have appeared here in response to
prayers of Brahma and Sri Valmiki. Other than what is mentioned I don’t know anything
more about this temple. My apologies for lack of information. After this place we
proceeded towards koiladi

KOILADI: The main deity here is known as Adi Ranganathan and is said to have
appeared here and stayed here before he went to Srirangam. The lord is also called appa
kuduthan because there is a pot of appam close to his hands. Near the lord resides
markandeya maharshi and bhoomidevi. Tayyar is called as kamalavalli nachiyar. This
place is also called as Tirpper Nagar, as Sri Lakshmi is believed to have stayed here for a
long time. There was a Pandya king by name Uparisaravasu who went on a hunt. He
accidentally killed a Brahmin who was performing tapas. The king was sad about this. In
order to free himself from this sin he renounced his throne and worshipped the lord
everyday by offering appam, ghee and payasam on instruction of lord shiva. Hence lord
here is called appakuduthan. Just like how laddu is lord’s favourite in tirupathi, appam is
lord’s favourite here.

After seeing the 4th divya desam of the day we preoceeded towards kumbhakonam. We
had dinner in a hotel. When finding the room seemed impossible, we found a couple of
rooms with the help of rajeevanna’s friends also who had come there. Our next day was
planned to begin well before sunrise. From the room we could see the gopurams of
kumbheshwara temple and aaraavamudan temple. 5 divya desams and 3 other temples
were seen. I was really enjoying the trip. But the bigger part of the trip was scheduled the
next day. Unfortunately the plans of visiting tanjavur was cancelled. So we planned to
cover as many divya desams possible the next day. With quite a big schedule planned for
the next day we went to bed at 10:30pm.

On day three we were all ready on time and we started to uppiliyappan koil at sharp 5:30.
The temple is a bit far from kumbhakonam. It was freezing cold in the morning. In
tamilnadu one usually experiences red hot afternoon and freezing morning. The morning
weather and amma’s lap next to me put me to sleep. I woke up when we reached the
temple.

UPPILIAPPAN KOIL: Main deity is srinivasa perumal. His is also called uppiliappan.
I’ve been told two different meanings of the word. The first one is “oppiladavan” which
means the one who has no equals. The second one is “uppiladavan” means salt less. For
the second meaning there is a story. Once mahalakshmi was born in the family of forest
tribes. Lord srinivasar went to her father and asked for mahalakshmi as his bride. Her
father said that she didn’t know how to cook and how much salt to put in food. Lord
gladly agreed and said that he was prepared to eat food without salt. Mahalakshmi was
married to the lord. From that day he resided in kumbhakonam and the food to the lord
for naivedyam is prepared without salt.
The murthy of the moolavar is a huge one. The decoration for the lord was superb.
There are many paintings on the walls and we took photos of all of them. After a photo
session we proceeded towards nachiar koil also called thirunareyur

THIRUNAREYUR: The temple is also called nachiyar koil. Here the goddess is given
first preference over the lord. Utsavam and all other pujas are done to the goddess first.
The lord is seated beside the goddess. In all temples we usually find the lord at the centre
and goddess by his side. Here goddess is at the centre and lord by his side. Goddess is
called kamalavalli nachiyar. Lord is mahavishnu also called as nambi.

The sthala puranam goes like this. Once upon a time there lived a saint named Medhavi
here in Naachiyar Koil. He wanted Mahalakshmi to be his daughter so he pleaded
Mahavishnu and on an auspicious day under the tree called "Vanjula Maram", he found a
very beautiful girl child. He named her "Vanjulavalli" after the tree from where he found
her.He led a peaceful life then by teaching Gyana to his students. Gradually Vanjulavalli
grew up and reached the marriage stage.One day Lord Narayanan split him into five of
his forms: Shankarshanan, Prathyumnan, Anirudhan, Purushothaman and vasudevan and
visited saint Medhavi's Ashram as a Guests.His students bore the guests a warm welcome
and Vagulavalli prepared a delicious meal for them. AFter finishing their meal, all the
five went to wash their hands. When Vagulavalli helped them by pouring water, suddenly
Vasudevan caught her by hand and immedietely she shouted for help.Hearing her cries,
her father came running for rescue. But before he could catch and curse Vasudevan, all
the five guests disappeared to bring forth the original one (ie) Mahavishnu saint Medhavi
was spellbound, when Mahavishnu asked his daughters hand for marriage.Happily, saint
Medhavi accepted for marriage. But before that he asked 3 Boons from Mahavishnu
1. He should attain life beyond birth and death (ie) he should attain eternity.
2. All the living beings in Narayur which gave the Lord food and wife, should also attain
salvation and
3. His daughter should be given the first place in all the aspects.

Hence from that day, this place is called as Naachiyar kovil, (ie) temple of Mahavishnu's
wife.
Here Stone idol of the bird Garuda, Stands as the Vahanam or Vehicle to Narayur Nambi
whereas Annam or the Swan is the Vahanam of the Godess Vagulambika. Garuda has a
seperate sannathi in this temple extending about 10 1/2 sq.ft's. He has beautiful big
wings, broad chest and long hair. In tamil month Margazhi and Panguni the festival "Kal
Garuda Sevai" (ie) the festival where the idol of Narayur Nambi placed on the stone idol
of Garuda and taken out into vibrant procession is taken place every year. There is a
unique speciality regarding the stone idol of Garuda. when taken out for a procession,
until a step out fo his sannathi he can be easily carried by 4 persons. Then inside the
temple his weight would increase as to be carried by 8 persons, then further outside the
praharam he would weigh heavy so that 16 persons are required to carry him. Totally
outside the temple not even 32 persons are enough to carry him, he would get heavier and
heavier ahead. He would sweat a lot too so that his cloths get drenched in the sweat. But
after the procession is over, while returning to his sannadhi he would start losing his
weight (step by step) or (stage by stage). This is a remorkable wounder that takes place
only at this place. The reason why I think that happens is because in many serials I’ve
seen that the vaahana of the lord grows in size when lord is ready to sit on him. Eg: Nandi
grows three times in size when he has to carry shiva. Hanuman grew in size when he
carried rama and lakshmana on his back. But I’m not sure whether my reasoning is right.
There is a murthy of lord ranganatha and lakshmi narasimha carved on of the wall of the
temple. Alwar sannidhi and lakshmi narasimha sannidhi is also there. I don’t remember
seeing a separate tayyar sannidhi here.

After this place we proceeded to panchasara kshetram or saranath temple.

SARANATH KOIL: There are two stories about this temple. The first one is about the
name and second one is about how the lord came to stay here. The first one goes like this.
When time came to destroy the world and finish the yugam, Brahma was worried a lot.
He pleaded Lord Vishnu to tell him a way to keep the tools necessary for Srishti and all
vedas safetly. Lord ordered him to put all these things in a strong mud pot and after trying
mud from all places Brahma finally made a pot out of the sand taken from Thirucherai
and saved all vedhas and all necessary aids for srishti. Hence as this placed gave the
magical mud which held a lead role this place became the reason for all living things to
live even after the Maha pralaya so this place is called "Sara Shetram".. Main deity is
saranath, tayyar is saranayaki, pushkarani is sara pushkarani, vimanam is sara vimanam
and one more thing starts with sara whish I don’t remember. Hence the place is called as
pancha sara kshetram.

The second story goes like this. Once there was a dispute between river ganga and river
kaveri as to who was the supreme among them. To resolve the dispute they went to Lord
Brahma. The lord said that ganga is supreme since she came from the mattress of lord
shiva. River Cauveri wanted her status to be equal to river Ganges and performed a
Tough (or) hard penance. She laid 3 wishes before the god. (a) O! Lord you should stay
in this place for ever and ever (b) all the Jeevans in this place should attain your lotus feet
(c) I should be treated as pious as river Ganges. Lord Vishnu granted all her wishes and
to improvise her status further among all the other rivers he accepted her as his mother
and crawled as a child in her hands. People say that river kaveri fulfils the wishes of
every devotee who visits the place. It seems that the lord will fulfill the wishes of the
devotee even before he asks him.

The priest gave everyone of us a murthy of sleeping Krishna to carry for a minute. It was
a very cute silver murthy of the lord. The moolavar murthy is srinivasa perumal. By his
side sri devi and bhoodevi are seated and kaveri is seated in front of the lord. Tayyar
sannidhi is the only other sannidhi. After this we proceeded towards jagannathan temple.

JAGANNATHAN KOIL: Main deity is Vishnu seated next to lakshmi. None of us


understood even a single word what the priest said. It was really fast tamil which none of
us could follow. So no information about this place can be given. Very sorry for that.
After this we proceeded to aaravamudan or saarangapani koil.

AARAVAMUDAN KOIL: Before telling about what is there inside I would like to
describe the gopura of the temple. It is a very big gopuram though not as big as that of sri
rangam temple. In sri rangam there is nothing much special that I noticed about the
gopuram. There are varieties of inscriptions on the gopuram. Many forms of the lord can
be seen in this gopuram. I think every form of Vishnu can be seen on this gopuram. After
taking a photo of the gopuram, we went inside the temple. The architecture of the temple
is amazing. The garbhagudi is in the shape of a chariot inside which the lord is present.
Lord brahma is the sarathi for the lord’s chariot. The chariot is pulled by a horse and an
elephant unlike the chariots that will be pulled by two or more horses

There is a very long sthala puranam about this place. It goes like this. You know the story
of mahalakshmi going to kollapur because bhrigu maharshi icked mahavishnu on his
chest. Let me begin this sthala puranam from this point

Mahalakshmi who was staying at Kollapuri came to know the news of Lord Srinivasa's
marriage from Naradha. Godess Mahalakshmi searched Lord Srinivasa every where but
her effort gave her no fruits. So she became a small child and crawled as
BalaKomalavalli. Brighu Maharishi who kicked Mahalakshmi felt very much for his
action and hence took rebirth as Hema Maharishi. He saw Balukomalavalli and started to
bring her up as his own daughter. When it was time for Komalavalli's marriage, Hema
Maharishi performed a very hard penance and pleaded Mahavishnu to accept
Mahalakshmi. Lord Mahavishnu granted his wish. On a Mahashankaranthi day Lord
Mahavishnu emerged out from Vaideha Vimanam contained in the pranava vimana of Sri
Rangam and came in a huge chariot and married Komalavalli Thaayar.

As the Thayaar Komalavalli was angry with Lord Srinivasa who has a standing posture to
soothe her anger Lord Mahavishnu now adapted the sleeping posture of Ranganatha of
Sri Rangam and became saarangapani in Kumbakkonam. Actually Shargam is the name
of the bow of Sri Rama, one of the ten Avathar's of Sri Mahavishnu. Sri Rama is very
famous for his one man - one wife format of life. So on order to give assurence of
Security for his wife komalavalli Lord Mahavishnu has adapted the shargam in the name
of Sri Ramam and the posture of Ranganatha so as to be called as "Saarangapani".

After sarangapani temple we went to ramaswamy temple. The main deity there is lord
ramachandra. By his side resides seeta devi. He is fanned by lakshmana on his right and
shatrughna on his left. Bharata holds the umbrella. In front of rama hanuman is sitting
with Ramayana in one hand and a veena in the other which means he is singing
Ramayana. The architecture of this temple is the best of all the temples I’ve seen. I’ve no
idea about the sthala puranam of this temple because the priest didn’t tell too much about
it. After the darshanam here we had a cup of coffee and went to the lodge. before entering
the lodge we went to the lakshmi varaha temple situated opposite to the lodge and saw
the abhishekam. Then we went to the room and started towards namakkal. On the way we
saw the last divya desam of the trip i.e, thirukkavittalam or kapisthalam.

KAPISTHALAM: The sthala puranam of this place is very famous and known to
everyone. This is the place where lord Vishnu saved the elephant worshipping lord with
the lotus flowers from the clutches of a crocodile when he called the lord by name
aadimoola. Since the lord saved the elephant and granted him salvation the lord here is
called gajendra varada which means the one who granted salvation to the elephant. The
lord is in the form of ranganathar i.e, sleeping posture. This is a very small temple. Since
hanuman was also given darshanam at this place this place is called kapisthalam. After
the darshanam here we proceeded towards namakkal.

NAMAKKAL: This was the temple that I was waiting to see. The narasimhar here is very
big one. The eyes are shining with brightness. Lord is fanned by soorya and Chandra.
Lord Shiva is to the right of narasimhar and Lord Brahma to the left. The fingers of the
narasimhar murthy are red in colour due to killing of hiranyakashipu. Brahma and Shiva
are trying to calm down the angry narasimha.

The walls of the sannidhi has four carvings. One is mahavishnu seated on adishesha. The
second one is ugranarasimha slaying hiranyakashipu. The third one is lord varaha saving
bhoomidevi from hiranyaksha. The fourth one is ulahalanda perumal or lord vamana. We
witnessed mahamangalarathi in this temple. We also had darshanam at the tayyar
sannidhi

In namakkal a few steps from the narasimhar temple, is a hanumar temple. We went to
the hanumar temple. Benne alankara was done to hanuman. The hanuman murthy is very
very huge. It is the largest I’ve ever seen. In this temple also there are a lot of paintings.
Each painting is about the role of hanuman in Ramayana which also includes
construction of shiva lingam. This was the only temple in the entire trip where
photography of the moolavar was permitted. Also a new golden chariot for hanuman was
being inaugurated. After the darshan and photo session here we had dinner.

After dinner we returned to Bangalore. The road from namakkal to Bangalore was a very
good one. This was when I felt the best and the worst roads of the world are in tamilnadu.
We reached home at 2:00am exactly 72 hours after we started. This was one of the most
memorable trips of my life. With a happy face I went to bed.