Monday, February 27, 2006

In and around Chidambaram

Shivaratri is a night to be awake all through.

But if you are inside the Nataraja temple, you can do a lot of things. Foremost is of course, watch the classical dance performances of artistes from all over the world.

You can go to Nritta Sabha, one of the halls inside the temple where the story of Shiva-Parvati dance is portrayed.

You can have the darshan of Govindaraja Perumal with his consort Pundareekavalli. Remember, he was the judge for the divine dance competition. Vaishnavaites call this place as Tiru Chitrakootam and it is one of the 108 Divya Kshetrams.

You can step into the beautiful 1000 pillar mantapam and enjoy the sculptured pillars.

You can watch the fish come on to the steps to receive the rice flakes from the pilgrims, in the Sivaganga tank.

The next day morning, you can go to Tillai Kali temple, on the northern end of the town. The temple was built by King Kopperum Singan in the 13th century.

The historical 150 year old High school run by Pachaiyappa Mudaliar Trust and Yazhpanam Arumuga Navalar school are of places of interest.

On the way, you can visit the temple of Pasupeswarar at Tiruvetkalam, in the vicinity of Annamalai University. This is believed to be the place where Arjuna of Mahabharata killed a demon using Pusupatha astram given by Lord Shiva.

Visit Annamalai University, the brain child of Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar. It had illustrious persons as Vice Chancellors. Dr. Radhakrishnan, C. P. Ramaswamy Iyer and R. K. Shanmugham Chetty, the former Finance Minister. A very big building on the model of Oxford University, London, houses the University's library.

The music department of the university, where the Carnatic music stalwarts like Tiger Varadachariar, Dr. S. Ramanathan, M. M. Dandapani Desikar and many more (the list is very long...) served as faculty. All precious and unique musical instruments are on display at this college.

Visit Ilamaiyakkinar temple in Chidambaram. Shiva is believed to have granted youthfulness to Tiruneelakantar, one of the 63 nayanmars.

If time permits, hop across to Tiruvenkadu  (means 'white forest' in Tamil) where the linga is white in colour! This temple also houses the Adichitsabhai, one of the halls permeated by the atmosphere of wisdom.

Then, trip down to Pichavaram mangrove forest. Mangroves separated by a sand bar, from the sea. Backwaters of the sea have formed a channel knitted together in such a fashion that only the boatmen find the ingress and egress. Boat riding here is pleasurable.

The village Killai, which is a symbol of religious harmony. Muslim offerings to Lord Bhuvaraha of Srimushnam (40kms away) are still in vogue, when the god passes through the area. This is a thanks giving show for the cure effected on a Nawab by Bhuvarahaswamy - the lord in the form of a boar. The Nawab has made an endowment for this.

Then, drive down 20kms. The town Sirkazhi houses the Sattanathar, Brahmapureeswara and Thoniappar (Shiva on thoni - boat) temples. There is also a sannidhi for the God-child Gnanasambandar, who is believed to have been fed milk by goddess Parvati.

In another 15 minutes, you can reach Karaikkal. There is a small but beautiful temple in the heart of the town for Karaikkal Ammaiyar, the only woman out of the 63 nayanmars.(She is one of the three women nayanmars... see comment below. Thanks Narada!)

Move on to visit the Dharbaranyeshwarar temple, which houses the Saneeswara (Planet Saturn) temple at Tirunallar.

Can you resist Tarangambadi (Tranquebar)? The remains of a fort constructed in 1620 will kindle an interest in history within you.

40 kms from here is Poompuhar. The earlier name of the place is Kaviri - poom - pattinam (the shore where River Cauvery enters the sea) The great Tamil epics Silappadikaram and Manimekalai were created around this town. The Zion Church built in 1701 is a place of interest too.

On the way back, Park your vehicle at Porto Novo, the place once occupied by the Danish. It houses a Marine biological station, which is second biggest of such stations in Asia.

From Porto Novo to Chidambaram, near Cuddalore Railway station is Tiruppapuliyur. The famous Pataleeswarar temple and the story of Appar, one of the 63 nayanmars thrown into the sea by the Jain community, saved by Shiva is in Karai Era Vitta Kuppam. The palce from where Appar is said to have got back from the sea.

Cuddalore now has a beautiful beach, after the Tsunami 2004. Lord Clive had lived here with his horses and barracks. The building now houses the District Collectorate. There is a stone inscription to this effect on the building.

Back at Chidambaram, visit Nataraja temple through the southern entrance, through which Nandanar, the great devotee the darshan of Lord Shiva.

Was this not a complete Shivaratri tour of worship and fun?

I have to make a disclosure here. The inputs are from my dad, who always narrated stories and stories about places and created an interest in us siblings in history, culture and heritage of the places where we lived in our childhood days. Thank you, Appa!


tilotamma said...

Revathi - have you done all of this?

I was in C'baram close to noon when they had some special puja and couldn't wait to get out the place.

But all of this sounds like fun.

Revathi R said...

Hi Tilo

Thanks for dropping in at my blog space!

I have done all this in three different trips to Chennai. If one plans well - on the road as well as at the place, there is a lot you can do.

If you travel from Chennai, on the way to Chidambaram or back you can visit other places. just with a small diversion of route. Please read

Also closeby are Vriddhachalam, Mylam - the way to the hill where there is a temple for Lord Muruga is just a smooth stone way, polished by the pilgrims' walk!

Travel and sight seeing is just fun. especially in Tamilnadu. Wish someone made small packages for every wek end.

And if you are travelling through ECR, check out for what Suhas has seen there!

tilotamma said...

Actually I have done this trip after a fashion before but I need to do it again. (Hindu web site - South India) said... this web site has lot of information about Lord sri Palaniandavar, palanitempleas,about siddhas, siddhi, hindu information, siddhas photo gallery, online pooja in palanitemple. please visit this site and get Lord Muruga's arul (bless) and Lord Muruga's Prasadham in online.

nAradA said...

A correction on your reference to kAraikkAl ammaiyAr. You mentioned she is the only one woman saint among the 63 nAyanmArs. Not so! She is one of the three women among the 63, The other two are mangaiyarkkarasiyAr (the queen of PANDiya king ninRasIr neDumARAn) and isaignAniyAr (mother os SundaramUrthi nAyanAr).

muthukumaran said...

Hello,i stumbledinto this blog .surpringly it had news about chidambaram-my native place.Enjoyed the post.Thank you.Much more can be said about every place you mentioned.Lot of history and heritage is linked to all these places.Regards,Bala.Muthukumaran

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