December 24, 2011

Thirumalai Murugan Temple


Courtallam, the city of waterfalls, located in South India, is an important tourist spot. If you travel just 13 kms away from the highly crowded Courtallam, you would reach a quiet and calm place named Thirumalai in the Western Ghats. This small village is famous for its hilltop temple of Murugan.

Thirumalai Murugan temple, located at a height of 400 m in the Western Ghats can be reached by 600+ steep steps from the foothills. Before you start climbing the steps, you can find the huge idol of Vallabha Vinayak along with Siddhi. The shrine of Meenakshi-Sundareshwar along with Ganesh is also found at the foothills. You can find some small mandaps and shrines such as Murugan with Valli-Devasena, Naduvatta Vinayakar and Idumban between foothills and the top of the hills.

The main temple is located at the top of the hills at the backdrop of the Western Ghats and the breathtaking aerial view of the surrounding villages. The presiding deity Murugan is found with four arms in the standing posture. It is believed that the sage Agastya used to visit the deity daily.

The current structure of the temple appears to be at least 300-400 years old. There are some 18th century inscriptions found in the temple.

The sacred tree of the site is Tamarind tree. Lord Murugan is depicted by the Vel weapon. The idol of Valli and peacock are also found under the Tamarind tree. A small shrine for Lord Ganesh is also found in the area outside the main shrine.

At the entrance of the sanctum, there is a small idol of Lord Ganesha. The shrines of Meenakshi-Sundareshwar, Utsav Shanmukha and Utsav Murugan are also found near the sanctum.

The prakara (corridor) is full of small shrines and idols such as Kanni Vinayak, Shasta, Gajalakshmi, Chandikeswarar and Bhairav.

The tank is found outside the main shrine. One more shrine for Ganesha named as Tirupani Vinayakar is also found in the outer region.

Happy travelling.





Fast Facts:

Site Name: Thirumalai Murugan Temple
City Name: Thirumalai
Highlights:

An ancient temple located on top of a hill in Western Ghats
Location: 60 kms from Tirunelveli; 13 kms from Courtallam; Located in the Southern part of Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Tenkasi
Nearest Airport: Madurai (around 200 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Tirunelveli, Tenkasi,Courtallam or Madurai
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Courtallam and Tenkasi
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Courtallam and Tenkasi


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December 21, 2011

Ilanji Kumaran Temple

Courtallam is a small town located in the southern most part of India. The town is one of the important tourist spots in South India thanks to the nine waterfalls located within this town. Near Courtallam, there is a village named Ilanji full of fertile land. With the backdrop of hills and green fields, the ancient temple of Kumaran is located in this village. The temple is popularly called as Ilanji Kumaran Koil. Ilanji is located at a distance of 3 kms from Tenkasi and 5 kms from Courtallam.

Ilanji Kumaran Koil has been revered in Tirupugazh by the great saint Arunagirinathar. This temple is believed to have been visited by the saint Agastya. As per the mythology, he was sent to South India by Lord Shiva. Agastya visited this temple before visiting Courtallam temple. Although, this ancient temple is considered as Kumaran temple (Murugan aka Kumaran - the son of Lord Shiva) nowadays, it is originally the temple of Lord Shiva.

The current structure of the temple appears to have been renovated in the 15th century CE. The east facing temple has two entrances. There is no tower for this temple.

The east facing sanctum of the temple is dedicated to Iruvaluga Ishwar (Lord Shiva in the form of Shiv Linga). The entrance of the sanctum has two big and beautiful sculptures of Dwarapalas. There is also an idol of Lord Ganesha located near the sculptures of Dwarapalas.

The Goddess Iruvaluga Isarkkiniyal is found in a separate south facing shrine.
The entrance of the courtyard has the idols of Ganesh and Murugan.

The sub-shrines of Nataraj-Shivakami and the utsav murtis are located near the sanctum.

To the left of the sanctum of Iruvaluga Ishwar, there is shrine for Velavan. Lord Murugan is found with four arms and is seated on the peacock flanked by his consorts Valli and Devasena. The temple is nowadays named after him. He is also called as Tiruvilanji Kumaran.

The flag staff (dhwajastambha) and peacock idol are located facing the shrine of Velavan. Nandi idol is located facing the main shrine of Lord Shiva.

There is another important shrine in this temple. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the name of Varadaraja Perumal.

The temple has two prakaras (corridors). The inner prakara has the following idols/shrines:
1) Surya
2) 63 nayanmars
3) Sapta Matas
4) Jwaradeva
5) Kanni Vinayak shrine
6) Murugan-Valli-Devasena utsav idols
7) Venugopal with his consorts
8) Vishwanath-Vishalakshi along with Nandi and Ganesh
9) Kuttralanathar-Kulalvaimozhi along with Agastya
10) Ayyanar in a different shape
11) Sapta Kanni
12) Nagakanni
13) Vasuki, Lakshmi, Saraswati and two Ganesh idols
14) Shanmukha with his consorts in a separate shrine
15) Dakshinamurti on the niche
16) Shaneeswarar
17) Chandikeswarar
18) Bhairav
19) Shanmukha with his consorts as metal (procession) idols

The outer prakara has just one shrine for Shenbaga Vinayak.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Ilanji Kumaran Temple
City Name: Courtallam
Highlights:
An ancient temple located near Courtallam
Location: 55 kms from Tirunelveli; 3 kms from Tenkasi; Located in the Southern part of Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Tenkasi
Nearest Airport: Madurai (around 200 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Tirunelveli, Tenkasi,Courtallam or Madurai
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Courtallam and Tenkasi
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Courtallam and Tenkasi


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December 18, 2011

St. Mary's Basilica - Bangalore, India

St. Mary's Basilica is the oldest church of Bangalore city in Karnataka state of India. Also, this is the only church in the entire Karnataka  state which is elevated to the status of a minor basilica. The church attracts a large number of devotees from in and around Bangalore during the St. Mary's Feast in September every year.

History:
When the British captured Srirangapatna town from Tipu Sultan in 1799 CE, the French priest Fr. Abbe du Bois arrived at Bangalore and started restoring the Catholic religion. He built a small chapel in 1803 CE in the location where the basilica currently stands. IN 1813 CE, Fr. Abbe du Bois, with the help of the British, enhanced the chapel and named as 'The Church of Purification of Our Lady'. It was destroyed in 1832 CE during the communal violence. In 1882 CE, it was rebuilt by Rev. L. E. Kleiner.

Architecture:
The spacious church is built in Gothic style in the form of a cross. The magnificent tower of the church is 160 feet high. The statue of Mary holding the infant Jesus in front of the church is a main attraction of the site. There is another statue of mother Mary located outside the main church building. It is believed that some miscreants destroyed the entire church in 1832 CE; however, when they tried to destroy this statue they couldn't do that; they lost their sight.


The interior of the church is artistically beautiful and is built in a typical Gothic style. The church also has few statues such as Jesus Christ's father, few apostles of Jesus and Mary holding the falling Jesus.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: St. Mary's Basilica
Site Type: Catholic Church
Location:  Bangalore city, Karnataka state, India
Highlights: One of the popular tourist sites in Bangalore; the oldest church in Bangalore
Nearest Railway Station: Bangalore
Nearest Airport: Bangalore
How to reach: Train, road and air
Hotel: A lot of options ranging from star hotels to budget hotels
Restaurants: A lot of restaurants - vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian, all over the city

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November 19, 2011

Bangalore Shiva Temple

One of the latest tourist attractions of Bangalore city, the IT hub of India, is Shiva temple in Old Airport Road. This temple is located on the backside of Total Mall aka Kemp Fort Shopping Complex.


The temple is open for all 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. Unlike the other South Indian temples, it does not have a tower. The highlight of the temple is the huge idol of Lord Shiva located inside the temple. The temple is a commercialized private temple. You can enter the temple only through the passage where the shops are located on either sides. After entering the temple, you can find a big list of specialized poojas and other rituals and everything has a price tag. The temple authorities claim that the money goes to some charities.

Near the entrance, there is a big idol of Lord Ganesha. After that there is a shrine named Jyotirlinga  for which you need to pay additional fees to enter. This shrine is a big and lengthy shrine where you can find the representation of all 12 Jyotirlingas. Similarly, there is another shrine named 'Char Dham' for which you need to pay additionally. This shrine has the artificial caves and idols representing Hardwar, Rishikesh, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. There is also an artificial cave and snow Shiv Linga representing Amarnath.

The centre of attraction of the temple is 65 feet tall Shiva idol. He is found seated in yogic posture. The artificial mountains are seen on his back side. An artificial pond is located in front of him. The other side of pond has the idol of Nandi facing him. It is designed in such a way that water (representing the river Ganga) keeps flowing out of his head.

Near the pond, the idols of Shiva, Parvati and Ganesh are found. There is a separate shrine where Navagrahas (nine planets) are found along with their respective consorts.

If you are a pure devotee, I would not suggest you to visit this temple. If you are a mere traveller, who would love visiting various sites, you should not ignore this place.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Bangalore Shiva Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Bangalore city, Karnataka state, India
Highlights: One of the popular tourist sites in Bangalore; 65 feet high Shiva idol
Nearest Railway Station: Bangalore
Nearest Airport: Bangalore
How to reach: Train, road and air
Hotel: A lot of options ranging from star hotels to budget hotels
Restaurants: A lot of restaurants - vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian, all over the city

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