July 16, 2017

The Historic Melpadi

Melpadi is a historically significant town. It is located at a distance of around 130 kms from Chennai and around 22 kms from Arcot in Tamil Nadu state of India. This article focuses on the Chola period temples of the town as well as its historical connection.

During the Chola period, the town was called as Rajasrayapuram (named after a surname of Raja Raja Chola I). In 959 CE, the Rashtrakuta King Krishna III encamped in this town (as per the Karhad plates). This town acted as a garrison to guard the Chola lands from the attack of the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas.

There are two Chola period temples found in this town, Somanatheswara temple and Choleswara temple. Somanatheswara temple is bigger in size and has many interesting architectural features. Cholesvara temple is a Pallipadai temple.

Somanatheswara Temple

Somanatheswara temple is the main attraction of Melpadi. It is a huge temple complex. As per the inscription found in this temple which belongs to the period of Raja Raja Chola I, the presiding deity was called as Cholendra Simhesvara in those days.

History

On the south wall of the sanctum, the inscription dated in the 14th year of the reign of Raja Raja Chola I is found. It talks about the conquest of Kudamali region and Pandyas. It also mentions about the Chola officer named Irayairavan Pallavayan, who served under Rajaraja.

It is assumed that this temple was built by Raja Raja Chola I in the 10th century CE.


Temple Layout

The temple has south facing entrance. The outer entrance does not have tower. The inner entrance has a three tiered tower, which is a later addition. The entire temple complex is surrounded by wide fortress walls.

The sanctum faces the east direction and it enshrines a big sized Shiv Linga, who is the presiding deity. He is named as Somanatheswara. The vimana is made of stone completely, which is a notable feature.

Two huge figures of Dwarapalas at the entrance of the sanctum are very attractive. The flagstaff, bali peetha and Nandi are found facing towards the direction of the sanctum, but they are separate by the wall from the sanctum. The Mukha Mandap has the beautiful vratta stambha (round pillars).

Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Vishnu Durga are found as the niche images. They all look very attractive for sure. However, they do not belong to the original Chola period. They appear to be later additions.

The Goddess Tapaskruta Devi is found in a separate south facing shrine located in the outer prakara. The shrine has an attractive vimana and a mukha mandap. This is  a later addition probably done by the Vijayanagaras.

The Chola period Kalyana Mandap as well as few other mandaps that are found in the temple have beautiful sculptures depicted on the pillars. There are few small sized attractive and interesting bas relief images on the outer wall of the temple.

The south eastern mandap has many sculptures that include Ganesha, Sapta Matrikas, Veerabhadra, Naga Yagnopavita Vinayaka, Kankalanatha, Gangadhara, Rishbhantika Murti, Bhairav, Surya, Chandra, Nagas and Ayyanar. Some of them belong to the Chola period and the others to the later period.

The southern outer wall in the second prakara has a small shrine of Ganesh.

Outside the temple complex, there is a  soldier's sculpture found. He holds spear and shield in his arms.

Cholesvara Temple

Cholesvara temple is located in the opposite direction of Somanatheswara temple. This is comparatively a small temple.

History

Three stone inscriptions dating the 29th year of the reign of Raja Raja Chola I and one inscription of the 9th year of the reign of Rajendra Chola I are found in this temple.

As per the inscriptions, the temple was originally called Arinjigai Ishwara or Arinjishwara.

This temple is a Pallipadai temple. Raja Raja built the Pallipadai temple of his own grand father, Arinjaya Chola. (We can assume that Shiv Linga was installed on memory of Arijaya Chola or built atop the samadhi of the Chola emperor.)

Temple Layout

I have heard and read about the niche images, dwarapalas and the other aspects of the temple. But, I could not get a chance to enter into the temple. ASI or God only knows when the temple is opened. I could see only the outer wall and the beautiful stone vimana.

Happy travelling.




















July 15, 2017

Ved Vyasa Temple of Chennai

You could find the temples of Ved Vyasa in Uttar Pradesh state of India. But in Tamil Nadu, that too in Chennai, there is a temple for Ved Vyasa. Do you know about this rare temple?

In Sembakkam area near Tambaram, Ved Vyasa Tapovanam is located. It was constructed in 1998 CE. Located in a peaceful locality, the Tapovanam has a big meditation hall and altar for performing homam.

The sanctum enshrines Maharishi Ved Vyasa. This is perhaps the only temple of Vyasa in Chennai. The outer walls of the sanctum have the attractive stucco images of all the four Vedas. The personified forms of Vedas have the animal faces. They are all found with their respective consorts.

Happy travelling.






July 14, 2017

Sembakkam Jambulingeshwara Temple

Not many of you from Chennai would have heard about this temple. It is Jambulingeshwara Temple located in Kamarajapuram of Sembakkam area near Tambaram (in the southern outskirts of Chennai city) in South India.

Although I could not gather much information about the history of the temple, I think the temple must be few hundred years old. It is located in a calm and peaceful environment. A huge tank in front of the temple is supposed to enhance the beauty of this location; unfortunately, the tank does not have water.

The temple does not have a tower. But, it is being constructed currently (2017 CE). It would face the north direction.

The east facing sanctum enshrines Jambulingeshwara Linga.

In Maha Mandap, there is a separate south facing shrine for the Goddess Akhilandeshwari.

Bali peetha and Nandi are found facing towards the sanctum. There is no flag staff.

Similar to the temples of Thanjavur and Trichy regions, there is Nandi found in front of the Goddess too. Generally, in the Chennai temples, only lion would be found as the vaahan and not Nandi. It is an unusual feature of this temple.

The spacious prakara has the sub-shrines of Maha Ganapati, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena, Ayyappan, Shaneeswara and Navagraha.

Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found as the niche images. Chandikeshwara is found in his usual location.

In Ardha Mandap, the utsav murtis of Nataraja and Sivakami are located. Another unique feature of the temple is the bronze idol of Kanchi Paramacharya, which is found in the shrine of Akhilandeshwari.

Happy travelling.









Gowrivakkam Panchamukha Anjaneya Temple

Gowrivakkam is a small locality near Tambaram in the outskirts of Chennai city in South India. This article focuses about Panchamukha Anjaneya Temple in this area.

The east facing temple has a small tower. It was built in the 1990s. Panchamukha Anjaneya is the presiding deity of the temple.

The five headed Hanuman has the faces of Hanuman, Garud, Hayagreeva, Varaha and Narasimha. Usually, the faces depicting Narasimha and Hayagreeva would face top and back side. However, in this temple the idol is sculpted such that all the five faces face towards the front side in a single row. This is not very usual. Hanuman has ten arms and he carries varieties of weapons in his arms.

The utsav idol of Panchamukha Hanuman is also found in the sanctum.

A tiny sub-shrine of Chakrathalvar and Ram-Sita-Lakshman are found in this temple.

There is another section of the temple where a shrine of Vara Siddhi Vinayaka is located. The utsav murtis of Subramanya-Valli-Devasena are also found in a separate sub-shrine.

Happy travelling.





July 13, 2017

Thazhuva Kuzhaindeeswarar Temple - Padappai


Padappai is a small developing town located near Tambaram in the southern outskirts of Chennai city in South India. Padappai is classified into two parts, Keezh Padappai and Mel Padappai. In Mel Padappai, an ancient temple for Lord Shiva, called as Thazhuva Kuzhaindeeswarar is located. Let me discuss about this temple in this article.

Legend

As per the legend, the Goddess Parvati was born as human due to a curse. She did severe penance towards Shiva in Mangadu village. As per the direction from Shiva, she moved towards Kanchipuram. On her way to Kanchipuram, she had visited this site and installed a Shiv Linga. As the idol was about to be washed away in water once, she embraced the Linga tightly. Hence, Shiva is called as Thazhuva Kuzhaindeeswarar, which refers to embracing in Tamil language.

Some stories that are told about the other Shiva temple, Veeratteswarar, are told for this temple too. It is believed that Sambandhar has referred this temple in his hymn and hence it becomes a Devara Vaippu Sthalam. It is also believed that it is one of those 108 Shiva temples which was consecrated by Nandi Varma Pallava on the same day.

Temple Layout

The ancient temple is majorly renovated. The east facing temple has three tiered tower. The idols of Bala Ganapati and Bala Murugan are found at the entrance of the tower.

The east facing sanctum enshrines small Shiv Linga called as Thazhuva Kuzhaindeeswarar. In Ardha Mandap, the idol of Ganesha is found.

The Goddess Kamakshi is found in a separate south facing shrine. Her shrine has a separate small Mukha mandap.

The flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi Mandap are found facing towards the sanctum. The tower of Nandi Mandap has four interesting stucco images of Nandi in different postures.

The shrine of Ananda Nataraja and Sivakami (small metal idols) is located in Maha Mandap.

There is only one prakara. The sub-shrines of Ganesh, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena, Veerabhadra, Bhairav, Sharbeshwara, Shaneeswara and Navagraha are located in this prakara.

The idols of Surya and Chandra are found in the opposite direction of the sanctum.

There is a shrine of Paleeswarar (Linga) along with his consort. There is another small Linga and Nandi with the stucco idols of Shiva and Parvati behind.

The relief image of Shanmukha is found near the Sthala Vruksham, Mango.

Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found as the Koshta Murtis of the sanctum. Saraswati, Lakshmi and Vaishnavi are the Koshta Murtis of Kamakshi's shrine. Chandikeshwara is found in his usual location.

Happy travelling.


July 9, 2017

Veeratteswarar Temple

Padappai is a small developing town located near Tambaram in the southern outskirts of Chennai city in South India. Padappai is classified into two parts, Keezh Padappai and Mel Padappai. In Keezh Padappai, an ancient temple for Lord Shiva, called as Veeratteswarar is located. Let me discuss about this temple in this article.

The east facing temple enshrines Shiv Linga in an east facing sanctum. Goddess Shanta Nayaki is found in a separate south facing shrine. As the temple was getting renovated, when I visited, I could not provide further details about other deities in this temple.

It is believed that Sambandhar had mentioned about this temple in his hymn. Hence, it is a Devara Vaippu Sthalam.

As per the legend, Chandra was cursed by his father in law, Daksha. To get himself protected from the impact, Chandra installed many Shiv Lingas and prayed to Shiva. It is said that this Shiv Linga is one among them.

The eight sites, in which Lord Shiva destroyed the Asuras, are called as Ashtha Veeratta Sthalams. This temple enjoys the status of sub Veeratta Sthalam.

As per another legend, Nandi Varma Pallavan renovated and consecrated 108 Shiva temples on a single day. This temple is believed to be one among those temples.

Happy travelling.


Siri Cafe - Chikmagalur

When nature is depicted as a beautiful girl, grass becomes her garment, the colorful flowers become the border of her dress and the flower pots become her perfect necklace. The gigantic sculpture of the girl is found at the entrance of Siri Cafe, a restaurant located on the way from Chikmagalur to Mullayanagiri. It definitely catches everyone's eyes. Regardless of whether you or hungry/thirsty or not, you would decide to stop by and get into this restaurant just by seeing this attractive sculpture.

Happy travelling.




July 8, 2017

Rathnagiri Bore

Chikmagalur, the hidden gem of South India, has a lot of tourist attractions. Rathnagiri Bore a.k.a. Mahatma Gandhi Park is one of such star attractions of Chikmagalur.

This picnic place is located on the northern side of the town. This beautifully maintained garden is spread across many acres. The site has a small hillock surrounded by well laid out gardens, fountains, well designed pathways and green lawns. With the hills at the backdrop and full of ornamental plants and vibrant flowers, the place looks very scenic.

There are many attractions for the kids such as Rose Garden, Amphi Theatre, telescope view point (it hardly operates) and toy train.

This is a good place to spend a peaceful evening if you are at Chikmagalur.

Happy travelling.














July 7, 2017

Ayyanakere Lake

Is this the place where Aphrodite was born? Else, is this the place where Venus lives? Such a romantic place, a heavenly site in Karnataka state of India! Ayyanakere Lake - the second largest lake of Karnataka is that most beautiful and lovely site.

You swim, fish, laze around, romance, walk around, read, sing, dance, write or just simply sit and watch - whatever be your activity, you would definitely feel romantic if you perform the same on the banks of this giant sized lake.

Love, beauty, majestic, extraordinary, awesome and so on - if you think about adjectives for this incredibly superb place, you will be at loss. Words cannot describe the beauty of this place. You need to experience by visiting the site on your own. If you visit this place during the monsoon season, the happiness will double up.

This beautiful lake is located in the equally beautiful Chikmagalur region. What makes this site so romantic? The conical shaped peak at the backdrop, the sunrise or the sunset, the ocean sized waterbody, giant shaped trees on the banks or the clouds that kiss the hills.

This lake is a historic site. It was created by a Chieftain of Sakrepatna, Rukmangada Raya by name. In the 12th century CE, the lake was renovated by the Hoysalas. The lake is a blessing for the farmers of the region as it maintains the fertility of thousands of acres of land.

A pleasant and picturesque place, which no tourist should miss.

Happy travelling.