Sunday, June 21, 2015

Twelve 'Sivalaya Ottam' temples of Kanyakumari District

There are twelve ancient and well famous  Shiva Temples in and around Kalkulam, the erstwhile Capital of Venad.These are situated in Kanyakumari District at present and traditionally a ritual which is known as 'Shivalaya Ottam' is performed here annually on Shivarathri Festival Day.
Shivarathri is one of the holy Hindu festival which is celebrated in the month of February (Malayalam month Kumbham) and on this day devotees performs a marathon run to all these twelve temples covering a distance of about 100 km within 24 hours.This ritual is known as 'Sivalaya Ottam'.
Large number of male devotees participates in this ritual after taking 'Vrat' for seven days.The twelve temples associated with this ritual are:-
Thirumalai
Thirukurichi
Thirupparappu
Thirunandikkarai
Ponmanai
Pannipakam
Kalkulam
Melangodu
Thiruvithaikodu
Thiruvithancodu
Thirupannikodu
Thirunattalam

The devotees have to visit and worship  the temples according to this order which is followed traditionally.They are supposed to walk or run and has to reach the final abode at  'Thiru Nattalam' within 24 hours.
The devotees start from 'Thirumalai' Mahadevar temple.  After taking bath they wear saffron colored clothes, apply sacred ash on their forehead,chest,hands and worship at Thirumalai temple.Then they run to Thirukurichi temple, worship there and proceed to the third temple 'Thirupparappu'.Thus they have to finish worshiping in all these 12 temples with in next day morning.The devotees are supposed to walk or run only but now a days some of them use motor vehicles.
The legend says that the idols of all these temples are 'Swaymbhoo' which are self manifested and these were established as per the wish of Lord Srikrishna and the second of the Pandavas 'Bhima' established them as per Lord Srikrishna's wish.Krishna wanted to convey the fact that Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are one and the same or they are two forms as  the manifestations of the same supreme God.
There are variations in the legend but basically it is evident that Bhimasena established these 12 temples.A firm devotee of Lord Shiva 'Vyaghra Padar'  performed the initial pooja  ritual in all these temples.
Pandavas performed a big 'Ashwamedha Yagna' for which a great devotee of Lord Shiva 'Vyaghrapadar Maharshi' was also intended to invite and Sri Krishna sent Bhima for inviting him.Bhima was told to chant 'Govinda...Gopala' while approaching him and Bhima obeyed as told to him.Bhima was given 12 'Rudraksha' beads by Lord Krishna  when he set out to meet Vyaghrapadar and suggested that if the Maharshi who was a strong and  mighty person gets angry,Bhima should  run and throw a rudraksha bead backwards.Bhima reached the forest where he was meditating chanting 'Govinda..Gopala'.
 The Maharshi got angry by hearing the names of 'Vishnu' and chased Bhima in a fury.
Bhima threw a rudraksha bead backwards which turned to be a 'Shivlinga' and the Vyaghrapadar, a firm  devotee of Lord Shiva worshiped that Shivlinga idol  and again chased Bhima.This  was repeated until all the 12 beads finished and at Thiru Nattalam the idol  of 'Shankara Narayana' changed  the Maharshi's aversion to Lord Vishnu and he  realized that 'Hari'(Lord Vishnu) and 'Haran'(Lord Shiva) are the two forms of one and the same God.The pride of Bhima that he was very strong also melted away.
The devotees participating in this ritual covers all the distance chanting 'Govinda.....Gopala' all the way.They chant Lord Vishnu (Krishna) prayers and visits Shiva temples.
Devotees of Kanyakumari,Trivandrum and Kollam Districts participates largely in this annual ritual.
Please read variation of the legend and more details in another  article 'Sivalaya Ottam'.Please click the link below.

Link :-  Sivalaya Ottam 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Kanyakumari District Tourist Spots-3

Bawa Kassim Valiyullah Masjid,Elankadai


This is one of the famous Mosques of Kanyakumari District also known as 'Bawa Kassim Appa Masjid' and is very beautiful.

Thiruvithamcode Arappally or Thomaiyar Kovil

This Church  also known as Royal Church  was established by St.Thomas Apostle in AD 57 and is situated in the beautiful serene place Thiruvithamcode.It  was named by the then Chera King 'Udayan Cheral'.It is now declared as an International St.Thomas
Pilgrim Center.It is one of the oldest Church structures existing in the World.











Marutwa Mala

The massive hill four kilometres away  from Kanyakumari is a beautiful sight which stretches for about 3 km.The legend is  that it was broken off from the Himalayan mountain part which Lord Hanuman brought to Sri Lanka during 'Rama-Ravana' war.Hanuman was told to bring a bunch of  'Mritha Sanjeevani' herb which grew on a particular mountain of the Himalayan mountain range but he could not distinguish the herb which was a life saver and  could even give life to the dead. Since Lord Hanuman could not distinguish the medicinal herb and  it was an emergency and urgently had to give treatment for Lakshman who was the  brother of Srirama  he took  the whole hill in his palm assuming his mighty form.On the way a part of it fell near Kanyakumari which is now known as  'Marutwamala'.The hill has large species of medicinal herbs but the life saving 'Mrithasanjeevani' can not be found.
On the top part of this vast hill a cave is existing which served as the meditation spot for 'Sree Narayana Guru' a great Saint and Spiritual reformer of Kerala.He got  enlightenment by performing 'thapas'(meditation-penance) in this cave.

Velimalai Hill


A very beautiful Hill near Nagercoil.

Kalikesam

A beautiful serene  place which has a small waterfall and several small rivers as well as canals inside the forest area 27 km from Nagercoil.The place is dangerous since wild animals may come to drink water.Entering the water for bathing may be also dangerous.Can be reached by taxis and private vehicles and accommodation available only at Nagercoil and Kanyakumari.


Panchapathi

Five primary sacred places of 'Ayyavazhy'.Swamithoppu Pathy is the Headquarters of 





Thovalai


Thovalai is a Village in Kanyakumari District which is famous for its flower cultivation.All  varieties of flowers are largely grown here especially jasmine and are transported to different parts of the country. Large quantities of fresh flowers are  exported to foreign countries also from Thovalai.There is a famous Lord Murugan Temple at Thovalai.




Vel Murugan Kuntram Temple


Vel Murugan Kuntram temple is situated 2 km from Kanyakumari Devi temple and situated on the top of a  hillock.This massive rock was known as Savari Kothalam Parai'.The ruins of a fort can be seen here.From the top of the hill Kanyakumari Devi temple and precincts can be seen.

Padmanabhapuram Palace


Padmanabhapuram was the Capital of erstwhile Travancore Kingdom and the Palace situated at Padmanabhapuram is a major tourist attraction.It is situated near Thuckalay at the feet of the Veli Hills.It is about 20 km from Nagercoil and about 50 km from Thiruvananthapuram.The magnificent Palace Complex  consists of different structures such as 'Mantrasala,Thaikottaram,Natakasala,Thekke Kottaram' etc.There is a four storeyed mansion at the centre of the complex.






Please read more about Padmanabhapuram Palace here:-http://sortingdiamondsandpearls.blogspot.in/2011/07/thiruvananthapuram-district-part-3.html


















Monday, June 8, 2015

Kanyakumari District Tourist Spots-2

Mandakkadu Bhagavathy Temple

Mandakkadu Bhagavathy temple  (Mandaicaud Bhagavathy Amman Temple) situated near Nagercoil and Colachel on the western coast of Kanyakumari District is a famous Hindu Shrine dedicated to Bhagavathi/Devi.This ancient temple is 23 km from Nagercoil,60 km from Thiruvananthapuram,and 4 km from Colachel.
An 'ant-hill' which is enshrined and protected is worshiped and considered as Devi.The anthill is 15 feet high and devotees consider that as Bhagavathy Amman.There is separate idol for the deities in the temple.
The festival of this temple is famous as 'Mandakkattu Koda' and for the festival devotees from all over Tamil Nadu and Kerala flock to the temple.
Large number of devotees especially from Tivandrum and Kollam district visit this temple round the year.Pongala during the festival is attended by large number of women and  participates for  preparing sweetened rice in earthen pots in  the areas surrounding the temple.While in almost all temples in India non vegetarian items are not allowed in the temple and premises, in this temple during pongala, meat can be prepared in the premises.
Childless couples eager to have a child of their own offer cradle in the temple as an offering in this respect.Handicapped people submit silver image of the affected part to be cured by the Devi.
Offerings are made by devotees in this temple to the deity to get relieved from several evil effects.
The temple timings are in the morning 5 to 12.30 and in the evening 6.30 to 8.30.
The nearest Railway Station is at Nagercoil and nearest Airport is at 
Thiruvananthapuram.

Kumara Kovil

Kumara Kovil near Nagercoil and Thuckalay is very ancient and a famous Subramanya Swamy Temple (Lord Murugan).It is situated 34 km from Kanyakumari, 15 km from Nagercoil and 5 km from Thuckalay.
The temple is situated on top of a beautiful hill known as 'Velimalai'.
Lord Muruga is having two consorts Devayani Devi and Valli Devi and  is dwelling here along with one of his consort Valli Devi whom he married from this place is the belief.
The 'procession idol' (Abhisheka Murthy) of this temple is taken on a silver horse,  and along with Devi Parvathy of Suchindram Temple ,Devi Saraswathi of Padmanabapuram on Caparisoned elephants in a procession to Thiruvananthapuram every year during Navarathri festival.Murugan Swamy ,Parvathy Devi and Saraswathi Devi stays at Thiruvananthapuram for nine days till Navarathri festivals are over.This practice was started when the Capital of Travancore was shifted from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram which is continued as a ritual even today.
There is enclosures made in the temple premises to house peacocks,cows and bulls for which the devotees give food.The devotees also feed the fish in the vast temple pond which are all believed will  propitiate the Lord.
Conduction of  marriage ceremony,giving solid food for the first time for babies(Choroonu/Kunjoonu),ear boring ceremony etc are considered auspicious to be done in this temple premises.
The offering includes providing food to the devotees and poor in the temple premises (Annadanam), head trouncing,Paalkudam,Kavady and many more.
Large number of devotees from Kerala also visits this temple regularly especially from Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam Districts.

Kollemkodu Devi Temple

This temple is also known as Kollengode Devi temple and Kollemkode Sree Bhadrakali Devaswom temple.
The temple is dedicated to Bhadrakali Devi and is  very ancient.
It is an important temple of Bhadrakali Devi in South India where the famous ritualistic celebration which is known as 'Thookkam' is held annually as part of the festival.The traditional 'Thookkam festival' is attended by large number of devotees and viewers.There are two Bhadrakali temples in the vicinity one dedicated to 'Bhadra' and other to 'Rudra'.
People from all parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala visit this temple largely.Meena Bharani Festival is celebrated in a large scale and Bharani Star day of every month is also celebrated.Bharani Star is considered as the birth star of the Devi.
'Kaaliyoottu' a ritual celebration is held once in 12 years.
Pongala festival is conducted on 'Pathamudayam' day which is in the Malayalam month of 'Medam' in which large number of women devotees participates and prepare sweetened rice in the precincts of the temple as an offering to the deity.

Thirupathisaram Temple

This temple is also known as 'Thiruvanparisaram Temple'. It is  also famous  as 'Thiru Vazh Marban Temple'  and  is one of the 'Divya Desam' temple.This temple dedicated to Lord Maha Vishnu is more than 2000 years old and is one of the 108 abodes of Lord Vishnu in India.
This temple is also praised by Nammalvar and other ancient Poet Saints.
Goddess Maha Lakshmi resides in the chest of the Lord is the concept and hence this temple is also called as 'Thiru Vazh Marban' temple.
The idol is made up of 'Kadu Sarkara Yogam' a mixture of several Ayurvedic herbals with some other precious materials etc and so 'Abhishekam' (ritualistic bath) is not done on the main idol but only on the idol used for procession.
The temple is situated 5 km North West of Nagercoil.

Nagercoil Nagarajah Temple

The Nagarajah temple situated in the heart of Nagrcoil Town is an ancient and well famous temple which is visited by large number of devotees.
This temple is also visited by large number of devotees from Kerala round the year.
For more details regarding this temple please click the Link below