Recently Pilliyarpatti temple got its Raja gopuram refurbished and the consecration happened in May 2017. We planned a trip to the womb entrepreneurs’ in Tamil Nadu – Karaikudi. Solid 6 hr travel from Coimbatore to Karakudi via Natham, the shoddy roads disrupted our pleasant travel. In the nick of time, we entered the temple for the last pooja by 12:30 in the noon.
Pilliyarpatti bears one of the oldest Karpaga Vinayaga Shrines, Lord Ganesha seated in his Padmasana whose trunk is curved at the right side (Valampuri Vinayagar), holds a Lingam in his right hand which delineates the OM mantra; unlike the usual Ganesha, Karpaga Vinayaga has only two hands. There are only two Karpaga Vinayaga Shrines in the word, one in India – Karakudi and the other in Afghanistan (place unknow). Karpaga Vinayagar is the prosperity bestower and wish fulfiller of his adherent devotees. The temple was built by the Pandya kings in the 4th century, Lord Vingaya was carved out of the Pillyar patti hill.
Valapuri Vinayagar is 6 feet idol which was carved inside a cave was excavated from the pilliyar patti hill and placed inside the temple, also the Thiruveesar is cave carved deity dated 2000 years back. The sign on the stone carvings indicates the name of the sculpture Thiru Ekkattur Koon Peruparanan. The 15 inscriptions inside the temple helped the archaeologist to estimate the temple’s age and the different stages in which it evolved.
Trilingas – Thiruveesar, Marudheesar, and Senchadeswara & the three goddesses Sivagami Amman, Vadamalar Mangaiamman and Soundara Nayaga Amman are present inside the sanctum. There is a sculpture of cow offering milk to Lord Pashupatheeshwara (Lord Shiva), it is also said that Lord Kubera sought his blessings in this temple.
It was almost 2 when we came out of the temple after the darshan. The sun was scorching, we hobbled our way back to the car barefooted. Anna Thanam(free food for devotees) was being served hot, my dad had the notion of having our lunch there. My Mother and I stood in the queue waiting for our turn to grab our parasatha plates, but the counter was closed as there was no more food left. So to vanquish our hunger we had to travel 15km to Karaikudi, there were only a few restaurants. Hotel Annapoorna looked small and congested with no parking facility, we dashed into the hotel to snatch a seat for ourselves. We did not want to risk by trying out the special menus, so we ordered south Indian meals. Karikudi famous for the Chetinadu style dishes, I must say that I had never tasted such finely cooked Chetinadu delicacy ever before in my life. The rice was severed steaming hot, as the server poured Sambar the fresh savour plunged into my lungs. The piquant puli kolambu, finely cooked vegetable curries and how can i forget the mouthwatering managa jaggery pachadi. The cook had chosen well-boiled semi ripped mangoes, jaggery, neem leaves, tamarind, salt and chilies to prepare the manga pachidi, the traditional Chettinad style that savours all the six flavours (aru suvai – Sweet, Sour, Astringent, Pungent (Spicy), Salt and Bitter).
The hefty lunch made me feel like as if I was drugged with alcohol, my body was not adhering my commands. We took a small nap and then geared up to check out some old palace houses in Karikudi. My dad was elaborating about the Chettiyar community in Karaikudi, their maneuvering business skills and how they imported Burma teak without the help of cargo. We all know that many Tamilians were working in Burma(Myanmar) pre – Independence, they sourced the teak wood from the Burma forest and dropped it in the sea studying the sea current. With no cargo facilities, the tides would bring ashore the logs from Burma to the Coromandel coast. The logs will have the Initials of the receiver, the respective families would collect the log waiting on the shore. Even the smallest house in Karikudi will have at least one fine Burma teak furbishing their home.
We were informed that Kandukathan palace does not allow visitors inside, we could only take pictures of the palace from outside. Thus we did not want to squander our time, we headed straight to Athangudi place. We paid 50rs for the ticket and entered the palace.
As you enter the ostentatious arch you get the full view of the mansion. A long veranda with wooden pillars and a minutely carved wooden door paves a way to the hall. The chess box designed floor, wooden Kucha pillars and the elaborate Chettinadu style high ceiling will leave the visitors dumbfounded. Karaikudi being a torrid place, Chettiyars designed their adobes with high ceiling and high daylight windows for aerating their homes. As the sunlight enters the hall, the mirrors reflect and illuminate the room; bi-folded wooden windows gives a quaint look to the place.
Passing on the hall one enters a small courtyard, either side there are dormitories for the everyone in the household, paintings depicting stories about their clan on every room’s arch is a novel figment of their imagination. Traditional Athangudi floral tiles adorn the ceiling and the floors, the family is also into manufacturing Chettinad tiles under the banner ” Athangudi Tiles”, they have their workshop on the way to this palace. Two large halls for dining and other celebrations are present on either side of the mansion, the kitchen is not connected to the house it is located in the backyard. The site next to the mansion is free for parking their cars and fancy bullock carts.
The housekeeper told that the family gathers in this mansion at least once a year for their family celebrations, he hinted that they own a bank(don’t which one).
We had no clue about this temple until my dad’s friend insisted us not to miss out Thirukoshtiyur, as this was the place Saint Ramanujar promulgated the OM Namo Narayana Mantra to the world.
It is said that this is the place where Thirumoorthy – the Brama, Vishnu, and Shiva planned to annihilate the demon Hiranyakashipu.
No one knows the age of this temple, it believed that Vishwakarma and Mayan built the temple in Satya Yuga and was renovated by Pururava Chakravarthy (the king of Kasi), few additions to the temple were made by the Pandiyas, Nayaks and the Nagarathars. The temple is constructed in three stages representing Boologam (earth), Thiruparkadal and Vaikundham. After passing the Shivan Sanathi and Alwar sanathi we proceed through the main door, Krishna stands in dancing posture accompanied by Rukmanidevi, Krishna’s right leg is lifted up and he poses an ambhinayam in his left hand. Since there was some construction work going on we missed dancing Krishna and moved to the next level.
On the first floor, Uragamellanaiyan is resting on Adhiseshan facing east, Sridevi and Bhoodevi are also present near his feet. The presiding deity, Sri Sowmya Perumal who was worshipped by Indra and Kadhma maharishi, stands in the dhana position with his right hand receiving dhanam from Pururava Chakravarthy. Other deities Indra, Kadhma maharishi, Madhu Kaibadar, Purvasu Chakravarthi, Brahma, Gayathri, Savithri Suryan, Chandran Garudan and Naradhar are present in the sanctum.
The story goes this way when Pururava Chakravarthy conducted a yagna to give dhanam (gift)to 1008 bramins, he fell short of one bramin after proving dhanam for 1007 bramins. He prayed to Perumal(Vishnu) for one more bramin to full fill his yagna, yielding to his prayers Perumal himself disguised as bramin received the dhanam. Thus Sowmya Perumal stands in the dhana position.
In the next floor, Upendra Narayana is in his standing position along with Sridevi and Bhoodevi, one can find herbal and vegetable paintings on the walls. The staircase to this level is very steep, old age people must be careful while climbing the stairs.
Heading to the last floor, Sri Bhoo Devi Sametha Para Vasudevar is seated alongside his consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi. There seemed some maintenance working going on the last floor so Para vasudevar was missing in his adobe.
Comming out of the vimana, on can get the full few of the Agraharam (Bramin’s colony)outside. There is also the spot where Saint Ramanujar propagated the Om Namo Narayana mantra form this temple Vimana ( tallest structure of the temple) to the world. There is an idol of him that faces his guru’s house Thirukoshtiyur Nambigal.
When Ramanujar visited Thrikostiyur to learn the Thriumanthiram (slogan/ mantra) from Thirukoshtiyur Nambigal. He was rejected by Nambi 17 times, every time Nambi was asked who was he and Ramanujar replied: ” I am Ramanujan come to see you”. The 18th time when Nambi asked who was he, Ramanujar rephrased and replied: ” Adiyen Ramanujan vanthulane”( I your student Ramanujan come to see you), impressed by his devotion Nambi taught Ramanujan the holy “Om Namo Narayana” mantra.
Learning the mantra Ramanujan ran to the temple top and screamed it to the world, this provoked Nambi. Nambi scolded Ramanujar for letting out the mantra, to which Ramanujar replied if we want to make the world better then let everyone know the path of righteousness, embraced by Ramanujar’s modern thoughts Nambi named him Empreumaner.
There is an idol of Narashima avatar tearing Hiranyakashipu in the same floor. Below the Vimana on the southern side, there is Thayar Thrimumangal Sanathi.
After the darshan, we came out of the temple to see a house which once belonged to Thirukoshtiyur Nambigal.
It was almost 5.30 PM when we started back home, the rain was pouring as we crossed Natham. We halted for some time and bought a big Jackfruit from the local vegetable vendor, as the rain subdued we drove back home safe.