1. Nuburagangai & Palamudhirsolai
  2 Thirumalai Nayak Mahal
  3. Gandhi Museum
  4. Meenakshi Sundareswarar
  5 Thiruparankundram temple
  6  Mariamman Teppakulam

DESTINATION 1: Nuburagangai & Palamudhirsolai:

Driver stopped near foot of the hill and, told us he will charge extra to drive over hills(Its around 6kms from base to temple). we were astonised as we had booked, for full day to take all temples in Madurai. Ramesh convinced him, saying you  cannot be charging extra for climbing hills and everything is included in 3k.. However he was cribbing,that it is extra, you have to come in 10mins and all.. I got pissed off, Ramesh asked me to ignore him, and we  went to Nuburagangai first, which is on top most part of hill..

Steps leading to  Nuburagangai

Nuburagangai is a natural spring where pilgrims take bath..The legend has it that 'Suthapas' Maharishi had a very peculiar gift. He could stay under water forever, without coming up, for air.  Daily, he would go into the Silambar, immerse himself in the cold flowing waters and so that he could offer prayers to the Lord without disturbance. This became a daily ritual,on one such occasion, when Suthapas was deep under the waters, Durvasa came along. Knowing through his Gnana Drishti, Durvasa waited for Suthapas to come out. Suthapas, on the other hand was so immersed in his prayers that he hardly acknowledged the presence of Durvasa, and did not come out. Durvasa cursed “Oh Suthapas, when you remain under the water for so long, you are no longer fit to be a human. May you turn into a frog .” prepared to leave. Suthapas Maharishi realising the gravity of the situation, jumped out of the river and fell at his feet, begging for forgiveness. Durvasa, then said, Pray to Lord vishnu to reedeem the curse and you will regain your human form.Suthapas Maharishi, with his new amphibian body, swam through the Silambar to the holy city of Madurai. There by the banks of the sacred Vaigai, he engaged himself in constant prayer to Narayana..Finally the Lord Kallazhagar(Vishnu) comes from his abode from Alagar Hill to redeem Mandooga Maharishi of his curse..

Holy spring, where devotees are allowed to sprinkle water..

From the very peak of Azhagar Malai flows out the Noopura Ganga. The source of the spring is yet undetected, and it wells out from the sanctum of Rakkayi Amman and rushes down with all its purifying power. Rakkayi Amman is the protector of all the Theerthas in the place and is supposed to be the daughter of Angirasa munivar. Thousands believe that a dip in this Noopura Ganga is as holy as the one taken at the Triveni Sangamam in Prayaga.

Lord Azhagar

All the abhishekas and bathing ceremonies performed to Azhagar are done with the holy waters from the river. Temple sources report that if any other water is used, the Bronze statue will blacken instantly.  We  climbed the steps, had darshan of Azhagar, here water from spring was continously flowing on the idol, backside of this sanctum devotees are allowed to get a dip from the spring, we also sprinkled holy water from this spring, and  climbed down the steps..

Water continously flowing on Azhagar

Palamudhirsolai:(One of Arupadaiveedu)
We then went to Palamudhirsolai,one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya which is on the same hill, down the Nuburagangai. There is a famous legend associated with the temple. It is said that Awaiyar, a famous Tamil poet and a Muruga devotee, came here, she became tired while travelling, and sat  under the shadow of a fruit tree and was very hungry and thirsty. At that time, a small
boy who was sitting on the tree asked her whether she wants fruits to eat from the tree. She replied yes. Then, the boy asked Avvaiyar whether she wanted roasted fruits or unroasted fruits.Avvaiyar thought, "Is there any roasted fruit in the world?" then she asked him to give roasted fruits. The boy shook the tree and fruits fell under the tree. The fruits are stuck with the mud as soon as they fell down. To remove the mud, Avvaiyar took the fruits and blew on the fruit. It looked like as though  fruits were roasted and had become warm, and Avvaiyar had blown the fruits to cool them. The small boy asked Avvaiyar whether the fruits are warm that your blowing it to cool down.. Avvaiyar was amazed by the whole thing and thought "How did a small village cow boy played such an intelligent drama?A beautiful comparison between blowing the air on the fruit to remove the mud is like blowing air to reduce the heat as the fruit is roasted. Such a beautiful comparison would not have risen in her mind even though she had gained rich knowledge in Tamil." She asked the small boy, "Who are you?"Then the small boy disappeared and  Lord Muruga appeared. This incident is believed to have taken place in Palamudhirsolai..

Palamudhirsolai temple

Palamudhirsolai temple is middle of beautiful hills, surronded by green lush. It was drizzling, when we got down. We immediately entered the temple which inhouses a beautiful idol of Lord Subramanya...We had darshan and headed to next place...

Palamudhirsolai temple  amidst beautiful hills

Azhagar koil:
Next place on my list was Azhagar koil. But driver confused me saying its only Murgan koil and Nuburagangai in this hill. He dint even stop the car to let me ask localites. Once i was back, i searched for this, and  learnt Alagar Hill inhouses 3 temples.. Nuburagangai:the holy spring, Palamudhirsolai:Murgan koil and Azhagar:Vishnu koil..I cursed him for  making us miss visiting  Azhagar, Vishnu koil which is among 108 divya desams temple.. Ramesh pacified that, he will again take me to Madurai sometimes..Only then did i felt better...

DESTINATION 2 Thirumalai Nayak Mahal: 

It was around 12:30pm, and i suggested we first go to Thirumalai Nayak Mahal and Gandhi museum, then go to  Meenakshi & Thiruparankundram temple. But Driver  insisted we will be first  getting  Thiruparankundram temple on the way, so will visit this first..

Dancing hall of  Palace..
By the time we reached temple it was 1:00pm and temple was closed, was told it would open around 4:00pm..I insisted we come back again in evening (was not ready to miss  this temple also). I told Ramesh we will first have lunch then visit Thirumalai Nayak Palace & Gandhi Museum, by then all temples will be open.. Accordingly had lunch and headed towards Thirumalai Nayak Palace.

Beautiful pillars

Thirumalai Nayak Palace is a 17th-century palace built in 1636 AD by King Thirumalai Nayak, a king of Madurai,who ruled Madurai during 1623–59. As per the Inscription near temple, the building, which can be seen today, was the main Palace where the king lived. The original Palace was said to be four times bigger than the present structure.(Present structure is renovated after ruins).

Today it is converted to dance/music hall

In its heyday, Tirumalai Nayak Palace at Madurai was considered to be one of the wonders of the South.After independence, the Thirumalai Palace was declared as a national monument and is now under the protection of the Tamil Nadu Archaeological Department. Palace is now converted into Music/Dance performance hall.

Dravidian and Islamic style Architecture

We can also find display of various idols from different temples. This palace is open for the visitors from 9am to 5pm. We took a stroll around the palace, it has amazing  pillars and wonderful architecture. Architecture is a mixture of Dravidian and Islamic style. We then left to  Gandhi museum.

Back side of the palace with idols

DESTINATION 3 Gandhi Museum:

The palace of Rani Mangammal has been renovated and converted into the Gandhi Memorial Museum, established in 1959. This museum was inaugurated by the former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru  on 15 April 1959.This museum is  one  among five Gandhi Sanghralayas (Gandhi Museums) in the country. It includes a part of the blood-stained garment worn by Gandhi when he was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. It has a Photo gallery showcasing the biography of Mahatma Gandhi through photos, sculptures, paintings, quotations, manuscripts and other articles.

Entrance of Gandhi museum

DESTINATION 4 Meenakshi Sundareswarar:

We then headed to Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple...According to Hindu legend, in order to answer the prayers of the second Pandya king Malayadwaja Pandya and his wife Kanchanamalai, Goddess Parvati appeared out of the Holy Fire of the Putra Kameshti Yagna(sacrifice for childhood) performed by the king. This girl, who came out of the holy fire had three breasts. A voice from the heavens told the king not to worry and added that the third breast would vanish soon the girl meets her future husband. The happy king named the girl as Tadaatagai and being the heir to the throne, Tadaatagai was trained carefully in all the 64 sastras(fields of science). As the time came when Tadaatagai was to be coronated, she had to wage war on the three worlds across eight directions. After conquering Sathyaloka(Brahma's Abode), Vaikunta( Vishnu's Abode) and Amaravati(the abode of the Devas), she advanced to Kailasha(Shiva's Abode).She very easily defeated the bhoota ganas(Shiva's army) and Nandi(the celestial bull of Shiva) and headed to attack and conquer Shiva. The moment she looked at Shiva, she was unable to fight and bowed her head down due to shyness; the third breast vanished immediately. Tadaatagai realized that Shiva was her destined husband. She also realized that she was the incarnation of Goddess Parvati. Both Shiva and Tadaathagai returned to Madurai and the king arranged the coronation ceremony of his daughter, followed by her marriage with Shiva.The marriage was supposed to be the biggest event on earth, with the whole earth gathering near Madurai. Vishnu, the brother of Meenakshi, prepared to travel from his holy abode at Vaikuntam to preside over the marriage . Due to a divine play, he was tricked by Indra  and delayed on the way. The marriage was presided over by a local god from Thirupparankundram Pavalaakanivaai Perumal, (incarnation of Vishnu). After the marriage, the pair ruled over Madurai for a long time and then assumed divine forms as Sundareswarar and Meenakshi who are presiding deities of the temple.

Meenakshi temple was originally built by Kulasekarer Pandya. But the credit for the present look of the temple goes to the Nayakas, who ruled Madurai from 16th to 18th century.Meenakshi sundareshwara temple is said to inhouse 33,000 statues on the towers and inside the temple, and is famous for architectural and sculptural magnificence.

 No wonder it was listed in, 30 nominees of the "New Seven Wonders of the World".The complex houses 14 gopurams ranging from 45-50m in height, the tallest being the southern tower, 51.9 metres (170 ft) high and two golden sculptured vimana (shrine) over sanctum of the main deities.Prominent things in Meenakshi temple are  Meenakshi , Sundareshwaa and Mukkurini Pillaiyar (Ganesha).


.The base of the Kadamba tree under which Indra worshipped Shiva linga (in the corridor outside the main shrine.)And the idol of Nataraja who is covered with silver leaves. Hence the hall is named as Velli Ambalam (Silver Hall) can also be noted.


DESTINATION 5  Thiruparankundram temple:
One of Arupadaiveedu

After  visiting  Meenakshi temple, Ramesh instructed driver to  go back to Thiruparankundram temple.(Which we had missed morning)..Driver again made a issue,and told us, he cant take again. Then somehow Ramesh managed to convince him, as it was his mistake to take  to that Temple during lunch time, though i had instructed to finish Thirumalai Nayak Mahal,Gandhi Museum and Lunch during 1:00 to 4:00pm while all temples are closed..

Atlast with irritations from  the Driver, we reached  Thiruparankundram temple  around 5:30pm. This is a very big temple. As soon as we enter temple we saw colourful carvings of Horse and Mythical animals on each pillars at the entrance of the temple.

We  walked further and noticed Durga Idol. People were throwing Venne undai(Butter balls) on the Durga idol. When i asked person there they told its for good, however i did not get correct reason of why this is done.

.We walked further reaching a big mantapam, with various carvings and idol..Crossing that mantapam, we reached a huge door. Once you pass through the door you will find actual temple Mantapam. Lord Murgan is the main deity here..

Legend of this temple is, Lord Muruga at the end of Soorasamharam stayed here, along with his soldiers. As a gift for victory, Lord Indira married his daughter Deivanai to Muruga. To commemorate this event, Lord Muruga is worshipped as the presiding deity of this temple.Poet Nakkirar has composed a  poem about this Temple and  is called Thirumurugatrupadai. Thiruparankundram is a rock-cut hill temple dedicated to the Lord Subramanya Swamy. It is referred as the "Southern Himalaya" in various classical Tamil texts, where the gods assemble. Some Legends mentioned Thiruparankundram as the place where the sun and moon abide.

DESTINATION 6  Mariamman Teppakulam:

Last place on my list was Mariamman Teppakulam. The mandapam in the centre has an idol of Vigneshwara (Vinayaka). I was wondering as i expected Amman Temple, as it is called Mariamman Teppakulam, and when i asked  purohit he told, vinayaka idol was found when the earth was being dug out from here to build the Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal. So, the place attained sanctity and was converted into a teppakulam (tank).This is where the annual float festival (Theppotsavam in Tamil) takes place.

We reached back Madurai around 8:00pm. Driver started making a fuss that we extended in some places, we were  so pissed off and tired to argue with him, Ramesh just paid him 3500rs and walked off...Till date Madurai trip was only trip which was full of irritations from Driver. We decided to go sometime again to Madurai and peacefully  visit  Meenakshi and Alagzar temples....

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1 comment:

  1. dear suma... i really love ur narration about each and every temple. feeling like visiting the temple now it self. keep it up... shantana