Monday, 25 June 2012

Travelogue TN: Day 3 - Nagapattinam


We were still on our way to Nagapattinam and had to cross Tiruvarur again. We ate our lunch by around 2.00 pm. I was checking with our Saradhis about the temple distances which we had to cover now. Also most of the temples open only around 4.00 pm. For the next set of plans the longest distance we needed to go was to Ettu Kudi Murugan. But the travel time would be only around 30 - 45 min. Still they said better to move on rather than stay in the middle especially when the summer is on.

And what a guidance it turned out to be....

Ettukudi Murugan

This temple was put in the plan upon direction from my uncle Sri Ramachandran Nair.

We reached there around 2.55 pm. When enquired about the opening of the temple for evening pujas, the road side coconut vendors informed us that the Archaka had just gone in. He would open the temple then!!!!!!!! I went to the temple entrance. There the Archaka was standing with a bunch of keys in one of the sanctum and calling out to us - "Vaango" – “Please come in. I am opening it!!!!!!!. “

There was a pond right in front of the main Gopuram. We dipped our legs and went into the temple. Since some of the children were sleeping in the vehicle, not all of us in our group could have the darsanam.

Two very important details about the temple need to be mentioned now.
        1. This is the Samadhi place of Valmiki Sidhhar . He is one of the 18 Maha Siddhars who had lived in Tamil Nadu. The Samadhi is under a tree and on the other side a Ganapathi Vigraham is also kept. The Sthanam was properly marked for people to find out.
        2. The second is the more famous story of Lord Muruka's three temples - Poravachery, Ettukudi and EnKann.

The three temples are connected by a very touching episode of a great Upasaka of Muruka.

He is said to have done a beautiful vigraham of Muruka sitting on his peacock, having six heads and both Devis on sides. This was consecrated at Poravachery. The King - Serfoji seeing the beauty of the Muruka Vigraham ordered one of his fingers to be chopped off (probably one from each hand) so that he would not make another one like this. However, with 8 fingers he made another and almost exactly similar to the one which was consecrated at Ettukudi. The idol was also from the same huge stone which he had originally identified. As providence would have it, the King again was in the know how of the things and decided to take his eyes off which would not let him make another idol. The great Upaska as he was, he with the help of his daughter made the third of the idols and in an exact replica. The same was consecrated at Enkann. While the consecration happened at Enkann, Lord Muruka is set to have appeared and restored his fingers and eye sight.

Another deviation in the story comes at Ettukudi - The sculptor was said to have finished the idol and kept it covered for doing the remaining work for the next day. While he was coming into the room where this was kept he could hear sounds of ankle bells and happy sounds from the peacock. He ran into the room and found that the peacock was flying and seeing the same lost his eyes. He cried 'Etti Pidi' 'Catch it' to the soldiers there and they came in trying to however by the time it had returned into the idol again.

Either way the three temples are a marvel where these idols are kept.

Kivalur - Kizh Velur - Akshayalingeshwarar

Diskhitar’s famous composition – ‘Akshaya Linga Vibho’ in Sankarabharana Ragam is based on this equally famous temple. There is an interesting story behind this krithi.

Once Dikshitar, with his ‘parivaaram’ visited the temple. It so happened that the time was delayed and the Archakas were closing the temple. Seeing this Dikshitar requested them to keep the temple open for some more time as he had composed a krithi and wanted to do the ‘samarpanam’ to the lord there.

The Archakas took a rather offending stance to this and said that the lord was not going to go away from there so he may very well come the next day and do the rendering. Unmindful of the sarcasm by the Archakas, Dikshitar decided to do the rendering of his compositions outside the door as he had come prepared for the same and was in a blissful state. By this time a small crowd had come in front of the temple as Dikshitar had come to the temple. No soon as he had had finished the full rendering of the now famous krithi as mentioned before, the temple doors were opened by itself and the Lord was seen in the full glory of all the lit lamps and accompanied with sounding of temple bells and ‘shankha naadam’. Another unique anecdote in this is that the krithi did not have any reference to him not being able to see the Lord or the fact of closing of gates by the Archakas. Seeing this miracle unfolding in front of them, the Archakas were frightened and is known to have asked for forgiveness to Sri Dikshtar.

Such being the history of the temple, we did not know what to expect when we went inside but for the ever benevolent grace of the Lord himself.

As it turned out, we had reached the temple around 3.45 itself and was not expecting the gates to be opened in spite of the experience just before. The inner sanctum was on a flight of steps and was closed due to the timings. While we stood there, there came a person with the keys and …. opened the main sanctum for us to see the Lord!!!. The ‘Kripa’ shown to us by The Lord is not explainable in words. Filled with the ‘Amrutha Paanam’ of the darsanam we slowly came down the steps and did the Pradakshinam inside the temple. We understood that the person who had opened the door was not the Archaka and he had closed it by now until it is opened later at the pre-decided time.

Physical exhaustion due to heat and travel was being definitely offset by the turn out of events in the afternoon. Nagapattinam, district is definitely a part of the famous Central TamilNadu were the old age traditional Muruka, Siva and Devi worship is continuing in full zest. We were deeply in the Muruka region as I had remarked to my fellow passengers. We also understood that the sacred place of Velankanni was definitely within reach but due to a combination of factors we could not plan it in this trip.

Sikkal Singaravelan

Sikkal is famous for the Muruka Vigraham here and is known as the ‘Singaravelan’. The story is that it is at this place where the Shakti – ‘Vel’ got attached to him and was done before the Sura Samhara. Venkitesh Sir of Kalady has opined that this is definitely a place of live presence of Lord Muruka. The Muruka Vigraham was seen on the right side of the main darsanam for the lord there. Dikshitar had composed the song Sringara Sakthyayudha based on the Muruka here.

The main deity at Sikkal is Navaneetheswarar. The story – kovil varalaar - is that, Valmiki Maharshi was doing Siva Pooja by making a Siva Lingam using ‘Vennai’ - Butter. He wanted to do Abhishekam with milk for which Kamadhenu herself came and did it. But once his poojas were over, the Siva Lingam could not be removed and the same got stuck there. Since this was originally of Butter, the name Navaneetheswarar.

All these temples were coming practically in a same line while coming back from Ettukudi and in the Nagapattinam to Nagore route.


The first of the three Muruka shrines in the story which I had mentioned earlier is Poravachery. The temple is about 1 – 2 kms away from Sikkal and we had to enter through a bylane like in Sikkal.

When we reached there, we saw a Brahmin standing at the main Gopuram. I and my father had walked to the Gopuram first. As soon as he saw us, he invited us with a traditional “Vaango” (again) and was walking along with us inside. He said he is going to open the ‘Sannidhi’ and again we were left wondering about the divine plan which is taking us and inviting to these places. He turned out to be the Archaka and after he opened the main deity – Shiva Lingam, he came to the Murukan Sannidhi.

He explained in detail about the vigraham which was so lively, that we thought we were literally in Murukan Presence. The details of Muruka’s veins in hands, the nails in hands, the way in which he held his vahanam and his ayudhams, the details of mayil vahanam’s legs and the intricate details of veins in this and the way the snake was held by the mayil in its beak rather than under its legs – all were explained in general to all and in specific to us as well, when we requested for the same. He also had told that we need to also visit EnKann, which the Lord may grant us his confirmations to reach there soon.

Deeply filled with a sense of bliss we started from there and proceeded to Nagore.

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