Palani Hill Temple and the Idol :
Lord Murugan is the deity of the Tamil Land. Palani (Tiru Avinankudi) is the third Padai Veedu. The temple at Palani is an ancient one, situated at an elevation of 1500 feet above sea level. It is a charming campus from where one can take a look at the Idumban Hill, the Kodaikanal Hills, the Western Ghats, the greenery of the paddy fields, rivers, tanks, Palani town and the colleges. On a lovely, clear and mist-free day, the Kurinji Andavar Temple is visible from here against the bright Sun. In daytime, Palani is Hill Beautiful; at night, it is Hill Resplendent.
The deity of Palani is known as Dandayudhapani Swami, the Lord having the Staff in his Hand. The deity at the sanctum sanctorum is made out of an amalgam of nine minerals popularly called Navapashanam. The deity is in a standing position with a baton in his hand. He has the look of a person who has renounced all worldly pomp. He has just a loincloth besides the baton. He is a mute messenger of the great precept 'Renounce all to reach Me'. The icon is unique in the whole world. It was made by siddha Bhogar by combining nine poisonous substances (Navapashanam). Murugan signifies beauty and Lord Murugan of Kurinji land is the god of Beauty and Youth.
Popularly called 'Town Temple', 'Ûr-k-kovil' and 'Ûr-Ambalam', this large and spacious temple is in the heart of Palani town, two kilometres from Adivaram. Built four centuries ago by the Nâyaks and enlarged by chieftains of Palani, Ayakudi and Neikkarappatti, it has Goddess Periyanâyaki as the presiding deity; there are sanctums for Muttukumâraswâmi, Subramanyar, Kailâsanâthar and Nâtarajar. In the Muttukumâra Swâmi shrine, within the iron railings are a series of festival deities, the last of which Uchi Mahâkâli is an amazing piece of art.
This temple is essentially a Muruga shrine with other shrines added perhaps at later stages. This is clear from the fact that the central tower is over Muruga's shrine. The flagstaff and image of the vehicle are all in front of Muruga only. Kailasanatha is on the northern side and Periyanayaki on the southern side with Muruga in the centre, or in between father and other. This seating arrangement is known as Somâskanda Murtam.
In the Palli Arai in the Amman shrine, it is worth taking a look at the mirror reflecting the chamber. Ask for the shutter to be raised up. Almost every pillar is extravagantly covered with a filigree of sculpture. The supreme climax of South Indian architecture in its most prodigal plastic manifestation.
In one pillar of the Kailâsanâthar shrine and in another in the Navaranga Mandapam, Gnana Dandayudhapani has been remarkably produced by stone masons. The pillars and sculptures therein add to importance of the Navaranga Mandapam, which has been built by the Nadar community.
On Vijayadâsami day, the Lance of the Lord is brought from the hill temple to this temple and the Utsava deity Muttukumâraswâmi uses it to destroy evil and usher in an era of hope and good cheer after Navaratri.
In the month of Aadi (July-August) 100,000 archanas (laksharchana) are performed in this temple. Particularly, the Fridays of this month are crowded days here and one has to inch his/her way to the sanctum.
This temple houses the vâhanas of all the temples under the Devasthânam and from this point of view, this temple is an art gallery. Do not miss the silver car, a galaxy of various vehicles, the ivory palanquin, several vâhanas in silver, brass and wood. Their beautiful workmanship needs close observation.
Near the Periyanâyaki Temple is the Mari Amman Temple, very popular with the local folk. It is crowded on Fridays. Increasing attention is being paid to this temple.
Bhogar Shrine :
The Bhogar Shrine is in the southwestern corridor of the hill temple. Siddhar Bhogar created the icon (the amalgam of nine minerals) and did daily services. He lived long ago, perhaps 3000 BC. A medical prodigy as he was, he could prepare the amalgam on nine medicinal minerals in proper proportion. In this shrine, pujas are offered to Navadurga, Bhuvaneswari and Maragatha Lingam that were worshipped by Bhogar. It is said that there is a subterranean tunnel linking the shrine with the sanctum sanctorum through which Bhogar is said to go to the main idol and perform daily pujas as he is said to be only in nirvikalpa samadhi.
Edumban Temple :
Palani, Kavadi and IdumbanHow Murugan, Idubam and Kavadi came to Palani.
Sage Agastya wanted to take two hills -- Sivagiri and Saktigiri -- to his abode in the South and commissioned his asuran disciple Idumban to carry them. Idumban was one of the very few asuran survivors of the suraasuran war between Murugan's forces and those of Surapadman. After surviving the war he had repented and became a devotee of Lord Murugan.
Ganapati employs cunning to cheat Murugan Idumban finds the kavadi is too heavy at Palani At this stage, Subrahmanya or Muruga had just been outwitted by His brother Ganesa in a contest for going around the world and He was still smarting over the matter. Ganapati had won the prized fruit (the Jnana-pazham) by simply going around His parents. Long after this, Subrahmanya came seating on His peacock to find that the prize had already been given away. In anger, He vowed to leave His home and family and came down to Tiru Avinankudi at the Adivaaram (meaning 'foot of the Sivagiri Hill'). Siva pacified Him by saying that Subrahmanya Himself was the fruit (pazham) of all wisdom and knowledge. Hence the place was called Pazham-nee ('You are the fruit') or Palani. Later He withdrew to the hill and settled there as a recluse in peace and solitude.
Idumban bore the hills slung across his shoulders in the form of a kavadi, one on each side. When he reached Palani and felt fatigued, he placed the kavadi down to take rest. ced the kavadi down to take rest.
Palani, the timeless centre of Murugan devotion When Idumban resumed his journey, he found that he could not lift the hill. Muruga had made it impossible for Idumban to carry it. Upon the hilltop the great asuran spotted a little boy wearing only kaupeenam and demanded that he vacate at once so Idumban could proceed with his task. The boy, who was yet in a fighting mood, refused. In the fierce battle which ensued, Idumban was slain but was later restored to life.
Idumban belatedly recognised the boy as none other than his ista devata Murugan and prayed to Him that :
1) whosoever carried on his shoulders the kavadi, signifying the two hills and visited the temple on a vow should be blessed; and 2) he should be given the priviledge of standing sentinel at the entrance to the hill. Hence we have the Idumban shrine half-way up the hill where every pilgrim is expected to offer obeisance to Idumban before entering the temple of Dandayudhapani Swami. Since then, pilgrims to Palani bring their offerings on their shoulders in a kavadi. The custom has spread from Palani to all Muruga shrines.
Muruga, in His aspect as Lord Dandayudhapani, stands for tyaagam or renunciation. Eschewing all wordly possessions, the only apparel He has chosen to retain is a loincloth called kaupeenam. But His bhaktars never tire of offering Him costly garments and enriching His wardrobe with luxurious royal clothes which are used to adorn Him when His devotees yearn to see the Lord in the vesture of a King. For indeed, His state is that of a Swami or sovereign Lord.
Thiru Aavinankudi (Kulandai Vêlâyudhaswâmi Thirukkovil) :
This ancient and large temple at the foot of the hill is the third Padai-Vîdu celebrated in song, classics, legend and tradition since antiquity. The official name of the shrine is Kulandai Vêlâlyudhaswâmi Temple; Thiru Avinankudi is the name of the place. A sacred tank is attached to the temple.
Thiru Avinankudi is among the earliest abodes of Muruga and perhaps it had humble beginnings under the shade of the Nelli tree (amla). Poet Nakkirar says that God Muruga holds at Thiru Avinankudi a Royal Court of all gods with saints emancipated and clad in saffron-dyed clothes and deer skin. The presiding deity is Muruga as a child sitting on a peacock. A convenient and full view can be taken by the worshippers since the sanctum is on an elevation. He is like a kindly monarch on His throne who receives the humble tributes and petitions of His loyal subjects. The festival deity and the Nelli and Nagalinga flora and the shrine of Arunagirinâthar are worth your notice.
The temple was renovated lavishly between 1898 and 1910 by N. M. Subramanian Chettiar of Karaikudi and K. P. S. Palaniappa Chettiar of Kandanur. SP. Ramanathan Chettiar and other members of the first donor's family have added in 1968 a majestic râja gopuram — one of Palani's landmarks visible from the hill-temple. Since the late 1970's, a few small shrines and an artistic mandapam have been constructed, adding to the beauty of an already beautiful temple.
Saravana Poikai :
Saravana Poikai is the name of a pool in the Himâlayas, from whose waters the divine child, saravanapoikaiMuruga, is believed to have emerged. Hence the name Saravana Bhava. Saravana Poikai pools in Muruga shrines are sources of redemption. Accumulated sins are thought to be destroyed by a dip here. As fire consumes fuel, so too this sacred pool consumes the sins of the wicked.
The Saravana Poikai at Thiru Avinankudi has drawn uncounted millions to its banks. It has a hoary tradition and a bath or at least a symbolic use of its waters over your head is a prerequisite for entering the sanctum sanctorum. Bath taps are provided at separate enclosures for men and women.
Mariyamman Temple :
The seated Mariamman is small in stature. She is covered with a golden sheath, and on Fridays there will always be a crowd. This too is owned by the Devasthanam. In the exterme south at the end of this street, a Vinayaga of Chettiar Madam, a Mahakali, in old Dharapuram road, and Chowndamman are all worth seeing.
Shanmuga Nadi group of temples :
The bathing ghats on this river are at a distance of three kilometres from Palani town and can be reached from Adivaram by town buses 3, 4, 9 and 14. During the eclipses and on the days of the waning moon (new moon or Âmâvasya), thousands flock here to have their sins absolved in the purifying waters. Kavadi bearers have a bath here before marching to the temple. This is also a place for oblations to the dead; the devout perform post-mortem rites to deceased ancestors. There are many shrines on the banks of the river near the bathing ghat and
Periya Avudayar Kovil :
Of all these temples, that of Peru-Udayar (called Periya Avudayar Kovil) is by far the most important and deserves special mention. Located near the railway line on the banks of the Shanmuga Nadi in sylvan setting, it is about four kilometres from the bus-stand reached by two stages, by buses going on the Old Dharapuram road for three kilometres and by walking one kilometre from the arch on that road. It is convenient to go by a taxi or auto rickshaw and alight at the doors of the temple. In the evening and in the pre-dawn period, sounds of birds are heard and if you have a tape-recorder, you cannot afford to miss recording these. The air here is unpolluted and good breeze can be had. The Devasthânam has put up a Kalyana Mandapam behind the temple.
The temple is dedicated to Peru Udayar or Brihadeesvarar a name that became a legend in the days of the great Raja Raja Cholo. The deity here is a swayambhu linga (i.e. naturally formed lingam) and so, local belief is that it existed even before Bhogar. Only male gods are found in the temple. A majestic figure of Dakshinamûrti, a rare Rudran and other gracious images in stone, as also the 16 old inscriptions should be taken note of.