Temple Rounds in TamilNadu


A humble attempt is made here to present before you 4 major temples of Tamil Nadu, namely Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple ,Rameshwaram Shiva temple, Sri Rangam temple and the majestic Brihadeeshwara Tanjavur Temple.

The neatly and cleanly dressed with a shining bindi on the forehead and generously dangling Jasmin flowers on the half wet cascade of jet black hair of the women folk, the pristine pure sandal wood fragrance blended with the flowers of several kinds, the glossy turmeric smeared over the face, chanting of their favourite shlokas, with a typical unusually large looking nose studs, focused as they were, before the deity with folded hands and tears of joy welling up from the eyes -these and many more are the positive vibes, and common sights that transfix me with devotion and bring smile of efficacy to my face, when I ponder over visiting TamilNadu.

Day 1 : Bangalore – Madurai


It was just around the beginning of covid time in India, before it became a pandemic, we decided to have a quick temple tour of Tamil Nadu. Early March 2020, kurta, shirts, mundus , sarees and jhumkas packed, all set for the spiritual journey for the next few days. My husband and I left from our home at Bangalore at 5.40 am in our Toyota Etios Liva (petrol) car. Before you leave, make sure you have loaded the fastag wallet and saved the offline maps for all the locations you are planning to travel. The weather was perfect, it had rained the previous day .Bangalore weather they say, is unpredictable. I pulled over my jacket and my beanie as I leaned backwards on the passenger seat and eyed my watch which showed 6.45am now. We had just crossed A2B restaurant. We dint stop and continued till 7.50am and stopped at Sai Sangeeth restaurant which looked quite fancy. We had to take a U turn as this restaurant fell on the other side of the road. I had a plate of Idli sambhar and masala dosa .I am usually a tad bit too hungry during trips. We left from the hotel at 8.20am. Sri Amruta Bhavan restaurant is a few meters away from Sai Sangeet , in case you don't want to cross to the other side of the road.

Straight perfect roads with a majestic line of mountains for a view was worth a shot on my phone. It was sunny and traffic was little heavy till we reached Salem at around 10.30. AM. We reached our home for the day , Hotel Plaza at 12.45pm. Google maps showed the Hotel on a parallel road which goes to the backend of the hotel, with no parking and too many bikes on the road. We had to take U turn to come back to the correct road with umpteen parking space allocated just for those staying at Hotel Plaza. The rooms here are quite comfortable and clean and most important factor was that Madurai Meenakshi Temple is at a walking distance. We had lunch at the restaurant which was at the ground floor of the Hotel. They have quite a variety of options, North Indian, South Indian and Chinese , and also available in both Ala Carte and Buffet. We checked in and rested.
Hotel Park Plaza Madurai
At sharp 4, we left on foot to the temple towards the West Tower, one of the 14 towers or gopurams of the temple. The presiding deity of this magnificent Temple is Goddess Parvati, called as Meenakshi and the Lord Shiva, called as Sundareshwara ,thus famously known as Meenakshi Sundareshwar temple.

Temple Timings:


All days of the week

5 am - 12:30 pm
4 pm - 10 pm

Dress code:


There is no Dress Code, preferably formal or traditional wear.
Please check the latest rule for dress code

Parking:


There are parking lots at two spots on the opposite sides of North Avani Moola Street.

Just a glimpse in to the history of the temple, if would care to know. This temple was built by King Kulasekara Pandya. The temple complex houses 14 gopurams which are elaborately sculptured and beautifully painted.
madurai Statues
The Gopurams include 2 golden towers for the main deities. The tower height ranges from 40-51m , the tallest of which is the Southern tower. The temple is the standing testimony for the magnificent and superb architecture.
tower
The Meenakshi temple has majestic stonewalls and towers rising out of the swarming streets of the city center. The coiled corridors and larger than life sculptures are indeed a sight to behold. According to the legend of this temple, the marriage of the goddess Meenakshi to Shiva actually took place in Madurai and is still celebrated every summer with great enthusiasm, fanfare and gaiety. The idol of Goddess Meenakshi is said to be carved out of a single emerald. The temple also includes other deities like Lakshmi, flute playing Krishna, Rukmini, Brahma, Saraswati, Nataraja, Surya and other Vedic and Puranic deities, don't miss to witness the artwork showing narratives from major Hindu texts. There is a spot on the outside of the main shrine where you can see the tip of the main Golden gopuram. You would find small wooden cradles tied on the hanging creepers of the tree behind the Ganapati mandapam on the outside of the main corridor. These are prayer offerings from devotees seeking the grace of Devi to bless them with a child. Few feet away from the temple is the 1000 pillars which is also a museum.
Nataraja Gopuram Madurai
It proudly hosts the unique paintings, rare collection of photographs, antique panchaloha idols, carvings in tusks, ancient arts of architecture, sculpture, painting, music, dance and other forms of aesthetic importance, which would make the visit memorable. It was 6.30 PM now and we headed back to hotel. On the way back, you would find lots of small shops and street vendors and we wanted to try the famous Jigarthandi. It is a cool drink made with milk almonds and sugar. I was told the drink jigarthandi and Madurai porota is a must try when you visit the city. We came back to the hotel, had dinner in the same restaurant and winded up the trip for the day.

Day 2 Madurai-Rameshwaram- Danushkodi


Next day ,after a good bath and donning fresh pressed cloths, we checked out of the hotel at 6.30 am and left towards Rameshwaram. Just within 5km , we were compelled to get out of the car to an astonishing view of a beautiful lake temple, the Vandiyur Mariamma Tepakkulam.
Lake Temple We prayed from the outside the compound wall for a safe journey ahead and moved on. The time was perfect to witness the shining golden sunrise on the way which was made better with the perfect roads and alluring scenery. We had breakfast by 8.20am at a roadside hotel. We hoped, as we neared Rameshwaram, to see the train on the world famous Pamban railway bridge and, surprisingly our wish came true.
Train
The Pamban Bridge Rameswaram is one of the oldest and famous Bridges in India. It is generally referred as The queen of Indian bridges, this is the marvelously engineered first sea bridge of India. The bridge is 2065 m long. The main land of Indian peninsula is connected with Rameswaram Island through a Road and a Railway bridge. These two bridges commonly referred as Pamban Bridge. This bridge is an engineering marvel because of the lift spans fitted in the bridge. These lift spans can raise the bridge and let ships pass.
Pambamn
The lift spans are now closed for operations. The bridge stands proudly on the Indian ocean. The average speed of the train is lowered while crossing the Pamban Bridge. It takes approximately 10-15 min to cross the bridge. Passengers can get once in a lifetime experience while crossing the serene blue water of the mighty Indian Ocean.
Bridge
Reluctantly, due to the trip schedule that we planned, we had to leave from the bridge and move ahead. By 10 am we arrived at the APJ Abdul Kalam Memorial and spent some time reminiscing the memories, works and awards of this eminent leader and ex-president of India.
APJ
At a distance of 4km from the memorial site was the parking lot(charges 20 rupees) of Rameshwaram temple which is quite interior and we had to walk towards the temple through the sea side where several devotees dipped in the sea for the holy Samudra snana. As we neared the temple, the gopuram stood as tall with " Shiva Shiva" written on the board.
Rameshwaram
The sound of the chanting grew culminating in the rhythmic roar of the ocean. we moved closer to the entrance. We had to step back from the queue to store our belongings outside in a locker. There are several locker rooms and changing rooms available around the temple premises ,they charge around 100 rupees per locker.

Temple timings:


Morning 5 AM to 1 PM
evening 3 Pm to 9 PM on all days of the week

Dress code:


There is no specific Dress Code for Rameshwaram Temple. There is a restriction on wearing Jeans and T-Shirts in the Temple, especially for men. You can wear a vest and Shirt or can wear Formals like Shirt and Pant. But it is advisable to not wear the vest while going inside the temple but you can carry them in hand for later use.

Parking:


There is a dedicated parking space for temple devotees
Charge : 20 rupees for 4 wheeler

Rameshwaram temple is one of the most famous and oldest temples in India. Lord Shiva is the primary deity here. The colossal image of Nandi captures the attention, due to its sheer size. It measures 12 feet in its length and 9 feet in its height. The temple is associated with the history of Ramayana period. It was at here that Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva on their way back to Ayodhya after successfully rescuing Sita from the demon King Ravana. Legend says that Rama had asked Hanuman to get Shivalinga from the Himalayas ,but hanuman came little late ,so Sita created a Shivalinga herself. Lord Rama worshipped this Shivalinga. Pleased with the dedicated devotion, Shiva manifested himself in the linga which is now present in this Sanctum sanctorum. Hanuman later returned with a Shivalinga which was also kept in the same temple and called it the Hanumalingam or Vishwalingam. As per Rama's instructions, Hanumalinga is offered prayers before the Ramanathaswamy. It is believed that the holiest Kashi yatra for Hindus is complete only after visiting Rameshwaram. It is one of the Char Dhams, the rest are Dwarka, Puri and Badrinath. Rameshwaram Sri Ramanathaswamy temple is also the only jyotirlinga located in South India out of the 12 Jyotirlingas. This temple has 22 teertams, bathing in which is believed to atone sins of devotees. All of these wells have water of different taste, temperature, salinity and have curative properties as well. It is said that these wells were created by Lord Rama himself, by his arrows in to the sand. With the intricate carvings on the pillars, majestic towers and the longest corridor in the world, the temple is truly an architectural wonder and a treat to the eyes.
Corridor
This pillared corridor extends to 4000 feet in length, embracing more than 4000 pillars. Erected on a raised plinth, granite pillars are immaculately carved with beautiful images. Research reveals that the rocks of this corridor doesn't belong to the island and it was imported from somewhere across the sea.

It was 1pm when we finished the Darshan and we chose a wrong time to visit our next location, Danushkodi.It was too Sunny and hot.We drove towards Danushkodi, the southern most tip of the Indian peninsula or the last land of India and reached at 1.45 pm.
Satelite Danushkodi
We were pleasantly surprised when our phones connected to the Srilankan mobile network.
map
This Ghost Town was once a beaming trade hub. This town was badly hit by a ferocious cyclone that wiped out the entire town and killed around 2000 people making this place unfit for habitation. The best-preserved ones of what is left are the remains of church, post office, and railway station.
Church
Railway tracks are also buried under the sand. The only inhabitants are local fisherfolk. They lead miserable lives in makeshift thatched huts with no electricity or running water. Make sure you have enough drinking water and snacks as you would find only small fruit vendors here.
After exploring Dhanushkodi, we continued all the way along the road to Arichal Munai (Erosion Point). It's a magical scene, with the straight strip of tarmac enclosed by the sea on both sides. A solitary pillar of Ashoka, the national emblem of India, stands at endpoint where you can look out across the infinite blue ocean.
Ashoka
There are a few vendors selling fruits, sea food and products made from shells. It's really worth getting up early to beat the crowds and catch the bewitching sunrise enmeshed with the rich red crimson rays and spend some time here. It is a popular belief that the Rama sethu is visible from this point and Lord Rama had marked the spot where the bridge was to be built with an end of his bow. This gave rise to the town's name, Dhanushkodi (meaning bow's end).

Located off the highway about 10 minutes before Dhanushkodi, Kothandaramaswamy temple, is of interest too.
Kothandarama
It's dedicated to Lord Ram, and notably is the only building in the area to have survived the cyclone that destroyed the town. There is also a floating stone that is exhibited here. We left from Kothandaramaswamy temple at 2.50 pm towards our hotel at Tanjavur. On our way out of Rameshwaram, we were charged 100 rupees towards municipality fees. Roadside vendors were selling palm jaggery near the Pamban bridge. The roads towards Tanjavur were good and few were under construction, so we had to take diversions. We did not stop for lunch as we filled ourselves up with fruits. We reached spent our peaceful night, at Hotel Ram Aariyas at around 7pm.

Day 3- Tanjavur-Sri Rangam-Bangalore


After a good night's sleep, we were geared up for another day of temple visit. This time it was the Brihadeeshwara Temple at Tanjavur. We left from hotel at 7 am and reached the temple in 10 mins. We went in directly for Darshan. It was crowded as it was a Monday morning, an auspicious day for Lord Shiva who is the main deity here.

Temple timings:


All days of the week
6 am - 9 pm

Dress code:


No dress code

Parking:


There is huge parking space just opposite the temple. Charges 20 rupees for 4 wheeler

Tanjavur Brihadeeshwara temple as the name suggests, Brihad meaning Big, Eshwara meaning Shiva is a huge Shiva temple. This temple, built by the mighty ruler, Rajaraja I of the Chola Empire, is known for its grandeur and exceptional architectural features and is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Great Living Chola Temples" along with Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Airavateshwara temple. It is appealing example of Dravidian style of architecture.
Entrance Tanjavur
The inscriptions on the temple walls record the rise and fall of the city's fortune and history. This is one of the largest temples in India and .proudly presents the temple tower, called the Vimanam which is a whopping 216 ft. (66 m) tall and the tallest in the world.
Tanjavur Full
The apex structure on the top of this tower is carved out of single rock and weighs around 80 tons. It is still a mystery on how the builders got the rock on top of the tower.
T1
T2
The records show that this temple is known for its extra ordinary construction centuries ago when modern construction technologies are not available. It is said the heaviest kalasha or pinnacle had to be placed on top of the temple using very long inclined plane constructed on earth using hard soil, and massive stone clad elephants reached the top spot. It is a magical experience to watch the deity during puja.The entire structure is built with stones notched and bonded without any mortar. The main deity is a gigantic granite lingam which sits below the hollow space between the apex stone and the floor of the temple.
There is a big statue of Nandi (sacred bull), carved out of a single rock measuring about 16 ft. (4.9 m) long and 13 ft. (4.0 m) high at the entrance.
Nandi Tanjavur
There are several other mandapams alongside the main gopuram or tower dedicated to Ganesha, Varahi, Chandikesha, Amma, Nataraja, Subramanya and several other deities. The entire temple structure is made out of eye catching beautiful granite.
These mere words cannot define the aesthetic beauty and the architectural excellence of the sculptors.
Horse Tanjavur
The temple is surrounded by corridor on all 4 sides with several Shivalinga.
T3 corridor
I would definitely suggest to hire a Guide to know the architecture and history of this glorious temple.
After such a peaceful satisfying Darshan of Lord Shiva, we came back to our Hotel, had breakfast and checked out at 10 am and left to Trichy(Tiruchirappalli). We reached the Sri Rangam temple at 10.50 am. We were welcomed by a line of sky high gopurams and narrow roads between them.

Temple timings:


Everyday 3am-10pm

Dress code:


The Sri Rangam temple has strict dress guidelines. Devotees are not permitted to enter the temple wearing provocative or revealing clothing in any way. Tank tops, sleeveless dresses, shorts, and skirts are among the attire forbidden at this temple.

Parking:


There are 4 wheeler parking spots at the West and East Uthra streets at Srirangam temple

Sri Rangam is the foremost of the 8 self manifested shrines of Lod Vishnu. It is also the first of the 108 Vishnu temples. The temple houses the Supreme God Maha Vishnu in Ananta Shayana, in the lying position. The Lord rests on the coils of the great 5 headed serpent Adi Shesha. Legend says that the Ranga Vimana, a chariot of Lord Vishnu which was passed on from Vibhishan to the Chola king still exists somewhere deep down this temple. The temple is covered by 7 enclosures formed by thick and huge rampart walls which run round the sanctum.
towers S2
There are 21 magnificent towers or gopurams in all enclosures providing a unique sight to the onlookers. The 236 feet high, 13 storeyed Rajagopuram is the largest gopuram in Asia.
S1
The gopurams of the temple are built and renovated by several kings throughout the centuries. The sculptures on the gopurams are truly enchanting to watch.
S3
There are several other mantapas in the temple complex for worship of several other deities. The architectural wonder of these mandapas are exhibited on the walls with alluring paintings and large sculptures.
S5
S4A pushkarani, the holy pool in the temple premises is also a place to offer your prayers and to attain moksha for the sins of mankind. The temple is itself enormous in size. The temple complex is 156 acres in extent. Sri Rangam temple is often listed as one of the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world. Time and a pair of eyes are meager to witness the glory of the south Indian Temple architecture and history. We wished we had all the time in the world to experience the feeling of being present at these spiritual places. As the saying goes, all is well that ends well. We winded up our temple tour at this temple with heart full of content and satisfaction and a blissful and peaceful mind.
It was 12.40pm when we left the temple and roamed the narrow streets of Sri Rangam and headed towards Bangalore. We stopped at Salem Ramalingam Hotel for lunch at 2.50pm.After a sumptuous meal, we stopped again for a cup of filter coffee in brass glass at TamilNadu border. Reached back home to Bangalore at 6pm.

Things to Note:


-Please check the updated temple timings and entry fees
-Cameras are not allowed in few temples
-Traditional wear may be required in few temples
-Make sure to stay hydrated and Tamil Nadu is usually very humid and hot
-Recharge your fastag wallet
-Carry your 4 wheeler insurance, emission test card and drivers license
-Carry enough cash as you may not find too many shops with QR scan codes
-Plan your travel as per your convenience. The plan I shared here may be a bit hectic for new travelers.
-Carry water bottles and snacks or fruits.


Comments

Author: astroindusoot02 Aug 2022 Member Level: Bronze   Points : 2

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