Arupadai Veedu Tour
The Six Abodes of Murugan are six temples situated in the state of Tamil Nadu. Lord Murugan is known by different names such as Kartikeya, Kanda, Vadivela and Muruga at various temples. The six most sacred abodes of Murugan were mentioned in Tamil sangam literature, “Thirumurugatrupadai”, written by Nakkeerar and in “Thiruppugazh”, written by Arunagirinathar. The six abodes are Palani, Thiruthani, Swamimalai, Pazhamudircholai, Thirupparamkunram and Tiruchendur.
The story of Lord Murugan is described in Skanda Purana. According to the legend, in the olden days the demon Soorapadman tortured the Devas, who went to complain to Lord Vishnu and Brahma. They assigned Kamadeva to awake Lord Shiva from his penance, who later gave birth to Kartikeya. Karthikeya killed Soorapadman and saved the devas. Muruga is depicted as the god of love and war. Kartikeya married Valli by love and married Deivayanai by winning the war held at Tiruchendur.
In Tamil literature five types of lands are explained. They are Kurinji (mountainous region), Mullai (forest region), Marutham (agricultural region), Neithal (coastal region) and Palai (desert region). Separate gods for these land types are clearly told in Sangam literature. According to the literature Lord Muruga is the god of the mountainous region.
Arunagirinathar was a 15th century Tamil poet born in Tiruvannamalai. He spent his early years as a rioter and seducer of women. After ruining his health, he tried to commit suicide by throwing himself from the northern tower of Annamalaiyar Temple, but was saved by the grace of god Murugan. He became a staunch devotee and composed Tamil hymns glorifying Murugan, the most notable being Thirupugazh. Arunagirinathar visited various Murugan temples and on his way back to Tiruvannamalai, visited Palani and sung praises about Swaminatha Swamy. Thiruparankundram is considered the first of the six abodes, while Palani is considered the most prominent abode of Muruga.
Arupadai Veedu Temples
Thiruthani Murugan Temple
Thiruthani Murugan Temple is on the hill of Tiruttani dedicated to Lord Muruga. The hill has 365 steps indicating 365 days of the year. It is one of the Arupadaiveedu, the six holy abodes of Lord Muruga. The origins of this temple are buried in antiquity. This temple has been mentioned in the Sangam period work Thirumurugatrupadai composed by Nakkeerar. It has been patronized by the Vijayanagar rulers and local chieftains and zamindars. The original animal mount of Murugan is believed to have been an elephant, compared to the peacock which is considered to be the most common mount. The white elephant is considered a powerful, terror striking animal. The iconography is maintained only in two places, namely, this temple and Tiruttani Murugan Temple.
Legend also has it that Indra the king of the Gods gave his daughter Deivayanai in marriage to Skanda, and along with her presented his elephant Airavatam as part of his dowry offering. Upon Airavatam departure Indra found his wealth waning. Subramanyar is said to have offered to return the white elephant, however Indra bound by protocol refused to accept a gift that he had made, and insisted that the elephant face his direction, hence the image of the elephant in this temple also faces the east.
Another legend has it that Indra presented a sandal stone as a part of his daughter’s dowry. The sandal paste made on this stone is applied to the image of Subramanya and the applied paste is said to acquire medicinal value. Legend also has it that Skanda bore the discus thrown by the demon Tarakasur on his chest, and hence there is a hollow in the chest region of the image of Subramanya in this temple. Legend also has it that Skanda gifted the discus to Vishnu. Skanda is also believed to have imparted knowledge of Tamil to the sage Agathiyar and he is regarded as Veera Murthy, Gnanamurthy and Acharya Murthy in this shrine.
Lord Rama, after putting an end to Ravana, worshipped Lord Siva at Rameswaram and then came to Tiruttani to find perfect peace of mind by worshipping Lord Subramanya here. In Dwapara Yuga, Arjuna got the blessings by offering prayers to Him on his way to the South for Teertha Yatra (pilgrimage to take sacred immersion). Vishnu prayed to the Lord and got back his powerful Chakra (sacred wheel), Shanku (sacred conch), which were forcibly seized from him by Tarakasura, brother of Soorapadman. Lord Brahma propitiated the Lord here at the holy spring known as Brahmasonai after his imprisonment by our Lord for his failure to explain the Pranava (‘Om’ mantra) and got back his creative function of which he was deprived by our Lord due to his egotistic impudence in neglecting to worship Subramanya on his way to Mount Kailasa to worship Shiva. The final steps to the eastern entrance.
On worshipping at Thanigai, the king of snakes Vasuki got his bodily wounds healed, which had been caused during the churning process in the Milky Ocean to secure the Amrita (nectar of immortality) by the devas and asuras when the Mantotra Mountain was used as the churning base and the snake king Vasuki as the rope. Sage Agasthiyar Muni (of Potikai Hill) worshipped Muruga at Tanikai when he was blessed with the divine gift of the Tamil language.
Palani Murugan Temple
Arulmigu Dandayudhapani Swami Temple is one of the Six Abodes of Murugan. It is located in the city of Palani in Dindigul district. Palani temple is considered synonymous with Panchamrutham, a sweet mixture made of five ingredients.
As per Hindu legendary beliefs, Sage Narada visited the celestial court of Shiva at Mount Kailash to present to him a fruit, the gnanapalam (the fruit of knowledge). He decided to award it to whichever of his two sons who first encircle the world thrice. Accepting the challenge, Murugan (Karthikeya) started his journey around the globe on his mount peacock. However, Ganesha, who surmised that the world was no more than his parents Shiva and Shakti combined, circumambulated them and won the fruit. Murugan was furious and felt the need to get matured from boyhood and hence chose to remain as a hermit in Palani. The idol of the Muruga in Palani was created and consecrated by sage Bogar, one of Hinduism’s eighteen great siddhas, out of an amalgam of nine poisonous herbs or Navapashanam.
Six poojas are performed from 6.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m and special poojas on festival days in the temple, when it is open from 4.30 a.m. As of 2016, the temple was the richest among temples in the state with a collection of 33 crore during the period of July 2015 to June 2016.
As per another legend, once all sages and gods assembled in Kailash, the abode of Shiva. It resulted in the tilting of earth towards one direction. Shiva asked sage Agathiyar to move towards the South to balance the tilt. Agastya employed a demon by the name Ettumba to carry two hills in his shoulders to be placed in the South. The demon carried the hills down south and rested in a place. When he tried to lift one of the hills, it didn’t budge and he found a young man standing at the top of the hill not allowing it to be moved. The demon tried to attack the young man but was defeated. Sage Agastya identified
the young man as Murugan (Karthikeya) and asked him to pardon the demon. Murugan readily did so and let the hill remain there at Palani. It is a practice followed in the modern times where people carry milk in both their shoulders as a devotion to please the Lord. The demon carried the other hill to Swamimalai, which is another of the six abodes of Lord Murugan.
The idol of the Muruga in Palani was created and consecrated by sage Bogar, one of Hinduism’s eighteen great siddhas out of an amalgam of nine poisons or navapashanam. The legend also holds that the sculptor had to work very rapidly to complete its feature and made it perfect. Later, some people who had access to the deity used hideous chemicals and robbed off the idol’s contents, greatly damaging the idol and conspiracy theories that the sage did not sculpt the outer features well as he did to the face. A shrine to Bhogar exists in the southwestern corridor of the temple, which, by legend, is said to be connected by a tunnel to a cave in the heart of the hill, where Bhogar continues to meditate and maintain his vigil, with eight idols of Muruga.
Swamimalai Murugan Temple
Swamimalai Swaminatha Swamy Temple is located in Swamimalai, 5 km from Kumbakonam, on the banks of a tributary of river Kaveri in Thanjavur District. The temple is one of the six holy shrines of Murugan called Arupadaiveedu. The shrine of the presiding deity, Swaminathaswamy is located atop a 60 ft hillock and the shrine of his mother Meenakshi (Parvathi) and father Shiva (Sundareswarar) is located downhill. The temple has three gopuram (gateway towers), three precincts and sixty steps and each one is named after the sixty Tamil years. The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and three yearly festivals on its calendar. The annual Vaikasi Visakam festival is attended by thousands of devotees from far and near.
As per Hindu legend, Muruga, the son of Shiva, extolled the meaning of the Pranava Mantra (AUM) to his father at this place and hence obtained the name Swaminatha Swamy. The temple is believed to be in existence from the Sangam period from 2nd century BC and was believed to have been modified and rebuilt by Parantaka Chola ‘I’. The temple was greatly damaged during the Anglo-French war between Hyder Ali and British in 1740. The temple is now maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
As per Hindu legend, Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, disrespected Muruga (the son of Shiva) at the time of visiting Mount Kailash, the abode of Shiva. The child Muruga got angry with Brahma and asked him how he was creating living beings. Brahma said that he was creating living beings with the help of the Vedas (Hindu scriptures). On hearing the reply, Muruga asked Brahma to recite the texts from Vedas. Brahma started to recite the text with the holy word called Pranav Mantra, “Om”. At that time Muruga stopped Brahma and asked him to explain the meaning of the Pranava Mantra. Brahma did not expect such a question from the child and could not reply. Muruga knocked
Brahma on his forehead with his clenched fists and punished him with imprisonment. Muruga took up the role of the creator. The Devas (celestial deities) were surprised by the absence of Brahma and they requested Vishnu to negotiate with Muruga to release Brahma. Vishnu could not help and as the last resort, Shiva came to Muruga and asked him to release Brahma from imprisonment. Muruga refused to release him stating Brahma was unaware of the meaning of the Om – (Pranav Mantra-Tamil: ௐ AUM). Shiva asked Muruga to explain the meaning and Muruga extolled to Shiva the meaning of Om. Shiva behaved like a student to a teacher, listening with rapt attention from his son, giving Muruga the name “Swaminatha Swami”. The meaning of this name is “The Teacher of Shiva”. Following the legend, the shrine of the son Muruga is atop the hillock, while the father Shiva’s shrine is located in the basement.
In Swamimalai, Muruga is known as “Balamurugan” and “Swaminatha Swami”. The temple is built on an artificial hill. In Tamil language, such an artificial hill is called “Kattu Malai”. Another name for this place is “Thiruvasagam”. The temple has three gopuram (gateway towers) and three precincts. Out of the three precincts, one is located in the basement, the second at midway to the top of the hillock and the third on the hillock, around the sanctum of the Swaminathaswamy shrine. There are sixty steps and each one is named after the sixty Tamil years. The first thirty steps lead to the second precinct of the temple. The image of Swaminatha Swamy is 6 ft (1.8 m) tall. There are golden armours, golden crowns and a diamond lance for Swaminathaswamy. There is a shrine of Vinayagar outside the first precinct. The central shrine houses the granite image of Swaminatha Swamy. The first precinct has the images of Dakshinamurthy, Durga, Chandikeswarar and the festival image of Swaminatha Swamy. The images of Sundareswarar as lingam (Shiva) and Meenakshi (Parvathi) are located down hill and the first precinct around their shrines have the images of Dakshinamurthy, Durga, Chandikeswarar and Navagrahas. The second precinct and the largest one of the temple houses a marriage hall and the chariot of the temple. The temple is one of the most visited temples in the district. The original animal mount of Murugan is believed to have been an elephant, compared to the peacock which is considered to be the most common mount. The white elephant, is considered a powerful, terror striking animal. The iconography is maintained only in two places, namely, this temple and Tiruttani Murugan Temple. Unlike other Murugan temples, where peacock is sported axial to the image of the presiding deity, an elephant is seen in front of Murugan in the temple.
Thiruchendur Murugan Temple
Thiruchendur Murugan Temple is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to lord Murugan. The puranic name or historical name for this temple is Jayanthipuram. This temple is the fourth Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu to get ISO certification. It is located in the eastern end of the town Thiruchendur in the district of Tuticorin. The temple complex is on the shores of Bay of Bengal. Temple is open from 5 AM to 9 PM. Dedicated to Lord Muruga at the site of the battle. It is one of the six major abodes, or sacred temples, of the Kaumaram religion. Soorasamharam, a reenactment of the victory over Soorapadman, and Kanda Shasti, a devotional song in praise of Lord Muruga are performed at the temple.
Tiruchendur means sacred and beautiful town in Tamil. The temple is dedicated to Murugan, the warrior deity and second son of Shiva. When Muruga came here for the conquest along with his army, he found it to be very small and ordered the celestial architect Viswakarma to expand it. The town came to be known with several names like Tiruchendur, Jayanthipuram, Thiruchilavay and Srisandhinagaram. It is believed to be the place where Muruga conquered the demon Surapadman. It is believed that the demigods of Muruga wanted to worship him in a place where there was a mountainous tract, sea and river and hence Tiruchendur was chosen.
The temple, which is built near the seashore, measures (299 ft) north to south, (213 ft) east to west, and has a nine-tier gopuram, or tower gate, that is (138 ft) high. The principal entrance faces south, and opens into the first of two prakarams, the first of which is lined with rows of Yalis. The inner sanctum of the temple is in a cave and the main deity, or moolavar, is Murugan as a saintly child, portrayed in a granite carving. Nazhi Kinaru, a sacred well fed by a freshwater spring, is located (330 ft) south of the temple. Devotees undergo a ritual cleansing by bathing in water from the well after bathing in the ocean.
The Murugan temple at Tiruchendur was occupied by the Dutch East India company from 1646 to 1648, during the course of their war with the Portuguese. The local people tried to free their temple, with no success. The Dutch finally vacated the temple on orders from the Naik ruler. However, while leaving, they removed the idol of the main deity of the temple, and took it with them. During their way in sea, they encountered a strong storm and realised their mistake of stealing the idol. They dropped the idol in the middle of the sea and saw the storm stopped immediately. Later, Lord Senthil Andavan appeared in a dream to Vadamaliyappa Pillai, an ardent devotee of Muruga, and revealed the place in the sea where the idol had been abandoned. Vadamlaiyappa Pillai and Athitha Nadar, a sponsor of services in the Thiruchendur temple, went to the spot in a fishing boat and retrieved the idol in 1653. The story is shown in paintings inside the temple.
Thiruparankundram Murugan Temple
Thiruparankundram Murugan Temple or Subramanya Swamy Temple is one of the Six Abodes of Murugan, located at Thiruparankundram. The temple is built in rock-cut architecture and believed to have been built by the Pandyas during the 6th century. According to the legend it is where Murugan slayed the demon Surapadman and married Deivayanai, the divine daughter of the king of heaven, Indra, and he is said to have worshipped Shiva here as Parangirinathar.
The temple is located 8 kilometres from Madurai in India. In the main shrine, apart from Muruga, deities of Shiva, Vishnu, Vinayaka and Durga are housed. The temple follows the Shaivite tradition of worship. Six daily rituals and three yearly festivals are held at the temple, of which the Kantha Sashti festival during the Tamil month of Aippasi (October – November) is the most prominent. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
Thiruparankundram finds mention in Kanda Puranam detailing the slaying of Surapadman by Muruga. As per Hindu legend, Surapadman, a demon king, once obtained boons from Shiva on account of severe penance. He started ruling the 1008 worlds on account of the power attained. He married Paduma Komalai and had several sons. Viramkendiram became his capital, a city created in the seas and he started troubling the Devas. He imprisoned Indra (the king of celestial deities) and also desired his wife Indrani. Indra sought the help of Muruga. Muruga sent his messenger Viravakutevar to the demon, but he was unmoved. A severe battle was fought in Thiruparankundram where Muruga killed all the sons of the demon except Iraniyan. Surapadman hid under the sea and Muruga split him into two pieces, which went on to become the divine vehicles, peacock and rooster. The day when Muruga slayed Surapadman is celebrated as Skanda Sashti festival in all the Murugan temples.
Indra, the king of Devas was impressed and he married Deivayanai, his divine daughter to Muruga at Thiruparankundram. Muruga is believed to have worshipped Shiva here as Parangirinathar. Kanthar Anoobothi, a treatise of the divine marriage records that Muruga asked all the divine angels and gods who attended the marriage to fly back to heaven in their own vehicles in Mano veham (speed of thought).
Inscriptional evidence points out that this temple, being carved out of a hill, was most probably earlier a Jain cave. There is another theory that earlier to this, the Murugan temple existed much before the 6th century and converted into Jain worship centre by Jain monks under the aegis of Pandya king Koon pandiyan. The temple was later converted into a Hindu temple under the tutelage of Gajapathy, the minister of a later Pandya King, during the later part of the 8th century. The temple has several additions during the regime of Madurai Nayaks who commissioned the pillared halls in the temple. The temple is built of rock-cut architecture dating back to the Pandya period of 6th century and the life sized sculptures in the mandapas of the Nayaka period during the 16th century. An Aasthaana Mandapa with several artistically carved pillars lead one to the towering 150 feet high seven-tiered rajagopuram at the entrance. The granite hill behind the temple is 1,050 ft and has a shrine of Kasi Viswanatha at the top. The image of Vinayaka in the temple is sported holding sugarcane and fruits.
The Kambathadi Mandapam, Ardha Mandapam, and Maha Mandapam, the three halls leading to the sanctum, are situated at varying elevation. The main shrine is an early rock cut temple which has cells that house the sanctums of Subramanya, Durga, Vinayagar, Shiva and Vishnu. All the statues are carved on the wall of the parankundram rock. The presiding deity Shiva is known Parangirinathar and the female deity his consort Parvati is known as Avudai Nayaki. Panels depicting Shiva’s dance of bliss are seen outside the sanctum.
A notable feature of this temple is that the Shiva and Vishnu face each other in the main shrine, considered a rare thing in ancient Hindu temples. Outside the temple there is a tank, where according to the temple tradition, the fishes are served with salt and rice flakes by the devotees. There is also a Vedic school adjacent to the banks of the temple pond. In front of the Dwajasthambam, the flag staff, there is a carved Nandi, Mayil (peacock) and Mouse (the vehicle of Ganesha). There is a flight of six steps called the “Shadashara Padigal”, before Ardha Mandapam. The rock carvings of Mahishasura Mardini, Karpaga Vinayagar, Andarabaranar and Uggirar are seen in the hall. There are five divine water bodies, namely, Saravana Poigai, Lakshmi Theertham, Sanyasi Kinaru (well), Kasi Sunai, and Sathiya Koopam.
Pazhamudircholai Murugan Temple
Pazhamudircholai Murugan Temple is a Hindu temple, located atop a hill covered with dense forests. One of the six important abodes (Arupadaiveedu) of Lord Muruga, it is close to the Vishnu temple of Azhagar Kovil. It is said that the Azhagar Kovil was the actual temple for the main deity of the temple, and the deity was later shifted or relocated to Pazhamudircholai during Thirumalai Nayak’s rule in Madurai.
The great Tamil poet and saint Avvaiyar was tested by Muruga here. In an episode of Divine Play with Avvaiyar, one of the most famous devotees of Muruga, the Lord enacted the following drama. One day Avvaiyar became tired while traveling under the hot sun and sought refuge under the shadow of a fruit tree, hungry and thirsty, when a boy who was sitting on the tree asked her whether she wanted fruits from the tree. When Avvaiyar told him that she did, the boy asked Avvaiyar whether she wanted roasted fruits or unroasted fruits. Avvaiyar who was a famous Tamil poet and incredibly knowledgeable litterateur scoffed silently at the very thought of the existence of a “roasted fruit” and decided that the boy didn’t have knowledge even about a fruit. However, tired as she was, she decided that she didn’t want to argue with the boy and asked him to pick unroasted fruits for her, which the boy then proceeded to do. Several fruits fell out of the tree and Avvaiyar picked them up,blowing on them to remove the sand. Smiling, the boy asked Avvaiyar if she was blowing on his “roasted fruits” to cool them. Avvaiyar was astonished as to how a small village cowboy could have played such an intelligent drama. Blowing on the fruit to remove the sand was indeed poetically comparable to an attempt to cool “roasted fruits”. Humbled by the immense poetic knowledge and clever wordplay of the boy, Avvaiyar begged the boy to reveal his true identity, unable to reconcile herself with the fact that a simple cowherd could have such profound thoughts. The boy then disappeared and in his place, Muruga
appeared. Avvaiyar, stunned to find herself in Divine Company, bowed in obeisance and realising the infinite nature of knowledge, prayed to Muruga to bless her and continue bestowing his Infinite Grace on her to aid her virtually endless quest for knowledge.
Pazhamudircholai is a fertile hill, blessed with nature’s bounty in the form of innumerable fruits, vegetables and natural springs. It is a dense forest where Valli is supposed to have lived. The temple itself is relatively small with Valli, Deivayanai, and Lord Muruga in a separate shrine. Lord Ganesha is also present in a separate shrine. There is a Temple Tower and monkeys play around the area. There is another small temple above Pazhamudhir Cholai where local tribes lead their lives.
Among the Arupadaiveedu, Pazhamudircholai is the last. Lord Muruga at Pazhamudircholai is praised in several works of old Tamil literature such as the Silappathikaram, the Ettuthokai and the Pattupattu.
Arupadai Veedu Tour Itinerary
Day 1 – Chennai [Pickup] To Thiruthani [Darshan] To Swamimalai [Darshan] To Kumbakonam [Halt]
Day 2 – Kumbakonam To Palani [Darshan] To Madurai [Halt]
Day 3 – Madurai To Thiruparankundram [Darshan] To Pazhamudircholai Temple [Darshan] To Tiruchendur [Halt]
Day 4 – Tiruchendur [Darshan] To Madurai [Drop]
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