Lord Muruga, Subramanya, Skanda, Karthikeya is probably the favourite deity of Tamil Nadu. You could also say, TN is Lord Muruga’s favourite place, all the 6 sacred places associated with the Hindu God of War are located in Tamil Nadu. These Six Abodes of Lord Muruga, as mentioned in ancient Tamil literature are known as “Aarupadai Veedu”, the list – Thiruthani, Thiruchendur, Thiruparankundram, Palani, Swami Malai and Pazhamudircholai.
Living in Chennai for 2 decades meant frequent visits to Thiruthani, 85 kms from the city and we had visited Thiruchendur, 90 kms from Kanya Kumari twice. While planning this trip, we realised we had some decent time in Madurai and decided to visit Thiruparankundram, just 9 kms from Madurai.
Great breakfast to start the day
Before proceeding to Thiruparankundram, we stopped enroute for breakfast at Aarthy Drive Inn Restaurant. The Pongal and Sambhar were the best we had in this trip and we polished off about 2 plates each ! There is no greater joy than a plate of delicious, ghee dripping Pongal dipped in Sambhar ! The restaurant is very pleasant with greenery and ducks trotting around. Our search for the trademark Tamil Nadu breakfast in this trip was complete and off we went to pray to the “Tamil Kadavul” (God of the Tamils).
A unique temple for the God of War
According to legends, Lord Subramanya married Goddess Devasena at Thiruparankundram which gives the place its divine association.
The temple is a rock cut temple belonging to the 8th Century A.D. probably during the Pallava reign. It has been cut into a huge granite rock, well, it is so huge you could call it a hill ! There is a gopuram and a mandap at the entrance, most likely to have been built in the later centuries.
Of all the Aarupadai Veedu temples, this one is different.
At the entrance, there is an idol of Goddess Kali, devotees usually buy small quantities of butter and apply it onto the idol in the belief that their wishes will be fulfilled. As you enter the front mandapa, you will find steps leading further into the temple and it is semi-dark here. For a moment you think you have entered some majestic nether world, the huge pillars and mystic darkness surrounding them add to the effect, all this on the surface of a rock !
When you reach the spot where the main idol of Lord Subramanya is carved, you would have actually entered inside the granite rock !
There are idols for Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvathi, Lord Muruga, Lord Ganesha and interestingly Lord Vishnu. These idols have all been carved on the face of the rock. It is dark and hot inside here. By the time you come out, you will be relieved to breathe some fresh air but, the spiritual experience that you get inside is something else altogether !
From outside, you wouldn’t believe that this temple could be of such grand proportions, as we walked around, we found it hard to even begin to imagine how such a huge granite rock was cut through or drilled to build those pillars with all that sculpture and achieve such grandeur ! It left us awestruck, even those among us who did not show much interest in architecture and sculpture exclaimed that this one was a marvel indeed !
We have no pictures to show you because as usual, photography is prohibited inside the temple. It is good in a way because it is not just about seeing the pictures, one needs to visit these places in person, see and experience for oneself !
– The temple is open from 5 AM to 1 PM and 4 PM to 9 PM
– For more information on the temple and pictures check out the temple website http://thirupparankundrammurugantemple.com/index.htm
– Pazhamudircholai is also close to Madurai, located at a distance of 25 kms. We missed visiting it during this trip.
– Public transport, autos, cabs are easily available from Madurai.
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