A couple of weeks back me and few of my friends from office decided to visit some temples in the Chola Empire. We managed to visit more than 10 temples in the two days stay there.
Day 1 :
Early morning 4 30 AM we reached Chidambaram. The weather was cold. We brushed our teeth and had our first coffee at the nearby Iyer coffee shop. The perfect start to our Chola Empire trip. After that we took bath and headed to the Chidambaram Natarajar Temple. We were very lucky to witness the pooja performed by keeping the linga outside. After that we witnessed the Chidambara Ragasiyam (Chidambara Secret) and it took us two full hours to see the entire temple.
Then we headed to the bus stand to have our break fast. After break fast we went to Thiruvetkalam. The Pasupateswarar Temple there is a 1000 year old temple. It was maintained well by who ever maintains it (I am not sure if it is maintained by the Govt. Bala can clarify that).
After that we headed to Sirkazhi. The Bhramapureeswarar Temple where Tirugnanasambandar got his wisdom. At this temple we met an old man who lived in Sirkazhi. He became our guide in the temple and he said about the sculptures in the temple and also taught us some valuable yoga lessons. Subbu has written about him here.
From there we headed to the Vaitheeswaran Swamy Temple in Vaitheeswaran Koil. Lord Vaitheeswaran Swamy and his Consort Thaiyalnayaki Ambal are the main deities there. After our prayers Subbu wanted to check his Nadi Josiyam. Vaitheeswaran Koil is a very famous place for seeing Nadi Josiyam. We all gave our thumb prints and the people there found our Olai ( Leaves in which Agasthiya Minuvar has written about our history some thousands of years back ). After getting our olai’s read we started from there to Mayiladuthurai. On the way to Mayiladuthurai we were discussing about the Nadi josiyam and found that the Olai was found only for me and Subbu. Bala’s and Gopi’s olai was not found but the fellow reading that managed to collect all the informations from them and told the information back to them. :)
Then we reached Mayladuthurai around 1 PM. Perfect time for lunch. We headed straight to Hotel Kaliyakudi. The lunch was excellent and the Halwa there was simple irresistible.
From there we headed to Thirunallar Saneeswarar Temple. We reached there by 4 PM. So we went to the tank to take a dip before going to the temple. After visiting the temple we decided we could also cover Kaaraikal. So we went to Kaaraikal and visited the Kaaraikal Ammayar temple. We had our evening coffee and vada there and started to Kumbakonam.
Everyone except me wanted to go to a movie in Kumbakonam. We should have taken cue from the comment by the Auto Driver (Nobody goes to theater to watch movies in Kumbakonam). We ignored that and after our dinner we headed to the nearest theater to watch a movie. The movie that was screened there was Bommalattam. There was only 10 people in the theater including the 4 of us. We had to fight with the theater authorities to switch on the fan above our seats. The movie was good except that it was originally taken in Hindi and dubbed in tamil. Subbu was commenting about the movie in the first half and slept through the second half. We reached our hotel room at 1 30 AM and decided to sleep since it was a very long day for us and also since the next day we had to visit many temples.
Day 2 :
We got up only at 7 AM and had our coffees brought to the room. After having our coffee and taking bath we started to visit the temples in Kumbakonam. Kumbakonam is known for its temples and everywhere we turn we found temples. We visited the Kumbeshwarar Temple, Ramasamy Temple, Sakkarapaani Temple and Saarangapani Temple. That was all we could manage to cover in 3 hours.
We then got into a bus to Thirunaageswaram. First we visited the Raghustalam. After the darshan there we went to Uppiliappan Temple which is also in the same village.
We then came back to Kumbakonam and visited the Mahamaham tank. After that we went for lunch. Post lunch we decided we will go and take a bath in Cauvery. But when we reached there we found that it was in a very bad state and we decided against taking bath there. So we went back to our hotel room for an afternoon nap.
At 3 30 PM we started to Tanjore the capital of the Chola Empire. We reached there at 5 30 PM just in time before the palace closes. We saw the various sculptures that were in display there and took some photographs.
From there we went to the Tanjore Big Temple (Thanjavur Periya Koil). This was really a beautiful temple. It is maintained by the Archeological department and they are really doing a wonderful job in maintainging and beautifying the temple. It was my first time there and I was really impressed by its size and beauty. After our darshan we were idling in the garden inside the Temple campus. After some time we decided we will go to the bus stand and have our dinner and board our bus to Chennai. It is at this time Bala found his sudden interest in flute and like a kid would not move from the shop without buying a flute. The shop keeper finding this was all praise for Bala and his interest and started suggesting flutes for him and for us as well. He managed to sell 3 flutes to us. Bala was all smiles after buying the flutes. Bala – Have you atleast opened the paper cover in which we bought the flute?
After having our dinner we boarded the bus back to Chennai.
Overall this trip was a fascinating one for us since all the places that we visited calm and we found hospitality whereever we went. Even the cops there was ready to help us with the directions. Had it been Chennai the cops would have given us a stare if we had asked them for directions.
Also I am planning to write few posts on the histories of these temples as heard from the people living in those towns.