Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rock Concert - Kailasanathar Temple - Kanchipuram

Rock Concert

My second stop in Kanchipuram town was this architectural wonder which is a 10 mins drive from the town centre. There was not a hint of what was to come on the road to Kailasanathar Temple. Reminds me of the minutes before the start of a rock show. The air of anticipation, the nervous laughs , the seeming quietness, all shattered when the stars make a grand entrance in a cocktail of high energy, thumping music, psychedelic lights and what not. The effect was no different. I found the temple suddenly looming large in front of me. Talk of making a grand entry, the Kailasanathar temple did a class act. I don’t recall if I had mentally logged out, hence the suddenness of this vision. It jolts you out of your reverie and you realize you are in the rock show of the millennium. “Rock Show” albeit of a different kind sans the high decibel sound and tattooed teens frisking around.

The temple is of modest size .One notable difference is the absence of an imposing Gopuram which is a standard for the next generation temples. The modest size coupled with the compact footprint of the design helps you remain focused and your experience a lot more intimate.

The Kailashanathar temple has a 4 tiered Vimana built entirely in sandstone and adorned with the most beautiful sculptures. It’s amazing how the sculptors manage to get the proportions right. The design is a precursor to future Dravidian temples. The evolution of future temples on a standard set so high, benefitted humanity for generations in keeping the spiritual tradition alive.

There are 2 cloisters encircling the sanctum. The one outside is open to the sky , where there is a profusion of sculptures on the walls and miniature shrines skillfully meshed in the walls makes it a free flowing seamless work of art.The inner cloister encircling the sanctum has an interesting twist to the tale. There is a small opening through which you crawl for the customary pradkashinam and a similar opening at the other end for you to crawl out. I stuck my head in to check if this was worth the adventure and found that beyond the opening, it had a large enough passage with a high ceiling through which one can comfortably walk. I tend to get claustrophobic and found this was well within my level of endurance. I was all set to go, but I had to tick off one more item in my check list.

Is the opening big enough for my 38” waist ????

No problem at all. They had bigger guys in mind when they designed it.

The legend according to one of the priests is that each pradakshinam helps you skip a cycle of rebirth. I managed to finish one round. In case you guys find my status “not checked in” in one of your future incarnations, you know why.

The sanctum has a large shivalingam with a very beautiful Somaskandar panel on the wall behind it. The priest was an old man who was keen to explain the history of the place and did the archana with sincerity. What beats me is that this is not a Paadal petra Sthalam. Sundarar who has sung songs in Onakanthan Thali which is a stones throw away is unlikely to have skipped this architectural wonder. In all probability the songs on this temple have been lost. .

For the historically inclined , the Kailasanathar temple was built and consecrated during the reign of the Pallava King Narashimavarma II between 690 – 730 AD who ruled over a vast empire with Kanchipuram as the capital. The Pallavas were forward thinking and the city flourished under their reign.

How do I reach there : Google map address 12 55'08.40"N 80 02'33.47"E.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Onakanthan Thali

Video of the preist extolling the virtues of the temple

onakanthan thali

God Oneswaran
Goddess Kamakshi
Songs Sundarar – 10
Sthala Vriksham
Directions Near Panchupettai Electric substation on the Arakonam highway
Driving back to Bangalore late evening, I took a detour to Kanchipuram as the prospect of driving late night after a long day at work was far less enticing than a hot bath and a nice bed . “Kanchi” known as the land of temples is 75 km from Chennai and uniquely positioned. Being close to a major metropolis one has access to the comforts of modernity while soaking in the charm of the simple uncluttrered life of a small town. I was lucky as I landed on the day of Prodasham and the whole town was agog with activity. Having been city bred and grown largely on a diet of “I, Me, Myself “, the spectacle of the whole town coming out as one, to celebrate an event reminded me of some of the simple joys I have been denying myself. But then, that’s another story and I will cover the celebrations on another post and will confine myself to the topic of today.

This is the first of the “Paadal Petra Sthalam” *, I will elaborate on.

“Onakanthan Thali “ is about 3 km from the Kanchi town and is close to the Panchupettai electric substation. This was my 2nd visit to the temple, the last being 10 years earlier. I was drawn to the temple again ,largely by the passion and eloquence of the priest (see video). I reached the temple at 7.30 am and found the temple being swept and the main sanctum closed. The priest was waiting patiently for the cleaning to be completed, updating himself from Dhina Thanthi on the latest happenings in the state. The moment the cleaning was completed he was up and about.
He opened the door to the sanctum and very deftly closed the screen. I waited patiently for the darshan and I could hear him going about his chores and lighting the lamp. I didn’t have to wait for long, for in a flash he opened the screen. Never in my life was I so overwhelmed at the sight in front of me. The flower decoration of the previous day on account of Pradosham was stunning. I stood there numb with joy and ecstasy unaware of the tears flowing. What could one ask for when there is wholesome contentment?

The legends associated with the temple:

The Shivlingams were worshipped by Onan and Kanthan who were commanders of the demon King Vanasuran. These are 2 temples in a single compound with a 3rd temple dedicated to Jalandeswaran adjacent to it . “ Oneswaran “ is the bestower of wealth , “Gandeswaran” the bestower of happiness in family life and Jalandeswaran is the bestower of Victory.

However the most prominent legend is that of Sundereswar who had beseeched the lord of Onakanthan thali for wealth by singing 10 padigams . Moved by the devotion and the rich poetry, the lord rained gold coins. For the uninitiated ,Sundarar is one of the 63 Nayanmars

* Paadal Petra Sthalam : These are 274 Shiva temples glorified in rich tamil poetry sung in praise of Lord Shiva by the Nayanmars predominantly by the 4 saints viz : Appar, Sundarar, Manikavachagar and Thirunyanasambandar known as "Naalvar" . They lived in the 8th century. Hence these temples are more than 1300 year old. These temples are rich in antiquity and have stood the test of time and have still retained the magnetic pull over centuries. The energy levels in these temples is high . So high that it actually sizzles as if beckoning to all mankind to rise above borders, race, religion and look deep within .

These are early days in my attempt at blogging. I appreciate your views on the posting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Devarayana Durga

Atop of a hill at 3950 ft was the juicy bait to visit Yoga Narshima Temple at Devarayanadurga. Bhavani and I set off on a Sat morning. We packed our lunch which in hindsight was a good decision as there were no restaurants atop of the hill. The drive was spectacular and a good road right till the top.
The temple is fairly well maintained. This seems to be a popular temple in this area and seems to be family deity for many. Going down a flight of step to the fresh water spring was an experience by itself.
For a truly invigorating experience a trek to the top of the hill would be a great idea.