Sunday, 22 December 2013

Appu Lingam Sametha Sri Akilandeswari in Jambukeswaram


Akilandeswari temple at Thiruvanaikaval in Tamil Nadu is dedicated to goddess Akilandeswari, which is one of the forms of Goddess Parvati. According to legend Goddess Parvati was sent to earth to do a penance by Lord Shiva. She had offended the Lord and to win back his affection she had made a lingam known as “Appu Lingam” and started worshipping daily. Lord Shiva was pleased with her devotion and forgave her.

There is perennial oozing of water from under neath Sivalinga in the sanctum Sanctorum, which is emptied at regular intervals.

Lord Siva is said to have sat under a Jambu tree and done penance to have the darshan of Lord Vishnu in order to get rid of the sin of Brahmahatya(killing of a repository of Vedas).
Akilandeswari, the Mother of the Universe, is said to have worshipped the Lord in this temple.  Symbolically even today, at noon the priest, dressed in a saree, performs pooja to sri Jambukeswara.

It is said Sri Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada consecrated the Thatanga(earrings) Chakra, now adorning the ears of the Devi.  Sri Adi Sankara installed a Ganapathy Vigraha in front of Sri Akilandeswari and this contained her Ugrakalai-malignant aspects.

Jambukeswaram (known as Tiruvanaikkaval in Tamil), a place of pilgrimage in Tamilnadu. It is on the northern bank of the river Cauvery and 5 K.M. north of Trichy. The temple is one of the largest (having a spread of nearly 18 acres) and historic temples
in the country. It dates back to the 13th century and has been visited by the great saivaite saints who had sung hymns on the presiding deity - Lord Shiva in the temple. It seems that the temple was once a forest of jambu trees and there was a Shiva linga under one of the trees. So Shiva came to be known as Jambunatha or Jambukeswara. This is a Shiva temple associated with one of the five great elements.

The Lord after eating the fruit spitted the seed. Jambu Munivar took and swallowed the seed, as it is sacred as the seed came from the Lord’s mouth. Immediately a 'Naaval' tree began to grow in the Saint's head. The Saint prayed to Lord Siva that He should take his abode under that tree.

The temple was restored during the Vijayanagar rule and the worship also revived. The goddess Parvathi in the temple has the name Akilandeswari. She is said to have meditated on lord Shiva here. Her shrine is very famous and attracts large number of visitors. Adi Shankaracharya is said to have visited the temple and worshipped the Lord and goddess here. Legend. As said earlier the Shiva lingam was under a jambu tree. Two devotees of Shiva were born as a spider and an elephant in the forest due to a curse. Both were regularly worshipping the lord in their own way. The spider would weave a web over the lingam to protect it from the falling leaves. The elephant brought flowers and water in its trunk for bathing the lingam before offering the flowers. But it would clear off the web the spider has built first. This act angered the spider very much. Soon a fierce fight broke out between the two resulting in the death of both. Pleased with their devotion Lord Shiva appeared before them and blessed them. Shince Shiva was worshipped by an elephant (aanai in Tamil) here the place is called Aanaikkaa.

Devi Parvati as a student:-

Lord Siva at last gave dharshan to Akilandeswari and taught her Siva Gnana. Devi Parvati took 'Upadesa' (lessons) facing East from Shiva, who stood facing West. So as the temples idols are also installed in the same direction. Such places are known as 'Upadesa Sthalams'.
As the Devi was like a student and the Lord like a Guru in this temple, there is no 'Thiru Kalyanam' (marriage) conducted in this temple for Lord & the Devi, unlike the other Shiva temples. As Akilandeswari worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple, even today at noon the 'Archakar' (priest) dresses like a female and does Pooja to Lord Shiva and 'Ko Maatha' (Cow).
This noon Pooja is very famous and pilgrims wait for this Pooja every day. Annabhishekam to Lingam (Abishekam with cooked rice) is a daily ritual at Thiruvanaikoil.

The Story of Elephant and Spider:-

'Malyavan' and 'Pushpadanta' were two Siva Ganas (Siva's disciples who live in Kailash). They always quarreled with each other and fight for one thing or other. During a quarrel 'Malyavan' cursed 'Pushpadanta' to become an elephant in earth and the 'Pushpadanta' cursed the 'Malyavan' to become a spider in earth.
Both the elephant and the spider came to Jambukeshwaram and continued their Shiva worship. The elephant collected water from river Cauvery and conducted Abhishekam to the lingam under the Jambu tree daily. The spider constructed his web over the lingam to prevent dry leaves from dropping on it and prevent Sunlight directly felling on Shiva.
The elephant saw the web constructed by the spider and thought that as dust on Lord Shiva and tore them and cleaned the Lingam by pouring water. This happened daily. The spider became angry one day and crawled into the trunk of the elephant and bit the elephant to death killing itself. Lord Siva, moved by the deep devotion of the two relieved them from their curses.

In the next birth the Spider was born as the King Ko Chengot Chola and built 70 temples and Thiruvanaikoil is the one among them. Remembering his enmity with the elephant in his previous birth, he built the Lord Shiva ‘Sannathi’(Sanctorum) such that not even a small elephant can enter. The entrance on the sanctorum of Lord Shiva is only 4 foot high and 2.5 foot wide.


The goddess of this temple is 'Akilandeswari' ('Amman'). The Amman is also called as Akilandanyaki. Akilandeswari is pronounced as 'Akilam - Aanda – Eswari' (Akilam – Universe, Aanda – Ruler, Eswari – Goddess).

Legend of the temple in a Sculpture in a Pillar in the temple:-

Lord Siva at last gave darshan to Akilandeswari and taught her Siva Gnana. Devi Parvati took 'Upadesa' (lessons) facing East from Shiva, who stood facing West. So as the temples idols are also installed in the same direction. Such places are known as 'Upadesa Sthalams'. As the Devi was like a student and the Lord like a Guru in this temple, there is no 'Thiru Kalyanam' (marriage) conducted in this temple for Lord & the Devi, unlike the other Shiva temples.
As Akilandeswari worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple, even today at noon the 'Archakar' (priest) dresses like a female and does Pooja to Lord Shiva and 'Go Maatha' (Cow). This noon pooja is very famous and pilgrims wait for this pooja every day. For the purpose of this pooja the temple is growing a 'Karam Pasu' (complete black color cow). Annabhishekam to Lingam (Abishekam with cooked rice) is a daily ritual at Thiruvanaikoil.

 It is said Sri Adi Sankara Bhagavadpada consecrated the Thotongo (earrings) Chakra, now adorning the ears of the Devi. Sri Adi Sankara installed a Ganapathy Vigraha in front of Sri Akilandeswari and this contained her Ugrakalai -- malignant aspects .

Appu Lingam:-

This is Appu or water linga among the five lingas dedicated to five elements. -Pancha Bootha Kshetras There is perennial oozing of water from underneath the Shivalinga in the Sanctum sanctorum which is emptied at regular intervals.
As this temple represents water this is also called as 'Appu Sthalam' and the Shiva lingam ('Swami') here is called as 'Appu Lingam'.
Goddess Parvati made a Lingam out of water of river Cauvery (also called as river 'Ponni').
The Shiva Lingam is placed under the Venn naaval tree in this temple. Even today one can see that Venn Naaval tree at the temple, which is said to be many hundred years old.


Chola King “Ko Chengot Cholan” (He is also called as Chenkannan) constructed this temple in 1st Century B.C. Ko Chengot Chola had built 70 other Shiva temples all over Tamil Nadu and he is one among the 63 “Nayannmars” (Holy Saivite saints). Thiruvanaikoil temple was built according to ‘Saiva Aagama Sasthra’. According to Saiva Agamam, the temple reflects the human body and the idol of Lord Shiva is considered as the soul. Many other kings like Pandiyas and Nayakars of Madurai later renovated this temple.

The 2nd and 3rd praharams were built in 13th century A.D. and the 4th Praharam was constructed in the late 13th century A.D.

There is eight other “Kodi Maram” (flag masts) in this temple in the 3rd praharam. Apart from the main huge “Kodi Maram” in front of the Lord and one in front of Devi Akilandeswari. Thiruvanaikoil temple was built in an area close to 18 acres and measures 2500 feet by 1500 feet. The temple has five “Praharams”. All the temple “Madhils” (wall) are 35 ft. high and 6 ft. thick and measures 2436 feet by 1493 feet. The “Swami” (Shivalinga) is installed facing West and “Ambaal” (Akilandeswari) facing East.
The Sri Jambukeshwara Temple is dedicated to Lord Siva and has five concentric walls and seven gopurams. It is built around a Siva lingam partly submerged in water that comes from a spring in the sanctum sanctorum. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. The complex was built in the same time when Sri Ranganathaswamy temple was also built.

There are many mandapams in the temple, a 1000 Pillar, on the North West corner of the 3rd praharam and a 100 Pillar Mandapam on the North East corner of the 3rd Praharam, Vasanta mandapam (The mandapam is surrounded by pool of water where Lord Shiva and Goddess Akilandeswari are worshipped on summer evenings), Somaskandha mandapam, Nataraja mandapam, Trimurthi mandapam, etc. The thousand-pillared mandapam looks like a chariot.

Gopurams Raja Gopuram:-

This is the Gopuram in the West 5th Praharam (the main entrance). The other 3 entrances of 5th praharam have no Gopurams.

Sundarapandiyan Gopuram:-

The East Gopuram on the 4th praharam. Pandiya King Jadavarman Sundarapandian constructed this.

Mallappan Gopuram:-

This is the West Gopuram in the 4th Praharam. King Sandhirabendiran son of King AdhithayDevan built this in 1435 A.D.

There are nine Theerthams in this temple, all of which held very sacred.

Legend behind king’s red eyes:-

There was a story behind the king’s red eyes – When he was in his mother’s womb the palace astrologer predicted a sacred time to give birth to enable the newborn’s well being. The queen went into labor early, before the time predicted by the astrologer. The queen hence told the servant to hang her upside down for the time to come so that she could have a wise and virtuous son who could head the kingdom righteously. This waiting time inside the womb made the baby’s eyes red. After becoming the king, he build the temple for Siva and Goddess Akilandeswari in the name of Aanaikka (elephant protected) later days it changed to Thiruvanaikovil.

How to reach:-

By Air:-
The nearest airport is at Trichy (10-km).

By Rail:-
Srirangam is an important railway junction on the meter-gauge of Southern Railway and is well connected with the towns and cities of the state.

By Road:-
Srirangam situated on the National Highway No.45 on Tiruchirapalli-Madras route is well connected by road with the major towns and cities within and beyond the state. For local transportation taxis, auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and city buses are available.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Kasi Annapoorneswari Devi Shakthi Peetam,Kasi

Kasi Annapoorneswari:-

Varanasi is one of the famous pilgrim place in India. In this place you can see Kasi Viswanath Temple. It's one of the Jyothirlingam of Lord Parama Shiva, Annapurna Devi and you can see the goddess Parvathi Sakthi Peeta of Sri Kasi Visalakshi, the goddess sathi devi organ wrist has fell down in this area. People believes that Lord Parama Shiva has lived in this Varanasi. There are nearly 300 ghats in this location. Varanasi (Kashi, Banaras) has also been a great center of learning for ages. The city is very famous for Banaras Sarees. Among the mukthi sthal of Kasi, it is considered the holiest place due to the combination of Lord Parama shiva, Goddesses Annapoorna Devi, Kasi Visalkshi and River Ganga. In Hindu tradition, people strongly believes that whoever give up their life in Kasi attains Moksha.
The word ‘Anna’ means food and grains and ‘Purna’ means full or complete. It is believed that by worshiping this goddess one will never be out of food anytime in life. She is a form (avatar) of the Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva and resides atop of Mount Annapurna. She is depicted with a jewelled vessel containing food in one hand and a spoon in the other to distribute the food to her devotees. Lord Shiva is normally depicted as begging for food to her with his skull begging bowl. Mata Sri Annapurneshwari Devi is the Goddess for the fourth day of Durga Navrathri. Goddess Annapoorna Devi (Bhavani Devi) is also the Supreme Goddess of the city of Kasi (now known as Varanasi), the city where moksha (freedom from the cycle of birth and rebirth) could be attained. She is also referred to as ‘the Queen of Varnasi’.
The Birthday of this Goddess is observed as Annapurna Jayanti. This day falls on Margashirsha Purnima, the full moon day which falls in the month of Margashirsh.
Kasi is the place which helps the physical body to manifest consciousness to its highest level. Even Lord Shiva had begged alms from Goddess Annapurna. She is the supreme energy of Lord Shiva for achieving perfection in knowledge and renunciation. Annapurna is another form of Goddess Parvati who grants nourishment. She is the life force of Shiva. He is incomplete without Goddess Annapurna. To attain perfection in wisdom and renunciation, Shiva seeks her nourishment.

Her understanding teaches us that mysticism is about giving. The renunciation she teaches allows us to be in equability in every situations of life. Celestial Mother Annapurna nurtures us each day by giving us food for our bodies as well as sustaining our breathing and our lives in so many ways. We have to thank her for that entire she has given us in the earlier period and persists to do so in the current and will do, if it be her will in the future. It is a gorgeous gift to have the blessings of the mother, so have to thank Divine Mother from our heart.

Mother Annapurna inspires us to nourish others, to give our best, consistent in the wisdom that the greatest joy comes from renunciation. As we can free ourselves from attachment we experience more and more of the bliss of Sankara, the name of Shiva which literally means the cause of peace.

History of Annapoorneswari:-

Shiva and Parvati often played Dice in their conjugal abode on Mount Kailasa . Once to make the game more exciting and interesting, Shiva asked Parvati to bet her Jewels and he betted his trident. If he won, he would get Parvati’s jewels. If Parvati won, she would get Shiva’s trident. But Parvati won the game and Shiva lost his trident to her. Not to give up so easily, Shiva now betted his serpent in the next game. That also he lost to Parvati.

Then in a bid to win the consequent games that followed, he kept wagering all his possessions – his skull bowl, his rudraksha beads, his ash, his drum, his smoking pipe and even his loin cloth – he lost them all to Parvati in the Game of Dice.

Humiliated by his defeat, Shiva went off in seclusion to the Deodar Forest . Seeing his plight, Lord Vishnu offered to help and asked him to play again with Parvati assuring him that this time he would definitely win all the games of Dice, thus regaining back his possessions from Parvati.

So Shiva went back to Parvati and enticed her for another round of games. He won all of them but Parvati felt suspicious of Shiva’s sudden success, calling him a Cheat. Shiva outraged by the accusation, demanded an apology. It led to heated debates and hurling of insults and abuses between the couple.

Seeing their Commotion, Vishnu came to pacify them. He revealed to Parvati the secret of Shiva’s victories. He said that his spirit had entered the dice and that the dice didn’t work according to their moves but as per his wish. So neither Shiva had really won nor had Parvati actually lost. The game was an illusion and their quarrel was a product of their delusion.

On hearing Vishnu, Shiva and Parvati realised that life was like their game of dice – very unpredictable and beyond control.

Shiva told Parvati that the world is an illusion. Nature is an illusion. Matter is just a mirage, here one moment, gone the next. Even Food is just Maya.

Parvati, mother of all material things including food, lost her temper. “If I am just an illusion, let’s see how you and the rest of the world get along without me,” she said and disappeared from the world.

Her disappearance caused havoc in the cosmos. Time stood still, seasons did not change, the earth became barren and there was a terrible drought. There was no food to be found in the three worlds of Akaash, Pataal and Dharti. Gods, demons and humans kept suffering from the pangs of hunger. “Salvation makes no sense to an empty stomach”, cried the sages.

Seeing all the suffering, Parvati’s heart melted and she appeared at Kashi and set up a Kitchen. Hearing about her return, Shiva ran to her with all other hungry mendicants and presented his bowl in alms saying, “Now I realise that the material world, like the spirit, cannot be dismissed as an illusion.”

Parvati smiled and fed Shiva with her own hands.

Legend has it that Shiva made an agreement with Goddess Annapoorna that she look after life before death, ensuring that no one went hungry in the sacred city of Kasi, while he would ensure they received moksha (freedom from the cycle of birth & death). Annapoorna is Kasi's queen. She is known in the Kasi Khanda as Bhavani, the female shakti of Bhava, "Being," one of the names of Shiva. The name Annapoorna means "She of Plenteous Food." She is called the "Mother of the Three Worlds," and she promises to those who come to her what only a mother can give, naturally and freely - food.

Annapurna Devi temple:-

The most well-known temple dedicated to Goddess Annapurna is in Varanasi, U.P., India. Adjacent to the Sanctum of the Goddess is the Kasi Viswanath temple. The two are separated by only a few yards. Annapurna is regarded as the queen of Varanasi alongside her husband Vishweshwar (Shiva), the King of Varanasi.


Annapurna is described as holding a golden ladle adorned with various kinds of jewels in Her right hand and a vessel full of delicious porridge in Her left. She is seated on a throne.


Sage Vyasa:-

Once, Sage Vyasa was visiting kashi and he had a difficult time getting alms in that city -he was so hungry that he got angry and put a curse obn the city that kashi will be impoverished for ever- there will be no wealth, knowledge, liberation for generations. but, sage vyasa did not give up... he continued to beg for alms till he reached a house where Shiva and Parvati had taken human form as a married couple. Parvati welcomed sage vyasa and served him a delicious feast. once sage vyasa's hunger was satisfied, he was immensely pleased - he removed the curse and said " kashi is the best place to live because one can get food and liberation at the same time."

>but lord shiva wanted to teach sage vyasa a lesson so he banished the sage from kashi.. permitting him to visit only on the eighth and fourteenth day of the fortnight, which are days reserved for the worshi[ of the Goddess and Shiva. In order tobe near at hand, Vyasa took up residence on the other side of river Ganges,where his temple may still be seen at Ramnagar.


Sri Annapurna Ashtakam composed by Shankaracharya is chanted by several devout Hindus around the world as a prayer for nourishment, wisdom, and renunciation. Before partaking of any food, Hindus chant the following prayer:

‘Oh Annapurna, who is always full, complete, and perfect. Beloved energy of Lord Shiva, for the attainment of perfection in wisdom and renunciation, give me alms, Parvati.

My mother is Goddess Parvati, my father is the Supreme Lord Maheswara (Shiva). My relatives are the devotees of Lord Shiva, and the three worlds are my Motherland.’

Annapoorna Devi Pooja:-

In the Annapurna stotram there is 1000 names of Annapurna Devi, which are chanted at the time of ‘Annapurna puja', which reverberates with different sounds. At the time of puja overjoyed children install the idol, women full of activity with ‘puja' preparations to men shouting instructions to workers set up pandals. And, the shiny eyes of all replicate the sense of being part of a big incident. It is mainly the puja of the women, because every woman is the ‘annapurna' in their own family. And the divine goddess put her blessings and potential to them as they can carry on their family with full vitality.

Types of Pooja:-

The place of worship is open from 04:00 am to 10:00 p.m Aarties are conducted early morning 12:00 noon & 08:30 & 10:00 p.m ,There is also annadanam daily at the temple premises in the afternoon where devotees can get free food.

Madurai Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Swamy Temple, Madurai

Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareshwarar:-

Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple (often called Meenakshi Amman Temple) is situated in the heart of the Madurai City, covering an area of 17 acres, the entire city being built around it.
Lord Shiva as Sundareswara or the Lord of beauty. The other sanctuaries is dedicated to Meenakshi, the wife of Shiva. Meenakshi is seen holding a parrot and a bouquet in her hand. The original temple created by Kulasekara Pandyan in the early years was in ruins. The present temple was reconstructed in the early 17th century by Tirumala Nayak. The temple is surrounded by Aadi, Chittiraj and the Massi streets.

Meenakshi (Meena meaning fish and akshi meaning eye) is the principal deity of the temple, and not Sundareswarar - this is unlike most Shiva temples in India where usually Shiva is the principal deity. And legend has it that Madurai is the actual place where the wedding of Shiva and Meenakshi took place. The Meenakshi temple complex is one of the largest and certainly one of the most ancient in the world. In fact it was in the list of top 30 nominees of the “New Seven Wonders of the world”. The temple is situated in the heart of the city covering an area of 17 acres, the entire city was built around it.

       Contrary to the custom followed in all the major temples of Tamil Nadu Goddess Meenakshi (meaning fish eyed) is worshipped first by the devotees in this temple. In other temples the male deity will be worshiped first. Here Arti/Deeparadhana is done to Meenakshi first.
        Meenakshi was born with three breasts. The Pandya king and the queen, who were her parents, were told that the third breast will disappear when she sees the right man. This happened when she met Lord Sundareswarar (Shiva). Even today a statue with three breasts can be seen in Pudumandapam opposite temple.
The lady goddess Meenakshi is the principal deity of the temple and not Sundareswarar - this is unlike most Shiva temples in South India where Shiva is the principal deity.


 The central shrine of Meenakshi and her consort Sundareswarar are surrounded by three enclosures and each of these are protected by four minor towers at the four points of the compass, the outer tower growing larger and reaching higher to the corresponding inner one. The Sundareswara shrine lies at the centre of the complex, suggesting that the ritual dominance of the goddess developed later. Both the Meenakshi and Sundareswarar shrines have gold plated Vimanam (tower over sanctum). The area covered by the shrine of Sundareswarar is exactly one fourth of the area of the temple and that of Meenakshi is one fourth of that of Sundareswara.


 Devi Meenakshi, the fish-eyed Goddess, who stands with a parrot and a bouquet, radiating love and compassion. The sublime grace of the divine Mother and her infinite mercy are beyond words.
The Meenakshi’s idol is beautifully carved and her diamond nose ring dazzles in the glow of the oil lamps. She is always dressed in bright silk and looks gorgeous.


Lord Sundareswarar's shrine is situated in the Northern side of the Kilikoontu Mandapam. There is the idol of Lord Sri Ganesh called as the Mukkurini Pillaiyar. It is believed that the idol was found when the king Thirumalai Nayakar planned to built a tank about 3 kms from the temple. He found the idol and brought the same to the temple and erected it there.

The kadamba tree is present in the outer pragaram of the Lord Shiva's shrine. There is a dancing posture of the Lord present in the Shrine called as the Velli Ambalam which is covered with Silver all over. This is the one of the idol of Nataraja which is called as the Velli Sabhai. There is many Sabhai's present in the temples of Lord Shiva all over the state.
In the next sanctum is the shrine of Lord Nataraja where the Lord is worshiped in the dancing pose with his right foot raised. Adjacent to it is the sanctum of Sundareswarar, which is supported by 64 boothaganas (ghostly hosts), 8 elephants and 32 lions. The Sivalinga, which bears the names of deities such as Chokkanathar and Karpurachockar, inspires deep devotion.


·        There is big statue of Lord Ganesh inside the temple. This 6 X 4 feet statue was discovered when the Nayak king was digging the earth for sand and stones for the temple. A big (Mukkuruni) kozukkattai or modak made up of 18 kilo rice and several kilos of jaggery/sugar is offered to it every year on Ganesh Chathurthy day. Kozukkattai or Modak is a steamed rice offering inside which is Puranam made of coconut or other grains.

History of the Meenakshi Temple:-

The shrine of Meenakshi at Madurai, popularly known as the Meenakshi Temple, was built during the reign of Chadayavarman Sundara Pandyan in the 12th century. The imposing 9-storey tower was built between the 13th and 16th century. During the 200-year reign of Nayakka rulers, many Mandapams (covered structure with pillars) were constructed in the temple premises, like the Hall of Thousand Pillars, Puthu Mandapam, Ashta Sakthi Mnadapam, Vandiyoor Theppakulam, and Nayakkar Mahal. The temple, as it stands today, was built between 12th and 18th century.

Mythology of Meenakshi Temple:-

The divine marriage where brother Vishnu hands his sister Parvati to Shiva (from left, Vishnu, Meenakshi, Shiva).

According to Hindu legend, Shiva came down to earth in the form of Sundareswarar to marry Meenakshi, an incarnation of [Parvati]. Parvati had earlier descended to earth in the form of a small child in response to the great penance of Malayadwaja Pandya, the ruler of Madurai. After growing up to adulthood, she began ruling the city. The Lord appeared on earth and proposed to her. The marriage was supposed to be the biggest event on earth, with the whole earth gathering near Madurai. Vishnu, the brother of Meenakshi, was traveling to preside over the marriage from his holy abode at Vaikuntam. Due to a divine play, he was tricked by god [Indra] and delayed on the way. Meanwhile, the marriage was presided over by a local god [Koodal Azhaghar]. This is celebrated anually as ‘Chitirai Thiruvizha’ in Madurai. During the period of Nayakar rule in Madurai,in order to link the ‘Azhakar Thiruvizha’ and the ‘Chitirai Thiruvizha’ a story was added that Vishnu was angered and swore he’d never cross ‘Vaigai’ Later he was pacified by the other lords. Hence born the ‘Azhaghar Thiruvizha’.

Modern History of Meenakshi Temple:-

The history of the original structure is not properly known, but Tamil literature speaks about the temple for the last couple of millennia. [Thirugnanasambandar], the famous Hindu saint of [Shaiva] philosophy, has mentioned this temple as early as the 7th century, and describes the Lord as Aalavai Iraivan. The temple was believed to have been sacked by the infamous Muslim invader Malik Kafur in 1310and all the ancient elements were destroyed. The initiative to rebuild the structure was taken by [Arya Natha Mudaliyar] , the Prime Minister of the first Nayak of Madurai (1559-1600 A.D.), the founder of ‘Poligar System’. Then came the most valuable contributions of Thirumalai Nayak circa 1623 to 1659. He took considerable interest in erecting the Vasantha Mandapa of the temple complex.

About Madurai:-

The city of Madurai has been constructed in the form of a lotus and is built around the temple. Owing to its rich cultural heritage and architectural splendor, the city is often referred to as the 'Athens of the East'. The origin of Madurai dates back to the Sangam period, the golden period of Tamil Literature.According to mythology Madurai was earlier a forest called Kadambavanam. Once a merchant passing through the forest saw Indran, the King of Gods worshipping a Swayambhulingam under a Kadam tree. This was immediately reported to King Kulsekarer Pandayan. The king cleared the forest and built a splendid temple, known as the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarer Temple, around the holy Lingam and later built a beautiful lotus-shaped city surrounding the temple.In 302 BC, Megasthanes visited Madurai and was followed by Marcopolo and Ibn Batuta, all of whom mentioned about their visit in their travelogues. There were many others travelers, from countries like Rome and Greece, who visited the city and established trade with the Pandya Kings. Madurai was captured by the Cholas in the 10th century AD and was ruled till the end of the 13th century. In 1223 AD, Pandyas came to power again and patronized the Tamil language. The city became prosperous during the reign of the Pandya Kings.Many master-pieces or "Silapathikaram" were created during that time.


According to Hindu legend, in order to answer the prayers of the second Pandya king Malayadwaja Pandya and his wife Kanchanamalai, Goddess Parvati appeared out of the Holy Fire of the Putra Kameshti Yagna performed by the king.

According to another legend, the goddess herself had given a boon to Kanchanamalai in one of her previous births that she will have the privelege of mothering the goddess. This girl, who came out of the holy fire had three breasts, to the king's shock. A voice from the heavens told him not be worried and that the third breast will vanish as soon as the girl meets her future husband. The happy king named the girl as 'Tadaatagai' and brought her up.

The girl does not have any realization of her birth and she grows up as a normal human girl. Being the heir to the throne after Malayadwaja, Tadaatagai was trained carefully in all the 64 fields of knowledge, which includes warfare, too. As the time came when Tadaatagai should be coronated, according to the customs, she had to wage war on the three worlds across eight directions (Digvijayam).

After conquering Satyaloka (Lord Brahma's Abode), Vaikuntha (Lord Vishnu's Abode) and Amaravati (the Divine Abode of the Devas), she advanced to Kailasha (Lord Shiva's Abode). She very easily defeats the Ganas and Nandi, the celestial bull, she headed to attack and conquer Shiva, the owner of the place. No sooner she looked at the Lord, the third breast vanished immediately.

Tadaatagai, realizes the reason and understands that Lord Shiva is her destined husband, and she realizes that she is the incarnation of Parvati. Then both of them return to Madurai and the king arranges the coronation ceremony of his daughter, followed by her marriage with Shiva, the next day.

The marriage was supposed to be the biggest event on earth, with the whole earth gathering near Madurai. Vishnu, the brother of Meenakshi, was traveling to preside over the marriage from his holy abode at Vaikuntam. Due to a divine play, he was tricked by God Indra and delayed on the way.

Meanwhile, the marriage was presided over by a local god from Thirupparankundram Pavalaakanivaai Perumal. This is celebrated annually as 'Chitirai Thiruvizha' in Madurai.

During the period of Nayakar rule in Madurai, the ruler Thirumalai Nayakar then linked the 'Azhakar Thiruvizha' and the 'Meenakshi Wedding'. Hence born the 'Azhaghar Thiruvizha' or 'Chithirai Thiruvizha'.

Story of Kannagi:-

In fact, the Madurai that we know today is not the Madurai of ancient times, for it is said that the entire city was once destroyed in an all-consuming fire. The story behind that fire is told in the 5,270-lined epic poem Cilappatikaram ["The Story of the Jewelled Anklets"] written by a Jain monk by the name of Ilango Atikal in the 5th century C.E. According to the author of the poem, it is a story about the importance for kings following dharma, the glory of a chaste woman and the effects of past-life karma.

Although Cilappatikaram was written only 1,500 years ago; the story itself is much older. The poet-monk only learned of the story when visiting the countryside near the Periyaru River with his brother, Senkuttuvan, a Chera King. On the banks of the river, villagers told the king and Ilango the story of Kannagi, a woman with a single breast who sat down under a tree and did austerities for 15 days, without food or water, until she died. The villagers worshipped Kannagi as the Goddess of Chastity, and her story so inspired the king that he asked his brother to immortalize it in poetry for the benefit of mankind.

Rather than retell the story, here are lines extracted from the translation by Professor A.L. Basham from the original Tamil.

Kovalan, the son of a wealthy merchant in Kaverippattinam, married Kannagi, the lovely daughter of another merchant. For some time they lived together happily, until, at a festival at the royal court, Kovalan met the dancer Madavi and fell in love with her. He bought her favours and in his infatuation forgot Kannagi and his home.

Gradually he spent all his wealth on the dancer. At last he was penniless, and returned repentantly to his uncomplaining wife. Their only fortune was a precious pair of anklets, which she gave to him willingly. With these as their capital they decided to go to the great city of Madurai, where Kovalan hoped to recoup his fortunes by trade.

On their arrival at Madurai, they found shelter in a cottage, and Kovalan went to the market to sell one of Kannagi's anklets. But the queen of Nedunjeliyan, the king of the Pandyas, had just been robbed of a similar anklet by a wicked court jeweller.

The jeweller happened to see Kovalan with Kannagi's anklet, and immediately seized it and informed the king. Guards were sent to apprehend Kovalan, who was then killed on the king's orders. When the news was brought to Kannagi, she went out into the town, with her eyes ablaze with anger, carrying the remaining anklet in her hand as proof of her husband's innocence. [The city caught ablaze from the fire in her eyes.]

At last the patron goddess of the city [Meenakshi] interceded with Kannagi, and she agreed to withdraw her curse, and the fire abated. Weak with loss of blood from her self-amputated breast, Kannagi struggled to a hill outside the city4, where after a few days she died, and was reunited with Kovalan in Heaven. Meanwhile the news of her death spread throughout the Tamil Land. She was deified, temples were raised and festivals held in her honour, and she became the patron goddess of wifely loyalty and chastity.

About Temple:-

Meenakshi temple has a total of 12 Gopurams inside among which South Towers is largest with 170 m. It houses 1511 idols with postures describing the legends associated with them. The most amazing thing to be noticed is that sculptural work and paintings are very delicate, detailed and  artistic.
The Raja Gopuram of the Meenakshi Amman Temple, the Pudu Mandapam and the Thirumalai Nayakar's Palace are living examples of his passion for art. Later, Madurai slipped into the hands of the British's East India Company. In 1781, British appointed George Procter to look after the city. He was the first collector of Madurai.After independence, Madurai became one of the major commercial districts of Tamil Nadu. It is surrounded by several hills, mainly Annamalai, Pasumalai and Nagamalai, named after their resemblance to an Elephant, a Cow and a Snake respectively. The city is a major exporter of Jasmine flowers. Due to its historical background, the temple city of Madurai attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors every year from India and abroad. “

The Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati located in the holy city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is commonly referred to as the Meenakshi temple.The main deity Sundareswarar means the Beautiful Lord and His divine wife Meenakshi means One who rules the world through her eyesight[citation needed] and Koil means temple in Tamil. The temple forms the heart and lifeline for the 2500 year old city of Madurai that is believed to be the home for the classical language of Tamil.

 According to the Hindu legends, Lord Shiva with his divine group of followers appeared here in this city of Madurai, to marry the daughter of the Pandya ruler, Meenakshi, who is believed to be a form of Hindu goddess Parvati. This temple is one of the most sacred abodes of Parvathi, others being Kamakshi of Kanchipuram, Akilandeswari of Thiruvanaikaval and Vishalakshi of Varanasi.Both the marriage and the Vishnu's passification are still celebrated as the biggest festival in Madurai, name Azhakar Thiruvizha (the festival for the beautiful lord). A detailed article on the divine marriage can be found here.The divine couple are believed to have ruled the region for a long time and it is not clear what happened to the place after they left. Another legend says that the Shiva's deity in the form of Linga was discovered by the god of heaven, Indra who built the original temple. This tradition is still followed in the temple with the deity is accompanied by a model of Indra's vehicle, during festive processions.

The temple has a stunning architecture and was a frontrunner in the election for the modern seven wonders of the world for its architectural importance. The complex houses 12 magnificent gopurams or towers that are elaborately scultptured and painted. The temple is a significant symbol for Tamil people, and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure is believed to have been built only in the early 17th century. According to Hindu legend, the Lord Shiva came down to earth in the form of Sundareswarar to marry the goddess Meenakshi, who is a form of Parvati, Shiva's divine consort. Parvathi had earlier descended to earth in the form of a small kid in response to the great penance of Malayadwaja Pandya, the ruler of Madurai. After growing up she starts ruleing the city and the Lord appears on earth and proposes to marry her. According to Hindu mythology, the marriage was supposed to be the biggest event on earth, with the whole earth gathering near Madurai. Lord Vishnu the divine brother of Meenakshi was traveling to preside over the marriage from his holy abode at Vaikuntam. Due to a divine play, He was tricked by god Indra and delayed on the way and the in the meanwhile marriage is presided over by a local god Koodal Azhaghar. This angers Lord Vishnu very much and he swears never to enter the city and settles in the outskirts at the beautiful hill of Alagar Koil. He was later convinced by other gods and he proceeded to bless the divine couple - Shiva and Parvati.Many majestic towers (gopurams), small and big, beckon one and all to this historic temple. As it is a common practice to worship Devi Meenakshi first and then Lord Sundareswarar, devotees enter the temple through the Ashta Sakthi Mandapam on the eastern street, named after the figures of eight sakthis represented on the pillars on two sides. At this Mandapam, one can see the vivid scriptural representation of Devi Meenakshi's wedding with Ganesha and Subramanya on either side.A three-storied 'gopuram' stands at the entrance of the shrine and on the outer sanctum, the golden flagstaff, Thirumalai Nayakar Mandapam, brass images of Dwarapalakas, and shrines of Vinayaka can be seen. The Maha Mandapam or the inner sanctum can be reached through the doors in Arukal Peedam where the shrines of Ayravatha Vinayakar, Muthukumarar, and the celestial bedroom is extant. In the shrine, Devi Meenakshi is depicted as the fish-eyed goddess who stands with a parrot and bouquet, emanating love and grace.In the next sanctum is the shrine of Lord Nataraja where the Lord is worshiped in the dancing pose with his right foot raised. Adjacent to it is the sanctum of Sundareswarar, which is supported by 64 boothaganas (ghostly hosts), 8 elephants and 32 lions. The Sivalinga, which bears the names of deities such as Chokkanathar and Karpurachockar, inspires deep devotion.Lord Siva appeared on the naming ceremony of the city and blessed it. The divine nectar (madhu) from the tangled locks of Siva fell on the blessed city and so, the city came to be known as "Madhurapuri". It is also said that centuries ago Lord Siva himself performed sixty-four wonders, called "Thiruvilaiyadals", in Madurai. Thus, the holy city finds reference in the great Indian epics - Ramayana, Kautilyas and Arthasastra. Madurai also served as the capital of Pandayan Kings.

In the next sanctum is the shrine of Lord Nataraja where the Lord is worshiped in the dancing pose with his right foot raised. Adjacent to it is the sanctum of Sundareswarar, which is supported by 64 boothaganas (ghostly hosts), 8 elephants and 32 lions. The Sivalinga, which bears the names of deities such as Chokkanathar and Karpurachockar, inspires deep devotion. This hall is a testimony to the excellence of Dravidian architecture. The hall has 985 pillars and is so arranged that from every angle they appear to be in a straight line. At the entrance is the equestrian statue of Ariyanatha Mudaliar who built this consortium of art and architecture. The 'chakram' (wheel of time) engraved on the ceiling denoting the 60 Tamil years is truly spellbinding. The images of Manmatha, Rathi, Arjuna, Mohini, and the Lady with a flute are nonetheless awe-inspiring. There is a unique exhibition of rare artifacts and idols in this hall.The Famous Musical Pillars & Mandapams,

 The Musical Pillars are near the northern tower, and there are five musical pillars each consisting of 22 smaller pillars - carved out of a single stone - that produce musical notes when tapped.Hundreds of devotees catch hold of the two big ropes by which the float is drawn and they await the signal to start. One rope is pulled by men standing on the central island and second by those on the bank of the lake. After the final ritual of worship the priests give the signal and the men strain at the ropes.Slowly, the great float moves away from the shore and begins its circuit. As the men on the rope run along the bank of Teppakulam the thousands of spectators crowding there enjoy by shouting the names of the deities in great joy. The float itself moves around the lake at slow, steady pace. After a couple of rounds, which take more than three hours, the ornamental raft is mooved to the central island and remains there till the evening. All through the day, a number of boats ply to the island bringing thousands of devotees to worship.

Both these temples of Meenakshi and Sundareshwarar are connected with a beautiful corridor. Inside the Sundareshwarar temple there is a beautiful idol of Nataraja. This is one of the Pancha sabhas of Nataraja called Velli Ambalam (the deity is adorned with silver kavacham) the other one I have visited was Nellaiappar Kovil (see my earlier post on Nellaiyappar Kovil Tirunelveli). The idol here is beautiful and around 10 foot high. Unlike the other Nataraja’s idols in a dance posture with their left leg raised the one here is having right raised which is a unique feature. It is really wonderful to watch the cosmic dance form of Lord Nataraja. It is believed that a sincere devotee requested the god to change his posture as it would be stressful to use the same leg posture always and the Lord obliged. The Siva lingam here is also beautiful.

As we come out of the Sundareshwa sannidhi we can see Dakshinamoorthy, Lingodbhavar, Durgai Amman sub shrines and Chandikeshwarar. While praying to Chandikeshwarar we have to clap our hands while praying as he is supposed to be sleeping.

When we come out of Sundarehwarar temple we can see small shrines dedicated to Danda yudhapani, Siva, and Navagrahas etc. and out side is a Nandi mandapam and the flag post in front. Nandi mandapam has beautiful carvings on all four sides.

 The four outer Gopuras in the four directions are marvellous works of art. They are of perfect proportions, though they were built at different time and though, moreover, they have been repaired and renovated from time to time. The Gopuras of Tamil Nadu, by themselves, form a chapter in the history of Indian Art. Some of the brightest pages are due to the towers of Madurai.

 West Gopura:-

The west Gopura was built in the fourteenth century, a troubled period in the history of the temple and the city following the Muslim invasions. It is difficult to believe that a venture of this magnitude could have been possible in that time of travail. But the sources of information are clear. They attribute the Gopura to a Parakrama Pandya. There were many kings of that name in the century. Since the famous Pandya crest of two carps appears on this Gopura, it may be accepted that the Pandyas did build it. This was their swan song in the temple, which will always be associated with their piety, munificence and glory. It is 48m high, rising on a base that is 31m by 14m. Like the three other Gopuras, it is of nine tiers.

 Southern Gopura:-

The most beautiful and the most artistic of the four, the southern, frequently photographed for its lovely eminence over the Golden Lily Tank, is also the tallest, 49m. Its stone base measures 32.9m by 20.4m. The tower sweeps in a graceful curve. It was built about the middle of the sixteenth century by Siramalai Sevvanthi Murti Chettiar, a scion of a family of Tiruchi, which has contributed much to the temple.

Northern Gopura:-

The latest in date is the northern Gopura, which was built by Krishna Veerappa Nayak (1564-72). For some reason, it was without a Sikhara and was not plastered. Therefore, it was called the "Mottai" Gopura. The deficiencies were supplied in renovation about the end of the last century.

Such an ancient and renowned fane has attracted considerable literature and many beautiful traditions, apart from those narrated above. It is said for example Rous Peter, a Collector in the early decades of the last century, was so beloved of the people that they called him "Peter Pandya". Every day he would go round the temple on horseback. One night when he was asleep, there was heavy rain. A little girl woke him up and beckoned him outside his house. The girl then vanished. Peter, convinced that She was Goddess Meenakshi, presented valuable jewels to the temple.

Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam:-

Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam is a huge hall, adjoining Ashta Shakthi Mandapam. It comprises of 110 pillars, which are adorned with the figures of a peculiar animal called Yalli, with the body of a lion and the head of an elephant.

Potramaraikulam (Golden Lotus Tank):-

Potramaraikulam is a huge tank, where devotees take bath in the holy water. The area surrounding the temple used to serve as the meeting place of Tamil Sangam, the ancient academy of poets. The works of its members were judged by throwing them in the water. The ones that did not sink in the tank were considered worthy of attention. A pillared corridor surrounds the holy tank.

Oonjal Mandapam and Killikoontu Mandapam:-

The western side of the tank houses the Oonjal (swing) Mandapam and Killikoontu (parrot cage) Mandapam. The golden idols of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are placed on the swing in the Oonjal Mandapam every Friday. The parrots kept in the Kilikoontu Mandapam recite Meenakshi's name.

Thousand Pillar Mandapam:-

There is a massive hall in the Meenakshi Amman Temple, which comprises of 985 magnificently sculptured Dravidan columns. Known as the Thousand Pillar Mandapam, this hall also houses an art museum, with a rich collection of icons, photographs, drawings, etc.

Musical Pillars:-

To the west of the Thousand Pillar Mandapam are the Musical Pillars. The specialty of these pillars is that each one of them produces a different musical note, when stuck.

Kalyana Mandapa:-

Kalyana Mandapa lies to the south of Thousand Pillar Mandapam. It serves as the venue of the marriage festival of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, held every year during the Chitirai Festival in mid-April.

Vasantha Mandapam (Pudhu Mandapam):-

Thirumalai Nayakkar built the Vasantha Mandapam, also known as Pudhu Mandapam. Every year, the hall plays host to Vasanthosavam, the Spring Festival, held in the Hindu month of Vaikasi (April/May). The pillars of the hall are adorned with elaborate sculptures of Lord Shiva and Goddess Meenakshi, scenes from their wedding, along with the figures of ten of the Nayak Kings and their consorts.

Temples around Madurai:-

Koodal Alagar Temple:-

 A famous temple, situated of the city. The sanctum sanctorums of this temple are seen one above the other, it is unique to this temple. Convenient steps have been provided to reach the top floors. Just like the Peria koil tower of Tanjore, the shadows of Astanganga vimanam do not fall on the ground. The stone walls on the 3 sides of the Athittanam are full of artistic works. Sun's rays reach the sanctum sanctorum through the 7 windows in this wall. There are beautiful sculptures made of lime mortar on the Vimanam (structure over the sanctum sanctorum). In the third floor, the scenes of "Dasavatharam"(the ten Incarnations) are depited with lime mortar sculptures around the shrine. The shrine of goddess thayar Maragathavalli, built with granite stones and carved with sculptural works is seen here. There is an unjal mandapam (swinging mandapam) full of artistic wooden works.

Kallalagar Temple:-

 Kallazhagar temple is one among the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu. It is located 20 kms from the Temple town of South India, Madurai. The presiding deity of this temple is also known as Meenakshi Amman's brother. The temple is situated in a scenic milieu with Vrishabhadri hill at the backdrop for this temple. There are 2 forts near the temple.The temple gate is guarded by the deity Karuppannasami.


 Nestled 20 kms from Madurai in the town of Tiruvedakam, lies the Shiva temple of Edakanatheswarar. This temple is on the banks of Vaigai river and is very closely associated with Tirugnanasambandar.


 One of the most enchanting temples in my Madurai trip. A huge temple with only a very few people around. This is one of the favorite temples I would like to go back and spend time in.


 Thiruparankundram is one of the 6 adobes of Lord Karthikeya. The sanctrum santorum here is constructed out of one huge rock. The temple resides in a mountain which takes different shapes when seen from different directions. The majestic hill of Thiruparankundram is the first Aarupadaiveedu (out of the six) abode of Lord Murugan. This is the place where the Lord married Devasena the daughter of Lord Indra (King of Gods).


 When the asuras tried to stand among the devas, in order to get a share, Surya and Chandra identified them, where by their heads were replaced by snake's heads and they became rahu and kethu. So this is a place where pariharams may be offered to rahu and kethu. The puranic name of Thirumohur.


The holy shrine of Pazhamudircholai is nestled 13 miles away from Madurai. Pazhamudircholai was earlier known as Solai malai. This pilgrim abode is one of the six Arupadaiveedu (six abodes) of Lord Murugan. The town of pazhamudircholai is known to be very rich in vegetables, flowers and fruits. Hence it derive this name pazhamudircholai: Pazham -fruit, udir - shake and cholai - garden. The temple is located on top of Azhagar Malai Hill. At the foot of this hill is the Vishu Temple, Azhagar Koil.
Murugan. This is the place where the Lord married Devasena the daughter of Lord Indra (King of Gods).


When the asuras tried to stand among the devas, in order to get a share, Surya and Chandra identified them, where by their heads were replaced by snake's heads and they became rahu and kethu. So this is a place where pariharams may be offered to rahu and kethu. The puranic name of Thirumohur .

Vandiyur Thepakaulam Mariamman temple:-

Mariamman Teppakulam is a huge 16-acre water tank situated at about 5 km distance from the Meenakshi Amman Temple. Located in the region of Vandiyur, the tank has a Vinayaka temple at the center, which can be accessed only by water. Near the tank is a temple dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Mariamman and hence the name ‘Mariamman Teppakulam' (Teppakulam meaning water tank in Tamil).

Temple Timings:-
 04:00 to 12:30 and 16:00 to 21:45
Pooja Timings:-
    Thiruvanandhal Pooja
    05:00 - 06:00
    Vilaa Pooja
    06:30 - 07:00
    Kaalasandhi Pooja
    07:30 - 08:30
    Thirikaalasandhi & Uchikkaala Pooja
    10:30 - 11:30
    Saayaratchai Pooja
    16:30 - 17:00
    Arthajama Pooja
    19:30 - 20:40
    Palliyarai Pooja
    21:00 - 21:30

There are close to 50 priests in the temple who perform the puja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to Shivaite to the Adishaivas, a Brahmin sub-caste. The priests live in a closed area north of the temple.The temple has a six time pooja calendar everyday, each comprising four rituals namely abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai(waving of lamps) for both Meenakshi and Sundareswarar. The puja (worship) ceremonies are held amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast.


 The most important festival associated with the temple is the "Meenakshi Thirukalyanam" (The divine marriage of Meenakshi) that is celebrated in April every year. The marriage of the divine couple is regarded as a classic instance of south Indian female-dominated marriage, The marriage brings together rural and urban people, deities and mortals, Saivas (those who worship Shiva) andVaishnavas (those who worship Vishnu) in order to celebrate Meenakshi as the royal monarch. During the one month period, there are a number of events including the "Ther Thiruvizhah" (chariot festival) and "Theppa Thiruvizhah" (float festival). As per the tradition , even today every evening, before closing the temple, a ritual procession led by drummers and a brass ensemble carries the image of Sundareswarar to Meenakshi's bedroom to consummate the union, to be taken back to his day setting the next morning at dawn.

How to Reach:-

By Air:-
 Madurai is well-connected by domestic flights with Mumbai and Chennai. The Airport is 10 km away from the main city.

By Rail:-
 Madurai is well-connected by direct trains with cities like Coimbatore, Kollam, Chennai, Bangalore, Rameshwaram, Tanjore, etc.

By Road:-
Madurai is well-connected with all the major cities of Sough India. the city has 5 major bus stands - Anna Bus Stand, Palanganatham Bus Stand, Periyar Bus Stand, Mattuthavani Bus Stand and Arapalayam Bas Stand.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Calcutta Kaali Shakti Peetham in Kalighat

Kaali in Kalighat:-

200 year old temple from which Calcutta is said to take its name. Kali is regarded as one of the principal deities of Bengal. There are other temples to Kaali - Sahasrabhuja Kaali, Sarvamangala, Tarasundari and Simhavaahini. Kaali is regarded as the destroyer or liberator and is depicted in a fearful form. Despite the terrifying form, she is considered to deliver bliss to worshippers. Kalighat is regarded as one of the 52 Shakti Peethams of India, where the various parts of Sati's body are said to have fallen, in the course of Shiva's Rudra Tandava. Kalighat represents the site where the toes of the right foot of Shakti or Sati fell.

The Kalighat temple in its present form is only about 200 years old, although it has been referred to in Mansar Bhasan composed in the 15th century, and in Kavi Kankan Chandi of the 17th century. It is said that a devotee discovered a luminant ray of light coming from the Bhagirathi river bed, and upon investigating its source came upon a piece of stone carved in the form of a human toe. He also found a Syayambhu Lingam of Nakuleshwar Bhairav nearby, and started worshipping Kaali in the midst of a thick jungle. This shrine grew to its present form over a period of time, thanks in particular to the Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family of Bengal. This family is also said to have built the Chitreswari Kaali temple at Chitpur. It is believed that there was a pathway through the jungle between Chitpur and Kalighat, and this pathway is said to have become the Chitpur road of Calcutta. Kalighat is also associated with the worship offered to Kaali by a Dasanami Monk by name Chowranga Giri, and the Chowringee area of Calcutta is said to have been named after him.
The river over a period of time has moved away from the temple. The temple is now on the bank of a small canal known as Adi Ganga which joins to the Hoogly. The Adi Ganga was the exclusive course of the stream Hoogly the Ganges. The image of Kali in this temple is exclusive. It does not follow to the pattern of other Kali image in Bengal. The existing idol of touchstone was designed by two saints Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri. Three big eyes, long protruding tongue designed of gold and four hands, which all are made with gold too. Two of these hands having a scimitar and a severed head go of the Asura king ‘Shumbha’. The scimitar represents divine knowledge and the Asura head represents human Ego which must be slain by divine knowledge to be able to obtain Moksha.
 Kali is considered as the destroyer or rescuer and is portrayed in a fearful form. One of the most sacred pilgrimage destinations of India, the Kalighat Kali Temple draws numerous devotees throughout the year.

Since then it has been an important pilgrimage site. But the temple is dedicated to the destructive side of Shiva which takes the form of Kali. She requires sacrifice daily to satisfy her blood lust so every morning goats are sacrificed on the alter of the temple.


The image of Kali in this temple is unique. It does not follow the pattern of other Kali images in Bengal. The present idol of touchstone was created by two saints - Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri. Three huge eyes, long protruding tongue made of gold and four hands, which all are made of gold too. Two of these hands holding a scimitar and a severed head of the asura king 'Shumbha'. The scimitar signifies Divine Knowledge and the asura (or, human) head signifies human Ego which must be slain by Divine Knowledge in order to attain Moksha. The other two hands are in the abhaya and varada mudras or blessings, which means her initiated devotees (or anyone worshiping her with a true heart) will be saved as she will guide them here and hereafter.
 Each temple have shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava. The name of Shakti here is Kalika and the Kalabhairava as Nakuleshwar.

Kali Temple:-

Kali Temple in its present form is only 200 years old.

The original temple was a small hut. A small temple was constructed by King Manasingha in the early 16th century. The resent temple was erected under the patronage of the Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family of Barisha. It was completed in 1809. The Haldar family claims to be the original owners of the temple property. But this was disputed by the Chowdhrys of Barisha. In the 1960s a committee was formed for the administrative management of the temple with representation from the Government and the Haldar family. The responsibility of conducting the worship rests with the Haldars and their heirs, generally known as shebaits.

The Kali Temple comprises a Sanctum Sanctorum - the Nat Mondir - a small hall attached to the main temple, a Shiva Temple, a shrine dedicated to Radha Krishna - the main attraction being the image of Goddess Kali with a long protruded tongue which is made of solid gold and her hands made of silver and gold. The four Shiva temples were constructed by various Sevait families who continue to retain control over them.

Within the premises of Kali Temple is three feet high rectangular alter on which is a big old tree. Under the tree are three stones depicting the three Goddesses - Sosthi, Sitola and Mongol Chandi - all three considered as a part of Goddess Kali. This spot in the temple is referred to as the Sosthi Tala and the Monosha Tala . Gobinda Das Mondal had constructed this alter in 1880 which is the place of the Samadhi of Brahmananda Giri . The remarkable aspect of this spot is that all priests at this spot of the Temple are women.

Adjacent to the Nat Mondir are two Bhali Peet - a place where animals such as the Buffalo, goats and sheep are sacrificed for Goddess Kali.

Fed by the Ganges, it is believed that it was here that the toes of the goddess were discovered by Brahmananda. Pilgrims usually take a bath in this kund before entering the temple. A curious sight meets you on stepping into the temple. People place their heads on the Bali Peetha facing the Sannidhi, a custom not seen anywhere else. It is a symbolic request to the goddess to cut this cycle of birth and death and give us eternal moksha. Right opposite the main entrance, at what is known as the Harkath Thala, there are two other Bali peethas that reek with blood. Here, goats and chicken are sacrificed to the goddess by various people, thanking her for her blessings in their lives. A little further down, the Samadhi of Brahmananda is marked by a small raised altar bearing a little cactus plant. Known as the Sosthi Thala, there are three flat stones embedded on the platform representing the goddesses Sosthi, Sitola and Mangol Chandi. Pujas over here are exclusively performed by women priests alone. From this spot, looking across the Ganges, one can have an excellent view of the beautiful temple dedicated to Dakshineshwari, the goddess who was once worshiped, woken up, fed with sumptuous food and put to sleep – every single day with loving care by none other than Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
At the west side of the main temple is the Radha Krishna Temple called the Shamo-ray Temple which was made in 1723 by a settlement officerof Mushidabad District. Zamindar Udoy Narayan Mondol of Baowali erected the present temple in 1843. The Dolmancho was founded by Madan Koley of Saha Nagar in 1858. Vegetarian Bhog for Radha-Krishna is prepared in a separate kitchen.

Outside the boundary walls, on the south east of the main temple is - Kundupukur previously called Kaku-Kunda - a sacred tank of approximately 10 cottahs. This is the same tank where the Goddess toe was discovered and hence the water from this tank is regarded as sacred as that of the Ganges.
Kalighata might have been situated as early as the time of the Guptas,as coins of the time was unearthed from the location. At the end of the Buddhist suprimacy at Bengal Tantric sects became active. During the time waterways was the common trading routes. For this purpose river Adiganga (old course of Ganges), touching Kalikhetra was an important route to Bay of Bengal. These traders used to offer pujas to the various temples situated at both the banks, among these that of Kali was most important to them.
Amidst the dense forest the bank from which vehicles deport and arrive was termed gradually as "Ghat" or dock. The  river as Kaliganga and the region came to be known as Kalighat. Kalighat was at that time a small hut like structure with a furious idol of Kali in it and a dense jungle around. The present Dakshina Kali idol in touchstone might have been a creation of two saints called Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri. It was they who discovered fossils of fingers of Devi Sati's feet from the pond called Kalikunda.    
This discovery made Kalighat as one of the 51 shrines or Pithas of worshippers of Shakti or mother goddess, where sections of Sati's body was throw at the time of Tandava. Those fingers (according to some only one finger) were still preserved in a silver box under the idol, at the north-east corner. Saborno Chaudhuries of Borisha reconstructed the temple to its present form. It was under Raja Santosh Roy chaudhuri of Saborno Chaudhuri lineage that present day temple construction was started around end of 1798.

    In its early days, after death of Brahmananda and Atmaram Giri, the "Mohonto" system (main disciples among the saints chosen as Priest) was practiced at Kalighat. During the time of such a disciple, Bhubaneswar Giri the first change occurs. He kept a woman called Yogamaya as his companion or Bhairavi as called according to Shakta traditions.Yogamaya died at an early age shortly after giving birth to a daughter called Uma. As Uma attained the age of marriage Bhubeneswar gets divine instruction to give marriage of Uma and to continue worship by her husband as the mother goddess is no longer willing to get offerings from the hands of ascetic priests.

From then onwards all sebayats (people who make their living out of worshipping) of Kalighat are married. At the same time another miracle occurred. A person called Bhabanidas Chakraborty in search of his Kali worshipper father came to Kalighat. On Bhubaneswar he settled there marrying Uma and became the first married priest of Kalighat following the Divine instruction.

Bhabanidas was himself a Vaishnava and in course of time established his family idol of Vasudeva on the west side of the main temple. One day he had a dream that the Mother is willing to have a decoration of sandalwood paste or what is known as "Tilaka" (commonly used by Vaishnavas or worshippers of Vishnu). In the next moment at the temple he found the idol to have an unfinished decoration of sandalwood paste and the residue paste in the container with marks of vermilion in it and rest spilled on the entire room. The Vashudeva idol was painted with both sandalwood paste and vermilion.    


Bhabanidas put "Tilaka" on the forehead of Kali realising the divine massage that both Kali and Krishna are the same spirit.This ends the long drawn rivalry between the Vaishnava cult and Sakti cult. From then onwards Kali has been decorated with Tilaka in her forehead. Kalighat celebrate another novel ritual from then onwards. At the very day of Shyamapuja, Alaxmi (negative) was driven away like West Bengali Hindu rituals and Dipawali was conducted with welcoming of Goddess Laxmi. But here no idol or any symbol of Laxmi was worshipped. Instead the Mother goddess herself was worshipped as Laxmi, as she is believed to be the expression of entire 33 crores of Hindu gods and goddess.

Inside the Kalighat Temple:-

There is a large rectangular covered platform called Natmondir, adjacent to the main temple, from where the face of the image can be seen. Jor-bangla is a spacious varandah of the main temple, facing the image. One can see the rituals inside the sanctum sanctorum from the Natmondir through the Jor-bangla. There is a rectangular altar called Sosthi Tala which is about three feet high, with a small cactus plant. Below the tree, there are three stones placed on an altar, representing the Goddesses Sosthi, Sitola and Mongol Chandi. This holy spot is known as Sosthi Tala or Monosha Tala. These Goddesses are considered as part of Maa Kali. To the south of Natmondir is the Harkath Tala which is used for Bhali (sacrifice). Located on the west side of the main temple is the Radha-Krishna Temple. It is known as Shamo-ray temple. Kundupukur is the sacred tank situated in the south-east of the temple. It is said that that during the sixteenth century, ‘Sati-Ango' (the right toe of Sati) was discovered from this tank.

Shoshti Tala:-

This is a rectangular altar about three feet high bearing a small cactus plant. Beneath the tree, on an altar three stones are placed side by side - left to right representing the Goddesses "Sosthi", "Sitola", and "Mongol Chandi". This sacred spot is known as Sosthi Tala or Monosha Tala. This altar was constructed By Gobinda Das Mondal in 1880. The place of the altar is the Samadhi of Brahmananda Giri.

Here all the priests are female. No daily worship or offering of Bhog is done here. The Goddesses here are considered as part of MAA Kali.

Harkath Tala:-

This is the spot adjacent to the Natmondir, southwards meant for Bhali. There are two Bhali Peet for animal sacrifices side by side. These are known as Hari- Kath.

The bigger one is for buffalo sacrifices and the smaller one for goats and sheep. The animals are sacrificed with a single stroke of the knife and there is very little cruelty to animals when compared to the professional abattoirs.

Radha- Krishna Temple:-

This temple is known as Shamo-ray temple and is situated inside the temple at the west side of the main temple. In 1723, a settlement officer of Mushirabad district first erected a separate temple for Radha-Krishna. In 1843 a Zamindar called Udoy Narayan Mondal erected the present temple in the same spot. The Dolmancho was founded in 1858 by Madan Koley of Saha Nagar. There is a separate kitchen for preparation of vegetarian Bhog for Radha-Krishna.

The four Shiva temples inside the temple were constructed by different Sevait families who retain control over them.


This is the sacred tank situated in the south-east of the temple outside the boundary walls. Present area of the tank is approximately 10 cottahs. In the past it was bigger and called 'Kaku-Kunda'. In sixteenth century 'Sati-Ango' was discovered from this tank. This tank is well known for its power to bestow the boon of a child. The water from this tank is regarded as sacred as that of the Ganges.

Unfortunately the attention of the Devotees towards this tank has dwindled in recent times.

Nakhuleshwar Mahadev Temple:-

This is in Haldar Para lane on the opposite side of the temple behind the police station. This temple is also very old and mentioned in the history. Please have Dharshan here.


 As per the legends, the different body parts of Sati fell on the earth at the time of self-sacrifice. It is believed that the right toe of Sati fell here and subsequently; the temple was erected to commemorate the Goddess. Goddess Kalika is the presiding deity in the Kalighat Temple.

Another legend says that once a devotee saw a bright ray of light impending from Bhagirathi River. He located the light and discovered a piece of stone in the form of a human toe. In its vicinity, he also found a 'Svayambhu Lingam' of Nakuleshwar Bhairav. He placed the images in a small temple and started worshipping them in the forest.

 Kali is described as dark complexioned form of Shakti  who has taste for blood and death. She rules over the cremation sites and is  worshipped by devotees on a dark and moon less night. She is most popular deity  of Bengal. Kali is the female version of Kala or end of time. As per historical  records Lord Gorokhsha Nath, a great religious and social reformer, who  converted left hand Tantra to right hand Tantra, by transforming the Tantric  Kula Bhairavi in to mother Goddess.  His  Guru Lord Matsendra Nath was the founder of Kula System in Bengal. One of his disciples  Chourangi Nath used to look after this temple and his seat was named as  Chourangi and the road from ashram to temple was named as Chourangi road.


Kalighat Shakti Peeth to have been an uniqueness in Calcutta whereon Goddess Shakti’ right leg fingers fell subjects to Kalighat Kali Temple, intuitively. As history is concerned, Kalighat Temple was as a small hut, but the present temple was built by the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family of Barisha in 1809.
Offering  595 bighas of land to the Kali Temple, he with the very priority kept in mind to worship could be continued easily. Though, the entire breed of human bows down their head at Kalighat to pay patronage to the Goddess Kali Maa.
Two saints-Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri with the incredible hands crafted to the present dakshina Kali idol of touchstone. Interestingly, it was Padmabati Devi (the mother of Laksmikanta Roy Choudhury), discovered the fossils of Sati's finger in a lake called Kalikunda made Kalighat as one of the 51 Shakti Pithas.

History of Kalighat Kali Temple in Kolkata:-

The Kalighat temple in its present form is only about 200 years old, although it has been referred to in Mansar Bhasan composed in the 15th century, and in Kavi Kankan Chandi of the 17th century.
The original temple was a small hut. A small temple was constructed by King Manasingha in the early Sixteenth century. The present temple was erected under the patronage of the Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family of Banisha. It was completed in 1809.
In the nineteen sixties a committee was formed for the administrative management of the temple with representation from the Government and the Haldar family.

Temple Timings:-
 5.00 A.M. -3.00 P.M.& 5.00 P.M. -10.00 P.MNitya Puja:-
5.30 A.M to 7.00 A.M
Bhog Rag:-
 2.30 P.M. to 3.30 P.M. 2.
Sandhya Aarti:-
 6.30 P.M. to 7.00 P.M. 


On the occasion of Snan Yatra - a bathing ceremony when the temple priests bathe the Goddess with their eyes blind folded. The Kali temple is flooded with thousands of devotees on festivals like Kali Puja, Durga Puja, Poila Boishakh - Bengali New Year and Sankranti.

Coinciding with the pan-Indian Lakshmi Puja which is performed on the day of Diwali is the Kali Puja - dedicated to goddess Kali. This Puja was introduced by Raja Krishnachandra of Navadvipa in Bengal during the 18th century in Bengal but gained popularity in the 19th century, because of Krishanachandra s grandson Ishvarchandra and the Bengali elite and wealthy landowners who began patronizing the festival on a grand scale. The Kali Puja and the Durga Temple are the biggest festivals in Kolkata. Goddess Kali is worshipped at night with elaborate and grand rituals with offerings of red hibiscus flowers, sweets, rice, fish, meat and animal sacrifice and celebrated with fireworks when the entire cityscape of Kolkata is lit up in thousands of multi-coloured sparkling fireworks (a kind of explosive pyrotechnic device that is used for religious and entertainment purpose).
a, the right foot of the goddess is washed with a fragrant mixture of milk, sandal and water and the abhisheka liquid is distributed to the devotees as Charnamrit. It is believed to bestow one with happiness and cure many diseases if ingested with devotion and belief.

Kali Puja:-
Kali Puja in Bengal, dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Kali Maa, is celebrated on the new moon day of the Hindu month Ashwin. Kali Maa coincides with the pan-Indian Lakshmi Puja day of Diwali. While the Bengalis, Oriyas and Assamese worship to Goddess Kali Maa on this day and the rest of India worships Goddess Lakshmi.

Durga Puja:-
 Widely, Durga Puja is celebrated in West Bengal, where it befalls as a five-day annual holiday. In West Bengal and Tripura, which has huge attendance of Bengali Hindus. Indeed, it is the biggest festival of the year. Not only is it the biggest Hindu festival celebrated all through the State, but it counts also the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali society. Apart from West Bengal, Durga Puja is also celebrated in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Kashmir, Karnataka and Kerala.

How to reach:-

By Road:-

West Bengal state buses connect all parts of the state with Kolkata.

*Private Deluxe and A/C luxury buses are also available from Kolkata to various cities in the state and neighboring states.

By Rail:-

Howrah and Sealdah are the two major railway stations in Kolkata. These stations are well connected to all the major cities in India.

* The Metro rail system in Kolkata connects all the main junctions of Kolkata. It is the fastest way to reach the different parts of the city.

By Air:-

Kolkata being a metropolitan city is very well connected to the rest of the country.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport is 20 km from city centre.