2.02.2006

Shrines within Girivalam

Girivalam, in silence: On a full moon night Thiruvannamallai has a charm of its own. On one end it hosts a million pilgrims who walk the sacred path of Girivalam, and on the other nothing stirs in its silence. Every experience revolves round the sacred hill that hosts far more shrines than whats found scattered around the sacred road. We find all the Gods here, starting with Ganesha, leading the way to the Mother Goddess to Shiva Lingas scattered all over, popularly called the Ashta Dikapala Lingas. Krishna occupies a special seat near a temple tank along the road.

So what makes Girivalam so interesting! A walk down the paths that lead towards the hill off the main road, covered with trees and forests have more shrines than what we would imagine. One such mud road stands silent, with a lot of thorny bushes blocking the pathway with a forbidding picture a Kali at the entrance.The first though is that there could be a shrine for the Goddess further inside, maybe with a stone altar in front of it for animal sacrifice. But interestingly it is quite a different story. We decided to walk into the forests surrounding the hill and debated on what we would do should we encounter some wild animals or snakes in the early evening. Our heated discussion came to an abrupt end when we came upon a silent pond, bathed in traquility far away from all mankind right in the middle of nowhere!

A silent square pond with lots of fish and frogs, green with life with low branches of trees almost kissing its surface brimming with life... we could have almost taken a dive into its cool waters. The pond looked deep and clean as the sun's rays penetrated through the green canopy of leaves. Along the side were large stones with arrows pointing in a direction that indicated this was the ancient path of Girivalam around the main hill. This peaceful setting, the ancient path that disappeared into the forest, shielded from all the noise against the hill, also had a dilapidated house next door with a gaping hope to the side. As we explored the place, we found that the gaping hole led down a stairway to rooms under the earth right next to the pond. Too close i thought. Filled with rubble with the cieling almost falling in, we decided not to get too adventurous and came out of it hoping not to meet any lizards of snakes on the way out.

Once outside, this tranquil little place, spoke of an underground chamber right beneath our feet. We were just left to wonder what it could have been used for! Excited about the find but a little disappointed since we did not find any shrine for the Goddess, we walked back to civilization promising to come back here surely some day.

We drifted through the evening as we saw the full moon slowly climb up the sky from behind the great hill lighting up the whole forest again after the sunlight dimmed out. The night was silent with a cool breeze drifting through the trees. Clouds scattered around the sky drifted over the peak of the hill almost giving it a natural halo that revolved around it for a long while. It was a fantastic sight!

We walked to the Kannappa nayanar shrine embedded deep within the forest, our path now lit up brightly by the moonlight. Kannappa nayanar shrine stood silently ahead, with a stairway leading up to the small sanctum. We walked up slowly, after our conversation merged into the silence. None of us spoke, for what we experienced was true beauty and tranquility at its best.

We sat back on the stony floor, each to himself, bathed in the streaming moonlight, looking over the canopy of trees. The gentle breeze brushed over us leaving behind a cool comfort. The magestic hill stood behind, as my eyes rolled over from the floating clouds outside to the chamber within. A silent Kannappa Nayanar looked
straight at me through the small shrine where a small oil lamp lit up his face and his silver plated eyes. It was simply awesome! Kannappa Nayanar stood there, reminding us of lost potency in spiritualism that once rules these lands.

Girivalam will live forever reminding us of every saint who made a mark in our history! Walking the same path is a choice we make.

13 comments:

Third Eye Closed said...

The place is a bliss... Hidden away from the maddening crowd and noise of men.. Like a whisper.
The whole forest air was breathing of a secret. Set yourself relaxed and you could feel something running through you, like a silent song.

Sadly we din't have tons of time to venture more. Or am sure there's something more could have caught our eyes.

And Kannapan temple... Aah.. Pure Bliss. As the moonlight bathes the whole mountain. Through the spaces in the pillars a curtain of moonlight bathes the inner sanctum... And sitting in the middle there watching the image of the breathtaking moon over the magnificiant mountain and the silent deity, the whispering forest beyond with the smell of wild flowers scintillating the air... By God, it truely is a bliss.


~fEelix

Anonymous said...

Nice post!
Could practically visualize the place. Next time do not fear lizards, snakes or wild animals, they can sense fear. Accept them as part of your world and that acceptance will ensure you are not harmed. Or are you scared of things that are not you?

Radhika said...

Thank you, Kavitha. Your bliss and Silence seeped into my soul for a few glorious moments...
Looking forward to being in the Holy Hill which called out to my Sadguru Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi..

Badhri said...

Hi Kavitha,
Back after a long time absence. As Always good to see your posts coming.

I had a chance for a brief visit to Tiruvidaventai off the Chennai city limits. I was wondering if you have had a chance to go their, or have a post for it here or are planning for one. Will be interesting to see your observations on that.

JC Joshi said...

Yes, it's a luxury today, with all the 'rat race' in urban life, to find time for doing nothing!

Thanks, Kavitha! I read Kannappa Nayanar the ordinary hunter's story and the high spiritual status he obtained - as a result of pure heart and faith - to find place near Lord Shiva's lingam.

kavitha said...

Hi Badri,

i was missing you for quite a while and wondering where you had disappeared. thanks for coming back to my blog. Well i might have been to Tiruvidaventai but i dont quite remember it. i am not sure really. i remember going to a temple three years back which seemed fairly close to chennai but am not sure. i need to revisit this temple again.

incase you have visited please let me know about it. i would definitely like to go there. you made it sound pretty interesting actually!

Badhri said...

I can't be as good at details of the temple architecture as you are actually. But I do know a little about its History and Geography.

Tiruvidaventhai is more commonly known as Tiruvidanthai. It is on the East Coast Road, just a short distance after you cross the Crocodile Park. Say about 10-15 km from Tiruvanmiyur, if my math is not bad. Thats the Geography.

The temple is actually one of the 108 Tirupathis of Lord Vishnu. Its sanctum sanctorum has Lord Vishnu as Nitya Kalyana Perumal. He gives darshan as a Varaham. He holds Komalavalli Thayar on his left thigh balancing his left feet on Adi seshan. Pretty amazing! It also has a separate Sannidhi (as I am used to callng it) for Komalavalli Thayar outside and to the left of the main sannidhi, in her full bridal costume.

The story behind his name is also interesting. In Tiruvidanthai, lived a saint called Kavala Muni with his daughters. 360 of them! He prayed for the lord to marry them, and the Lord kindly obliged, marrying one each day for a year. Thus the name. At the end of the year, he merged all into one Komalavalli thayar.

Thanks to the priests. They have been pretty detailed in their description.

The temple is very good and I guess is one of the temples better protected by the ASI. The walls of the sanctum are still inscribed with Tamil, clearly of the (g)olden days. Though I couldn't understand any (and I consider myself not too bad in reading Tamil).

What else? There is a shed, possibly for the Ther, I think, right after the Dwajasthampam (the flag made out of stone, if I may say so). Its actually pretty dilapidated. And there were two mandaps, one right at the outer entrance, and one to the left of the Dwajasthampam as you enter the outer entrance. They may have been used for dance or singing performances, but I thought they were too small for that.

To the right was actually more facts by ASI about the kings who ruled when it was constructed and other interesting things that I dutifuly forgot.

You are interested in temples. It is a must visit for you. Looking for your comments after your visits!

PS: I am amazed at how you don't really get any spam-comments even when you don't have word-verification. But may be you should enable it.

kavitha said...

Hi Badri,

I live on ECR and i think i know the temple you are talking about. if i am not mistaken the temple tank is on the left, enroute to Mahabalipuram.

That was a very vivid description you laid out there! Very very vivid, i shall revisit the temple again.

Will do it this weekend.

regds
kavitha

Badhri said...

Hmmm,
If you are travelling towards Mamallapuram, on the left is the sea! Any chance you have mistaken that for the tank? :)

But you get of the ECR to the left and half the way to the temple, you will find the tank to the left of the approach road. Yea, I forgot that. Its fairly big.

Do visit. Let me see if you find my description correct, or all wrong

kavitha said...

I meant on the right! the sea is on the left. you are right. the temple tank comes on the left on the way to Mahabalipuram!!!

so much for my direction!

Badhri said...

Thanks to you, I could actually post two messages in such a short intervel!

PraveenR said...

Still could not understand why was there a need to do girivalam in a car as it is supposed to be done by walking along. However pls continue the good work. your blog is good. Thank u

JC Joshi said...

Kavitha may have some different views, however, in my opinion, as in the case of films/ stories one does not love to see/ read those that do not have any adventure or do not contain ‘something different’. For only those stories that have such feature(s) excite one in the otherwise monotonous day-to-day 'material life' of an average man - for a 'break'…

Perhaps this is ‘Nature’s’ hint for man to seek Him, the ‘spiritual being’, the source of ‘eternal bliss’, i.e., believably the ‘supreme soul’!

However, that apparently is not easy, for - generally as a rule -'lesser spirits' cause hurdles in the path of an average man! The 'wise' ancients advised that for overcoming these, a firm FAITH or sincerity of purpose is essential...

However, each could have a different view-point of his own to conform to the 'variety in Nature'...