A king by name Sumathi, showered his love toward the Balaji of Thirumala. But he wished to worship Balaji as Krishna. For the sake of him, Balaji Appeared in front of the king as Krishna, at this place in the pose which he stood in the Mahabharatha war. At the end of that war he decided not to hold any weapons, so he appeared here only with a conche in his hand. hence this temple is known as parthasarathy temple.
The great seven Munis (Saptha Rishis) – Brighu, Atthiri, Mareeshi, Markandeyar, Sumathi, Jaabali and Saptharomar performed Tapas (thavam) here and as a result of this, the sthalam is also called as “Brindaranyasthalam”. This sthalam is also known as “Panja Veerathalam”.


Seven Shrines in one Temple

1. Venkata Krishnan

The Moolavar of this sthalam is Venkata Krishnan. Along with Rukmani Piratiyar, he holds sword in one hand, Varadha Muthirai on the other hand and his brother Balaraman on his right, Sathaviki on his left, son Prathyumnan, Grand son Aniruthan are also found near the Moolavar. This is one of the Sthalam where the Perumal shows his seva along with his three generations. He is found in standing (Nindra thirukkolam) position and facing his Thirumugham towards East direction.

Moolavar : Venkatakrishnan with Rukmini
Nindra Thirukolam – Facing east
Uthsavar : Parthasarathy

2. Lord Narasimha Swamy / Thellia Singhar

There is separate entrance and flag post ( Dwajasthambam) for Lord Narasimha Swamy. Moolavar is in Veetrirundha “Yoga” thirukola,

Utsavar Thellia Singhar with Acwana hastham (Azhithu saranalikkum thirukkolam).

Moolavar : Yoga Narasimhar Vetrirundha Thirukolam – Facing west
Utsavar : Thellia singar

Sri Ranganathar

We can have Dharshan of Sri Ranganatha Swamy while we pass in the queue to get dharshan of Sri Venkata Krishnan. Not all but some who are basically from Thiruvalli keni would know that Sri varaha swamy and Narasimha swamy are seated and giving dharshan along with Sri Ranganatha Swamy Sannithi.

Moolavar : Ranganathan – Bhujanga sayanam – Facing east

4. Vedhavalli Thayar

We can have Dharshan of Sri Vedhavalli thayar in her separate Sannithi on the right, when you come out of Sri Venkata krishanan sannithi. Thayar ithalathilum thani utsavangalum nakshathirua purappadum kandu magizndhu nammai magizvikkindral. Every Friday evening Vedhavalli thayar will have separate purappadu inside temple along with Madal Goshti.

5. Kodhandaraman

While we pass the queue to have dharshan of Sri venkatakrishnan, on the right after crossing the Manikkadhavu we can have dharshan of Sri Kodhandaraman along with Sri Seetha Devi, Sri Lakshmanan & Hanumar (as well opposite to his Sannithi).

Moolavar : Kodhandaraman – Nindra Thirukolam – Facing south

6. Gajendra Varadahar,

Once done with Dharshan of Sri Vedhavalli thayar while stepping down on the left of Sannithi we can have dharshan of Sri gajendra varadharaja Swami, Sitting on Garuda bahavan in a ready to fly position to help jeevathama.

Moolavar : Varadharajan – Garuda vahanan – Facing east
Varadharaja Perumal in Nithya Garuda sevai.

7. Sri Andal

On the right side to Sri Narasimha Swamy sannithy is sri Andal Sannithi, Sri Andal ithalathilum Thani utsavangal Kandu magizndhu nammai Magizvikkindral. Thennacharya Sri Vaishnava Azhwar Acharyargalum ithalathillum Thani Sannidhi galai kondu ezhundharuli irukindranar.

Theertham : Kairavini saras (Allikeni)
Vimanam : Anandha Vimanam, Pranava Vimanam,
Pushpaga Vimanam, Sesha Vimanam &
Daiviga Vimanam
Prathyaksham : Rukminiprati, Thondaiman, Sumathirajan,
Arjunan, Bhrugumaharishi, Markandeyar,
Madhuman Maharishi, Saptharoma,
Athrimaharishi, Jajalimaharishi, Anirudhdhan,
Pradhyumnan & Balaraman.
Mangalasasanam : Thirumangai Alwar, Peiyazhalwar &
Thirumazhisai alwar (12 pasurams)

This was an unplanned trip. I hardly had the time to do any research on the place nor did I get any driving directions.

Last week I decided to visit the Narasimha Swamy and Namavalli Thayar shrine in Namakkal a small town near Salem (Tamilnadu, India). I wanted to buy Vastrams for the presiding deities and went to Mani Sunker’s near the erstwhile Flower Bazaar with a colleague. (He’s now a co-blogger on this site, we’ll see some posts from him soon). I picked up a saree for Namavalli Thayar, A 10X6 Veshti for Narasimha Swamy and 24×12 Veshti for Anjeneya Swamy. I had doubts if the length of the Veshti would be sufficient for Narasimha Swamy and asked a few people who were familiar to check but then every answer was evasive. Nevertheless I went ahead with the 10×6.

Saturday (30tH jan 2010) morning we left home by 8am filled Diesel and hit the NH 4 at Maduravoil at 9:05. Though the distance is a bit more, I choose to go via Krishnagiri – Salem instead of Dindivanam – Ulundurpet because after you take a detour at Ulundurpet towards Attur the road is being laid and there are trenches on either side of the road and heavy vehicles plying from the opposite direction force you off the road, On the other hand the Krishnagiri route is a NH till Namakkal. The roads are so good that we overshot the Namakkal exit!

At about 10:00 am we stopped by the roadside and had the breakfast that we had packed from a local hotel in Kilpauk. We then hit the road and by 2:35 pm we were at the Golden Palace Hotel in Namakkal. The hotel is on the Namakkal Tiruchy road and is decent. I had made reservations the day before and so check-in was quick. There is a Nala Hotel right opposite to this property but I am not sure about the ambiance inside though I should say the exterior facade is impressive Victorian style strutted columns.

We had a late light lunch (extremely spicy) and some tea, freshened up and left the for the temples. The temples is about 2kms from the hotel and right opposite each other. We first visited Namavalli Thayar shrine and after Archana and Deepa Aarathi visited Narasimha Swamy Shrine. Narasimha Swamy here has a red tint on his right ring finger and as legend has it is the blood stain from slaying Hiranyakashipu. As is my practice I read the Shri Suktam and the Vishnusahasranamam before leaving to see Anjeneya.

One thing disappointing about the place is that there are no good garlands available at any of the shops in the vicinity of the temple the Thulasi garlands that sell for Rs. 20 hardly have an Thulasi leaves, only the stalks and stems are prominent. So I bought a betel leaf garland for Anjeneya Swamy. That costed me about Rs. 60 after hard bargaining.

The Anjeneya Swamy shrine is right opposite the Narasimha Swamy shrine. The belief is that the idol is still growing in height hence though there is a proper building around Anjeneya Swamy there is no roof over his head! We had to wait for an hour since there was a Sandanam Kaapu that day for Anjeneya Swamy. So I handed over the Veshti to the chief priest, had darshan and deepa aarathi, prasadam (puliogare) and returned to the hotel by 8pm. As I write this I have just realised that my visits to all Narasimha Swamy temples were on Pournami (Full Moon) day. were tired and so had a quick dinner and called it a day.

The next morning we had the complimentary breakfast and hit the road for Chennai. We stopped for lunch at 1:00 pm at Vellore and reached home by 3:45 pm. My regret is that I couldn’t click any snaps since my Sony Cybershot is misbehaving while the camera on my Palm Treo is just a VGA camera. I am still not on cutting edge! Maybe when I am in Namakkal in April 10 I’ll use my better half’s Nikon Coolpix to capture some snaps. My Grand Punto has now clocked 7695 kms in 4 months!

The evening of 13th Dec I set out with many other “Swamis” to Sabarimala. An annual pilgrimage trip that most South Indians take during this time of the year.

The trip was preceded by a strict regime of pious behavior and adherence to religious routine for 41 days: Cold water bath twice daily, Tea and breakfast only after prayers, mandatory attendance at various Bhajans etc.

We took the “longer” route this time. The “longer” route is the most religiously appropriate route to take and is a trek of 41 kilometers. During the trek I clicked a few snaps of the Tropical forest terrain. Take a look.

These places are frequented by wild animals once the Pilgrimage season is over (mid Jan) though sometimes they stray in even this time if the year.

It took us two days to reach sannidhanam (sactum sanctorum). I was fortunate enough to have several darshans of Lord Ayappan. Did the usual shopping – Diaries, picture cards, Arana payasam etc. Returned to Chennai on the morning of 18th Dec. While on the move i was tweeting! Ofcourse posts were delayed by several hours due to lack of GPRS coverage in the forest hills.

The tweets are here.

Overall a spiritually gratifying trip.

Sabari Trip

This morning I wore the mala (Garland) and was initiated for the Sabari Trip. I plan to click snaps of important sites during the trek. Will post them here on my return.

This morning we brushed, had tea , bathed and hit the road towards NOIDA. We planned to have breakfast at the Sheetal Grand. We drove and in about 45 minutes reached Roorke, I wanted a snap of the Name Sign of the Indian Institute of Technology for nostalgia, having attempted the entrance exam unsuccessfully once after my high school. Content with having got the snap we took the narrow road that ran by the Ganges canal. Along the road we passed several kavariyas and took snaps. We drove for about an hour before we stopped to relieve ourselves. Our stomachs were growling! We had to be content eating the plantains that we carried. No sign of eating joints as we were deep inside the country surrounded by farmlands and rural folk
We drove further along the tributary till we reached Cheetal Grand at Khautali only to find it closed. Funny! and disappointed we drove further till Meerut and stopped by Haldirams to have our first real meal. The restaurant was deserted except for a few guests who were waiting for Idli’s. The girl just ahead of me at the counter queue was disappointed that the Idli’s were finished when it was her turn to order! So disappointed that she was cribbing to me!

After an hour or so we hit the road and drove for about two hours and reached our Guest House at NOIDA at about 1 pm – tired and happy. Its been a mixed bag for me this trip. Missed the shrines but still the sight of Kavariya’s was mood elevating. I hope to return sometime to make up for all that I’ve missed this trip.

Rishikesh is about 20 kms from Haridwar. We were booked in one of the numerous Ashrams that line the shore of the Ganges. There was a slight drizzle when we arrived and the weather was sultry. We checked into our modest rooms (no Airconditioner only a Cooler) unpacked . The room was comfortable with three beds but had a cramped toilet that its unlikely for you to step in without knocking on any of the fixtures! My colleagues wanted to take the स्नान (Snan – Holy Dip) and we stepped out. I clicked the Rudraksha Tree that you see on the left and then followed them. Took a quick snap of the Ganges that you see in the second snap. After the स्नान we returned had some lunch and took some rest to save our energy for the evening walk.

We planned to see the Lakshman Jhula, Jhula, Triyambakeshwar Temple and the night Aarathi and the Triveni Ghat.

We left for Lakshman Jhula at about 4 pm fearing that the Kavariyas would pour in and we might miss the chance to walk across. The Ganges winds its way into Rishiskesh and there are two bridges one being the Lakshman Jhula and the other the Ram Jhula. Depending on the road you take your are likely to approach one of them first.

Lakshman Jhula is believed to have been erected by Lakshmana the brother of Lord Rama to cross the Ganges. In its present form the Lakshman Jhula is a steel rope suspension bridge with wooden planks. During this time of the year the authorities allow you to walk across towards the Triyambakeshwar temple. You are not allowed to cross back but asked to use the Ram Jhula to return. Pilgrims walk across the Lakshman Jhula to symbolically mimic Lakshman’s actions. We did click a few snaps but the poor lighting and a bad flash gave us no images. Having spent most of the time getting to Lakshman Jhula that we missed the Aarthi at the Ram Jhula. Unlike the Lakshman Jhula the Ram Jhula has no religious significance and has been erected by the government a few years back.

Disappointed, we decided to return and grab a meal on the way. We sat by a roadside Dhaba amidst honks and people scurrying and had a light dinner of Naan, Roti (types of Indian Bread) and came back to the Ashram, packed and retired for the night.

The night was terrible sultry weather and a bad cooler kept us sticky and rolling on the mattress. We woke up the next morning with a red eye!

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If there is anything confusing about Haridwar, it is locating the authentic shrine of Gangamma and the shrine that houses the foot step of Hari (Vishnu) who is set to have stepped here on his way to Vaikuntam and hence the name Hari-ki-Pauri. Every temple has the words “Ancient Ganga Temple” scrawled across the wall and had me flummoxed. I visited the first one that I encountered (See picture). The shrine had two priests one at the main diety Gangamma’s Sanctum Sanctorium and the other at Lord Narasimha’s shrine which is located on the wall adjoining the entrance. I offered my prayers to Gangamma, the priest muttered some sanskrit verses and we repeated them verbatim, deposited Rs. 50 in the preist’s plate and while circumambulating was dragged by the second priest who rather forced us to visit the other shrines. Ofcourse we had to follow the ritual of muttering some more sanskrit verses and part with about Rs. 40 for the services!. I retrieved my footwear and wanted to stroll around a bit to see the other sights when Iwas stopped by a official saying that footwear was not allowed beyond this point, Its only then I realised that I might have visited the many storefront temples that throng every religious place. This insipte of the research before the trip. I still wanted to visit the other shrines but the constant pull of my colleagues accompanying me and the heavy drizzle that started we were forced to return to our car. I strongly suggest that you read through the phto esaays available here and here before visiting the shrines. As for me I plan to return sometime next year for another pilgrimage. Here are some snaps from the trip. This is the place I had my snan (holy dip). You can see this bridge in the James G. Lochtefeld’s second photo essay. In the first photo of the essay you can see the bridge in the background while the last photo does show the bridge on the left the flight of steps that lead to the bridge is missing indicating that it has been constructed recently.

The “Store Front” temple that I visited. It had “Ancient Ganga Temple” inscribed on it. Apparently this temple is not the ancient one! It is infact a private temple See the last photo in James G. Lochtefeld’s second photo essay.

The Brahmakund and the Lakshminarayana Temple with the Ganagamma temple on the left.

The unfinished Gangamma temple. Considered to be the oldest temple and the bathing ghat to the left is considered to be the holiest and most important bathing place. Construction was halted due to a law suit!

My Treo’s alarm woke me up at 4am. I quickly freshened up and completed my prayers in about a hour and half. I then woke up the attender and asked him to prepare tea. My friend were also up and ready we all sipped some tea before our car arrived. We left NOIDA at 6:15 in the morning on 11th July 2009 we crossed Ghaziabad, Murad Nagar and then drove onward to Modipuram, the town established by the Modi family, we stopped by an ATM and I withdrew some cash before hitting the road towards Meerut, Trafiic was moderate, we drove further and stopped by Cheetal Grand at Khautali for Breakfast at 9:00 am. I ordered Idli, Masala Dosa my friends wanted the Cheese Omlette and Masala Omlette too. Being a vegetarian I just had the Idli and Dosa, surprisingly they tasted good looks like the Cheetal Grand has a good Cook from the South. My friends had the Omlettes as well. I took a stroll through the garden and noticed some exoctic fowls crackling at the person feeding them. I was surprised at the variety of Chilly plants neatly potted lined up in the garden. The fiery red chillies standing out in a foliage of dark green leaves made for a very pleasant sight.
We then hit the road and drove towards Muzaffarnagar only to encounter a police barricade asking us to take a diversion. We pleaded asking for us to be let through the standard route and a kind police man relented and then we drove on only to encounter a hugh traffic jam with a line of trucks parked to the left of the road. We negotiated our way through small gaps and took the dirt roads only to discover that this trucks were lined up by the side for over 5kms! This sight set us thinking on what could be the reason. We contemplated and discussed various theories – maybe it could be a terrorist threat, maybe it could be a local violence while our driver patiently drove and about two hours later we reached Roorkee. Its here that we discovered the reason behind those lengthy traffic jams and the reason why the trucks were lined up near Muzaffarnagar – This was the season of Kavad or Kavadi as we call it in the South of India.

Kavad is a tradition of going to Haridwar and returning with Gangama (actually Ganga Jal) for the village. People from villages and towns the neighbouring states flock to Haridwar during this season. People travel by all modes Train, Bus, Car and of course by Foot, now you see I meant it when I said you can travel by foot to Haridwar in my first post. However down south a Kavadi as it is called is usually undertaken to some holy temple.

We stopped by the Cafe Coffee Day and sipped our Capuccinos while we watched the Kavariyas take a nap under the trees with their Kavad perched in parallel bars erected by the roadside for the purpose. After paying for the capuccinos and succumbing to the waiters repeated pleas for buying a can of cookies (he was kind to bill only two capuccinos instead of three) we set forth for Haridwar.
The road was taken over by the Kavariyas returning from Haridwar, only one half of the road was available for both sides of the traffic. An hour later we reached Haridwar and sought directions from heavily armed police men to find a parking place as close as possible to Hari-Ki-Pauri. It was a madenning crowd that thronged Haridwar during this time we concluded that we made a mistake comming here during this time of the year but then quickly consoled ourselves that its probably the most auspicous time to visit this place because so many Kavariyas cannot be wrong!

I quickly picked up my new Veshti (Dhoti), Shirt, Vest and brief and we walked towards Hari-Ki-Pauri. We could see frenzied people scampering to take a dip, buy Rudraksha and Spatika and visit the temple. In about 10 minutes we reached Hari-ki-Pauri and picked a relatively quiter spot for me to take a Snan (Bath), My friends wanted to take a bath in rishikesh since they felt the water was cleaner there!. After changing to my new clothes I took some Ganga Jal and sprinkled it on my head before stepping in to take the customary three dips. I fould the river was in full force and had to catch my breath after each dip. I stepped out towelled myslef dry and wore my trousers and shirt. A old women approached me for my wet clothes (its customary to leave your clothes behind after you have a dip in the Ganga) and I gladly gave it to her considering that it was a good omen. We then set out to Visit the shrine of Gangama.

This past week myself and two other colleagues made a much awaited trip to Haridwar and Rishikesh. My earlier attempt to visit these places the week before last was foiled by a rather unexpected development in my Project. I had set out do some research for the trip and seek directions from other colleagues in Delhi (I have been based out of Delhi since April 09) when it first occured that we had to undertake this trip. We drew a blank whenever we asked anyone questions on how to plan the trip but then we did find two colleagues with some excellent knowledge of both the places one was a frequent visitor and the other hailed from Dheradun and hence both were a treasure trove of information, the knowledge was of immense value to us. Combined with my readings from Guide Books and research on the internet, which incidentally doesn’t have much information on these two places, I have compiled my experiences in this post.
Haridwar or Hardwar means the Gateway to Hari or Har, i.e. Vishnu or Shiva depending on whether you are a Vaishnavaite or Shaivaite. It is the entry point to Char Dham the four holy places of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangothri and Yamunotri. It is here that River Ganga (called Ganga-ma) touches the plains after travelling 253 km from its origins at Goumukh in the Himalayas and hence Haridwar is also known as Gangadwar. In Satya Yuga the legendary King Bhagirath is said to have brought Ganga from Heaven through years of penance for the salvatyion of this ancestors from the curse of Saint Kapila. Every three years the Khumbh Mela is celebrated in one of these four places and every twelfth year the Maha Khumbh Mela is celebrated at Prayag in Allahabad.
According to our Hindu mythology this is one of the four places where a drop of Amritha (Nectar of immortality), that was obtained by churning the ocean, fell when it was being carried to heaven by Garuda. The other three places being Ujjain, Nasik and Allahabad.The spot where the Nectar fell is called the Brahma Kund at Hari-ki-Pauri. It is believed that having snan here will wash away your sins and you’ll attain moksha. Agastya is said to have done penance here. Sage Kapila is said to have had an Ashram here and hence Haridwar is also known as Kapilastan. Haridwar also finds a mention in the Mahabharatha.
Apart from the rich mythological History I couldn’t find any other details on the net I was keen to get some travel advice. Nevertheless I set out scouring every travel source I could lay my hands on – Books, Humans! I wanted to first figure out how to get there. Apparently you can either get to Haridwar by Train, Road (Bus and Car), Air and as I learned later even by foot! I am not joking, read on and you’ll know. Trains to Haridwar leave from Delhi. A one way ticket from Delhi to Haridwar by Shatabdi costs Rs. 435 and the journey would take four hours and thirty five minutes. The latest fares and details of other trains can be obtained from the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Company website at http://www.irctc.co.in/. But this meant that to get around at Haridwar and Rishikesh we would have to engage a cab or rely on the tuk-tuk (autorickshaw) and being tourists its highly likely that we’d be fleeced by the cab and rickshaw operators. I then made enquiries if there were any bus services and yes there were travel agents running Volvo buses to Haridwar and the fare was about Rs. 370 and the journey time would be seven and a half hours. We checked out the Cab rates and it was costing us Rs. 3300 for the two days and the intervening night. (Haridwar is 186 kms from NOIDA). Since we were three of us a quick arithmetic revealed that the cheapest option was to travel by A/C Cab and could also have the flexibility of moving around in Haridwar and Rishikesh without having to rely on the local transport.

So we booked a Cab through a local Cab operator.

I took these snaps when we walked up to Tirumala sometime in 2007.

1. This is the plateau after you cross the Gaali Gopuram. We usually rest here for a few minutes and have a cup of tea and then continue on our walk.

2 and 3. The spotted deer in the deer sanctuary. Most of us feed the deer with cucumbers and carrots bought from the lady who sits close by.

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