Airavateshwara temple

Airavateshwara temple

: In Darasuram Near Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu

Deity Worshipped : Airavateshwara -Lord Shiva
Built By : King Rajaraja
Completed By : Pandya Rulers

The Airavateshwara temple stands in the village of Darasuram is accessible through an easy 5-km bus trip (on the Thanjavur route) or bike ride southwest of Kumbakonam. Lord Shiva is known here as "Airavateshwara", because he was worshipped at this temple by "Airavata", the white elephant of the King of the Gods, Indra.

The temple was built by King Rajaraja II (1146-1173 AD) in the late Chola period. In the middle of the 14th century additions were made to the existing temple, and finally the Pandya rulers completed the temple.

About The Temple
The main structure is an elongated rectangle of little height, rising into a pyramidal tower at the western end. Round about are many other buildings, all within the same enclosure - a characteristic of the Dravidian style to follow. The pillars are typical of those of this period with scalloped capitals and bases and brackets with a Cyma Recta curve over the capital. The plastic ornamentation of the tower though good is rather clustered and produces a feeling of confusion. The porch is in the form of a wheeled chariot drawn by elephants.

The Exquisitely Made Figurines
Entrance is through a large Gopura (also spelt as Gopuram) gateway, 1m below ground level, in the main wall, which is topped with small reclining Bull figures. Inside the main building is set in a spacious courtyard. Next to the inner sanctuary, fronted by an open porch, the steps of the closed Mandapam feature elegant curled balustrades decorated with Elephants and 'Makaras' (mythical crocodiles with floriated tails). At the corners, rearing horses and wheels make the whole into a chariot. Elsewhere, clever sculptural puns include the head of an elephant merging with that of a bull.

Fine Chola black basalt images in wall niches in the Mandapam and the inner shrine include Nagaraja, the Snake-King, with a hood of Cobras, and 'Dakshinamurti', the "south-facing" Lord Shiva as teacher, expounding under a banyan tree. One rare image shows Lord Shiva as "Sharabha" (partly man, beast and bird) destroying the man-lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Lord Narasimha - indicative of the animosity between the Shaivite and Vaishnavite cults.

Sharabha, in his own separate small Mandapam, is approached by a flight of steps. Fanged 'Dvarpala' (door guardians) in 'Raudra' (furious) mood flank the shrine entrance. Each possesses a club, their four hands in an attitude denoting threat (tarjani) with Lord Shiva's trident, and the 'Trishula', wound into their hair.

The Series Of Panels
Outside, a unique series of somewhat gruesome panels, hard to see without climbing on to the base, form a band along the top of the basement of the closed Mandapam and the sanctum sanctorum. They illustrate scenes from Sekkilar's Periya Purana, one of the great works of Tamil literature.

The poem tells the stories of the Tamil Shaivite saints, the "Nayanmars", and was commissioned by King Kulottunga II, after the poet criticized him for a preoccupation with erotic, albeit religious, literature. Sekkilar is said to have composed it in the Raja Sabha at Chidambaram and when it was completed the king sat every day for a year to hear him recite it.

Music Of the Stones
Most enchanting, though, are the musical notes that rise from the tread stones inside the Nandi enclosure in front of the temple-they are melodious testimony to the superb engineering skills of master craftsmen of a bygone era.

Thanjavur has road links to all major cities. Connected by rail with Trichy, Madurai, Nagore, and Madras directly. The nearest airport, Tiruchirapalli, is 58 kms.

Tourists can unpack at the various hotels available in Thanjavur.

Kollur mookambika temple

The Mookambika shrine at Kollur is one of the most revered pilgrimage centers in Karnataka (and in Kerala). It is located at a distance of 147 km from Mangalore. The nearest railhead is Udupi, and it is well connected with tourist centers such as Mangalore and Shimoga in Karnataka and Kannanur in Kerala.

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Kollur is regarded as one of the Seven Muktistala pilgrimage sites in Karnataka which are (Kollur), Udupi Subrahmanya, Kumbasi, Kodeshwara, Sankaranarayana and Gokarna.

Kollur is known for its association with Aadi Sankara. Mookambika is said to have appeared before Aadi Sankara here, and he is said to have installed her image at this shrine. There is a room near the sanctum - enshrining the Sankara Simhasanam which is regarded as the very spot where he meditated and had a vision of Mookambika. Mookambika is regarded as a manifestation of Shakti, Saraswathi and Mahalakshmi. The Kudashadri hill houses sites such as Ambavanam and Chitramoolam where Adi Sankara is believed to have meditated.

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Deities: The swayambhu lingam in front of the image installed by Adi Sankara, has a golden rekha (line) approximately at the center, and is considered to be a Shiva-Shakti manifestation. The image of Mookambika is in a seated posture, bearing the conch and the discus. Also enshrined near this image are those of Mahakali and Saraswathi. There are also shrines to Veerabhadra, Subramanya, Naga, Vinayaka and Anjaneya. Veerabhadra is worshipped first by devotees before entering the shrine to Mookambika.

The Temple: Located in very picturesque surroundings, Kollur is on the banks of the river Sauparnika (said to possess medicinal properties) at the foot of the hill Kudashadri. The temple is located in a spacious courtyard, and isentered through the easternt gopuradwara. The western entrance, is opened only on special occasions. It is believed that Aadi Sankara entered the temple through the western entrance.

Legends: Kollur is referred to in the Skanda Purana. It was originally known by the name Maharanyapura. It is said to have been home to several sages and yogis. A sage by name Kola was advised to worship Shakti at Kollur. A lingam appeared on its own accord then at Kollur, and Shiva requested Kola rishi to worship it and that in due course Shakti would manifest herself as Mahalakshmi there. The name Kolapura eventually changed to Kollur.

Further, the ravages of the demon Kamha bothered the ascetics of Kollur. Upon being requested by Kola and other sages of Kollur, Shakti cursed the demon to become mooka or dumb. Undaunted, the demon continued his attrocities, and an enraged Devi vanquished him. Upon vanquishing Mookasura, Devi is believed to have merged into this self manifested Lingam in this temple. 24 km from Kollur is Maarana Ghat where it is believed that the demon Mookasura was destroyed. In the temple at Maarana Ghat, there is a Sri Chakra symbolizing Devi.

A trek to the peak of the Kudashadri peak and a hike to the Govinda Theertha waterfalls are noteworthy trips from Kollur.

Tirunavaya (Tirunaavai)

Location: Tirunavaya near Kalikota - Malappuram - Kerala
Malai Naadu)
Vishnu: Tirunavai Mukundan, Navamukundan (Narayanan)
Taayaar: Malarmangai Naachiyaar
Theertham:Senkamala Saras
Paasuram :Nammalwar, Tirumangaialwar
Vimaanam:Veda Vimanam
Travel Base:Thrissur

Description: This is an ancient temple of Kerala - considered equivalent to Banares, located on the Bharatapuzhaa river. Across the river are temples to Shiva and Bhrama. Tirunavaya is located on the Malabar railroad from Palakkad to Mangalore. The railhead Tirunavaya is about a mile away from the temple.

Deities: The presiding diety here is Navamukundan. There are subshrines to Ganapati on the south west corner and Bhagavati on the north east corner.

The base of the temple is built of stone, while the superstructure above is of laterite, stucco and timberwork. The temple is considered to be demonstrative of the evolved Kerala type of architecture, dating back to the 13th -14th centuries although in a comparatively poor state of existence today. There is a separate shrine for Malarmangai Naachiyaar unlike the other Divya Desam temples in Kerala.

Legends: The name Tirunaavaai is said to have stemmed from the legend that nine yogis offered worship here. Legend has it that Lakshmi and Gajendran the king of elephants worshipped Vishnu here with lotus flowers from a lake;with two devotees using flowers from the same source, supply dwindled, and Gajendran appealed to Vishnu, who took Lakshmi by his side on the same throne and accepted worship offered by Gajendran. The name of the theertham Senkamala saras arises from the legend of the lotus filled lake.

The image of Navamukundan is portrayed only from above the knee, the rest of the image being concealed within the ground. There are interesting legends associated with this state of the image. There is believed to be a bottomless unexplored pit behind the image in the sanctum.

Another legend has it that a group of nine yogis or siddhas offered worship to Vishnu at this shrine and attained moksham or salvation; hence the name Nava Narayanan.

The Bharatapuzha river, the presence of temples to Bhrahma, Vishnu and Shiva on its banks, accords this temple town a stature equivalent to Benares. As in Benares, cremation of the dead is carried out in ghats along the river.

Legend also has it that Markandeya, fleeing the clutches of Yama appealed to Vishnu for help at this shrine and upon his direction crossed the river Bharatapuzha to worship Shiva, while Vishnu blocked the rear entrance to the temple, to prevent Yama from clutching him.

Festivals: The Maasi makam festival used to be celebrated at this temple in great splendour on the Bharatapuzha river bank for a 30 day period commencing with Thaippoosam, once in 12 years (corresponding to the Maha makam festival at Kumbhakonam). This celebration stopped after control of the region passed on to Hyder Ali in the 18th century.

The Alwars: Two of the Tamil Alwars have sung of this temple (in the 8th-9th centuries - Nammalwar and Tirumangaialwar) in a total of 13 verses in Tamil...