Thursday, November 12, 2015

Koogaimalai Kumara!

Belukurichi Palaniappa Temple
Belukurichi is a small village on a hillock called Koogai malai, on the Kolli range in Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu. The Kolli hills are in the Southern part of the Eastern Ghats, yet untouched by commercial tourism which has helped them retain their surreal beauty. The hills find mention in epics like Silapathikaram, Manimekalai, Purananooru and Ainkurunooru. The village had been originally named after Lord Muruga (who is called Palani Appa now) as Velavan Kurichi.

The Palani Appa temple is unique in several aspects. One would have seen Lord Muruga depicted in various forms in different temples - such as Baladhandayuthapani, Gnana Skanda, Brahma Sastha, Subrahmanya, Arumuga, Valli Devasena Pathi, Jayanthi Nathan etc. but Lord Palani Appa of Belukurichi is different from any of these forms.

Why did he come to be known as Palani Appa? Bhogar, one of the eighteen Siddhars had the ability of making statues from an elixir of nine poisonous materials, commonly known as Navapashanam. Water used to bathe these idols when administered to patients, could cure chronic ailments. The famous navapashana statue made by him is in Palani hills. The deity here in Belukurichi is said to have been created by Bhogar much ahead of the one in Palani, from the Pashanams of Kolli hills and hence the Lord is called Palani Appa ( the one that came before Palani).
A view of the Kolli Hills from atop the Belukurichi temple
The Lord facing West is found here in the guise of a hunter. His hair is pulled into a knot on the right side of his head and a string of Konrai flowers (Golden shower) are found etched around it.

Three lines of sacred ash with a spear (Vel) in the middle are found on the forehead of the deity. This symbolises a union of Shiva and Shakthi. A string of golden shower flowers are also found tied around his waist, from where hangs a dagger! He is seen with a Vajravel in his right hand, and a rooster in his left, wearing footwear!
The enchanting Palani Appa of Belukurichi!
Usually, when deities are depicted holding weapons, the height of the weapon does not exceed the height of the deity. However, here we find that the spear is shown taller than the deity. Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma have bestowed their powers to the Lord through the spear, which is depicting having three parts denoting each of them. Due to this, the spear is shown taller than the deity himself.

On full moon days, thousands of people gather here to witness the midnight worship. It is believed that the eighteen Siddhars come here to worship him at that time. The abhishekam and alankarams are all completed by 11.50 pm and the doors of the sanctum are closed and all the devotees move outside to wait. At the stroke of midnight, the doors are opened. Signs of puja having been performed, and visible signs of changes in the alankaram are witnessed to this day.

Once the abhishekam is complete, sweat emanates from the deity's tip of the nose, chin and chest with three different fragrances!

A Shiva lingam has been etched above the entrance of the sanctum. On the ceiling of the Artha Mandapa, two snakes have been depicted swallowing the Sun and the Moon.  Meditating on the Lord, sitting on a green stone right under these snakes, is said to answer genuine prayers.

The Tiruchengode hill where Lord Shiva and Parvathi are found as Ardhanareeswara can be seen at eye level from the head of the peacock found in the Maha Mandapa. It seems as though Shiva and Shakthi are watching over the son who has been created with both their features, right from their abode.

The temple is said to have been built originally by Valvil Ori, who ruled this region around 200 CE. He was one of the seven philanthropists mentioned in Sanga Literature. Tales of his valour are being sung as part of folk lore even today. A statue of Valvil Ori is found at the entrance of the temple complex. Poet Avvaiyaar has also worshipped the deity here.

Kanda Shasti festival which begins today is celebrated with great festivity apart from Thai poosam, Panguni Uthram and Krithigai .

Other deities at Belukurichi
There are shrines for Ganesha, Goddess Kumarinayaki, Vishnu, Krishna, Nagas and Shani.

If you want to spend some quiet time, in the serene company of an enchanting deity, in the ethereal beauty of the Kolli hills, this is your destination.

How to get here:

Belukurichi is about 25 kilometres from Namakkal. On the Namakkal - Tiruchengodu route, Belukurichi is about 13 kms from Sendamangalam.

Temple Timings:

The temple is open from 8 am to 5 pm.

On full moon days, the temple is open from 8 am in the morning till 5 am the next morning.

Contact:  95244 49931