The driver of our vehicle had a perplexed expression on his face when I told him the name of the place I intended to visit - " Madam, I have been driving in this area for several years. Have never heard about this place" he said. I smiled, as this is the common response I receive from transport operators when I describe the places I want to visit. And this is what makes it all the more exciting.
So off we set, me, armed with Google maps on my phone, and the driver not believing in gadgetry, checking at every turn, and getting more and more nervous with the shrugs, and frowns he was getting in response to the location. I love the navigation tool on Google maps and we were soon on the right path, but were losing time, as the driver insisted on checking frequently. The yellowing newspaper clipping from my treasured scrap book mentioned that the temple closed at 9 am and then opened only at 5 pm. It was already 8.45 am and we had reached as far as the map took us. My family was tch...tching and saying we were going to reach exactly when the temple closed.
I did not panic. I knew that Krishna who had brought me this far, was waiting for me. As we turned into Market Road at Karungal, the driver stopped for one last time in front of a gentleman, who thought for a while, and then gave us perfect directions. Soon, we were entering an arch and going down a deep slope and there, right in front of us, stood the temple with a dome like an inverted cone.
The clanging of bells told me that Harathi was going on and I literally jumped out of the vehicle and ran. The moment I opened the door, it started pouring heavily. I was oblivious to the rain and just dashed into the temple and stood before the sanctum sanctorum.
And there he stood, the one whom I had been wanting to meet for many years now. Little Balakrishna in Vishwaroopam!- The form he had shown Yashoda when she had asked him to open his mouth to see if he had eaten mud! In the light of the Harathi, I could see the corners of his mouth turned up in a smile. Over 13 feet tall, with four arms, the upper ones holding the discus and conch, and the right lower arm, holding on to a ball of butter dearly, while the other arm holding a mace, he was an absolute delight to watch.
The largest statue of Krishna in South India- this statue, according to the priests at the temple, continues to grow. And that's not all. In the same sanctum sanctorum, to the right of her son, stands mother Yashoda, dwarfed by the son towering over her, with a ball of butter in her right hand and a churner in the left, looking up with awe.
I peeped from the corner of the steps to get a glimpse of Mother Yashoda, who is not directly visible. The priest came out with sandal paste and flowers, waiting for me to complete my prayers,so that he can shut the door. I kept peeping till the door was shut.
My heart was full. Had we been late by another five minutes, I would never have got an opportunity to see this magnificient Lord, may be for a life time. As I walked around the shrine, thanking the Almighty for his kind mercy, a kind old lady appeared before us as if by magic, thrusting a few leaves into my hand. I took them in a daze, and she doled out hot Chakara Pongal into them. It was still drizzling. I had to take a few pictures and I happily obliged when the old lady asked for hers to be taken.
She also pointed out to the inscriptions in this temple, which according to her, is over 800 years old. The inscriptions, found in Vattezhuthu, have been transcribed,and I really liked the idea of a board placed within the temple with the transcribed inscriptions. If this is followed in several other temples, many more people would understand the value of inscriptions and their content and make sure they are treated with due respect. The inscriptions call the deity Karumanickaththazhwar and the place Thirupiraimalai.
If you happen to be in this area, do take time out to visit this lovely temple, where you can see naughty little Krishna with his mother Yashoda in the same sanctum sanctorum. Krishna Jayanthi is celebrated with great festivity here and people seeking the boon of childbirth, pray here and offer Cheedai and Murukku to have their wishes granted.
How to get here:
This temple is about 31 kms from Nagercoil and about 43 kms from Kanyakumari. After proceeding on NH 47 turn left at Federal Bank onto Thingal Nagar - Kolachel Road. At Apollo Pharmacy, turn right into SH 91. After proceeding about 9 km, turn slight right into Market Road (Landmark:Bismi Jewellery). You will cross the Govt School, Karungal on your left and Bethlehem Institute of Education on your right. You will then cross a Petrol pump. Just after the petrol pump,to your left there will be an arch reading Way to Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna Temple, Thippiramalai. Enter the arch and go down the steep slope for about 100 metres. At the end of the slope, about few metres away is the temple.
You can contact members of the Temple Development Committee for any information on the temple: Mr.S.Shivaprasad: 94865 48823, Mr.C.Arulraj 99526 87643, Mr.K.Dayanidhi 94421 94021
Morning 6 am to 9 am
Evening 5 pm to 7.30 pm