Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The place where Tripura Samhara began!

The entrance to Adhipureeswarar Temple at Eithaloor
Very unique and lesser known temples have a way of revealing themselves. You get an opportunity to visit them not knowing anything about them, and once you do, the full power of what is being revealed to you hits you and you are elated, delighted and excited, all at the same time.

Recently, I had the privilege of writing and publishing the Sthalapuranam of Kailasanatha Temple at Nellikuppam near Cuddalore. More details about this temple can be found here on Aalayam Kanden. A young gentleman came forward to help with the publishing. When we went to Cuddalore for the event, he told me about Eiyaloor (also called Nesalur) a small village near EID Parry on the outskirts of Nellikuppam and urged me to visit it.

Once we went there, we found that the temple had been recently consecrated without compromising the divinity. Once we stepped it, we had actually entered a treasure trove. The temple had multiple unique features.

First of all, the temple has the privilege of having a complete puranam called Adhipurathalapuranam . This thalapuranam is an extract from the Brahmaanda Puranam - Uttara Bhagam - Kshetra Vaibhava Kandam - 68th Chapter which explains the significance of this temple.

Tripura Samhara:

Why is Adhipuram so significant? When Lord Shiva set out for the Tripura Samhara, with the Devas as his army, the Earth as his chariot, the four Vedas as the horses pulling the chariot, Lord Brahma as the charioteer, Mount Meru as the bow, the snake Vasuki as the string and Lord Vishnu as the arrow, he is said to have started from this place. Hence it came to be known as Adhipuri. The actual samhara is said to have taken place in Thiruvadhigai which was called Adhigaapuri. Adhipuri hence assumes equal significance as Adhigapuri. Over time, Adhipuri came to be known as Eithanoor because it was here that the Lord strung his bow and aimed the arrow for Tripura Samhara.

Inside the Eithaloor temple
Vali and Ravana:

Every day the monkey king Vali had the habit of bathing in the four oceans, going up to Kailash and worshiping Nandi Deva, Goddess Parvathi and Lord Shiva before starting his duties of the day. One day when Vali was bathing in the Southern Ocean, Ravana slipped his hands through Vali's armpits while he was praying with an intention to catch him unawares from behind. Vali lowered his arms locking Ravana's hands in them and tied him up with his tail.

He then completed his bath in the other oceans in the same position and reached Kailash with Ravana tucked behind him. When he worshipped Nandi Deva and sought permission to worship the Lord, Nandi informed him that Lord Shiva was currently in Adhipuram preparing for Tripura Samhara and that Ravana knew the way to the place. So Vali demanded Ravana to guide him to Adhipuram as a price for his freedom. Ravana requested Vali to release him first but Vali refused.

Unable to bear the pain, Ravana showed him the way to Adhipuram. Vali reached Adhipuram and bathed in the Brahma Theertham in the East, Padma Theertham in the South West, Gnana Theertham in the West, Soma Theertham in the North, Surya Theertham in the South East, Chakri Theertham in the North West, Irudi theertham in the North East, and Vani Theertham in the shrine of Goddess Padmathala Nayaki. He also created a theertham in the South named after him as Vali Theertham.

Vali holding Ravana by the tail and worshipping Adipureeswarar at Eithanoor
He then worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of Tripuranthaka and requested him to stay for ever at Adipuram and bestow his blessings upon those who worshipped him there. He also asked him to release the Ganga into the Pinakini river (Gedilam river as it is called today) created by Lord Vishnu, so that anyone bathing there was removed of all their sins. Lord Shiva was pleased with his devotion and released the Ganga into the Pinakini river. Vali then appointed Sangukarna ( a  previous birth of Guru Raghavendra Swamy) to perform the poojas to Lord Shiva as per the agamas at Adhipuram.

Birth place of Enadhi Nadha Nayanar:

Eithanoor is the birth place of Enadhi Nadha Nayanar
Enadhi Natha Nayanar, one of the 63 Nayanmars, was born in Eithaloor. He was a skilled swordsman and trained the princes in warfare. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and treated anyone who wore the Sacred Ash on their forehead as Lord Shiva's incarnation.  His competitor, jealous of his craft and fame, wanted to put an end to him and challenged him to a sword fight. Both men met in a bitter combat with their forces. In the ensuing combat, the competitor lost his men and weapons and had to retreat.

Wanting to win by hook or crook, the next day the competitor smeared the sacred ash on his forehead, covered it with his turban and challenged Enadhi Natha Nayanar to a duel. When Enadhi Nadha raised his sword to attack the competitor, he revealed the sacred ash on his forehead. When Enadhi Nadha saw the sacred ash, he dropped his weapons and stood motionless. Taking advantage, the competitor raised his sword to kill Enadhi Nadha. Pleased with his devotion, Lord Shiva appeared before him and gave him mukthi. The episode of Enadhi Nadha Nayanar's life is performed every year during his Guru puja.

Brahma Sarma Moksham:

A devout Brahmin by name of Brahma Sarma lived in Eithanoor. He spent all his time, on the banks of the river Pinakini, meditating on Lord Shiva seeking his vision. On one Sankaranthi day, Lord Shiva, pleased with his devotion, appeared before him and asked him what boon he sought. Brahma Sarma sought to find eternal rest in the golden feet of the Lord. Lord Shiva asked Brahma Sarma to witness the ceremony being conducted by Vali. On the fifth day, during the Pancha Moorthi procession, Brahma Sarma sang a verse on Lord Shiva called "Dwadasa Manjari". As he finished the verse, a dazzling light emerged from the Lord and from Brahma Sarma. Both merged into the Lord. Till date there is an image of Brahma Sarma at the location where he merged with the Lord.

An image of Brahma Sarma at the Eithaloor Temple
Brahma Lingam, Surya Lingam and Vishnu Lingam:

Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Surya have all installed lingams and worshipped Adhipureeswarar here to be rid of various curses. Hence it is believed that Lord Adipureeswara will rid anyone worshipping him of curses known and unknown.

Surya Lingam and Vishnu Lingam at Eithanoor temple
Which is greater - Knowledge or Wealth?

Once there lived two women Roopavathi who was very rich and Vidyavathi who was blessed with knowledge in Eithanoor. Roopavathi argued that Wealth was greater and Vidyavathi knowledge. Both sought the intervention of Goddess Padmathalanayaki. Based on her instructions, Kubera ruled that knowledge was greater. Enraged, Roopavathi cursed Vidyavathi to become a ghost. Vidyavathi sought the help of Goddess Vani (Saraswathi) to be rid of her ghost form. Goddess Vani created a theertham near the Padma Thala Nayaki shrine and asked Vidyavathi to bathe in it and regain her lost beauty. Vidyavathi did as instructed and regained her original form. Even today the theertham is found as a well inside the temple and those worshipping Goddess Padma Thala Nayaki are said to be blessed with eternal knowledge. Vidyavathi is seen worshipping at the feet of Dhakshinamurthy in this temple.

The Vani theertham or well of knowledge at Eithanoor
Other unique features:

  • The Saptha Rishis - Athiri, Bringi, Vishista, Gautama, Pulaththiya, Kashyapa and Aangeerasa are said to have worshipped Lord Shiva at Eithaloor and hence are seen on the vimana of Lord Adhipureeswara shrine. This is something that is not found in any other temple. Since these rishis are the ancestors of the Nava Grahas, the Nava Grahas are not found seperately in this temple and it is believed that the Nava Grahas come to Adhipuram to worship the Rishis. Worshipping here rids one of Navagraha Dosha. 
The Saptharishis found on the Vimana of Eithaloor temple
  • Lord Brahma unlike the standing posture in the Goshta, is seen in a meditative posture on the Vimana.

Lord Brahma found in a meditative posture in the Vimana
  • Goddess Durga is found with Prayoga Chakra leaning on a lion and standing on the head of a bison. She is found in Tribhanga posture with four arms, her face resembling a middle aged woman.

Goddess Durga at Eithanoor

  • Lord Vishnu is also seen with Prayoga Chakra.
  • There are some inscriptions in the temple which speak about grants given by Rajasekara Pandiyan and Kulothunga III.
  • Saint Thirugnanasambandar is said to have stayed here for some time.
  • From the flagpost one can worship both Goddess Padma thala nayaki and Lord Adhipureeswara at the same time.

How to get here:

At the Nellikuppam EID parry Road, turn left at Melpathi Varasiddhi Vinayakar Temple to reach Eithanoor.
Coordinates: 11.7561965, 79.684052

Contact Details:

Kandan - 98947 53549
Senthil  -   96557 91636

Temple Timings:

At the moment, the temple does not reach a large patronage, so please check with the Gurukkal about their availability before visiting.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Trikkur Mahadeva Kshetram - Come and be rid of breathing difficulties!

The 7th Century rock cut Trikkur Mahadeva Temple
I first heard about the Trikkur Mahadeva Kshetram through a follower of the Aalayam Kanden Trust facebook page. I had plans of travelling to Guruvayur and Trichur in the following week and hence wrote back to him asking for further details like temple timings, contact details etc but did not hear back from him. Google searches yielded minimal information, but what I got added to the excitement. We did not know the exact location and timings, route or nothing further other than the fact that this was one among the oldest and very few rock cut Shiva temples of Kerala.

As usual, our taxi driver gave us a blank look when we mentioned Trikkur to him. He thought we were mispronouncing Trichur. When we tried to take help on the way, the passersby also gave the distinctive Kerala style shrug and shake of the head to say they did not know.

When we finally found the location and started the climb up the small hillock, we found the priest walking down after locking the temple. We were totally disappointed that all our efforts since morning had failed. The priest however, seeing us slow down, stopped to inform us that the "Chechimaar"were still at the temple and we could go in.

The entrance to the Trikkur Mahadeva Kshetram
The temple is in multiple layers. At the entrance is a multi pillared hall painted in bright colours right in front of the Dwajasthamba. The main temple complex is at a higher level with steps leading to it. There are also another set of crude steps leading to the Ganapathy, Sapthamatrika and other shrines on top of the hillock. There are other shrines around the circumambulatory path and below the main temple complex.

The sanctum sanctorum is within a cave on a hillock. Extensions have been made to include an Artha Mandapa and a Nada with steps leading to the main shrine. Apart from this, the rocks also hold the office block and other shrines. This temple is an ASI protected monument. 

I have not heard of many rock cut Shiva temples in Kerala. Not just that, this temple also had several other unique features.

History of Thrikkur Mahadeva Kshetram:

Trikkur is situated on the shores of the Manali River, around ten kilometers north-east of Thrichur. The Trikkur Mahadeva Kshetram is located about 200m above the sea level. In this temple, Lord Shiva resides as a Syambhoo. The majestically beautiful deity, is over six feet tall and is over two feet wide. 

The Sanctum Sanctorum is located within a cave that is twelve feet long and eight feet wide. The cave opens out towards the north.  In front of the sanctum sanctorum is a Mugha mandapa, that is carved fully out of rock. Even though the deity  faces the east , during the Darshan, the devotees get to see only the right side of the Linga. ( ‘Parshwa Darshan”.)

The stone carved Mukha Mandapam insdie the Trikkur Mahadeva Temple

The temple is believed to be created by the Lord of fire, Lord Agni. It is also believed that Agni eternally resides alongside Lord Shiva. Due to this, the Ezhunnellath ( the ushering of the deity outside the temple) is never done on rainy days or on the days when the atmosphere is cloudy. 

Goddess Parvathi too, perpetually resides alongside the Lord Shiva, personifying knowledge. Towards the West side of the sanctum, Lord Ganapathi is engraved on the wall of the cave. On the East side are two Dwarapalakas and on the Mugha Mandapa, resides a Saalagrama, which is said to have immense Vaishnava Chaithanya .

The floor, laden with rock, and the Namasakara Mandapa, which is constructed from sixteen rock pillars have a large number of beautiful carvings on them. Towards the North of the temple is a hall where Saraswati Pooja and Chakyar Koothu are conducted during Navraatri and Utsavas respectively.

It is also believed that this temple was first found by a person, belonging to a class considered untouchable in those days. He had been searching for his cow that had gone grazing, when he chanced upon this cave. He found the cow in the cave along with the magnificent form of Lord Shiva. He immediately ran and reported this to his master, a Namboodiri.

The Namboodiri, seeing the magnificent form of the Lord manifested in the cave, performed poojas to him. A floor has been erected in front of the temple, in memory of the man who had first sighted this temple. In the Utsava times, it is on this floor, that Kurathiyattam is performed. Since it was here that the temple was sighted – the village was named Dhrukpuram. (Dhrushti – sight) . Over time, the word Dhrukpuram shortened to Trikkur, goes the myth.

Cure for breathing difficulties:

There are numerous temples around the country that offer solace and relief to different problems. The uniqueness about the Trikkur Mahadeva Kshetram is that it gives relief to those who are suffering from breathing difficulties like Asthma, and breathlessness. The method of worship used to be rid of these ailments is also unique.

Kayar Vazhipaadu(The Rope Offering)

Yards of rope are offered at the feet of the Lord, or in the form of  Rope Thulabhara ( offering rope equivalent to one's weight) . This Kayar Vazhipadu is said to have divine powers to heal Asthma  and people belonging to different religions and castes come to this temple to offer Kayar Vazhipaadu to the Lord and cure themselves of respiratory illnesses. This method of cure is termed as ‘Daiva Vyaapaashraya Chikitsa’ in Ayurveda. The Chechimaar at the temple also mentioned that if one paid Rs.500 for this offering, then the Kayar Vazhipaadu would be done on their behalf for twelve years. 

A look at the yards of rope in the temple one could well imagine the number of people who offered such rope to be rid of breathing difficulties.

Yards of rope offered as Thulabara to Trikkur Mahadeva
Apart from the Rope Thulabhara which is the most popular form of offering, devotees also offer Dhara (Abhishekam) of 108 and 1008 pots of water at noon, once they have been cured .

Lord Shiva is fond of Vilvam (Bilwa/Koovaram). Offering Pushpanjali with fifty one Vilva leaves is also another way of expressing gratitude after being cured. For children who are suffering from breathing difficulties, Karuka Homam or lighting of Pin Vilaku (lamp behind the Lord) is also done apart from the Kayar Vazhibadu.

The Dwajasthambam at Trikkur Mahadeva Kshetram
The sacrificial stones (balikallu) and the flag pole (Kodimaram) are situated to the right of the temple. Ganapathi, Sastha, Antimahakalan , Kaali, Bhagavathi and Chaamundi are all found at different spots on the hillock.  The Saptamatrikas are housed in what is called a Matrusaala. This concept and architecture of Maatrusala is found very rarely in Kerala. In the south west corner, the Naga deities are also housed.

The Saptamatrikas on top of the hillock

At the top of the rock, there exists a miniature well, which has a constant, natural supply of water. It is known as the Theertha Well , though hardly anyone ever uses the water in this well. Even in the hottest of summers, this well, miraculously, never runs dry.

One of the shrines on top of the hillock.

There are  numerous rock engravings  found in this temple, closely associated with Jain religion. It is said that many Jain saints have undergone their penance on this hillock prior to it becoming a Saivaite temple.

Procedure for praying at the Trikkur Mahadeva Temple:

All devotees must start their worship by first bowing to the Dhwajasthamba. Above the Dwajasthamba, is a Ganapathi who is worshipped next, either from below or if one has the ability, by going up the rocktop.

Ganapathi on top of the hillock at Trikkur Mahadeva Kshetram

Then they must pray to the Sapthamatrikas and continue to circumambulate to the south west corner and prays to the Nagayakshi and the Nagaraja. After this, they must circumambulate through the North Nada and pray to Ganapathi/Sastha/Anthimahakalan/Bhadrakali/Bhagavathi/Chamundi all found next to each other on the North east part of the temple.

The circumambulatory path around the hillock

 Proceeding to the main shrine , the devotees must pray to Lord Shiva, circumambulate the Mandapa,  say a silent prayer to Lord Ganesha, come back to the main shrine and seek blessings of Lord Shiva again.

A number of festivals like Thiruvathira, Mahashivaratri, Navaratri, and Pradosha Puja are celebrated with great pomp and glory at this temple and people from different parts of the world arrive at this small village to partake in the celebrations and obtain the blessings of Lord Thrikkurappan.

The beautiful pillared hall before the Dwajasthamba

How to reach here:

Trikkur is about ten kilometres from Trichur in Kerala. Google map link here.

Temple timings:

The sanctum sanctorum  is open from 7 am to 10 am in the morning and again from 5 pm to 8 pm in the evening. All other parts of the temple are open through the day.

Contact Details:

Phone Number: 0487- 2359500


My sincere thanks to Rahul Kochuparambil for helping with the translation of documents received from the temple in order to give complete information in this article.