Temples & Other interesting Places
1. Aandal Rengamannar Temple
Srivilliputhur Andal Kovil is a popular – old Hindu temple and one of the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Sri Vishnu. To the devotees and vaishnavites, Srivilliputtur is synonymous with Lord Vishnu, Periyalwar and Andal. It is an interesting place to any aesthetic person for enjoying the sculpture and ancient drawings in the temple. It gave –‘Thiruppavai’ of Andal and ‘Tirupallandu’ of Periyalvar- the hymns on Lord Vishnu to Tamil Literature. These Tamil hymns – Tamil Vedam-Alwar pasurams- are recited everyday at this temple.
Thousands of people from the state participate in the “Aadi Pooram” festival celebrated in the Andal Temple. After early morning special pujas, the presiding deities, Sri Rengamannar and Goddess Andal are taken in decorated palanquins to the car. The festival marks the adoption of presiding deity, Andal, by Periyazhwar after he found her near a Tulsi plant in the garden of Vadabadrasai Temple at Srivilliputhur on the eighth day of the Tamil month of Adi.
2. Madavar Vilagam Vaidyanathar Temple
Madavar Vilagam Vaidyanathar temple is a Shiva temple located in Madavar Vilagam, located in one kilometer southerly to Srivilliputhur in Virudhunagar district in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple has two precincts. Shiva is worshiped as Vaidyanathar and his consort Parvati as Sivakami. The temple is the largest Shiva temple in the district. Shiva is worshipped as Vaidyanathar or the “God of healing”. The holy water of the Siddhamirtham tank in the temple complex is believed to have curative effects, and a holy dip here is believed to cure all diseases. The temple was built by Thirumalai Nayak during the 16th century.
A granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all its shrines. The temple has a five-tiered gateway tower originally built by Chandrakula Pandya Vijayanagar and Nayak kings commissioned pillared halls and major shrines of the temple during the 16th century. The temple has artistic sculptures representative of Nayak art.
The temple is open from 6 am – 12 pm and 4-7 pm on all days except during festival days when it is open all day. Four daily rituals and three yearly festivals are held at the temple, of which the twin festivals during the full moon days of Tamil month Adi (July – August) and Thai (January – February) being the most prominent. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
3. Srinivasa Perumal Temple, Thiruvannamalai village, Srivilliputhur, Virudhunagar
Srinivasa Perumal Temple is dedicated to Hindu God Vishnu located in Thiruvannamalai village near Srivilliputhur in Virudhuangar District of TamilNadu. It is located at about 5 kms North of Srivilliputhur in the back drop of the Western Ghats. Here Lord is seen in a handsome standing posture. The temple is celebrated as Tirupathi of South.
Legends : The temple is celebrated as Tirupathi of South. According to tradition, Lord of Seven Hills came here for hunting and stayed here itself to take care of his devotees. The Mount is but Adishesha (divine snake) himself. The Lord offers all that his devotees need. There is a holy spring at the foothills with Lotus and other water flowers that ensure cleansing of the sins of the devotees with boons of his/her need. It is named Koneri Theertham.
The Temple looks superlatively beautiful. The tank opposite the temple is very pleasing to look at. Lord Srinivasa Perumal is in standing posture. The appearance of this Deity is the re-embodiment of Lord Venkates Perumal of Tirupathi. The adoration of this God can be equated to a pilgrimage to Tirupathi.
There are broad steps to climb up to this hill. At present, a ceiling has been set up over these steps for providing shadow to the climbing devotees. Here, every Saturday is considered to be significant for worship. And Special pujas on Saturdays in the month of Purattasi (September-October) every year. Purattasi Saturday is special at this temple. One these days the Temple is open from Early morning to 8 pm for pooja. One has to climb over 150 steps to reach the Sannidhi.
The Utsava deity of this temple who resides at Andal temple in Srivilliputhur is one the five Perumal who go on a procession in their Garuda Vahana on the fifth day of Aadi every year.
4. Shenbaga Thoppu
Shenbaga thoppu is near Srivilliputhur. It is a densely forested area and has been declared a sanctuary for gray squirrels. The entire base of the forest is covered with lush green forests of mangoes and other fruit trees and is also home to animals like elephants, tigers, bears, wildebeests, deers. At entrance of this forest a beautiful Petchiamman kovil is situated.
Kattalagar Temple is located in southern hills (Meru Malai) of Tamil Nadu, India, about 17 km from Srivilliputhur (birth place of Andal). The temple is at a hit top. There is a spring in the temple; it is a wonder to see a spring in the hill top, since water flows only downwards. None of them know from where the water is flowing. And the water speed is equivalent throughout the year. The spring has crysal clear water throughout the year.
Behind the temple, there are two mountain ranges visible. One of them resembles the face of Perumal (Lord Vishnu) and other one resembles a frog. There are 246 steps to ascend the mountain. Here Lord Sundaresa Perumal alias Kattalagar, along with Sri Devi (Sundara Valli) and Bhooma Devi (Soundara Valli), blesses the devotees, being in standing posture.
Kattu Azhagar Temple is situated about 18 kms North of Srivilliputhur near the foot of the Western Ghats (Merku Todarchi Malai). Government buses are operated from dawn to dusk, between Srivilliputhur and Shenbagathoppu. The usual way of reaching this Temple is to reach Shenbagathoppu – Pillaiyarkovil and then from there reach Meenkuthi Parai. From Meenkuthi Parai it is a narrow route leading to Kattu Azhagar Temple. Devotees have to walk around 6 km to reach the temple.
5. Pilavakkal Dam
Watrap or Vathirayiruppu is a peaceful village found alongside the Arjuna River. The traditional name of Watrap was “Vatratha Iruppu” meaning “surplus water”. Rightly called so, it has plenty of rain during the monsoons.
The Pilavakkal Dam in Watrap village forms a favorite picnic spot in Virudhunagar. It is used for agriculture and irrigation purposes. The dam is located at the foothills of Western Ghats and is surrounded by green paddy fields on one side.
The dam is situated at around 55 km from Virudhunagar and 90 km from Madurai. The dam includes two divisions – The Kovilar Dam and The Periyar Dam. The limit of Periyar Dam is 192 mcft while that of Kovilar Dam is 133 mcft.
Srivilliputhur is the nearest railway station. There is good rail connectivity from Madurai and Chennai to Srivilliputhur. There are frequent buses from Srivilliputhur to Watrap. The calmness and beauty of the location provide a picturesque treat to the eyes.
6. Sathuragiri Shiva Temple
Sathuragiri Hills : Sathuragiri hills are around 15 km from Watrap or Vathirayiruppu village near Srivilliputhur. Sathuragiri Shiva Temple surrounded by mountains is referred to as the abode of Lord Shiva and the innumerable saints who are still believed to religiously worship Lord Shiva in Sathuragiri Hills. The name “Sathuragiri” is supposed to be derived from the Sanskrit term “Chattur” meaning four and “Giri” meaning hills, and so it is “the place where all four Vedas meet and become one”. Some also believe that since the hills are square (Chathuram) in shape, hence the name Sathuragiri.
History of Sathuragiri Hills: History has it that one day Lord Shiva came to the temple disguised as a devotee and struck a conversation with the priest. When the priest informed Lord Shiva about how the temple was a very old one and belonged to its landlord, Lord Shiva conveniently claimed that the temple and surrounding land belonged to him. In order to prove his point, Lord Shiva asked the priest to take all the land that he needs. To this, the priest replies, after having thought for a moment, “let a conch be blown and the area covered by its sound shall become a part of the temple”. And thus, as far as the sound of the conch reached, became the temple property. The hill has three main temples – Sri Sundara Mahalinga Swamy Temple, Sri Santhana Mahalinga Swamy Temple, and Anadavalli Amma Temple.
Sathuragiri Trekking Journey : Sathuragiri Trekking is one of popular trekking in Tamilnadu. The journey uphill is for about 8 kms. The trail to the temple starts at Thanipaarai (base of the hill). Hereafter devotees are offered Annadhanam at Ashrams and we could get essentials like a torch, water bottles, biscuits, etc.
First Quarter of the Journey: Around half an hour walk and you reach Kudhiraiootru. Going further, the route through Vazhakkuparai is slippery and leads to Sangali Parai. Enroute one could find small water streams flowing.
Second Quarter of the Journey : Path following Sangali Parai leads to Korakkar or Goraknath Cave. You then make way through rocks and water to reach the Irattai Lingam cave.
Third Quarter of the Journey : The trek that follows leads to Vanadurgai Temple – the protecting deity of the forests and to Pilavadi Karuppasamy Temple – the guard of the hills.
Divine Darshan : An uphill walk further for about 15 minutes will bring us to Sundara Mahalingam Temple and his disciple Sundara Moorthy Swamy Temple. The Sundara Mahalingam is said to be Anidai Lingam i.e. A Lingam worshipped by the Siddhas. Behind Sundara Mahalingam temple is Anandavalli Amma temple who is formless. She’s said to take form only during Navarathri. An upward trek again for about 15 inutes brings us to The Santhana Mahalingam Temple. Around 4 kms away from Santhana Mahalingam Temple is the Periya Mahalingam, which, as the name suggests is a huge Lingam. Other deities you could offer prayers to enroute are – Oonjal Karuppan Temple, Vellai Ganapathi, Nadu Kattu Ganapathi, Naga Kanni Kaavu and Lord Ganesha at Thavasi Cave.
Essentials: It is advisable to carry water, torch, and blankets for stay at base camp. Elders prefer to use sticks while trekking. Annadanam is provided to pilgrims by Ashrams on the way, it is advisable to avoid carrying food items as it attracts monkeys. It is preferable to wear flexible and normal clothing suitable for trekking. Dolis (Human carriers) are available for the elderly and physically disabled. The ideal time to start the trek would be before 8:00 AM and to return to the base after darshan by 6:00 PM.
Sathuragiri Temple Visiting Time : Temple is open only for 6 days a month – 3 days during New Moon (Amavasya) and 3 days during Full Moon (Pournami). It is also open during Aadi and Thai Amavasya and devotees usually throng the temple during this time. Timing is between 6:00 AM and 4:00 PM which again depends on the weather conditions.
Sathuragiri Routes and Distance : Thaaniparai is about 80 Kms from Madurai, 28 Kms from Srivilliputhur. Srivilliputhur is the nearest railway station.
Pilgrims coming from Chennai have to go to Madurai – Srivilliputhur – Watrap – Thanipaarai.
Pilgrims traveling from South have to go to Nagercoil – Tirunelveli – Rajapalayam – Srivilliputhur – Watrap – Thanipaarai
Epilogue: Visit to Sathuragiri Shiva Temple is a blend of adventure and spiritual exploration. An apt place for seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva and to get a breath of fresh air.
7. Tharagu Malai Madha Kovil
A lot of temples are found here as proof that Virudhunagar district is not lacking in spiritual resources. Temples not only mean Hindu temples but other religious temples are also popular. The best proof of that is the 50-year-old Tharagu Malai Madha temple.
The famous Tharagu Malai Madha Temple is located near the Thiruvannamalai Srinivasa Perumal Temple near Srivilliputhur. People of all religions visit this temple located on top of the hill.
This Madha temple is exactly two kilometers away from the Thiruvannamalai Srinivasa Perumal temple. As the mountain is a bit steep, it is good to bring food and water in hand when the climbers arrive. A temple-like structure with small statues can be seen all along the way.
There is no doubt that the beauty of the nearby Western Ghats will captivate us as we move up the hill.
About 50 years ago this hill was just an ordinary hill. It is said that Jesus appeared to a shepherd boy on this mountain. Then a few days later Madha also appeared. Due to this, the people of the region have built a temple and worshiped here.
The specialty of this church is that in other churches the puja is conducted at 12 noon but here the puja is conducted at 11 o’clock. The reason for this is that the time when Jesus and Mother appeared was exactly 11 o’clock, that’s why the 11 o’clock puja is held here. People believe that if they pray by participating in this puja, their wishes will come true.