Palani - A photostory

A god with many names, Subramaniam is one of the most popular gods in Tamil Nadu. The son of Siva and Parvathi, he is also referred to by the devotees as Murugan, Karthikeyan, Kumaran, Swaminathan to name a few. There are 6 important temples of Murugan in the state, and one of them is Palani (or Pazham Nee).
A short photo-story to capture the essence of this historic temple.
The panoramic view of the town was breath taking. Most of the buildings are small, and the central heart of the city really seems to be the lake.
Walking barefoot was like playing hop scotch. The temple is situated on a hill top, in the town of Palani, which is around 100 kilometres from Coimbatore.
One of the important traditions of this temple is 'Tonsuring' or shaving off all the hair in imitation of the Lord of Palani. By doing so, it is believed that you are getting rid of your ego and gaining spiritual wisdom. Another tradition is applying sandalwood paste at night to the head of the idol and allowing it to dry overnight. This is then said to acquire medicinal properties and is distributed to devotees.
Hundreds of believers chant a million prayers, they leave little remnants on the temple railings and surroundings. You find a lot of worshippers from Kerala too. It is said that during a hunting expedition, the 7th century Kerala king Cheraman Perumal reached the foothills of Palani. While resting here, he had a dream about the temple, and thus rebuilt it. It is believed that he then build the idol facing west, to bring prosperity to his kingdom. Hence, a lot of Keralites believe that this idol continues to shower his blessings on Kerala.
Inside the main sanctum - this temple was build 400 years ago by the
Nayaks, and it was enlarged by the chieftains of Palani. The temple
is essentially a Muruga shrine, though at later points, more shrines
were added.
Intricate details on all doors left me quite mesmerized. Huge
wooden doors painted in bright yellow are quite common at this
temple.
We waited for a couple of hours for the golden chariot procession, for which we had taken a ticket. Each ticket costs 2000 INR and allows up to 3 people to touch the chariot.
Visitors from all strata of the society and all over the country frequent
the temple. The temple has around 700 steps, and every now and then,
when the body tires, you can take in the beauty and aura of this
famous temple, as there are plenty of benches on the way.
Before setting foot near the temple, worshippers pray to the agni - kund where some place incense sticks and some simply take blessings. This is placed in the front of the temple, just as the stairway ends.
Just as I sat down after admiring the the view of the town, the young
man on the left showed up. He was carrying a 'Kavadi', an offering 
to the temple. And while I clicked his photo, the younger boy 
on the left suddenly appeared out of nowhere, 
saying 'take my photo also'. 
Even before the Hindus started to worship deities, they had
understood the significance of mother nature. In fact, Murukkan, 
the favourite god for the Tamils, is closely associated with trees, 
and wherever there is a Murukkan temple, the worshippers also 
worship the trees in the temple premises. 
As the sun slowly set, the light that shone off this quiet sanctum
near the entrance of the temple made the place gleaming in beauty.
While a group on the left said a few prayers in unison, and to the right, I sat quietly waiting for the sun set, and this dog, decided to ignore both, me and the group.
Called Mookutthi in Tamil, many Tamilian women, as is customary,
wear nose piercings on one or both sides of the nose. The nose
piercings are said to relieve menstrual pain and also reduce
the pain during child birth. I saw this woman sitting for a couple of
hours, staring at passers by. She agreed to pose for me,
and right after I took her photo, she let out the biggest smile!
As the last of the rays did their magic, the views of the town and lake below continually changed. From a bright golden and orange hue to crimson and finally to shades of purple, the heart shaped lake told my heart. I always wondered where this lake was when I saw it from above in the plane, now I know ! 
Vimana is a term for the tower above the  sanctum, often indicating
the presence within. Influence by the Dravidian style of architecture,
South India has some beautiful and colourful temples.
I would love to visit more temples, some of the legends and beliefs are so beautiful, that they're worth capturing in thy mind. You can read about my trip and some more details about the famous temple here.

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