27 April 2015

2015 Chittarai Vasantha Ursavam



Currently underway at Arunachaleswarar Temple is Vasantha Utsavam; a ten day festival depicting the blossoming of love between Lord Shiva and the Goddess. The Festival this year started on April 23, 2015 and will complete with special functions on Saturday May 2, 2015. 

Chittarai Vishakam Festival 
Day 1: Thursday 23rd April, 2015 
Day 10: Saturday 2nd May, 2015 

To those hoping to attend the last day of the Festival at Arunachaleswarar Temple, the schedule for Day 10 will be: 

Morning: Bath of the Gods at Ayyankulam Tank (Outside Arunagirinathar Temple) 
Evening: Special Puja and Abhishekam at Gopal Vinayaka Temple (near State Bank of India) 
Night: Around 10.00 p.m. at Flagpost, Siva Sannidhi, Arunachaleswarar Temple. Manmathan Dhaganam Function with crackers and fireworks 

To read the legend about this festival and functions celebrated at this time go to these links here, here, here and here


Chittarai Poornima crowd in an earlier year


Chittarai Poornima girivalam (May 3rd, 2015) after the Festival will be the most heavily attended poornima girivalam (after Karthigai Deepam) of the year’s calendar at Arunachala. It will be VERY CRUSHED. 

Chittarai Poornima is dedicated to Chitragupta, the Keeper of Deeds in the house of Yama, (God of death) and to Indra, the leader of the Devas. Lord Brahma created Chitragupta through the Sun God and He is considered as the younger brother of Lord Yama. Chitragupta (Chitra=picture, Gupta=hidden) represents the hidden picture of life that is vital, yet unknown. 

Chitragupta keeps a register of every birth (good or bad) and according to ancestral belief, it is he who tallies one’s positive karma against one’s negative karma and declares the result to the Judge on High. It is believed to be the right time to gain blessings to wash away sin and accrue virtue. 


14 April 2015

2015 Arunachala Tamil New Year


The Ner Annamalaiyar Lingam Shrine and Mandapam is located on the Arunachala girivalam roadway in an exact axial line opposite to Arunachaleswarar Temple on the other side of the Hill. 

The early morning sun on Tamil New Year i.e. April 14 first falls directly onto the Lingam in this Shrine – this phenomenon can only be viewed on this day. Traditionally each year on this date, large crowds gather at this Temple to be first to greet the rays of Surya and seek divine blessings for the coming new year. 







First Light falling on the Ner Annamalaiyar Lingam




11 April 2015

2015 Panguni Uthiram Festival--Celestial Wedding

Panguni Uthiram is celebrated during Panguni Month (March-April) during Uthiram Nakshatra day. In 2015 the Panguni Uthiram date was April 3.

Panguni Uthiram (Falgun Purnima) full moon day is known as the time of celebration of the Celestial Wedding of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi; Lord Murugan and His consort Goddess Devayani and Lord Vishnu and His consort Goddess Andal. This day also celebrates the divine wedding day of Lord Rama and the Goddess Sita. 

This celebration of Divine marriage is intended to emphasis the glory of married life for householders and to protect their union from separation. It is believed that offering prayers to God at this time gives good mental equilibrium to couples and bestows them with strength, love, affection and understanding. 

Devotees visiting Lord Murugan Temples on Panguni Uthiram day carry Kavadis and many devotees choose to have their heads shaved and to observe austerities at this time. To read the legend of Lord Murugan's devotees and the Kavadi, go to this link here.


Lord Murugan devotees carrying Kavadis


At Arunachaleswarar Temple a Marriage Festival is celebrated.


Exchange of Garlands for the Gods

Alangaram of the Gods

Marriage of  Lord Annamalaiyar and the Goddess

Devotees watching the marriage


In the evening the Gods came in procession and an exchange of garlands took place. 

Arunachaleswarar and Parashakti after exchanging garlands were both moved to the Kalyana Mandapam. Inside the Kalayana Mandapam (Thirukalyanam Mandapam), the Thirukalyanam Festival occurred. 



Gods in procession in the town

After which Lord Arunachaleswarar with Goddess Ambal came out in procession on the mount of the Golden Rishaba (bull). 


After completion of the Celestial Marriage on full moon day, special functions celebrating the Panguni Festival daily occurred connected with  Arunachaleswarar Temple from April 3, 2015 to April 8, 2015. 


Arunachala spur with Murugan Shrine on Top


As mentioned earlier this Panguni Uthiram full moon day Festival is also the celebration of the Celestial Wedding of Lord Murugan and his Goddess Devayani. As well as the carrying of Kavadis, devotees of Lord Murugan also held separate functions for their God at various Lord Murugan Temples and Shrines throughout Tiruvannamalai. 

The hillside shrine on a small spur south of Arunachala held a two day long celebration of the Celestial Wedding. On both the 3rd and 4th of April, the whole top of this spur was decorated and lit up with lights. 

For more information and photographs of the Lord Murugan Shrine on the spur rock go to this link here

10 April 2015

April 1, 2015 -- Pradosham Arunachaleswarar Temple



Below are photographs of Pradosham observed at Arunachaleswarar Temple on Wednesday April 1, 2015. 

In regard to this observance the five Nandis at Arunachaleswarar Temple are: 

Pradosha Nandi, in the Moolastanam 
Ratha Vilaku Nandi in the Second Prakaram 
Kodi Kampathu Nandi in the Third Prakaram 
Chinna Nandi in the fourth prakaram, and 
Periyar Nandi that stands in front of the Vallala Gopuram in the Fifth Prakaram. 



Chinna Nandi, Fourth Prakaram


Kodi Kampathu Nandi, Third Prakaram

Annamalaiyar Alangaram before procession around the Shiva Sannidhi


31 March 2015

Parvathamalai Summit


As Parvathamalai is within the radius of the power of Arunachala, as set out in the Skanda Purana, and as it is becoming increasingly more renowned in these modern times, I have already made three postings on various aspects—see below: 

To read an earlier post about Parvathamalai setting out its spiritual significance and some of its history, go to this link here

To learn about the Siddhar Thavathiru Veera Vairakiya Moorthy with miraculous powers who lived on Parvathamalai in ancient times, go to this link here

For information regarding girivalam, accommodation and routes to the top of the Hill, go to this link here.


--- oOo ---


Ashram left, Temple Right side

This fourth posting gives information about the sacred Temple on top of the Hill, and also includes photographs of the buildings on the summit and views of the beautiful vistas from the top of Parvathamalai.


Javadhi Hills from Summit

Another View from Summit

From Summit looking at nearby ruins

Nearby ruins where Parvathamalai pilgrims shelter

At the summit of the Hill is a very powerful Temple at which resides the Siva aspect in the form of Lord Mallikarjuna (i.e. White Jasmine) and the Sakthi aspect in the form of Parvatha Rani or Parvathammal. Parvathammal is also called Lordess Brahmarambika (and Maragathambika). Inside the Temple there are also shrines dedicated to: Sri Vinayagar, Sri Subramanyar with Valli and Devasena, Sri Aghora Veerabhadrar, Sri Kali, and Sri Nagarajar.

A Temple at this site is believed to have existed for the last 2000 years although it is not known exactly when the current Temple was constructed at the top of Parvathamalai. However a record (Malai Padu Kadaam) shows that King Maa Mannan who was ruling that area, during the year 300 A.D used to visit a Temple (at this site) frequently and worship Lord Shiva and the Goddess. It is said that 2000 years ago great yogis (Siddhas) constructed a Temple at the top of the hill for doing meditation.

The history of Parvathamalai is interconnected with that of the famed Sri Mallikarjunar Temple at Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh. The encompassing legend goes so:

“Sage Siladha performed severe penance on Lord Shiva seeking a boon to have children. Two sons were born to him, Nandhi and Parvathan. Sanakadhi Rishi called on the sage and said that Nandhi would live on earth only for a short while. As a result of this prophecy Siladha fell into grief. Nandhi assured his father by saying that he would win over death by his penance on Lord Shiva.

Pleased with Nandhi’s penance, Lord Shiva appeared and made the young child His vahana (vehicle) and passed the order that devotees should come to Him only after being allowed by Nandhi. Nandhi’s place of penance at the foot of the hills at Sri Mallikarjunar Temple at Srisailam is also known as “Nandiyal”. His brother Parvathan also performed penance on Lord Siva and became the hill – Parvatha Hill – i.e. Parvathamalai”.

Another legend associated with this sacred site recounts that when Lord Siva returned from the Himalayas to South India, He stepped on Parvathamalai on His way to Arunachala.


Lord Siva's Feet near Summit


One of the unique features of the Temple on Parvathamalai is that all may enter the inner shrine (sanctum sanctorum) in order to perform their own puja to Lord Shiva, the Goddess, Sri Ganesha and Lord Murugan. The busiest times at Parvathamalai are the days of full moon, no moon and new moon. The Temple is currently under renovation and when completed a grand kumbhabhishekam will take place. It is believed that it will be the first such observance at this Temple in 600 years.


Development of Shrines at Temple


Lord Siva Sannidhi

The Goddess Sannidhi

Goddess Brahmarambika


It is reported by visitors that at night many paranormal activities occur on Parvathamalai. That it is possible to experience both Jyoti Darsanam at night and also to imbibe an almost other-worldly intoxicating scent of flowers. The Goddess idol at the Temple has a dazzling smile and Divine light can often be seen on her face and cheeks. When the devotee walks away from Goddess Brahmarambika in the sanctum sanctorum, the size of the deity instead of diminishing, appears to increase in size and it seems as if the Goddess steps forward and approaches the devotee.

This place is filled with stories of miracles witnessed in one form or another. Devotees often report seeing images of both the snake and trishulam when lighting camphor in front of Lord Shiva. Some devotees have seen a nine foot King Cobra visiting the Sanctum Sanctorum for the worship and others have sight of three eagles circling the top of Parvathamalai.

It is reputed that there are Siddhars who have made this Hill their home and who keep their presence a secret only choosing to reveal themselves to very few devotees of the Divine. It is believed that these Siddhars visit the Temple on the top of Parvathamalai at midnight to worship the presiding deities there. Though no one are able to see them in physical bodies, Villagers around ‘Parvathamalai’ down below say that they can clearly hear the sound of ringing bells, blowing conch and beating drums exactly at midnight when pujas are performed by siddhars. Devas and spiritual beings from other lokas are also believed to worship on the Hill every night.


Information about Trust Renovation

New Archway leading to Temple on Summit

Early work undertaken in Temple Renovation


Renovation Work at Temple
[Extract from National Newspaper]

"Over 4,500-ft high, Parvathamalai challenges climbers. Tough and rugged, it has 1,800 steps. “With descending clouds keeping you company, it is a unique experience to walk in this virgin terrain,” say devotees, who have been visiting the hill for two decades, to worship Lord Mallikarjuna and His consort Brahmarambika. 

The dilapidated state of the Temple forced some the devotees from Triplicane, Chennai, to form a Renovation Committee. Word spread and help came from all quarters. The HR and CE gave the green signal and work started in earnest. But it has not been easy. From water to steel and wood to cement, everything has to be transported manually. An uphill task, literally! Sand is sent up in small bags through climbers. Water is carried in bottles and cans to be emptied into huge drums. 

Thunder struck in 2009 and work suffered a setback. A super conductor lightning diverter was installed. Huge parts of the tower, weighing 1,000 kg, were moved to the hill top and an expert team from Kodaikanal installed it. 

Help is coming from unexpected quarters. A devotee, after visiting the temple and watching the proceedings, supplied steel and cement. Everything is being built—from walls and pedestals for the idols, to ceiling and gopuram. . . ."

Miraculous theertham of spring water on Summit outside Temple

Lord Nandi on Parvathamalai Summit looking towards Arunachala

Arunachala from summit of Parvathamalai

22 March 2015

Parvathamalai: Girivalam, Accommodation, Routes



As Parvathamalai is within the radius of the power of Arunachala, as set out in the Skanda Purana, and as it is becoming increasingly more renowned in these modern times, I have already made several postings on various aspects—see below: 

To read an earlier post about Parvathamalai setting out its spiritual significance and some of its history, go to this link here:

To learn about the Siddhar Thavathiru Veera Vairakiya Moorthy with miraculous powers who lived on Parvathamalai in ancient times, go to this link here:

This new posting gives more practical advice to pilgrims eager to visit Parvathamalai, with details of accommodation available at that place, photographs and information about both climbing the Hill and also regarding circumambulation of the 25 km perimeter of the Hill base. As this posting will be quite long, I will make an additional posting with photographs of the Temple on top of the Parvathamalai Hill at a later date. 

--- oOo --- 

To the northern side of Tiruvannamalai there is a place which has the sacred blessing of Lord Shiva and which used to be known as Trisula Paaruvatham. Today this sacred place is called, Parvathamalai. It is an ancient Hill which has a beautiful Temple of Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara located on its summit. This sacred Temple is believed to have originated over 2,000 years ago. The Hill is surrounded by forests and mountains and is known as Thirumoolaarenyam. 

A number of Siddhars and Maharshis have performed Thaavam at this place. A famous Rishi known as Mirukaandu Muni, lived on this Hill and with his power of thaavam a river originated nearby called Mirukaanda River which now flows all through the forest. Agathir Maharshi and Kaanuvar Rishi have performed thapas and stayed for sometime at this sacred place. Even today a number of Siddhas and Rishis are believed to be residing at Trisula Paaruvatham. The Universal Guru, Aathi Shivalinga – Chariya Peruman Gurupeetam is at that spot even now. 

It is reputed that there are Siddhars who have made this Hill their home and who keep their presence a secret only choosing to reveal themselves to very few devotees of the Divine. It is believed that these Siddhars visit the Temple on the top of Parvathamalai at midnight to worship the presiding deities there. Though no one are able to see them in physical bodies, Villagers around ‘Parvathamalai’ down below say that they can clearly hear the sound of ringing bells, blowing conch and beating drums exactly at midnight when pujas are performed by siddhars. Devas and spiritual beings from other lokas are also believed to worship on the Hill every night. 

"Siddhars have spoken volumes about Pancha Nathana Nataraja. They say that this deity is such a rarity in the Universe that even the Devas would give anything just for the chance of worshipping him. They say that on the Nataraja Abisheka days which occur in certain Tamil months (Chitra, Aani, Aavani, Purattaasi, Margazhi and Maasi), the Devas perform their worship to this deity in subtle form. This kind of worship is similar to the sookshma worship done by the Devas at the peak of the Arunachala Hill and on the Parvathamalai Hill." 

It is reported by visitors that at night many paranormal activities occur on Parvathamalai. That it is possible to experience both Jyoti Darsanam at night and also to imbibe an almost other-worldly intoxicating scent of flowers. The Goddess idol at the Temple has a dazzling smile and Divine light can often be seen on her face and cheeks. When the devotee walks away from Goddess Brahmarambika in the sanctum sanctorum, the size of the deity instead of diminishing, appears to increase in size and it seems as if the Goddess steps forward and approaches the devotee. 

On the top of Parvathamalai Swami Mouna Vithoba lived for 16 years attending to his sadhana and helping to maintain the beautiful Temple of Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara located on the Hill’s summit. After living for 16 years on the summit the saint came to the bottom of Parvathamalai Hill and performed intensive sadhana for 4-5 years engaged in puja and worship of the murti of his Goddess Sri Rajarajeshwari. 



Swami Mouna Vithoba

This saint deceased sometime during 2001-2002 but the work at the top of the Hill is continuing in his name. 

In this respect a renovation Trust named ‘Triplicane Sri Paruvathamalai Adiyargal Thiruppani Sangam’ has been set up to: 

(1) continue improving the walkways to the top of Parvathamalai, 
(2) develop and maintain Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara Temple on the summit, 
(3) complete construction of the Mouna Guruswamy Ashram on summit and, 
(4) continue managing the completed Mouna Guruswamy Ashram at foot of the Hill. 


Ashram at base of Hill


When Swami Mouna Vithoba passed away (at his place) at the bottom of the Hill, an ashram slowly developed and on January 29, 2012 a grand Kumbhabhishekam function was performed at the samadhi of Mouna Vithoba Swami at what is now an Ashram dedicated to him at the foot of Parvathamalai. 

Food and accommodation is available at the Mouna Guruswamy Ashram at the bottom of Parvathamalai. To make enquiries please call the person in attendance at that place Sri Ramesh at (0)9843417989. 


Samadhi of Swami Vithoba

10 years ago work started on making an Ashram on the top of Parvathamalai. The ashram is still under development, however even now (in its unfinished state) it offers food and accommodation to pilgrims But call first and speak direct to these managers if you hope to enjoy the facilities of either of these ashrams during a visit to Parvathamalai. To get in touch with Mouna Guruswamy Ashram (which is currently under development) at the top of Parvathamalai please call Sri Sridhar at (0)9688505403. 


--- oOo ---


The sacred place of Parvathamalai is under 30 kms from Arunachala and infused with Arunachala’s radiating spiritual power. The Sage of Kanchi (Kanchipuram) the great Sri Sankaracharya Chandrashekarendra Saraswati twice undertook pilgrimages on foot from Rameshwaram in the far south of the Indian peninsula to Benares in the North. On one of those pilgrimages (written about in Paul Brunton’s “In Search of Secret India” book) he visited Parvathamalai Hill after his time at Arunachala. When he saw Parvathamalai he declared that it was in actual fact itself a Siva Lingam and proceeded to walk the 25 kms circumference of the Hill. From that time the fame of girivalam at Parvathamalai (in modern times) has spread. 

“On the first of Margazhi month in 1944, His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal fondly known as Maha Periyava performed Girivalam of Parvathamalai which is located in the Thiruvannamalai-Chengam Road. His Holiness started on foot from his camp at Kadaladi accompanied by the devotees and went round the mountain through jungles and hills and reached the camp back late in the night.” 

Consequently each year on the first day of the Tamil month of Margazhi, a special girivalam has been organised (including food) since 2009 by Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. On this day many thousands of devotees arrive and perform a ‘special girivalam’ of Parvathamalai. 

Nowadays many devotees and pilgrims visit and climb the hill to worship at the Temple on the summit in order that they may attain bliss and enlightenment. Others following the example of Shankaracharya prefer not to walk on the Hill itself but instead choose to perform the 25 km (approximately 8 hours to complete) girivalam around its base. The busiest times at Parvathamalai are the days of full moon, no moon and new moon. 

************************* 


The height of Parvathamalai is over 4,000 feet. It is part of Javadhi Hills and accessible through Kadaladi village 25 kms north of Tiruvannamalai or through Thenmadimangalam. Parvatham means mountain and Parvatha Malai as it is called, connotes “Hill of Hills” or “Queen of Hills”. Parvathamalai presents eight different shapes from eight directions around the hill. 

There are three ways of climbing Parvathamalai 

1. Through Thenmadimangalam Village (new way): 20 kms from Polur. Most devotees come this way. It is the route most recently created. When coming this way one can take darshan of the Pachaiamman and Veerabhardran Shrines at the foot of Parvathamaiai. 

2. Through Kadaladi Village (old way): Going by this route one can visit the Ashram at the bottom of Parvathamalai and leave one’s vehicle there. There are facilities for devotees to stay overnight. This route is more appropriate to trekkers. 

The same Trust that is developing the Temple of Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara at the top of Parvathamalai Hill, is also helping to make access to the Hill summit easier by the continued development of a Hill pathway. 

3. Kandha Palayam: Kandha Palayam village is located 10 kms after Kadaladi Village. A Saint used to live in this village who would regularly climb up the Hill. Even now there is a path but it is very steep. There is an Ashram and Temple in this village. 

The distance of the trek to the top of Parvathamalai is about 6 kms and will take about four hours for a reasonably fit person to ascend and approximately three hours to return back down to the base of the Hill. The walk starts on a pathway which gradually becomes filled with rocks and boulders. The incline is noticeably steeper and the last 2000 feet of the climb is assisted by iron rods and chains embedded into the rocks. 

The route to the top of the Hill is marked by white arrow markers painted on the rocks. There are some small shops and vendors at the earlier part of the climb where the Kadaladi trek pathway meets with the Thenmadimangalam route. 


 Pathway to the top of Parvathamalai


Direction Board

Beginning of Hike

Pathway with Rocks and Boulders

Beautiful Views Throughout Climb

Stones Painted with Direction Markers

Small Shop Enroute

Rocky Pathway Continues

Interspersed with Beautiful views

The last 1/4 distance consists of "Kadappaarai padhai" (the path supported by iron rods) and "Aghaaya padhai" (where the gap between the rocks is bridged by iron plates). There is an option to select between the steps or the Kadappaarai padhai. One has to be very careful throughout this part of the trek, especially during rains, as it may get slippery. 

Steps leading up the Hill

Kaddaparai
Photograph showing the difficult climb upwards

Reaching the top

Guru Mounaswamy Ashram

Lord Mallikarjuna Ishwara Temple


[I will be soon posting additional information and photographs of the Lord Mallikarajuna Iswara Temple at the top of Parvathaimalai] 

21 March 2015

Pradosham March 18, 2015 -- Arunachaleswarar Temple


Below are some beautiful photographs of the March 18, 2015 Pradosham as celebrated at Arunachalaeswarar Temple here at Tiruvannamalai.


Aarti at Arunachaleswarar Pradosham

The Lord with golden Nandi as his vahana

Pradosham at Arunachaleswarar Temple is always well attended



Below is a legend about Nandi and his power of surrender which illustrates why he is example to many as an epitome of ultimate devotion to the Lord.


The Power of Surrender 

When the positive forces, the devas, and the negative forces, the asuras joined together on a rare occasion to churn the ocean with a mountain to obtain the nectar of immortality they utilized Vasuki, the serpent, as the rope. The devas pulled from one end and the asuras from the other. Lots of precious herbs and gems were produced during the Churning and one of them was a poison (halahala) which became human karma. This "poison" was so dangerous that none of the devas or asuras wanted to go near it. It was extremely sticky and coming into contact with this poison, i.e., human karma, would drag the divinity down to the realms of human suffering and ego. 

As everyone else ran away, Lord Siva, followed by Nandi, came forward to help as he was the only one who could counteract this deadly poison. Siva took the poison into his hand and drank it, the descent of the poison was in turn stopped at His throat, by His divine consort. Siva is therefore also known as Nilakantha (the blue-throated one) and Visakantha (the poison-throated one). Nandi saw some of the poison spill out of Siva's mouth and immediately drank if off the ground. The devas and asuras watching were shocked and wondered aloud what would happen to Nandi. Lord Siva calmed their fears saying, "Nandi has surrendered into me so completely that he has all my powers and my protection".