The Swamimalai Temple is the 4th of the Aarupadai Veedu – the 6 temples – dedicated to the tamil deity Murugan. Swamimalai is located 5 km from Kumbakonam, and we went to this temple right after our visit to Thanjavur.
Swamimalai Temple is located on a hill with only 60 steps, each step representing the Tamil Years, as we have a cyclus of 60 years that are astronomically calculated. This temple is very important in the history of lord Murugan, as this is the place where he explained the essence of the Pranava Mantra “Om” to his father, Lord Shiva. As Murugan was a Guru to his father, the place is also referred as “Gurumalai”, and is therefore considered to be the most sacred place among all Murugan Temples. The deity is worshipped as “Swaminathan”, the lord of words.
The temple is very old, it was built in 2nd century BC by the king Parantaka Chola I. The legend behind the story of Murugan teaching his father about the essence of the Pranava Mantra is very funny, but also very interesting 😉
Pazhani (Palani) is the 3rd of the Arupadai Veedu, that are 6 temples dedicated to lord Murugan. This was also the 3rd of the 6 temples, that we visited, during our trip in Tamil Nadu. We actually went on a few-days trip by van, where we visited several famous temples of Tamil Nadu.
Pazhani is a town in the Dindigul district. The Temple of Pazhani is located at the hill Sivagiri. You can reach the temple by the steps, that are carved in the hill, by the railway that has 3 tracks or by the rope way. The hill to the temple has 690 steps, and is actually a very good option to get some exercise 😉
There are 6 special temples in Tamil Nadu, dedicated to the god Murugan, mostly referred as the Tamil God and as the god of the mountains/hills. These 6 temples are known as Arupadai Veedu (The Six Warhouses -The Six Abodes of Murugan), very important in the hindu sect Kaumaram (the sect that worship lord Murugan only). Lord Murugan is usually referred as the son of lord Shiva. The six places are important places, and takes part in the Skanda Purana (and other tamil litteratures), that describes the story of Murugan, and how he fought against the demon, Surapadman and other important incidences.
The places/temples are listed by sequences in the story, Skanda Purana:
Thiruthani, known as Thiruthanigai in earlier times, is located 87 km from Chennai, on the hill Thanigai. Thiruthani is actually the 5th of Arupadai Veedu of the lord Murugan, but was the first Arupadai Veedu, that we visited. It is also the first tempe we went to outside Chennai (except Mahabalipuram, which is more a tourist place now than an actual temple). From here, we went to Srikalahasthi.
Thiruthani is known as the place, where Murugan married Valli, and he eventually met her in a place nearby. This was also the place, where he took rest and gained inner peace after defeated the demon, Surapadman. This hill/temple has 365 steps, referring to the 365 days of a year. Thiruthani is mentioned in one of the earliest tamil sangam literature, Thirumurugaatrupadai, written by Nakkeerar.
When the Pallava Dynasty took Kanchipuram to be their capital, after fighting the Cholas, Mamallapuram (or Mahabalipuram) became their major seaport. Here, in Mamallapuram, during the 7th and 8th century CE, the Pallavas built a group of religious monuments, that’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mamallapuram is actually named after the Pallava king Narasimhan I, that was known as Mamallan (The Great Wrestler) who ruled South India during 630-668 AD, and completed the work his father. Mahendravarman I, began in Mamallapuram. Mahendravarman I was the pioneer of rock-cut architecture, and also his son, Mamallan, shared the same passion and love for such art. Though, Mahendravarman I was born Jain, he converted to Saivism by the influence of the Saiva Saint Appar Swamigal, who too lived in this period, like Sambanthar and Thiruthondar. As an expression of his belief in Saivism, it is said that he therefore started the work of rock-carvings and temples at Mamallapuram. As his son, Mamallan completed the father’s work, the place was then named after him.
When I was younger, I went to extra classes in my spare time to study Tamil language. Both my parents teached me to read and write Tamil, and later I began to the classes to get more knowleadge about the Tamil history and litterature. During these classes I came across a chapter about the Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai and its great architecture, which was so interesting to me, that I was very eager to visit the temple, when we went to India in 2010. The temple is actually much bigger than I expected, and I loved being around the space. What a beautiful temple it is! 😉