Travelogue

Thirukkachur

Ohm Namo Bhagavathe Rudraya. It was a fascinating journey. The journey toward the lord. I heard about Thirukkachur a while ago in a podcast: Vaaram Oru Aalayam. Nataraj podcasts wonderfully about the temples (mostly lesser known) in Tamilnadu. I was intrigued by the Maruntheeswarar temple at Thirukkachur detailed in one of his podcasts.

On 22 June, I visited Thirukkachur.

It was an auspicious day, at least for me. It was my janma-nakshathram day, and I wanted to visit a temple. There are a few other blogs on Thirukkachur, which portray the village and its temples more vividly. This one is my experience.

The journey was wonderful. The weather was perfect. The evening sun shimmered through the canopy of trees in GST. Traffic was less. I normally like bike rides. So, riding 25 km (one way), with my wife, was bliss. Reached Singa Permal Koil (SP Koil, for short) and took a right turn. Once you cross the level crossing, the scene changes completely. From a busy suburb of a sprawling city you are into a rustic village. The smell of greenery, the sight of paddy fields, the wriggling village road — you are right in the middle of heaven. The road is really good, though a bit narrow compared to the GST road. Thirukkachur is only 2 km from SP Koil.

As we reached the village, we saw a signboard listing the temples of the twon and their direction. We wanted to go to the Marunteeswarar temple, as we learnt from a blog that it is a small hillock, and it was already 5 in the evening. You just need to take left from the signboard and go another km. You will not realize that you are in a hillock. It is but a small hillock and the temple is in a dilapidated condition. The sanctum sanctorum was locked. A blog I read is right. You need to inform the gurukkal of your visit, so that he can be there. The temple was open, neverthless, and I was more than delighted to try my hands at the digicam. (A few shots of this temple and the Kachabeswarar temple are listed in the end.) I was a bit disappointed that I was not fortunate enough to have the dharisanam of my lord. Now I wanted to visit the other temple, hoping that it would be open.

You come back to the signboard and go straight and turn left.

Now what am I seeing. There is a fairly huge temple, with a big mandapam, a tank, a dilapidated chariot, and vast space in front of it. I am delighted. I didn’t expect the temple to be this huge, as the Marunteeswarar temple is medium-sized, if not very small. There are a lot of bulls roaming around, and the entire scene reminds me of my village Nattarasankottai. There is a Chettinad charm to this village. Maybe, the temple is similar to the numerous temples that dot the Chetti Nadu. Though the main deity is called Kachabeswarar (Kachaba is tortoise in Sanskrit, and Vishnu in Koorma avatar sought the blessings of Shiva to withstand the might of the Mandara malai while the Parkkadal was churned. For more info on this legend read this blog http://www.dharsanam.blogspot.com/2008/03/thirukkachur-sri-kachabeswarar.html. The name of the temple as written in the outer corridor is Thiagarajar temple. There is a separate shrine for Thiagarajar, much like Thiruvotriyur, and this Somaskandar (Thiagarajar) is the Urchava moorthy. The first thing that captures your eyes or rather ears is the chime of the small bells on the flagstaff. The tongue of each bell is Pepal-leaf shaped, and in the soothing southerly wind, it emits sunadham that embraces the whole temple, including you.

The gurukkal was a man of few letters, err… words. Maybe, he was provoked by our digicam, as my wife was blissfully snapping all she could see. He made us complete the dharisanam quickly and locked the small grill gate of the sanctorum and went out. The moolavar is a small lingam. I chanted a few verses from the Rudram. Next we went to the ambal’s (Anjanakshi) shrine. The ambal is, as usual, bigger than the lord. When we visited the Thiagarajaar sannidhi, there was a power cut, and immediately the corridor of the shrine was shrouded by menacing bats. We vacated promptly and started circumambulating the sprawling corridor. There is a sannidhi to Pillaiyar and Murugan on each side of the main sanctorum. The sculptures in the main vimanam are too good. Dakshinamoorthy with 4 pupils is a sight to behold, so is Vishnu with his consorts (see photos at the end of this blog). True to the legend of the village, there is a shrine for Virundhitteeswarar who fed Sundaramoorthy Nayanar. The moortham of Virundhitteeswarar is farily big.

There are a lot of scriptures that adorn the innermost corridor walls of the shrines of both swami and ambal. Most of the Web references I read state that they belong to Kulothunga Chozhan (I or II?). I could not see any reference in the gopuram (which remains half-built). Usually, the sthala puranam is carved in the inner walls of the gopuram. Here I could not see it. I wish I knew the ancient Thamizh script to decipher the writings on the walls. Hmm… I can only wish.

With our appetite satiated, we started our return journey. This time, we took the road that leads to Maraimalai Nagar (M’Nagar). In fact, Thirukkachur is within (or just outside) the municipal limits of M’Nagar. It is 4 km from Thirukkachur to M’Nagar, and the road is fine here too. Rustic, scenic, and all.  It had become dark when we reached GST and the traffic was, to put it mildly, chaotic. We reached home safely at the stroke of 8 in the evening.

Tips:

  • Travel by bike. If you travel by bus, you will have to alight at M’Nagar or SP Koil and take an auto. IMO, two wheels transport you truly to the hinterland, aka, Thirukkachur. Total distance: from Tambaram (50 km-both ways). Add another 20 km if you travel from the city.
  • If you travel by bike or any personal vehicle, take the second right at the Ford factory (as rightly pointed out in a blog). Don’t take the first (immediate) right. There is a level crossing at both the first and second rights, but take the second one, which takes you straight to the village (4 km). If you travel up to SP Koil, take the first right, as you enter the town; don’t go up to the SP Koil junction, though you can take a u-turn from there, too. Now cross the level crossing and travel for 2 km to reach the village.
  • Don’t forget to take your camera. Don’t forget to capture the sun setting beneath the hills, as you travel toward M’Nagar.
  • There are no decent eating joints (ok, hotels) at either M’Nagar or SP Koil (at least that was what we experienced. We felt ravenous in the evening, but we could not find a hotel after M’Nagar. Guduvancherry has a handful of bhavans. Krishna Bhavan is a nice one, though the rates are metropolitan.
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