At the end of our tour on Jan 29, referred to Sri.Muthalagan about places wanted to cover on my own on Day-5, he looked ‘high’ from our 4 day outings, jumped in right away, and played hooky to college the following day.
Though kept up with the same 5am spirit as the days before, we left after a delay by the cabbie. First up, Thirukoshtiyur, as recommended by my father – Siva and Perumal are in koshti here, though Siva is shunted to a corner, locked in with no one to attend to and staying Sivanae. I was quite surprised to find Siva here at the first place as this temple holds such an importance to Udayavar (Ramanujar). Then again, Siva was part of the koshti too in finding a way to beat Hiranyakasipu and HIS presence here ‘appeared’ more of symbolic. Myth aside, Siva is bang opposite the main entrance door-way and at the ground level, more like a moolavar and this made me wonder if it was a Siva temple to begin with and other Gods were moved in later at various levels from the ground. Anyway, the granite pillars at the entrance gate has beautiful figures around which garland is woven crisscross all to the top – M called it Nayak’s work; multilevel concrete structures have totally blocked/marred the beauty of tall vimanam; we reached the spot where from Udayavar did that promise-breaking-act for the welfare of humanity.
Then to Pillaiyarpatti – according to M, the Chettimars have highlighted the Pandiya Vinayakar, shunning Siva (again the poor Siva!) who is supposedly at the rear of the cave. One can go around and have a look at the extended narrowing cave at the rear (from the street). If that part was carved-in, only Chettimars can answer!
On to Kundrakudi – the kudavarai at the base has 3 partitions, fraught with inscriptions and larger than life Gods sculpted in – dwarapalaks, kotravai, brahma, Vishnu, a massive stucco layered nataraja, and garuda with folded hands was an unusual one. We didn’t bother to scale the hills for Jaina-beds here.
Passing palatial Nagarathar dwellings, including the touristy 1000-window one, came to Kannanur. A handsome young man in all whites on the street offered to show us the direction to the temple (the one we didn’t get to on the tour).As he was getting in, his mother from the near by house was calling after him, he got on anyway and admitted he was drunk, the reason for mother’s anxiety! M looked a bit uptight at this admission but I wanted to press-on as he sounded alright though began every sentence with ‘oru request’. The compact temple was locked and we went around, taking in one of the earliest for Murugan; peering through the saalaram revealed the back of an elephant, the early vaganam for Murugan. As we were driving back to drop the young man off at his place, he pointed out a place that had taken over by growth, saying that there was a palace there once but the 29 wells were still in tact in case we were up for it. We almost dropped him, but he wouldn’t give up, tempting us with a new bite, ‘Oru request, I can show you a temple no one had seen’, and M was reluctant but again we pressed on. He lead us off a dirt-road, cleared the shrubs and there it was – a ruined garba and ardha-mantap, empty garba as the Vinayakar there had long been looted and the pillars bearing the two figures of men who built it. As per M it must have been ministers under the Thondaiman, within last 200 years or so and that palace around there might have been theirs as well. The young man reassured us that he was in control of his senses and asked us to take him serious. Though he never had a single request I had ‘oru request’ for him to kick his habit as he sounded sharp and had potential otherwise – guess being tipsy isn’t too bad after all as it paved way for this ‘adventure’ ! Also, nothing to beat a ‘neighborhood-guide’ at such places! But for M’s hurrying, I would have enjoyed listening to that man’s talking on village-games he used to play with his mates on the banks of the water-body there, when he was much younger……..
Thirukolakkudi – as we ascended the steps of the hillock, inscriptions were right on our face, malai-then (honey) dripping from the hives on the cliff, right into the pond below thus enabling Swami to get then-abishegam all the time, a large Pillaiyar enjoying jackfruit all by himself in an exclusive cavern, inscriptions on a large panel second only to the musical one seen at Kudumiyan and live-rock Nandhi to top it off. This temple in worship and under Kundrakudi Adigalar control – wonderful place to unwind as it has a serene setting as we both said should come back with kalavai-sadam and spend a day there, M said there was an ancient (very phallic) lingam atop the hillock – next time ! Must-see place!!
Malaiakkoil – not much here other than a crystal-clear (boxed, as seen in other cavern) “parivadinida” engraved on the wall, right at the entrance of a small Siva-kudavarai in the outer – could it be simply a Siva-name plate, as it looked just like we have one on our house-front, and not have anything to do with speculated musical connection? The inner cavern has a typical large Vinayakar facing Siva; there is a temple for Murugan at the top that looked forlorn as we were the only ‘twos’ up there.
On the final morning (Day 6), one last item in my Pudukottai list for very long – ran into Swaminathan-mami at breakfast and told where I was heading, she was game for it, muscled her way to the front to haggle with the autos, rescuing this ‘outsider’ from the Pudukottai-auto-gang and we headed to the Dakshinamurthy temple in the old palace to have a look at the sand-writing of Sadasiva Brahmendral to Thondaiman king – alas, the temple was locked and learnt it opened just once a week (Thu only) – one more reason to be back in Pudukottai !
Note : Many places visited above had photo-restrict – sorry, not many pix !
Dr.Kalaikovan has about 5 books on Kudavarais at various regions of Tamil Nadu and he stocks them up at Saiva Sidhantha Pathipagam (opp. Chathiram bus-stand, Trichy)