Saturday, March 26, 2016

Parvathamalai, Thiruvannamalai

Parvathamalai, Thiruvannamalai
Parvathamalai is located at Thenmathimangalam village which is about 20 kms off Polur. Polur is some 35 kms north of Thiruvannamalai. Kadaladi which is about 25Kms north of Thiruvannamalai is another route to reach the base of the hill. There's a very powerful Lord Shiva temple at the top of the Parvathamalai hill. Devas and spiritual beings from other lokas worship here every night. This is a place visited by numerous Siddhas for Shiva worship. During the Pournami full moon, this hill attracts a lot of devotees. This is a place vested with a lot of spiritual power. 

Atop the hill are a Shiva temple apparently 2000 years old and an Ashram which is quite recently constructed. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy. One of the most popular theories attributed to the origin of Parvathamalai is that it was formed when a part of the Sanjeevani mountain that Lord Hanuman carried, fell down to form this existing hill. The hill is also popular for its medicinal plants. Devotees mentioned the hills hosts 119 varieties of medicinal herbs.

There is no transport to reach the top of hill which is 3500 ft. (approx.) from sea level. The hill is said to have full of herbal (mooligai) plants. At the top of hill Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy (Shiva) and Lordess Brammarambigai resides inside the temple with no priest. There are no shops, eatables available other than temple.

The place attracts trekking enthusiasts from all over the country. A lot of people have reported seeing many paranormal activities. People also say that many Siddhars show up to a very few devotees. You can have the Jyoti Dharisanam at night. You can smell fragrance of flowers all around the temple. The goddess idol has a very dazzling beauty which can be never seen anywhere else. A divine light can be seen on cheeks of the goddess.

This is a place vested with a lot of spiritual power. Kanchi Sri Shankaracharya saw the hill in the shape of Shiva lingam. He saw the hill as God and doesn't want to keep his foot on the hill and just went around the hill worshiping it. Ramana Maharishi said there is no need for Guru for people in and around 30 Kms of Thiruvannamalai and he will guide them as Guru. So people interested in spirituality can come here every month and attain bliss and enlightenment.

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. 

Reaching the top of Parvathamalai is an arduous task. It is a vertical mountain over 4,000 feet in height that has iron rod steps, track steps, ladder steps, and sky steps (Agaya padi) not found at other such sacred mountains. The Kadapaarai Padhai section of the climb up the Hill is considered to be the toughest part of the trek. This part which is punctuated by iron rods drilled into the rocks and chains to assist during the sharp ascent is also only wide enough to accommodate one-way traffic. Thus one has to raise one’s voice from the bottom of this section and wait for acknowledgment from the other end before starting to climb the Kadapaarai Padhai section. 

It is reported by visitors that at night many paranormal activities occur on Parvathamalai. That it is possible to experience both Jyoti Dharsanam 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. 

Unlike other hills, Parvatha Malai 'Cliff' presents a wonderful sight when viewed from different angles. It portrays eight different shapes from eight directions around the hill. The view from the top of the hill is splendid and one can have a panoramic view of the landscape below (when there are no clouds) for upto even 50 kms. The sight of the rising and setting sun from the hill top is a rare one to enjoy more than that at Kanyakumari (South India). At nights visitors can witness the 'Jyothi Dharshan' at the hill top.

This virgin hill grows plenty of rare herbal plants which are not found in other hills except Himalayas. The visitors / devotees can easily smell the 'Herbal breeze' while going up or coming down the hill. It cures many diseases automatically. It is said that two 'sadhus' one guru Nama Sivayam and the other Guhai Nama Sivayam when they stayed on the hill accidentally cooked and ate an unknown herbal leaf (now known as 'Karunochi - Siddha Medicine') and regained their youth forever.

Story of Sanjeevani Hills:
One of the legends associated with Parvathamalai states that when Lord Hanuman carried Sanjeevani hill to revive Laxman a piece of Sanjeevenimalai fell at this spot. For this reason this particular area is famous for various herbs and shrubs which can cure the deadliest diseases. It is not just herbs that can cure disease but it is thought that the breeze alone from the Hill wafting through the plants and shrubbery is enough to help cure illnesses. 
Karunochi Herbs:
There is a legend at Parvathamalai associated with the two saints Guru Nama Sivayam and Guhai Nama Sivayam—who were to later reside on caves on Arunachala Hill. However when Guru Nama Sivayam and Guhai Nama Sivayam stayed on Parvathamalai, they accidentally cooked and ate an unknown herbal leaf (known as ‘Karunochi – Siddha Medicine’) and regained their youth forever. 
Shiva stepping on 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. 
Story of Mallikarjuna:
The history of Parvathamalai is interconnected with that of the famed Sri Mallikarjuna 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 Mallikarjuna 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”. 
Tamil literature Malaipadukadam mentions that King Nannan visited this temple and worshipped the Lord in the 3rd Century.

Greatness of Temple
This is the only hill where devotees experience the light and guidance of the Lord even on dark new moon days. Some experience the darshan of Siddhas residing on the hill. The other significance is that the devotees can perform the Abhishek and light the lamps themselves as followed in North Indian temples. According to the Regional History (Sthalapuranam), the devotee reaps the benefit of visiting all the Shiva temples on earth, once he/she visits this Parvathamalai temple.

A one day pooja performed by the devotee in the temple is considered equal to the pujas he/she would be performing all the 365 days in a year. It is also said that this hill is a piece that fell here when Sri Anjaneya was carrying the Sanjeevani mount to Lanka.

The 3000 feet tall hill has seven types of steps with herbal breeze blowing forever. They cure serious and prolonged diseases. Hundreds of Siddhas are living in the caves in the hill.
Fragrant smell of flowers in the sanctum sanctorum, the indescribable beauty of the Mother, flowing bright rays from her cheeks during the nights, Her tall stature and looking as if coming towards the devotee and many miracle views are the facts contributing to the reputation of the Parvathamalai temple.

As the Siddhas are believed to be flying round in the form of eagles in Thirukazhukundram, the visitor can notice three eagles flying round this hill also. Hundreds of devotees throng the place during the Chitra Poornima festival.

According to the Yoga Shastras, the human body takes the Kundalini to the Sahasrara in the head after crossing the six Aadhara Nadis below and enjoys the supreme bliss of Sadashiva. Similarly, the devotee reaches the top of the hill after passing through Kadaladi, Methagamalai, Kumarinettu malai, Kadaparai malai, Kanakachi Odai malai, and Puttru malai, Kovil malai to worship Shiva-Parvathi and achieve wisdom.

It is said that the devotee will reap the benefit of a Kailash darshan if he/she visits this temple for 48 Poornimas and Amavasya continuously and will be relieved of diseases however severe it may be.
Temple Speciality
The uniqueness about the Maragathambikai Sammedha Mallikarjuneswarar temple is that there is no priest and you can do your own abhishegam, aarathy and pooja.

The devotee reaps the benefit of visiting Mount Kailash itself if he/she makes a round of this 28 km hill on the Poornima (full moon) days known as Girivalam. Sun rise and Sun set is an enjoyable view experience here as in Kanyakumari.
The Temple
The temple has no doors or compound wall and also no 'priests' to perform 'pujas'. The visiting devotees themselves can perform ‘pujas’; do 'abishekam' and 'arathanas' like in most of the North Indian temples. 'Nishta' is reached in no time when one performs 'meditation' at the top of the hill (that is the power of the 'vibration' of the hill and the presiding deities). Few devotees have experienced 'Miracles' in the hill and the temple. One has to personally experience to believe them. In many cases such 'miracles' have been encountered by few fortunate devotees when they stay overnight in the hill/ temple.

The names of the presiding deities of the temple at the top of Parvatha Malai, similar to the one at ‘Srisailam’ temple in Andhra Pradesh (India) also have equal or more 'powers' in bestowing grace to the devotees and redressing their grievances. Milk is preferred for the pujas and there are no sacrifices offered. Oil for the temple lamp, flowers and 'Vilvam leaf' have to be taken to the top from bottom by the devotees who wish to perform pujas. Food packs, drinking water, torch light and woolen shawl also have to be taken with them.

At night times 'Jyothi' (brightness) can be witnessed on the cheeks of goddess Brahmarambika. This is a rare phenomenon in no other deities in any temple can be seen. When the devotee recede as far back from the deity, (goddess Brahmarambika) sanctum sanatorium, the size of the deity appears to increase in size instead of diminishing and is seen that the deity steps up forward and approaches towards the devotee. One has to see it to believe it. When 'camphor is lighted up before the Lord Mallikarjuna and viewed from a distance while worshipping, the images of serpent, trident and drum appears in the camphor light. When a devotee 'Chants' 'OM' mantra sincerely 108 times before the Lord Mallikarjuna in the 'Sanctum sanatorium', he/she can clearly hear 'Silent whisper' of 'OM' mantra from behind.

Yogis (Siddhars)
It is believed that several 'Siddhars' still live in small natural caves all along Parvatha Mallai hill and they gave ‘Dharshan’ to few lucky visitors / devotees. Since they move in 'subtle bodies' it will be difficult to have their 'Dharshan' with the naked eye. Only with the power of the 'third eye' (Gnanakkan) any sincere devotee can at times witness the presence of Siddhars. These Siddhars often take on mortal (gross) bodies to facilitate viewing them e.g., in the form of vegetation, birds animals and very rarely human form also. Sometimes devotees though unable to see them in physical form spot them out on the hill from the smell of fragrance' like camphor, agarpathi, or sambrani which the Siddhars carry around them. At times, it is a rare sight to have 'Dharshan' of 3 'kazhugus' making rounds over the cliff of Parvatha Malai just like one can witness 2 kazhugus over 'Thirukazhukundram' hill top. These kazhugus are believed to be 'Siddhars' giving 'darshan' to the devotees taking on the form of birds; sometimes Siddhars give darshan to sincere devotees in the form of 'honey bee, Bairavar (dog), etc. and guides them the path while trekking up the hill or stepping down.
It is believed that these 'Siddhars' visit the temple on the top of 'Parvatha Malai' at 12 0' clock midnight to worship the presiding deities there. Though no one can or have seen them in physical bodies, villagers around the 'Parvatha Malai' down below say that they can clearly hear the sound of ringing bells, blowing conch, drums beating etc., exactly at 12 mid night when the 'pujas' are performed by Siddhars.
Parvathamalai, located in Thiruvannamalai district, is full of herbs, known for its medicinal value. There is a Shiva Temple and Vitoba Swamigal tomb at the top of the hills, which is estimated to be at a height of 3500 ft. 

There are 3 routes to Parvathamalai:
·        Chennai, Chengalpet, Melmaruvathur, Vandavasi, Polur, Parvathamalai
·        Chennai, Kanchipuram, Arcot, Arni, Polur, Parvathamalai
·        Chennai, Chengalpet, Tindivanam, Gingee, Thiruvannamalai, Parvathamalai
There are three places from where the 'peak' of Parvatha Malai can be accessed. One is from a place called 'Thenmadhi mangalam' the second from Mambakkam and the third from Kadaladi. Normally the first and the last routes are chosen as the second one is very steep and difficult to climb. Out of the first and the last, the first route is comparatively easy to climb as half of the trekking distance (12 km) is mostly plains and the rest is also not very steep. Most of the visitors / devotees take the first route to climb and while trekking down, prefer the Kadaladi route. On full moon / new moon and important days all along the trekking route, the visitors find small temporary shops where they can take rest for a while and refresh themselves with drinking water (available in packets), tea, coffee, biscuits etc.,

In the first 2 routes, Polur is the nearest town to Parvathamalai for a pit stop for food, whereas Thiruvannamalai is for the last route. One would need to drive into the Polur town (~2 Km) for hotels from the Vandavasi & Arni SH intersection. Parvathamalai is around 15 Km from Polur.

On reaching Parvathamalai, there are 2 commonly used routes one can take to the top of the hill.

Steps: Thenmathimangalam route
Trekking (Adventure): Kadaladi route
Kadaladi is around 10 Km from Thenmathimangalam. Normally the locals would guide through the Thenmathimangalam route, if simply asked for Parvathamalai. There are 3 temples en route while taking the steps. 

If adventurous trekking is the preference, then the route should be asked specifically for Kadaladi. Kadaladi is known for (Late) Mouna Guru, who has an Ashram at the foothills, as well as on the top of the hills and offers food (Annadhanam) to the devotees. The vehicle can be parked at this Ashram to begin with the trekking.

The locals estimate the trekking distance to be around 5.5 Km to the top. The average time for a normal person to trek to the top is around 3.5 Hrs (purely depends on the fitness of the person) and the trek downhill is around 2.5 Hrs. 

Some of the tips to load the backpack before starting:
·        Select a light weight bag
·        Carry approx. 2 litres of water.
·        Shops are not available at the top. Hence buy the essentials at downhill itself.
·        Prefer more fruits to keep yourself hydrated rather than snacks like chips, cakes & biscuits
·        In rainy season, prefer a Rain coat than a Jerkin
·        Torch Light is required, if it gets dark downhill
·        Don't keep any of your things in plastic covers and carry it visibly, as the monkeys will snatch them brutally.
Trekking Path:
The path from Kadaladi village starts off like a jeep track and soon narrows down to path where one has to walk one behind the other. Most part of the hill is shrubs with trees scattered all around. That means you can be under a shadow only now and then. The shrubs in the initial stretch were dry & full of thorns. Three fourth of the hill is a steady climb and can be covered without much fuss. The final part is the steep climb on rocks, which is not so difficult if you are there on a bright sunny day. But that will be challenging if you have to climb that stretch after Sun has gone done in the west, with a surprise drizzles making the rocks completely slippery.

The trek consists of muddy path for a 1/4 distance. Then comes the rocks and boulders with a very steep slope for 1/2 distance and for the last 1/4 distance, is the rock climbing part with supportive iron rods & chains. A good pair of shoes is required for the trek, but the last stretch has to be climbed bare foot only. The shoes can be either left at a nearby shop or it can be carried in the backpack. 

The entire route is guided by white arrow marks painted on the rocks and one has to follow them to be on the right path. Beware of snakes en route. Surprisingly dogs may accompany you through' out the trek route guiding the way, leading in the front. 

The first shop will be encountered only at the junction where the trek route (Kadaladi) meets with the steps route (Thenmathimangalam) and this is almost at the end of the rocks and boulders part. The shops here sell Lemon soda, Water Bottles, Cola drinks, Tea & some shops may have Tender Coconut.

One has to trek through 6 small hills to reach the top of 'Parvatha Malai' which is the seventh. It is said to be synonymous to the 6 'Chakras' in the human subtle body. The Mooladhara chakra or Kundalini climbs up and after crossing six other Chakras, joins with the seventh 'Sadasivam' or Sahasradhara chakra. About 3/4 of the hill route is through thick forest via treaded foot path where on both sides one can enjoy the smell of 'Himalaya's rare herbs' are in plenty. 

The last 1/4 portion of the trek is a bit difficult to climb as the path is rocky and almost vertical. It is called 'Kadaparai Malai' since there are no regular steps to climb and only with the help of 'Iron rods' which are embedded in the solid rock, one has to climb keeping his steps alternately on the notches carved on the rock.

The trekking of this last portion is almost like in mountaineering and as such one has to come prepared with 'kits' similar to mountaineering. Shorts are preferred to wear and the kit containing drinking water, puja materials, fruits, biscuits and other eatables should be carried on the back as both the hands should be free to grip the Kadaparai one after the other.

There are no wild animals or any poisonous insects on the way and people of any age can climb up the hill with 'will power'. So far in the history of Parvatha Malai, there is no record of any visitors / devotees falling down and meeting with death. Though after trekking the Parvatha malai route on the hill, legs pain for atleast 2 days.

Trekking attraction:
The "Kadapaarai Padhai" is considered to be the toughest part of the trek, the climb was very steep and this stretch is bit difficult it is punctuated by iron rods drilled into the rocks and chains to assist at a sharp ascent of about 3500 feet and it is an one way traffic, one person can only climb at a time, you have to be sure on the other side no one comes, you have to raise your voice from the bottom and once acknowledgment comes from the other end then only you can climb or you will be get caught in the middle. It is safe to remove all the shoes and climb in bare foot.

Annadhanam will be provided in this ashram for devotees. During the Pournami full moon day, this hill attracts a lot of devotees and believed that many strange things use to occur, which cannot be defined by the language of Science.
Reaching the hill is the most difficult. Going alone or without knowing the route is very dangerous as you might lose your track. So it is always advisable to go in a group on which one should know the route.
Temple Opening Time
The temple is open from 6.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Chitra Poornima in April-May, Adi 18 (July-August), Aadipooram Palabishekam (July-August), 1st day of Purattasi (September), Iyppasi Annabishekam (October-November), Karthikai deepam (November-December), first day of Margazhi (December-January), Masi Shivrathri (February-March) and Panguni Uthiram (March-April) are the festivals celebrated in the temple.
Sri Mallikarjunaswami Temple,
Parvathamalai, Thiruvannamalai district
Phone: +91-94426 72283
Those visiting the temple should take with themselves food, drinking water, a torch light, oil to light the lamps and puja items. Besides the darshan of the Lord, they can also get the blessings of the Sadhus in the hill and it is considered that the darshan of the Lord in the hill top is but a gift brought from one’s previous birth (poorva janma).
Devotees visit the temple 5, 7 or 9 times and light lamps for recovery from business downturn, removal of obstacles in marriage talks. People perform abishek and offer Vastras to the Lord.
The temple is 35 km from Thiruvannamalai and can be reached both on Thenmathimangalam or Kadaladi route. Bus facility is available. Kadaladi can be accessed from Thiruvannamalai only by road. Buses are plying regularly to and from Thiruvannamalai main bus stand. Kadaladi can also be reached by private cars, vans and auto etc. from Thiruvannamalai, which takes about 45 minutes.
Parvatha Malai hill is at a distance of 20kms from Polur and about 35kms from Thiruvannamalai. If you are planning to visit Parvatha Malai from Thiruvannamalai take the left (west road) after crossing Thiruvannamalai railway station and take the Kanji – Thiruvannamalai road. After reaching Kanji, take the Kadaladi road to reach Parvatha malai. The total driving distance is 35kms.
From Polur you can reach Parvatha Malai by taking the NH 234 upto Kalasapakkam. At Kalasapakkam take the Kalasapakkam – Vilvarani link road to reach Parvatha Malai.
As earlier stated Parvatha Malai can also be climbed from Then-madhi mangalam or Mambakkam, which are near to Kadaladi.  Polur is 20 km from Thenmathimangalam.
Nearest Railway Station is located at Thiruvannamalai & Nearest Airport is located at Chennai.