Monday, March 27, 2017

Thirumalai Kumaraswamy Temple, Panpoli – The Temple

Thirumalai Kumaraswamy Temple, Panpoli – The Temple
Thirumalai Murugan temple is situated on a small hill surrounded by Western Ghats in the border of Kerala and located at a height of 400 m in Western Ghats can be reached by 625 steep steps from the foothills. The main deity Murugan is found with four hands in the standing posture. The deity here is called Thirumalai Kumaraswamy or Thirumalai Murugan. The presiding deity is also known as Mookan. Because of the lords name most of the people in this region have the name 'Thirumalai'. There is one more goddess temple within this temple, called 'Thirumalai Amman'.

This hill temple is surrounded by many coconut plantations and small villages. Until recently, the only way for devotees to reach the temple was by walking. This temple has 2 enclosures and two entrances. The sanctum faces the east. The temple boasts a mukha-mandapa, maha-mandapa in front of the sanctum. At the entrance of the main sanctum, there is a small idol for Lord Ganesha. A three tiered gopuram covers the entrance to the inner enclosure. Much of the current structure of the temple dates back to 15th century.

There are few 18th century inscriptions found in the temple. This Hill is also called Tirikoodamalai.  The sacred tree of the site is Tamarind tree. Lord Murugan is depicted by the Vel weapon. The idol of Valli and peacock are also found under the Tamarind tree. A small shrine for Lord Ganesh is also found in the area outside the main shrine. The shrines of Meenakshi-Sundareswarar, Utsava Shanmukha and Utsava Murugan are also found within the main shrine. The prakara (corridor) is full of small shrines and idols such as Kanni Vinayakar, Shasta, Gajalakshmi, Chandikeswarar and Bhairava.

The tank is found outside the main shrine. One more shrine for Ganesha named as Thirupani Vinayakar is also found in the outer region. At the entrance of the hill, there is a shrine for Lord Vallabha Vinayaka. There are two Padukas – Foot Symbol.  There is another Vinayaka shrine in the middle of the hill path followed by one to Idumban. This Vinayaga is called as Naduvatta Vinayakar The sacred spring at the top of the hill is called Ashta Padmakulam. It is presently called Poonjunai. 

A flower called Kuvalai mentioned in Tamil literatures blossomed here. Only one flower would blossom a day. The Saptha Kannikas worshipped Muruga by offering the flower. While the idols of Saptha Kannikas are found only in Lord Shiva temple, they are installed on the banks of the spring in this temple too.  The seven powers of Mother Parvathi are called Saptha Kannikas. There are 625 steps to reach the temple at the hill top.

There is also a motorable road which can take you directly to the entrance of the temple. This hill temple is surrounded by lot of coconut plantations. There are 16 steps to Lord Vinayaka shrine representing 16 types of wealth as Shodasa Vinayaka. Shodasa in Sanskrit means 16. The number represents 16 wealth such as education, courage, success, material wealth etc.  On the first of each Tamil month, feeding is organized by a Devotee Association from 6.00 a.m. till night.

The shrine of Meenakshi-Sundareswarar along with Ganesh is also found at the foothills. You can find some small Mandapams and shrines such as Murugan with Valli-Devasena, Naduvatta Vinayakar and Idumban between foothills and the top of the hills. The main temple is located at the top of the hills at the backdrop of Western Ghats and breathtaking aerial view of the surrounding villages. The current structure of the temple appears to be at least 300-400 years old. 

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