Saturday, December 8, 2018

Jnanamalai Jnanaskandan Temple – The Temple

Jnanamalai Jnanaskandan Temple – The Temple
This Temple is one of the 206 Thirupugazh temples (33 of them are hill temples) sung by Arunagirinathar. The hill covers about 25 acres with a circumference of about 2 kilometers. About 150 steps lead up to the temple on top. The hill itself is profuse with Veppalai (Kutchappalai) trees which are known to have medicinal properties. Lemongrass also grows here. The forest department has planted saplings on the hill and there is a garden (Nandavanam) at the base. The whole place is peaceful and ideal to spend a day meditating or just relaxing. The steps are also covered making the climb pleasant.

There is a shrine for Lord Ganesha called as Gnana Siddhi Ganapati, at the entrance at the foot hills. He is facing West and he holds in his four arms axe, mango, cane and a bunch of flowers. One need to climb close to 150 steps from this Ganesha Shrine to reach the top. There is an idol of Gnana Dakshina Murti beneath a Kallala tree on the hill path. There is a shrine for Gnana Saraswathi, in a meditative posture before the main temple.  There is a huge spear — Gnana Vel, a symbol of Wisdom in front of the Temple.

This is a small temple in typical Pallava style on the hill with a small sanctum and a mandapam. Presiding Deity is called as Balasubramanya / Jnanaskandan and is facing east. The Lord is in the form of Brahma Sastha having Rudraksha Mala and Kamandalu in two hands. The other two hands are in abhaya mudra and resting upon the hip. Lord is accompanied by Valli and Deivayanai on both sides. The idol with karanta makuta is from the Pallava period. The idol is partly damaged. The Idol is about 3 feet high.

Generally, in Thondai Mandalam (north Tamil Nadu) Pallava and early Chola images conform to this Brahmasasta form. There is a wide belief that after Arunagirinathar sang the Thirupugazh here, Lord Muruga appeared before him and gave him his Thirupadha darshan. Even today, in the rock above the sanctum, there are foot-prints, which are ideally believed to be Lord Muruga’s foot prints. This area is well protected and a small room has been constructed around these footprints to avoid footprints getting deteriorated.

There is a shrine for Kuramagal Thazhuviya Kumaran to the south of the sanctum. Here Goddess Valli can be found sitting on his left lap and Lord Murugan’s Hand holding around her waist sitting in Peacock. Near the temple, there is a small natural water source from which water is brought for temple services. There is a small Shiva temple to the west of the sanctum. Around the hill, there is a lake and in rainy season will look like an island. Nelli is the Sthala Vriksham.

Palai Siddhar Jeeva Peedam:
Arunagirinathar requested God in Trichy, to bless him Yoga Anubhuthi. Here in Gnanamalai, Muruga appeared before him, gave darshan of his feet, and blessed him Yoga Anubhuthi. Having Arunagirinathar as his Guru, “Vetta Veli Siddhar” lived in Thiruvannamalai. People call him “Palai Siddhar”. In this hill, which has very sacred Murugan’s foot mark, he performed Tapas for a long time. He treated people for blindness, deafness, infertility, and preached “Gnana” for a long time here. He attained Siddhi on a Karthigai month Moola Natchatram day.

His Jeeva Peedam is in the Shiva shrine above the Murugan shrine. Lord Shiva here in this Peedam is called as Gnana Giriswarar. This shrine also houses Goddess Gnana Poongothai, Vinayagar, Murugan and Bhairavar. Outside this sanctum, Navagraha shrine and Chandikeswarar can be found. There is a beautiful mandapam behind the Shiva shrine, where the Siddha has done Tapas. People can perform Anga Pradakshinam here.