An angel accompanied me to this trip. We left at 6:30 in the morning and reached Viralimalai at around 10 after changing 2 buses.
At 10, I really wanted breakfast. Enquiring the locals, I found 2 or 3 messes, where the food was over. We ended in a bakery and asked my friend had a cake and I bought a bottle of juice. Well I guess the Lord wanted me to meet him in Viratham (fasting)!!!
Located in Pudukkottai dt., Viralimalai is a combination of nature’s cradle and devotional serenity. The Viralimalai Murugan temple is around 1200 yrs old, existing since 9th C, built by Aditya Chozhan (Cholan). The temple is on a little hillock and a flight of 207 steps took me to the entrance of the temple. But even before I reached the temple, there on a tree beside the steps, was standing the national bird of
Oh! Did I forget to mention! Viralimalai is a haven of peacocks and a protected area for the peacocks, though there is no actual sanctuary boundaries present.
Enroute to the temple, in the steps are the smaller shrines of Idumban, and Meenakshi Sundareshewarar. There are 4-5 resting mandapams enroute. On completing the 207 steps, we reached the mandapam, Sandana Kottam. As I entered the temple from the south facing entrance with Raja Gopuram, there he was with all his 6 faces to bless us. Yes, this is the only place where all his 6 faces are visible for the devotees to worship. Generally only 3 frontal faces as visible for the devotees, the other 3 faces in the behind, are not. Here, with the space available in the sanctum sanctorum, and the mirror placed exactly, the 3 rear faces are also visible for the devotees. Also present in the sanctum sanctorum are the Chozha period inscriptions. The Lord here faces East. South Facing are the Utsava Murthis (the bronze idols) of Muruga with this consorts Valli and Deivanai.
South Facing are the Utsava Murthis (the bronze idols) of Muruga with this consorts Valli and Deivanai.
Murugan here is seated on the peacock vahana here as usual. But unusually, the peacock here faces south. This is called the Brahma Mayil. After Sura Samharam (the killing of the Sura demon), the vahana Mayil (peacock) faces north. But before the Sura Samharam, he has no Vahana and Lord Brahma himself, as a peacock, became is Vahana here.
The lore and legend of the place goes that, Lord Muruga showed himself to Poet Saint Arunagirinathar and asked him to go to Viralimalai. This place being a forest then, he got lost and was guided by the local hunter tribe to reach the temple, who vanished into this air. It was then he realized that the tribe was the Lord himself. This place is located enroute to the temple in the flight of steps.
Later when Karuppamuthu Pillai came to this temple, due to heavy rains and flood got stranded here without food and even a cigar to ward of the hunger. Lord Muruga appeared to him and provided him with food and cigar as well!!! Ever since this local variety of cigar called Suruttu is also offered to the Lord.
Then as I took the circumambulation I worshipped Vishwanathar and Visalakshi, and Dakshinamurthi in the Southern circumambulatory passage. In the west are Arunagirinathar, Moolaganapathy and Durga. In the north are Brahma, Chandigesar and Bhairavar. In the East are the Navagraha and Manikka Vinayakar.
The temple’s tree (Sthala Vruksham) is Kasi Vilvam and Theertham (water) is Saravana Poigai located at the base of the hillock.
After this soul warming prayers to the Lord, we came out of the temple, trying to find some more peacocks. Thanks to the heat of the May Summer, there weren’t any more.
In the temple’s Prasadham shop, I got ‘Thinai Maavu’ a delicacy. Going to a Muruga temple and coming back without buying Thinai Maavu is literally unacceptable I’d say!!! This can be taken as it is or with honey.
After buying this, I enquired the shop keeper for the peacocks. He said, “Go down. Midway you’ll find a small gate to your left. You’ll get into the hillock away from the temple and steps. You’ll find several cave like structures there. The peacocks will be resting there. If you come in the evening around dusk, you can see them roaming around. Now the heat makes them settle in these caverns”. Thanks to him, we found that little gate and ventured in.
Being a shallow hillock, it was not difficult to trek in there. I must say, I was glad and gladder and gladdest. I came face to face with atleast 10-15 peacocks!!! Do you spot the peacock peeping out of a dark cavern in the above pic.?
Thanks to some drinkers who spend some evenings here, there were broken glasses as some places. Care has to be taken before jumping onto or from any rock. I almost pierced my foot but escaped by chance.
As I said earlier, this is nature’s cradle. There were several other fauna that make Viralimalai their home.
I saw some Eagles, Monkeys, an unusual Red Insect apart from the regular Squirrels, Crows, Pigs, Goats, Cows etc. I loved place so much.
At around 12:30 or 1:00 pm we started back. As we walked to the bus stop there was a peacock that leisurely crossed the road. I ran behind with my cam’s video on. It climbed the hillock from another side of the temple. Again here I saw 3-4 peacocks. Here, peacocks are like crows in the rest of the country. They walk on the roads. They take food from hands of the localites, early in the morning. People are so used to them that they continue with their regular job as the peacocks pass by. It was a lovely sight!
At the base of the temple, peacock feather were sold. I didn’t buy any. I wouldn’t recommend my readers to buy any as well, as they are mostly deliberately plucked out of the peacocks!!!
Enroute in Manapparai, which is famous for its savoury, Murukku, I badly wanted to buy some. But as I reached there, my connecting bus was ready to leave. I had to get it and miss my Murukku. :(
I reached home by some 3:30. Remember, I was in Viratham!!! The plan to have lunch in Manapparai flopped with the bus that was ready. I directly had my lunch back home at 3:30. But still, may be due to visual treat of the several peacocks, I was not dying hungry even now!!!
TO REACH THERE:
From Trichy: 30 km towards Madurai
From Pudukkottai: 42 km towards Manapparai
From Karur: 98 km via inner roads and Manapparai; 106 km via Kulithalai, Trichy, then U turn to Viralimalai.
A decent hotel is located just at the base of the hillock at the way to the flight of steps. Also 3-4 messes are near the bus stop.
Dedicated to Chitra.