Time for my third book review (earlier ones being Prof. Swaminathan’s & Pradeep Charkravarthy’s)! This one is a Tamil book called ‘Pazhamayaana 108 Sivaalayangal’, which means ‘108 ancient Shiva Temples’.
This book has been written by Mr.M.G.Srinivasan, fondly called Magasri (that’s shortening of Madras Ganapathy Srinivasan)! He is a retired tahsildar and this book is a travelogue of the holy paths taken by Magasri with his wife Syamala.
After the acknowledgement, contents etc the book starts with a few pages of maps. Maps, in the sense not the typical maps, but hand drawn maps with certain centre points. From those centre points, directions are given to the temples in this book, in & around the points. For eg., this is the maps of temples in & around Chennai. So a visitor could stay in Chennai and cover up these places. Maps are given with Erode, Tirunelveli, Tanjore, Madurai, Mayiladuthurai, Thiruvarur, Kanchipuram, and Cuddalore as centre points.
Then the book proceeds with the 108 temples listed in accordance to their speciality like the temples to be visited to attain Mukti, temples equivalent of Banaras, temples of the 5 elements of nature (remember, I told you about the Sky element of Shiva in Chidambaram?), temples of some astonishing features and the list goes on and on.
More than a travelogue, this book is actually a pocket guide to these temples. About each temple, the author has dealt in just 1 page or max 2 pages. It crisply states the following:
Name of the temple
How to reach, Distances, Nearest railway station or bus stand
Names of the God & Goddess
Tree & Water of the temple (Sthalavruksham and the details of its pond/river/sea)
Name & contact no. of the priest
Hymns written on the temple
Now that’s called a pocket guide. Crisp & to the point! Best part is the temple priest’s contact number which is a must essential when visiting remote temples! Some pages have a couple of photographs of the temple or the author in the temple.
Now comes my tally part. How many of these 108 have I visited? Thiruvarur, Thiruvannamalai (when I was a kid), Chidambaram, Madurai (again as a kid), Papanasam (as a kid. The waterfalls near this temple was where the ‘Chinna Chinna Asai’/’Dil he chota sa’ song of the legendary movie Roja was shot), Kanchipuram (as a kid), Kalahasthi (as a kid), Thiruvannaikkal (as a kid), Trichy, Karur, Thiruvanmiyur, Thirunelveli, Pudukkottai, Tanjore, Sirgazhi (as a kid),and Kumbakonam. So, lot more are left out and I hardly have any memories of those places I visited as a kid!!! But now, since I have the book I can decide to visit the temples any time, I know it won’t be locked and the priest will be there!!!
Best part, its price. Any guesses??? It’s just 100 bucks!!! If you know Tamil buy it right away. Even if you don’t know Tamil, but have someone in your locality who knows Tamil, just get it. It’s not like you’re gonna go to some temple everyday. And its ok to disturb your neighbour, once in a while when you plan to go!!!
You can buy this book from the author himself by sending him a Cheque or MO, of the book’s price plus shipping charges. Mr. M.G. Srinivasan: Ph +91 94456 96156; +91 44 22582881.