Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Navagraha Ottam - The Places

Last week, 13 of did a pilgrimage run in the rice belt of Tamil Nadu, visiting the Shiva temples were various Navagrahas once prayed the Lord Shiva to rid themselves of ills.  Starting today, I will do 9 posts that tries to capture the various elements of the run, people, places and everything in between.

We started our odyssey at Ganapathy Agraharam, marked A above with a prayer to Pillaiyar and meandered our way along the Kaveri river banks and visited the Nine shrines. We ended our pilgrimage, marked M at Sani Sthalam, Thirunallar.  We took 3 1/2 days to cover a distance of 180+ kms with ample stopovers along the route.  It was a great ride and the experience is yet to synch in....
Here is brief intro about the places / temples we visited..
A - Ganapathy Agraharam - We spent a night there and started and also started our run with a prayer at Pillaiyar temple on the morning Sep 29, 2013.

B - Thingaloor, Chandra Sthalam (11k) - We commenced our run after prayers at the Chandra sthalam.

C - Alangudi, Gurusthalam (45k) - Toughest leg of the entire trip, mainly due to heat and traffic, but couple of dips in Kaveri along the route helped.

D - Thippirajapuram, Night stay (11k) - Felicitations by the village people with some press in attendance.  We enjoyed the awesome hospitality at this stop of the race director Narayanan family and friends.

E - Thirunageswaram, Rahu sthalam (11k).  I had visited this temple some thirty years back and the Rahu Sannidhi was rather small and could easily have darshan.  But now, there is milling crowd and multiple layers between the devotee and swami. One could hardly see the miracle people claim happens during palabhishekham, that is, milk turning blue.

F - Suryanarkoil, Suryasthalam (12k) - Relatively small temple compared to the other ones we visited in trip.

G - Kanjanur, Sukrasthalam (4k) - Balaji & I walked to this temple in Veshti & Thundu without changing into running gear.  We also ate the Annadhanam provided by the temple, rather unique experience.

H - Mayiladuthurai, Night Stay (12k) - Stay at the friends house of Selva & Balaji.

I - Vaitheswaran Koil, Angarahan / Sevvai stham (13k) - Also known as Pullirrukuvelur is famour for Naid Josyam.  Balaji pointed me to a guy who made it some TV serial.  It is also belived that Lord Rama & Lakshmana cremated vulture king Jatayu here.  There is pond in the temple even today called Jatayu kundam.

J - Thiruvenkadu, Budhan sthalam (14k) - Local guide led us through routes that perhaps reduced the distance by few kms, but not before much heartburn.  It's a massive temple and we reached it right when Sun was at its glory.  We had to literally run from one sannidhi to another to avoid getting roasted.

K - Keezhperumpallam - Kethusthalam (8k) - Another relatively smaller temple in the itinerary and was less crowded too.

L - Sembanar koil, Night stay (14k) - Another chip used by Selva, amazing hospitality by total strangers.  In fact, Selva's friend had trekked from Neyveli to ensure we were take care.

M - Thirunallar, Sani sthalam (25k) - We concluded our run at Nala Theertham and Balaji ended it with a Mottai.

Job Done - Runners at Nala Theertham, Thirunallar on Oct 2, 2013
Net net, it was an awesome trip.  The highlight of the trip of the hospitality showered by the local folks.  Be it the houses were we stayed or volunteers mustered by the Narayanan or the total strangers we met along the route.  They were curious, shy and helpful.  All of us came back with our hearts filled with the kindness and with a sense of satisfaction that we are sure to savor for a long time to come.

Thanks Selva & Bala for conceiving this run and inviting me for the wonderful journey.

Here is a booklet that would give more details about the run and the temples we visited.

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