Sunday, March 14, 2010

Brahmadesam - The 'Annamalai' Temple

Through this post, I take you to a very interesting temple in south Tamil Nadu, with its own rich history. However, unlike other temples that I have covered so far in my posts, Brahmadesam has not had great patronage in recent times and is in bit of a neglected state. Through this post, I hope, to do the least of giving the temple a bit more coverage on cyberspace.

THE ANNAMALAI CONNECTION: The temple has nothing direct with the Tiruvannamalai temple. If you are familiar with Tamil soap shows, then you might probably recollect the serial 'Annamalai' that was aired on Sun TV. A temple used to have a significant role in the serial with several characters associated with it. Well, Brahmadesam was indeed this temple. Even some of the localites do not call it Brahmadesam. Annamalai temple is now the more famous name of the temple.

REACHING THERE: Brahmadesam is located at a village by the same name, about 4 kms from Ambasamudram, a famous touch point in Tirunelveli in South Tamil Nadu. The nearest town is Ambasamudram and nearest rail head is Tirunelveli. Ambasamudram is about 35 kms from Tirunelveli.

THE HISTORY: The name Brahmadesam itself sounds truly majestic. The temple was constructed during the reign of Raja Raja Chola. The temple and the village was gifted by the king for the chanting of all the 4 vedas. The village was to house vedic scholars and the temple was constructed to stand as a symbol of the noble cause. Thus the name Brahmadesam was awarded to the village. The king is also supposed to have gifted several acres of land around the temple, for the temple to be remain self-sustained.

BRAHMADESAM TEMPLE: Unfortunately, the temple had lost its sheen over the years and presents a relatively dull state at the entrance. It is only when one gets in, one realises the majesty of the temple and one easily gets into a reverie of how the temple would have been in its glorious days.

It is easily one of the largest temples in that region. The reigning lord is called Kailasanathar. Apart from this there are five siva lingas in the temple, including Kasi Viswanathar, Arunachaleswarar and Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar, each having their own individual sanctum. This is just one instance for one to imagine the size of the temple.

The temple houses a Dakshinamurthy, the god supposed to endow us with good brains and studies. The uniqueness about Dakshinamurthy here is that, the lord does a self-preaching. He is in the pose of teaching himself, which is extremely a rare sight.

Everything about the temple is massive. The temple even has five wells within its compound. Towering pillars support the numerous halls in the temple, with each adorned with wonderful sculptures. The temple door (those familiar with the serial Annamalai would not have forgotten) is gigantic in size with intricate wooden carvings.

Apart from the Siva lingas, the temple has separate sanctum for the reigning lordess Brahannayaki, Subramanya, Suriyan and Vigneshwara among others. A walk around the temple premises is by itself a great experience that helps one sense the magnificence of the temple. There are ten gopuras in the temple and there is one specific point within the temple compound from where all the ten gopuras of the temple can be witnessed. A truly breath-taking sight.

GANGALANATHAR SANCTUM: Here comes the really unique feature of the temple. There is a special sanctum, rather a room and the mere entry into it left me spell-bound. We have largely witnessed Siva in the form of a linga. Here, Lord Siva takes a human form. There is a standing statue of Lord Siva in the name of Gangalanthar who goes out seeking alms in the normal human form. The sculpture is so beautifully done that you can keep watching it all day long.

The entire deva loka is awe-struck by the simplistic form taken by the lord and come all out to watch the glorious form of the lord. This sight is so vividly and beautifully captured by sculptures embedded on all the four walls of the room. As such the walls are fitted with beautiful stone carvings of various gods and goddesses and you can recognise Vishnu, Brahma, Saraswathi, Vinayaka among others who have come down to watch this proceeding. In fact, staying in the room one gets a feeling of being part of a grand procession.

If you do make a trip to this part of the world, you should definitely add Brahmadesam as a must visit just for its history and might.

ADDITIONAL NEAR-BY VISITS: When you visit Brahmadesam, you can definitely make a visit to a couple of interesting places near-by: Manimutharu falls and Papanasam Sivan temple. To know more about Manimutharu falls, you can visit my post

SCHEDULING YOUR TRIP: If you plan a visit to Tirunelveli and Courtallam, then Brahmadesam can definitely fit in. Once you are done with Tirunelveli, you could visit Manimutharu falls and Brahmadesam temple before proceeding for Courtallam.

Do make a trip to Brahmadesam temple. I am sure you wouldn't be disappointed.