Friday, October 25, 2019

Parthanpalli Nangur Divya Desam

VS Lakshmana Dikshithar was rewarded with a diamond ring for his 'musical' archanai but he converted that into a Pathakam for the Lord - Such was the commitment of this archakar who performed Selfless Service for 60 years at Parthanpalli Divya Desam
With Seshadri Bhattar and his forefathers, the hereditary trustees of the  Parthasarathy Temple in Parthanpalli for the last 250 years, having moved to service at temples in Kumbakonam, it was the revered Pancharatra agama expert VS Lakshmana Dikshithar (their relative) who performed aradhana at the Parthanpalli Divya Desam for over 60 years till his death earlier this decade at the age of 85. His selfless service for very little financial returns over a long period of time had to be experienced for one to believe that such people existed in the  not too distant past. 
In the days of Thiru Mangai Azhvaar, Parthanpalli was home to tall mansions.
கவள யானை கொம்பு ஒசித்த
கண்ணன் என்றும் காமரு சீர்
குவளை மேகம் அன்ன மேனி
கொண்ட கோன் என் ஆனை என்றும்

தவள மாட நீடு நாங்கைத்
தாமரையாள் கேள்வன் என்றும்
பவள வாயாள் என் மடந்தை
பார்த்தன்பள்ளி பாடுவாளே

No Income, No Thattu Kaasu
However, for much of the 60 years of his service, the agraharam had become a thing of the past. There were few devotees who visited Parthanpalli and Thattu Kaasu was almost non existent. The temple was in a dilapidated state with a muddy Prakara and high thorny bushes all around. There were no lighting at the temple in those days. Ghee lit lamp provided the only source of light to the temple complex. It was generally dark all around. As with most other ancient temples, Parthanpalli too had in its possession lands the income from which was not only sufficient to conduct utsavams and pay the sirpanthigals but also to deposit in a bank. But in the 2nd half of the 20th century, the income dwindled and the inflow came to almost nil.

But none of these mattered to Lakshmana Dikshithar for his was a life of devotional connect with the Lord. Lack of income did not alter his approach at the temple. For decades, he woke up early and began the daily aradhana for the Lord each day of the year in the calm of this ancient temple town.A unique feature at the Parthanpalli Divya Desam is the presence of two Utsava Deities- Parthasarathy and Kolavilli Rama, not seen elsewhere in the Thiru Nangur Divya Desam.
The tank, one whose legend dates back to an episode from the Mahabaratha, remained dry and unattended to for several decades was the state of the temple all through that period. Thirsty after a long pilgrimage, Arjuna hoped to quench his thirst at Agastya’s ashram who was undertaking penance here but to his dismay he found that the Sage’s Kamandala too had gone dry. Answering Arjuna’s prayers, Krishna appeared here as Parthasarathy and presented Arjuna with a sword. As instructed by Parthasarathy, Arjuna struck the ground with the sword and to his surprise water poured out of that place helping him quench his thirst.  This location, south of the temple, became the sacred ‘Katka’ Pushkarani.  To mark this event, Arjuna is seen here at this Divya Desam with a sword.

As seen from the Praise of Thiru Mangai Azhvaar, Vedic Seers recited the Four Vedas in this ancient location - செஞ்சொலாளர் நீடு நங்கைத் - In line with the praise, Lakshmana Dikshithar, a Pancharatra Agama expert, taught students at the Nangur Patshala. Earlier, he also initiated students in Parthanpalli.

Devotee gifts a diamond ring
He had a unique rendering of the archanai, not seen in any other Divya Desam in Tamil Nadu. His specialty was the Ramayana Archanai based on a Raagamalika tone. Once a devotee was so moved with the experience of listening to his archanai that he instantly, in a moment of devotional happiness removed a diamond ring from his finger and  handed it to Lakshmana Dikshithar as his gift. But Lakshmana Dikshithar would have none of it. He soon converted the personal gift into a pathakam for the Lord and placed it on his chest. Such was his devotional commitment even at the time of extreme financial difficulty.

Watchman for 25 years
53 year old S Govindarajan has been a watchman at the temple for the last 25 years. His wife sweeps the floor and helps in maintenance including cleaning the vessels. 
When he joined in 1993 there was no other person willing to come and work at this Divya Desam "When I joined, this was a brick temple. Soon, the Raja Gopuram, which too was a brick construction, developed cracks. Most parts of the outer wall  were in a broken condition. Madapalli was a small old structure with a low roof and many took a hit while entering. But the finances were so poor that there was no money to do even basic repair works, let alone major renovation."

The Name Parthan Palli
It was here that Arjuna was initiated with ‘Knowledge Education’ by Lord Parthasarathy to make Arjuna understand who he really was and what his real powers were. Since Arjuna had this Knowledge initiation here and played the role of a student, this temple came to be known after him as ‘Parthan Palli’.

Poigai Azhvaar’s praise
Poigai Azhvaar in his Thiruvanthathi verse refers to the moolavar deity Thaamarai Aal Kelvan:
பெயருங் கருங் கடலே நோக்கும் ஆறு ஒண் பூ
உயரும் கதிரவனே நோக்கும் உயிரும்
தருமனையே நோக்கும் ஒண் தாமரையால் கேள்வன்
ஒருவனையே நோக்கும் உணர்வு


Hereditary Trustee returns
After the death of Lakshmana Dikshithar just over 5 years ago, the now 80 year old Seshadri Bhattar has returned to his hereditary temple at Parthanpalli. With  a devotee network built through his service at the temples in Kumbakonam, he collected the funds to renovate the temple and conducted Samprokshanam a few years ago. The temple has no indication of the days from the century gone by. A cement flooring around the prakara, mosaic in a few places within the complex, new outer walls and a colourful Raja Gopuram. The tank too is being refurbished with walls built on all the four sides. But devotees remain elusive on weekdays.
It is a Thursday morning in Puratasi. There are no devotees at the temple. It  has been a quiet morning as is the case on most week days. As with Lakshmana Dikshithar, the lack of devotee crowd does not matter to Seshadri Bhattar. For almost close to two hours, he is seen performing aradhana for the Lord in a most traditional way that takes one to the good old days of archakas spending devotional one on one time with the Lord. He then presents Thaligai to the Lord and Thayar. Just around noon, there is a family from Hyderabad that has made a long trip to this Divya Desam. They are treated to a sumptuous curd rice. 

But the scenario changes over the weekend, Devotees in good numbers visit Parthanpalli as part of their Thiru Nangur Divya Desam trip on Saturday and Sunday. The devotional wave that has struck Tamil Nadu temples in the last decade or so has helped Parthanpalli as well with weekend devotee crowd resulting in an increase in Thattu Kaasu. 

In a way, Seshadri Bhattar is now in the right place but not so Lakshmana Dikshithar who faced through the toughest of times  in the 2nd half of the 20th century with the greatest of devotion. Finally, the fruits of his devotional commitment that lasted over six decades is now bearing fruits with the temple wearing a refreshing look, infrastructure wise, and the Bhattar now energised with the ever increasing devotee crowd. 

Festivals
In the early part of the previous century, Brahmotsavam was the period when villagers congregated at the temple in good numbers. A certain community also took it upon themselves to carry the Lord on their shoulders during the Vahana processions.

The No Moon Day in Aadi was another big occasion at the temple for Lord Parthasarathy made a long trip to the Poompuhar Sea Shore for the Annual Theerthavari Utsavam. 

On the No Moon Day in Thai, Thirumangai Azhvaar visits this temple followed by the trip to Thiru Nangur for the annual Garuda Sevai that has now become a popular.

The temple is open from 8am-1230pm and 5pm-830pm. Contact Seshadri Bhattar @ 99948 37326

How to reach
From Sirkazhi, take Poompuhar bound bus (buses every half hour) via Thiruvali / Mangai Madam and get down at Thiruvenkadu. From here, Parthanpalli is about 2kms (auto will cost Rs. 50). From Mayiladuthurai, take Poompuhar bound bus (every hour) to Thiruvenkadu (20kms). Also, local buses (Numbers 4A, 12, 28 and 34) ply from Mayiladuthurai to Thiruvenkadu.

Auto from Thiruvenkadu will cost Rs. 50/-. Contact auto natarajan@ 9095313304

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Srirangam Elephant

Andal gets a New Home within the Srirangam Temple Complex

The modern construction that had come up in 2005 adjacent to the Vellai Gopuram has been finally demolished restoring the Grand Old Look of the historical Eastern Tower - a new Nandavanam will come alongside the East Uthira Street

Dungeon to Heaven - The new home provides for High Ventilation, Free Air Circulation, Hygienic Environment  and a Peaceful surrounding to Andal
Venu Srinivasan, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Ranganathaswamy Temple Srirangam is a delighted man for he has finally managed to demolish the new modern type construction that had come up adjacent to the Vellai Gopuram in the middle of the previous decade on the East Uthira Street and restore the  Eastern Tower to its grand historical old looks.  As part of yet another restoration initiative undertaken over the last 15-18 months at the Srirangam Temple, a new home has been found for Andal, the sacred elephant of the temple within the temple complex, next to the Ul-Andal Sannidhi.

The last decade and a half had been a torrid time for Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple’s other ‘Andal’, the sacred elephant who wakes up early every morning and brings water for the Lord ahead of Vishwaroopam. In 2005, a new modern building was constructed adjacent to the famous ‘Vellai Gopuram’. While on the one hand, the new building destroyed the architectural beauty of the historical Tower on East Uthira Street, for the view from the Northern side of the East Uthira Street was completely blocked, on the other, it made for a dungeon like stay for Andal. 
The  Tall Modern Complex that had come in 2005 
blocked the visibility to the Vellai Gopuram

With road traffic having increased substantially over the last 15 years, there has seen a rise in vehicles from the Northern side of Srirangam passing through the East Uthira Street. With the new large sized construction having coming up right next to the Vellai Gopuram, Elephant Andal had to endure many a sleepless night amidst the noisy movement of vehicles late into the night. The auto stand was just opposite the home. The tall building was also constructed alongside the towering Eastern wall and this prevented ventilation into Andal’s Home. There was minimal air circulation within this complex for the building was flanked on two sides by the Huge Temple Wall and the Vellai Gopuram. The building was also a RC based construction.  There was no drinking water facility inside. And bathing too was an issue.
The location after the demolition
 of the big modern building

The new large building also posed a challenge during the processions in Thai and Maasi when the Lord provides darshan around the four Uthira Streets for it consumed a lot of space restricting movement of devotees around the Vellai Gopuram.

Overall, it was a challenging phase for the elephant. With the devotional wave striking temples in Tamil Nadu over the last decade or so, the focus of the temple had largely been on devotees and issues relating to them with the welfare of the elephant remaining sidelined.

Finally as part of the larger restoration exercise of the Srirangam Temple, Venu Srinivasan was insistent on the demolition of the modern complex. As with the removal of many of the ugly constructions (that had come up over the last 50-75 years) within the very many Sannidhis  of this huge temple, he was keen that this high rise building too be removed. 

The authorities went through the process of securing the approval of the Commissioner and the Committee. A plan was rolled out to move the residence of Andal into a comfortable zone within the temple complex. A number of unauthorized constructions leading to the Ul-Andal Sannidhi had been removed as part of this restoration programme that began in 2014-15.  And the huge open space adjacent to Goddess and Saint Poet Andal was identified as the new home for Andal, the temple elephant.

Features of the New Home
As has been the case with the larger restoration at the Srirangam Temple, the focus of this new home for Andal has been on Ventilation, Free Air Circulation, a Hygienic Environment, constructing a Traditional Structure  and most importantly on providing a peaceful environment for the elephant to help her perform the daily service to Lord Ranganatha in an energized manner. 
                                
Venu Srinivasan’s Trust which has undertaken this activity has spent around Rs. 30 Lakhs on the construction of this new home for Andal. The entire complex is a Granite construction using similar stones that one finds across other parts of the temple. The East facing home provides for a lot of sunlight into the complex both from the East and the West (in the evenings). There is enough breathing space for Andal with large open spaces at this new residence. There is a new shower coming inside the complex that will allow for bathing of Andal every morning. Very soon, only is likely to find a small nandavanam in the outer precincts of this complex. Drinking water facility has also been taken care of for Andal.

Mahout Rajesh, who takes care of Andal almost as a parent would of a child, says that in the fortnight after the move, Andal has found this new home very peaceful “After 9pm, there is almost no noise for about 8 hours and this provides for a solid sleep. Very often, over the last 15 years, vehicular movement in the night and during the day disturbed the rest patterns. There is now a solid sleep pattern and Andal seems lot happier at this new home.”
He jocularly remarks that while this new home is good news for Andal, it is challenging for him. While earlier he stayed in the temple quarters, with the moving of the elephant into the temple complex, he too has moved in along with Andal. And thus he spends well over three fourths of the day (and night) in the same complex.  But the peace and happiness that he now finds in Andal far overshadows the personal challenge of him having to spend almost his entire time at this new home away from his family.

Joint Commissioner of the Srirangam Temple, Pon Jayaraman says that given the attention that was paid to keeping the traditional looks of the temple, the new home for the temple elephant took around a year to construct with granite stones used for construction “We went through the whole approval process and hence did not hurry this move. Once we set up the Nandavanam, we will allow devotees to visit the new home of Andal.” 
While he monitors the demolition work and the removal of the final rubble this Tuesday afternoon amidst the light drizzle that has been falling in Srirangam, he outlines the new plan for the Northern side of the East Uthira Street ‘The removal of the huge modern construction will provide for a lot of open space on this street. Very soon, you will find traditional flower bearing plants and this entire zone will be cordoned off as a Nandavanam.”

Devotees of East Uthira Street are delighted at the demolishing of the tall complex that they say took away the sheen from the Vellai Gopuram. For the first time in almost 15 years, we are now able to view the Gopuram in its entirety from our home on the Northern Side of the East Uthira Street.

While a number of the previous restorations at this temple over the last 5 years were focused on devotees and bringing back the architectural beauty of the temple, this one is particularly commendable for it has attended to the long standing needs of the sacred elephant and has provided a peaceful home for Andal within the temple complex. 

Interestingly, there has been a space allocated for another elephant in this new home and the word is that the Srirangam Temple could very soon have a 2nd elephant under its fold.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Thiruvenkadu Somu Gurukal

The Octogenarian has served at the temple for over 70 years having begun service at the age of 8 in the early 1940s - Refused to apply for Govt Pension citing that the very service to God was reward enough for him

His unflinching devotion to Swetharanyeswarar helped him withstand severe financial challenges in the 1960s and 70s when there was no income at the temple and distribution of Paddy to Gurukals stopped
86 year old Somu Gurukal has rendered service for over 7 decades at the Saint Poets praised Swetharanyeswarar temple in Thiruvenkadu, now more popularly referred to as Budhan Sthalam, a temple located 3kms off the Northern Banks of Cauvery and 1km South of Manni River. A decade after he retired from his service and with his eyesight fading, the temple authorities still look up to him for important clarifications regarding agamas.

Three Lords (Swetharanyeswarar, Natarja and Agora Murthy), Three Theerthams (Soma, Surya, Agni), Three Sthala Vriksham (Vadalal, Konrai,Vilvam) and Verses of Praise by Four Saint Poets are special features of the temple.

‘சபபாத கரோ பூமன் தஹ்யமான சராக்னி
நருத்ரேநேவ வினிர்தக்த
சுவேதாரண்யே யதாந்தகஹா’

When Thiru Gnana Sambandhar made his way into Thiruvenkadu, he was swarmed with Shiva Lingams all over the place. He was anxious and wondered as to how he could step on to the Lingams to reach the temple. Answering his prayers, Ambal Periyanayaki carried him on her hip and brought him to the temple. In memory of this episode, Ambal is seen with the Saint Poet at this temple, a unique feature. As she carried the Saint poet on her hip, she is referred to as ‘Pillai Idukki’ Amman.

No Formal Schooling but strong in Agamas
Somu Gurukal was born in Manikaram, a village a few kilometers from Thiruvenkadu that has a historical connection dating back to the period of Silapadikaram. On the streets of Manikaram, gems and diamonds used to be traded.

Somu Gurukal never attended a formal school.  His forefathers had performed service at the temple during the 19th Century and the early part of the 20th Century. When he was just 8 years, he moved to Thiruvenkadu to support his uncle at the temple. He learnt the Agamas, Vedas and Sanskrit from his Grand Father as well as from Ramaiah Ganapadigal.

His entire childhood and teenage life revolved around the temple and he has happy memories of life at the temple in the 1940s “The entire temple was stacked with Paddy. There would be no space for us to even move within the temple such was the abundance of Paddy in this region. We would plead with the Mill owners to take away the Paddy and give us some money which was then used to conduct the Big Utsavam in Maasi. Izhuppu Tree was in abundance in this region. Extract from the tree was converted to Oil and this was used to light the lamp in all the sannidhis.

As per the custom at the temple, a bachelor is not allowed to perform pooja at the Swamy and Ambal Sannidhis. After having supported his uncle for 8 years, he began full fledged service at the temple in the late 1940s, after his marriage at the age of 16. During the first decade of his service, he received a monthly salary of Rs. 2/50. He also received 20 Kalam Paddy each month as part of the service remuneration.

The Big Maasi Utsavam
For long, the most differentiating feature at the temple has been the presence of the tall 7 feet Lord facing South  seen in a Destructive Posture and referred to as Agora Murthy, a manifestation of Shiva’s anger.

Every Maasi, Villagers from the entire region congregated in several 1000s for the Aghora Murthy Utsavam on Day 5 of the Brahmotsavam, the biggest day in the year. It was customary for one village to take up a day’s utsavam during the Brahmotsavam. During the entire period of the Utsavam, the villagers donned the role of Sri Patham and carried the Lord on their shoulders around the Mada Vilagam.
Chariot Festival and Thiru Kalyana Utsavam too were grand at the temple. Historically, Neivedyam used to be presented in large quantities to the Lord and later distributed among the  strong 75+ Sirpanthigals at the temple.

A rare Five Posture Display
At this Thevaram Sthalam, Lord Shiva provides darshan here in five different postures. In the ‘Easaanam’, a posture representing purity, the Lord is seen facing the sky. Other postures include Vaamadevam facing the Northern Direction and representing Nourishment, Tatpurisha facing the East and representing Spirituality and Destruction of ‘Ego’. Sadyojatam is a West facing posture representing Creation.

Similar to Thiru Mangai Azhvaar praising Thiru Vellakulam, a Vaishnavite Divya Desam a few kms from Thiruvenkadu by its sacred tank (http://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2017/12/annan-perumal-koil.html), Thiru Gnana Sambanthar refers to the three sacred tanks providing relief from mental disease in his praise of this temple

பேயடையா பிரிவெய்தும் பிள்ளையினோ டுள்ளநினை
வாயினவே வரம்பெறுவ ரையுறவேன் டாவொன்றும்

வேயனதோ ளுமைபங்கன்
வெண்காடு முக்குளநீர்
தோய்வினையா ரவர்தம்மைத் தோயாவாந்

Vedic Learning
Thiruvenkadu was a center of Vedic learning with students coming in from across the country to be initiated into the Vedas.  There was even houses exclusively dedicated to them in the long Agraharam and was referred to as ‘Rameswaram Shastry home’, ‘Kasi Shastry home’ and so on indicating that scholars had come from afar to pursue their knowledge here. Veda Parayanam was an integral part of the temple till the 1940s and 50s. To encourage Vedic Chanting at the temple, King Sarabhoji set up an agraharam and brought together young boys who were initiated in the Vedas.
While the temple was vibrant in the first decade of his service, the 1960s and 70s sounded death knell for priests and service personnel at this temple. It was a financially challenging period for the Gurukal and his family. Income from the lands dropped drastically. Paddy to Gurukal became a thing of the Past. Salary from the temple did not rise through two decades. Post school holidays and festival periods, the temple went into a complete lull. There would not be any devotees at the temple for days together. Thattu Kaasu was non-existent. It was a phase that broke many a heart in temples across Tamil Nadu. With the financial difficulties, Brahmotsavam was stopped for a couple of decades. There was no repair or maintenance work done at the temple for decades. And the Vedic Pundits too moved away from Thirvenkadu in search of livelihood. Even for the functions at home, there remained no Vedic Scholars in and around this ancient temple town.

In those financially tough times, not once did Somu Gurukal think of moving away from the temple for he had committed himself to spending his entire lifetime at the temple dedicating himself to service of Lord Swetharanyeswarar.

No Money to pay daily cycle rentals
Somu Gurukal’s son Babu Gurukal, now 52, began supporting his father in SangaAbhisekam from the age of 5. For over 100 years, his father and grandfather did pooja in nearby temples. He remembers his father cycling 10 kms every day to perform pooja in those two temples “My father did not have money to pay the rent for the cycle and hence would keep the cycle for two extra days till he managed to earn the money to pay the rental, such was the financial state of the family in the 1970s and 80s.”

There were no lights in any of the streets. It was so scary that Babu Gurukal would wait for his mother to come to the end of the street to accompany him back home. Even availability of food was a challenge for a couple of decades. 

His amma’s message was the greatest strength of his life “Never do wrong to others even in the most difficult of times, even if others wrong you.

Sudden Devotional Transformation of his son
The youngest son of Somu Gurukal, Rajappa Gurukal, grew up in the 1980s. He was frustrated at seeing the financial challenges of his father and was keen to move out of temple service. After finishing class X, his mind was focused on joining ITI. He was also interested in cricket and played tennis ball cricket in school days. 
But devotion to the Lord drew him near. He dropped the idea of ITI and moved to the Ravi Patshala in Mayiladuthurai. Shortly after, he joined the temple at 17 to support his father, who has been an inspiration for him. His father’s sole message to him has been to serve the Lord with devotion irrespective of financial returns. Deciding to continue the temple service has remained his best decision in life. He gets immense satisfaction from performing the 6 kaala pooja every day. He has now been at the temple for 25 years.

Budhan Sannidhi
Till the 1940s, the idol of Budhan was behind the Ambal Sannidhi, which was historically a cave temple. As with most other Navagriha temples, this too was popular and known by the legend of Lord Shiva. It was during the Kumbabhisekam in the 40s, that Devokkatai Chettiar moved the idol of Budhan into a separate sannidhi in front of Ambal Sannidhi.  Those days very few visited the Budhan Sannidhi. Even though astrologers existed even at that time, rarely did they suggest a parikaram for Budhan.

Did not apply for Govt Pension
Things have improved at the temple, financially, over the last decade with the prominence as a Budhan Sthalam. Every Wednesday there are 25 abhishekams for Budhan. Even after the scenario changed, with the prominence as a Navagriha Sthalam, none of the family members ask for Thattu Kaasu or Dakshinai or perform differentiated pooja based on the finances of the devotees. That is why even today wherever they go they are respected as the Gurukals of Swetharanyeswarar temple.

During his time, Somu Gurukal has led multiple Kumbabhisekams at the Thiruvenkadu temple. He also performed Kumbabhisekam thrice in 24 other temples over the last 70 years. His flair for the Tamil language made him a big hit at Pattimandrams. For over 6 decades, he and his family lived in a hut house in the South Agraharam. When almost the entire agraharam vacated their hereditary homes seeking greener pastures elsewhere, only three Gurukal families remained in the South Street. After six decades of service, Somu Gurukal even refused to even apply for pension saying he was happy to have got the opportunity to serve the Lord in this life time and that alone he sees as the greatest gift from God. Never did he or anyone in the family go to the temple with financial returns in mind. They looked at it as a devotional service and kept rendering it through their life time.

His has been a very contented life. Performing 6 Kaala Pooja for the Lord has been his sole way of life. Somu Gurukal is truly a Divine Personality!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Coimbatore Palani train

Two New Passenger train services from Coimbatore launched today
Trains intended to provide rural connectivity to Long Distance Express Trains
Many years after the conversion into Broad Gauge of the Coimbatore Palani rail route, a full fledged daily passenger train service was launched today (http://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2017/10/pandyan-rockfort-exp-faster-from-nov-1.html?m=1). The Coimbatore - Palani train was flagged off at 3pm by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal via a Video Conference.
As a bonus to the region, another passenger train too was flagged off simultaneously at Pollachi. A daily passenger train will now be run between Coimbatore and Pollachi.

With road works near Ukkadam in the Southern outskirts of Coimbatore hampering all South bound bus services towards Dindigul (it takes at least 30-45 minutes to cross this junction), this rail service will help passengers towards Pollachi, Udumalpet and Palani in a big way.

Cbe-Pollachi-Cbe train will depart Coimbatore Junction at 545am (Niligiri exp arrives at 5am) and reach Pollachi at 7am. In the return direction, the train will depart from Pollachi at 730am and reach Cbe at 840am. In the evening the train will depart from CBE at 630pm and arrive in Pollachi at 8pm. The same train will leave Pollachi at 830pm and arrive at CBE junction at 950pm to help passengers board the Cheran Express at 1040pm.

In his address Piyush Goyal spoke about providing rural connectivity to long distance express trains.
The Palani bound train will depart from CBE at 145pm and arrive at Palani at 445pm. The train leaves Palani at 1045am and arrives at CBE junction at 210pm.

All of these will run through a connecting train system. The Coimbatore Palani train will run as Palani Madurai passenger in one direction and as Coimbatore Trissur passenger in another.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Krishnaswamy V ICA Treasurer

Former TN Cricketer and Banking Professional could play a significant role in the financial fortunes of retired cricketers in India if he bags the Treasurer's Post in the ICA elections that starts today

In a first of its kind, Indian Cricketers Association has been set up recently to promote the welfare of former cricketers in India
UPDATED ON MONDAY MORNING (OCT 15): Krishnaswamy wins Election, becomes ICA Treasurer

Tamil Nadu opener from the 1970s and a mentor to many cricketers in the State during the 1980s and 90s, V Krishnaswamy (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2016/08/krishnaswamy-v.html) is looking to take up a new and a challenging engagement, something that he is likely to be most suited for. Krishnaswamy is contesting for the post of Treasurer of the Indian Cricketers Association (ICA), the first of its kind recognized players’ association for former cricketers – both men and women – in India.

Top Banking Professional
After his cricketing stint with the State, Krishnaswamy shifted focus to a career in the Banking industry. During his over three decades with Indian Overseas Bank, he rose to the post of GM.  He also worked overseas for a few years while at IOB. Subsequent to his retirement from IOB earlier this decade, Krishnaswamy led Karur Vysya Bank (KVB) for three years as the Bank’s Managing Director.

Krishnaswamy's wife Radha (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2017/08/radha-krishnaswamy.html)  was the fitness coach of the Indian Women's World cup team that reached the final at Lords.

Both during this cricketing days (initially as a player and subsequently as a mentor) as well as during his several decades long stint as a Banking Professional, Krishnaswamy has earned the reputation of being  straightforward and a strict disciplinarian, who minces no words when it comes to pointing out the wrongs in the system and in the players/ banking personnel. At the same time, when he spotted potential in youngsters and a desire in them to taking the ‘work hard route’ to success, he mentored them in their career path. Many of them still look up to him for guidance both in the banking industry as well as in the cricketing fraternity.

Given this strong credibility with the players and his rich experience in the financial sector, Krishnaswamy can make a great contribution to the ICA, a new venture that has just been set up in July this year following the Lodha Committee recommendations to clean up the cricketing system in the country. 
Promoting welfare of former players
The ICA sees as its objectives conserving, promoting and advancing the welfare and interests of its members consisting of former cricketers. The role involves negotiating with the BCCI for securing the best commercial and other terms for cricketers including welfare measures and similar benefits for both current and former cricketers.


Election through the eVoting route
The eVoting starts this morning (Oct 11) and the results will be announced early next week. Over 1000 former cricketers from the cricket playing states in the country have registered for the membership of the ICA including many of Krishnaswamy’s team mates from Tamil Nadu such as Ranji Trophy winning captain S Vasudevan (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2007/10/s-vasudevan-tn-ranji-winning-captain.html), V Sivaramakrishnan (his opening partner from the 1970s), B Kalyanasundaram (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2011/08/kalli-b-kalyanasundaram.html), Abdul Jabbar, AG Satwendar Singh and NP Madhavan (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2016/05/np-madhavan.html) as well as former India cricketers including TA Sekar (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2013/08/ta-sekar-architect-behind-worlds-best.html), Robin Singh, Bharat Reddy, WV Raman and M Venkatramana (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2017/06/venkatramana-m_97.html).

Krishnaswamy was also the one who hand picked Anantha Padmanabhan (http://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2016/09/ananthapadmanabhan-kn.html) and Rajesh Kannan at IOB in the 1990s, following which the bank had one of its most successful runs in the TNCA first division league. Anantha Padmanabhan is now a top 5 umpire with the BCCI and Rajesh Kannan (http://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2019/08/bcci-umpire-quits-iob-after-25years.html), a top 80 Umpire.

Krishnaswamy will be a great asset to the ICA ‘Treasury’ given his experience both as a respected player and a top notch banking professional. This section will wait and watch the developments in the coming days.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Talakadu Keerthi Narayana Perumal

Hereditary Bhattars served at the temple during the 20th century at a monthly salary that did not exceed Rs. 30 
Much like many of the ancient and remote temples in Tamil Nadu, the Keerthi Narayana temple in Talakadu too found itself under financial stress for much of the 20th century. The disciples of Vaishnavite Acharya Ramanuja have been performing the aradhana at the temple for several centuries. Srinivasa Bhattachar lived till the age of 97 and performed service at the temple for over 80 years. His TS Krishna Bhattachar, who passed away a few years ago at the age of 96 too served all alone at the temple for 8 decades from a very young age. They were paid salary in two digits. At the peak of his service, Krishna Bhattachar was paid a salary of Rs. 30 on the pretext that there was no income from the temple. His son 69 year old Agama Vidwan K Srinivasa Rangachariar Bhattachar has now joined the service and has been performing aradhana for the last 10 years after taking over full charge from him after he touched 90.

The Pancharatra Agama based Keerthi Narayana Perumal temple in Talakadu is one of the Pancha Narayana Kshetrams  (http://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2013/04/thondanur-lakshmi-narayana-temple.html) in Karnataka (Ganga Desam) installed by Indra and renovated by Ramanuja just under 1000 years ago during his 12 year stay in Melkote/Thondanur.  

The Legend
At the end of the Dwapara Yuga, in the Sura Sura war, Indra was afflicted with Brahmma Hathi Dosham. To liberate himself from this, he undertook penance and invoked the blessings for Lord Vishnu. He was directed to install 5 Narayana Idols in this region to liberate himself from his dosham. 

Renovation 1000 years ago
Hoysala King Bitta Deva’s daughter had been struck with an illness from which he could not cure here despite the best of medicinal help. When he heard of the devotional powers of Vaishnavite Saint Ramanuja, he reached out to him in Thondanur. Ramanuja directed the king to take his daughter to the huge Eri (Sarovar) known as ‘Pancha Apsara Thataka’ and asked the king’s daughter to bathe and invoke the blessings of the Lord. At the temple, the Archaka placed the Narasimha Dhanda on the daughter and to the king’s surprise she was instantly liberated from the illness. To this day, one sees Yoga Narasimha holding this magical Dhanda in his right hand at the Thondanur Yoga Narasimha temple.

When the delighted king asked what he wanted, Ramanuja asked him to propagate Vishistaadvaitha. Bitta Deva became a Vaishnavite and changed his name to Vishnu Vardhan. As part of the direction, Vishnu Vardan supported and funded the entire renovation effort of Ramanuja at the Keerthi Narayana Temple in Talakadu. 
Given its architectural beauty, ASI has taken over possession of the temple. Every morning, much before the priest makes his way to the temple, an ASI staffer cleans the entire temple complex.

In the 2nd half of the previous century, full time pooja had been closed at the temple for 2-3 decades with excavation work by the ASI. Only this decade, the Moolasthanam was fully renovated and devotees are now able to have darshan of the standing Moolavar Lord flanked by Sri and Bhoo Devi Thayar. Recently, the temple has been attached to the nearby Vaidhanathan temple, a Saivite temple that is quite popular in the region and whose finances are much better. With this recent development, the Bhattachar is hoping that a reasonable salary in line with the current cost of living will be paid to him. 

The madapalli and the utsava vahana mandapam need some improvement. There are also no toilets around the temple complex. This too has to be built. The priest is hoping that these can be undertaken with support from devotees.

Vedanta Desikar is also said to have visited this temple during his trip to Karnataka.

Festivals
Mesha Chitrai – Theerthavari
Mesha Uthiram – Brahmma Ratham
Ratha Saptami, Karthigai are celebrated in a grand way at this temple.

There are festivals all through the year.

Temple is open from 10am till 530pm ( till 630pm/7pm on the weekend). Contact Srinivasan Bhattar @ 99006 31011

How to reach
For long, there had been very little connectivity to this historic temple. Over the last decade, public bus services have seen an improvement in Karnataka. Almost all the historic temples are well connected by road.  While the road from Mysore via T. Narasingapur was the more popular route to Talakadu, the Karnataka Government has developed the highway from Maddur to Malavalli into a top road and increased the frequency of buses. From Malavalli, there are share autos/taxis at frequent intervals to Talakadu as well as buses starting 7am.

Talakadu is 50kms from Maddur via Malavalli. First bus from Maddur at 6am to Malavalli (will reach in 30mts). Bus service to Talakadu from Malavalli starts at 7am, reaches Talakadu at 730am. From Mysore, Talakadu is 50kms via T. Narasingapur. Buses ply every 15mts from Mysore to T Narasingapur. From there, one can take share auto or a town bus to Talakadu (10kms).