Thursday, March 28, 2013

Vaanamutti Perumal Temple in Kozhi Kuthi

12th Century AD temple built by Kulothunga Chozha III
A Temple for liberation from Sani Graha Dosham and all kinds of Skin Diseases

Located 6kmsver North West of the Mayiladuthurai Railway Station is the 12th Century AD Srinivasa Perumal temple in Vaanamutti (now Kozhi Kuthi) on the Northern Banks of the Cauvery, built during the rule of Kulothunga Chozha III, where the Moolavar is seen in a gigantic 14 feet standing posture. The idol is a Mooligai Varna Kala idol.

The Story
King Nirmalan, who ruled the Kodagu hills, developed a certain skin disease with rashes all over his body. The king moved out of the kingdom to find a solution to his troubles.

Narada Rishi took the form of a hunter, met the king and explained the sins of his previous births.  In one of this previous birth, as a Brahmin, he had not performed the duties of Brahmin Dharma and had failed to perform the Pitru Karma and had hence developed the 'Go-Hathi' Dosham.

In his previous birth as a Vanniya Chettiar, he had committed crimes in business and was hence bearing the brunt of those sins in this current birth.

Narada directed the king to undertake penance at the foot of the Kodagu Hills.  Later, an invisible voice asked him to move from the foot of the hills to bathe along the banks of the Cauvery.

When he reached Moovalur, 2kms South of here, and had bath in the Cauvery, Lord Shiva provided darshan and asked him to go North and undertake penance to invoke the blessings of Lord Vishnu. As Shiva directed and showed the King the way to cleanse himself from his sins, he is referred to at this place as Maarga Sahaya Vazhikaattum Nathan at the temple in Moovalur.

King Nirmalan continued his penance here. On the Shravanam Amavasya day in Thai, Lord Vishnu appeared in a form of a fig tree and provided darshan from the middle of the tree. The four leaves became the four hands of the Lord and another set of leaves turned into an umbrella with the root of the tree being the feet of the Lord.

With King Nirmalan touching the root of the tree - the feet of the Lord, the place to the East of where the temple is currently, turned into a Vishwa Pushkarani, the sacred tank. After having bath here at the Pushkarani, he was liberated from Kodi Hathi Curse and Pitru Sabham and was relieved from his skin disease.

Having had darshan of Lord Vishnu and Mahalakshmi Thaayar, King Nirmalan became a rishi and undertook penance on the banks of the Cauvery. Staying here, Pippalla Maha Rishi composed a sloka on liberation from Sani Graha Dosham

Later he attained Moksham at this place. To this day, in memory of this event, one can see a mandapa of Pippalla Rishi.

The Name of this place
As he was liberated from Kodi Hathi Dosham, this place came to be referred to as Kodi Hathi Paapa Vimochana puram which in course of time became Kozhi Kuthi, the name by which this place is referred to now.

There are three separate inscriptions inside the temple. One of the inscriptions refers to the process of liberation from Sani Dosham if a devotee presents Anna Dhanam to 10Brahmins on 51 Saturdays. The process details having a head bath, presenting Nallennai in a bronze vessel with four vegetables and one green (Keerai) vegetable.

Relief from Skin Diseases
This temple is a Parikara Sthalam for liberation from Skin Diseases. Belief is that if one visits the temple, has bath at the Vishwa Pushkarani and offers his sincere prayers to Vaanamutti perumal, he will be relieved from any kind of skin disease.

Saptha Swara Anjaneya
A 3 ½ feet Anjaneya is seen in the form of a Saptha Swara Swaroopa form with his tail up behind his head and with a bell.

Aani Rohini - Abhishekam
3day Pavitrotsavam
Brahmotsvam in Thai – Chariot Festival on Sravanam
Monthly Sravanam is a special day at the temple

Quick Facts
Moolavar: Vaanamutti Perumal East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar   : Daya Lakshmi
Utsavar    : Abhaya Srinivasa Perumal

Time       : 8am-12noon and 430pm-8pm
Contact   : Varadaraja Bhattar @ 97872 13226 or Secy @ 98424 23395

How to reach
From Mayavaram Bus Stand, drive on the Kumbakonam Highway. Take a right at Moovalur (2kms from Railway station) and drive North 4kms to reach Vaanamutti.

Alternately, from Mayavaram take the Poompuhar- Kallanai road (North of Railway station) to take a right at Chozhapettai to reach Vaanamutti

Auto from railway station to the temple will cost Rs. 80.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Scorer Mani – The Numbers man for Radio Australia

The man from Vellore strikes a ton with the ABC and is all set for his 6th and 7th Ashes series this year
Photo Above: Scorer Mani seen in the ABC commentary box at  the India v Aus test at Chepauk in Feb 2001

Almost 40years ago, in a first division match played at the University Union Ground in Madras, S Venkataraghavan, then playing for India Pistons gave a blank score sheet to a young 16year old boy and asked him to score for their team in that match.

This surprise call from the cricketing great was encouragement enough for the Vellore born Sankara Subramanian ( now popularly referred to in cricketing circles as Scorer Mani) to take up to scoring as a career very early on his life. There was no looking back for him, though the ride has  not always been smooth with his share of controversies.

During his school days (Muthialpet), Subramanian would go every weekend to the ground where Venkat was playing, to watch him bowl. And it turned out that Venkat himself would one day give him an opportunity that was to later become a career for this enthusiastic kid.

Born in Vellore, Scorer Mani lost his father when he was just four and moved to Madras to stay with his uncle.
He was a top order batsman in his school days (he practised at the Corporation ground in Nungambakkam and played for a team that was seeking to gain an entry into the TNCA league) but soon gave up playing to become a professional scorer.

He started full time scoring for first division teams in 1978 when he was just 20years old with India Pistons for whom he scored for 11years. He later moved on to India Cements for whom he took the job of scoring for their various teams for 12years.

Ranji Trophy
A couple of year later came another big moment for Mani. He made his debut in Ranji Trophy as a scorer in the match between TN (captained by none other than Venkat) and Hyderabad. He was paid a princely ‘Scoring Fee’ of Rs. 100per day that a decade or so later went up to Rs.2000 per day ( Radio Australia pays him several times that fee!!!).

Scorer Mani was there at Chepauk on the last day of the tied test between India and Australia that took place here in1986. A year later, he scored in another close finish between the very same teams, this time in the World Cup 1987 opener when Australia beat India by one run.

Almost a decade later came a big moment for Mani and his Scoring fraternity. In a Ranji match between Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad, Mani casually suggested to Azhar in Tamil ( yes Azhar and Mani converse in Tamil) for official recognition for Scorers. Within three months, there was an examination conducted in Ahmedabad for Scorers.

The biggest break-Radio Australia and his ton with them
In 1998, when Australia came to India, Radio Australia was looking for a scorer for the test match at Madras. Just one day before the start of the test here, All India Radio suggested Mani’s name and his career took a dramatic positive turn. Impressed with his scoring capabilities at the Chepauk test, ABC asked if he could go along with the Radio team to cover the entire series of 1998. And he did.

Overseas Tours
In 1999, ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) asked if he could make it to Srilanka to cover the three test series. Thus, Mani, who did not even have a passport at that time, went on his first overseas cricket tour and covered the series for Radio Australia.

Following this series, ABC signed a three year deal with him as the official scorer for their tours which has since seen a couple of more three year extensions.

Mani’s Weekly Silence
What started off as a one off test match has now extended to well over a century of test matches for Radio Australia with Mani becoming a favourite of Jim Maxwell (the renowned Aussie broadcaster). In one such conversation, Mani asked Maxwell to take care of his voice as he was on the mike through the day including post day broadcasts.  James ( Maxwell) retorted if he himself could control talking. It was then that Mani decided to remain silent for a few hours every day.

That later expanded to his now famous ‘Complete Silence’ once a week. Every Thursday, even when there is a Radio Australia broadcast, Mani does not open his mouth using a chit (and these days text messages) as a communication tool.

To date, Mani has been a scorer for Radio Australia in well over a 100 international matches. He has also scored in 130other International matches played in India for the TNCA/BCCI.

Face off with India Cements
A controversy in a Hindu Trophy match in 2003 led to India Cements, for whom Mani had been the official scorer for over a decade, pulling the plug on him. And thereby ending his direct association with the TNCA.

But putting that behind him, Mani has over the last decade taken the responsibility of managing the club tournaments that are becoming increasingly popular in the city. While many in the club cricket circle wonder about his lack of attention while scoring in these matches and the errors that creep in every now and then, Mani is a lot more serious in the international matches and is adored by his team mates in the ABC box for his immediate stats data that he pulls out. From maintaining it manually in the past, Mani now has a lap top where he logs in all the scores of international matches spending about 2-3hours every day for this data collation.

 Into the future, Scorer Mani is hopeful of playing an integral role in the successful conduct of these tournaments.

Over the last four decades, Mani has played varied roles- from Sales man at school and college to a Journalist (and a Photo Journalist) writing and sending in photographs for Dinamalar and Kalki. 

His association with VB Chandrasekar started well over two decades ago in a first division match (VB was playing for Chemplast at that time) at the end of the season. Seeing VB not wanting to open in that 2nd innings, Mani called in VB and informed him that he was just 35runs short of reaching a landmark achievement of 1000runs for the season (even though Mani was not the official scorer of Chemplast that year).  A decade later, VB roped in Mani as an administrative person to manage his Nest academy for a few years.

However, the role he has most cherished has been the one of being the official scorer of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation covering international matches played by Australia all over the world.

Mani’s best matches as a scorer

Tied Test in 1986

Kumble’s 10wicket match at Delhi

Saeed Anwar’s 194 at Chepauk

VVS’s 281 at Kolkata

Highlights of his Scoring career

5 Ashes Series

5 World Cups

Overseas Assignments in South Africa, Australia, Srilanka as part of Radio Australia Team

110tests for Radio Australia, 130tests for TNCA/BCCI

Losing Peter Roebuck in South Africa
One of his not so happy moments was the loss of ABC’s Peter Roebuck in November 2011 during the test series in South Africa when Scorer Mani was part of the Radio Australia team.

In the last couple of years, Mani has been engaged as the official scorer for the Chemplast Group. On the overseas front, Scorer Mani is looking to continue his engagement with Radio Australia and is all excited to cover a couple of more Ashes series later this year, first in England and then in Australia.

With BCCI’s controversial move to keep Radio Australia away for the current India v Australia series, Mani has been seen of late at Amir Mahal ground in Royapettah ( Madras) rather than being at the Ferozshah Kotla alongside his favourite team mate James Maxwell of the ABC.

For a man from Vellore who lost his father at the age of four, this truly has been a remarkable career to be the man that Radio Australia goes to for all the numbers!!!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Vempathur Sundararaja Perumal Temple

Kulasekara Pandya Period Temple
Great Poets like Kambar visited this place and composed poems
Located about 35kms East of Madurai and 4kms North of Tiruppachetti is the Sundararaja Perumal Temple in Vempathur. The temple in its current form is said to date back to the 13th Century AD and to the rule of Kulasekara Pandya. The Moolavar deity is a Mooligai idol and is seen in a Abhaya Varada posture blessing the devotees

Scholars from Thiruvellarai
Several Centuries ago, over 500 Vaishnavite scholars and priests had been brought in from Thiruvellarai (near Srirangam) to the Pandya Kingdom to spread Vedas and Vaishnavism. About 150 of them had moved into Vempathur with just as many going to Sikkal and hundreds of them had stayed back at Perunkarunai, the Avathara Sthalam of Selva Nambi.  All of them had a kudumi in their head and hence were referred to as ‘Poorva Sikha Sozhiya Srivaishnavas’.

Conversion to Saivism
Over a period of time, all of them at Vempathur had converted to Saivites. Hence, the priests at this Perumal temple are Saivites. Also, an interesting feature here is that Vibhuthi is provided as the sacred prasadam every evening after a presentation of Sahasranamam.

It is also believed that Lord Bhoo Varaha emerged from the earth and was installed here inside the temple to the North of Sundararaja Perumal Sannidhi. Belief is that Lord Bhoo Varaha fulfils the wishes of those devotees who place their prayers on a white paper at his feet.

Great Poets and their compositions from here
Great Poets like Kambar, Avvaiyar and Oththa Koothar (contemporary of Kambar) have visited this temple and composed poems. Rajendra Chozhan built the front mandapa here so the great poets could sit in peace and compose their works and spread their Tamil poetry. There is a Hayagriva Sannidhi in front of whom it is believe that Poet Kamban sat and composed songs.

U Ve Swaminatha Iyer in his Thiruvalayadal Purana makes a detailed reference to this place and the vedic recitals that used to take place here.

Aavani Thiruvonam
Vaikunta Ekadesi
Procession in Karthigai
Hanuman Jayanthi

Quick Facts
Moolavar         : Sundararaja Perumal with Sri devi and Bhoo devi
Time                : 6am-11am and 530pm-8pm
Contact            : 98409 35113/ 97915 83169/97903 25083

How to reach
One can take the Madurai-Rameswaram Bus from Maatuthaavani Bus Stand in Madurai. Get down at Tiruppachetti (about 30kms from Madurai) after Tiruppuvanam. From Tiruppachetti, an auto to Vempathur (about 6kms) will cost about Rs. 75/-.

There are also mini buses/share auto from Tirupachetti.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Vilacheri Rama Temple

15th Century AD Pandya Period temple in Madurai where Lord Rama is seen in a Yoga Posture
An early 15th Century AD Rama temple on the outskirts of Madurai is in a dilapidated state. The idols were donated by Rudravathi Ammal in 1416AD with the temple built during the Pandya period.

Lord Rama is seen in a Yoga Sitting Posture with Sita to his right (while in a Pattabhisheka posture, she is seen to his left) Lakshmana is seen a standing posture to his left.

Anjaneya and Garuda are seen protecting the Lord with their presence at the entrance as dwarapalakas.

The temple was last renovated 110years ago in 1903.
While the outer walls are in a terrible state, the base structure of the Sanctum and inner prakara around the Sanctum looks solid with the strong Granite Structure dating back several centuries.

The Gopuram has been refurbished and has a new fresh look. Efforts are on to bring the temple back to its historical shape.
Currently there is no bhattar to perform the daily poojas. There are no festivals at the temple.

The street leading to the temple may have been a traditional agrahara with a Saivite temple (which has been recently renovated) to the east of the Rama temple.

Moolavar : Rama in a Yogic Sitting Posture with Sita and Lakshmana
Speciality : Anjaneya and Garuda as Dwarapalakas
History     : Built in the 15th Century AD during the Pandya Period
Inscription: 1903 inscription of a renovation done that year with public support

Contact: 97888 54854

How to reach

Vilacheri is about 8kms from Madurai Junction off the Tiruparankunram Highway. Take Periyar- Thirumangalam bus and get down at Moolakarai bus stop. An Auto from Moolakarai to the temple ( 2kms) will cost Rs. 30/-.