Saturday, December 2, 2023

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Dindigul District, Tamil Nadu



One of the known Hindu pilgrimage center in south India

Best time to Visit


Any time of the year

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Palani, the known Hindu pilgrimage center in south India is located about 100 km away from Coimbatore in the Dindigul district. The town is situated on the edge of the Vyapuri Tank with distant views of the bold cliffs of the Palani range. On the east side is Shivagiri, a hill which rises steeply 148 m above the Plain. The town stands a stopover between Kodaikanal and Oooty. Every year more than 7 million devotees visits the Palani. 

Also known as Pazhani, it got its name from Pazhamnee (Pazham (fruit) and nee (you)). Legend has it that, one day Sage Narada, visited Kailas to meet Shiva and Parvati. He presented Shiva an extraordinary fruit - the fruit of knowledge (Jnana Pazham) given to him by Lord Brahma. Since both Shiva's children Ganapathi and Subrahmanya wanted it, Shiva told them that he would give the fruit to the son who finished going around the world and returns first.

Hearing this, Subrahmanya immediately mounted on his peacock vehicle and set out around the world while Vinayaka circumambulated his parents because he thought that his parents represents the entire world so why should he circumnavigates the world. Shiva was happy with Ganapathi' attitude and he gave the fruit to Ganesh. 

When Subrahmanya returned after his journey around the world, he found that the fruit had already been given to his brother. He got angry and upset, and left for Palani. Soon the parents followed their son and consoled him by saying, 'Pazham Nee' (You are the fruit of Knowledge). Thus his words gave the holy place its name. The other belief relates to the name Palani is that some Tamil scholars, this place was known as `Pothini' which term later came to be known as Pazhani. Palani boasts one of the most hallowed shrines of Lord Murugan. Besides this, there are many temples and shrines in Palani.

Mainly there are two temples at Palani Hills - Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple situated on the top of the hill and Thiruavinankudi Temple situated at the bottom of the Palani Hill.

There are four ways to reach the Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple. The first is a 2 km long sandy path known as Giri Veedhi lies on the left side of the hill. It is punctuated with lot of shrines and stone carved peacocks and the path is not so steep and would be easy climb up. During the festival season, this path wore a festival look as hundreds pilgrims with Kaavadis danced and beat of percussion instruments.

The other way is an ascent of the sacred walkway via its 704 steepy stone steps. On the way there is a lot of Mandapams which have been built for pilgrims to take rest. There are three prakarams at this temple of which the outer and the inner prakarams are atop the hill and the third prakarams is at the bottom of the hill. 

Located atop the Sivagiri Hill, the Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple was constructed by King Cheraman Perumal in the 9th century. One among the six Padaiveedus (abode) of Lord Muruga, it expanded over the centuries by the Nayaks, Pandya Kings, Kongu Cholas and the kings of Mysore and Vijayanagar. The temple is also famous for its head shaving ritual. 

Climbing a flight of 693 steps leads to this temple which is approximately at a height of 450 feet over the ground level. It is a beautiful red and white striped temple with elaborately carved pillars, stone mandapams and paintings. Golden Chariot is the specialty of this shrine. The east facing Dandayudhapani sanctuary is surrounded by colonnades on three sides. The squat tower rising above is encrusted with plaster sculptures and topped by a hemispherical roof. The goddess shrine, immediately south is capped by a similarly squat tower. The image worshipped here is neither of stone or metal but is composed of an amalgam of nine minerals known as Navapashanam dates back over 5,000 years is said to have been made by Saint Bogar, a sidhar. A belief that the Abhishekam ( it is a mixture of milk, sugar and honey that pass through the idol) has medicinal values. The idol of Subramanya is depicted with a clean shaven head, dressed in a loincloth, holding a staff and vel. There is a samadhi of Sage Bhogar in the south west corner of the first prakaram. 

The temple is famous for its Panchamirtham, made of fruit mixture and jaggery and given as 'prasadam' to the devotees. Opening Time : 6 am to 8 pm and from 4 am to midnight on Festive occasions. Entrance Fee to view a closer look: Rs 10 and Rs 20 on Festive occasions. Contact for more info : 04545-242236. From the top of the hill, the views across Vyapuri Lake and the Vaigai plain to the distant ghats.

Palani's main festival 'Thaipoosam' (April/May) is cordially celebrated every year here. On those days thousands of pilgrims mostly male and clad in black dhotis came here to pay their homage to the Lord. The other main festival are Kaithigai (November/December). Aipasi (October/November) and Agni Nakshatiram (May/June).

Those unable to climb the steps can ascend in winch (Rs.10). Recently, for the comfort of the pilgrims, a funicular railway with three tracks and a rope-way have been provided. Counter opens from (7 am-12.30 pm, 1.30-5 pm; Fee : Rs 15). Special guides will also be appointed at the bus stands to help the pilgrims.

The other main temple at Palani is the Thiruavinankudi Temple which is situated at the foot of the Palani Hill. Pilgrims usually visits this temple first before heading for the Dhandayuthapani Temple.