Palani Arulmigu Shri Dhandayuthapani temple is one of the Six Abodes of Murugan. It is located in the town of Palani in Dindigul district, 100 kilometres (62 mi) southeast of Coimbatore and northwest of Madurai in the foot-hills of the Palani hills, Tamil Nadu, India.
Sage Narada once visited the celestial court of Shiva at Mount Kailash to present to him a fruit, the gyana-palam (literally, the fruit of knowledge), that held in it the elixir of wisdom. Upon Shiva expressing his intention of dividing the fruit between his two sons, Ganesha and Murugan,the sage counseled against cutting it. He decided to award it to whichever of his two sons first circled the world thrice. Accepting the challenge, Karthikeya started his journey around the globe on his mount peacock. However, Ganesha, who surmised that the world was no more than his parents Shiva and Shakti combined, circumambulated them. Pleased with their son’s discernment, Shiva awarded the fruit to Ganesha. When Kartikeya returned, he was furious to learn that his efforts had been in vain. He left Kailash and took up his abode in Palani hills in South India.
As per another legend, once all sages and gods assembled in Kailash, the abode of Shiva. It resulted in the tilting of earth towards one direction. Shiva asked sage Agathiyar to move towards South to balance the tilt. Agastya employed a demon by name Ettumba to carry two hills in his shoulders to be placed in the South. The demon carried the hills down south and rested in a place. When he tried to lift one of the hills, it didn’t budge and he found a young man standing at the top of the hill not allowing it to be moved. The demon tried to attack the young man, but was defeated. Sage Agastya identified the young man as Karthikeya and asked him to pardon the demon. Karthikeya readily did so and let the hill remain there at Pazhani. It is a practice followed in the modern times where people carry milk in both their shoulders as a devotion to please Karthikeya. The demon carried the other hill to Swamimalai, which is another abode of Karthikeya.
The idol of the Muruga in Palani, was created and consecrated by sage Bogar, one of aaseevaham’s (Ancient Tamil Culture) eighteen great siddhas out of an amalgam of nine poisons or navapashanam. The legend also holds that, the sculptor had to work very rapidly to complete its features, but that he spent so much time in creating the face, he did not have time to bestow but a rough grace upon the rest of the body, thus explaining the contrast between the artistic perfection of the face and the slightly less accomplished work upon the body. A shrine to Bhogar exists in the southwestern corridor of the temple, which, by legend, is said to be connected by a subterranean tunnel to a cave in the heart of the hill, where Bhogar continues to meditate and maintain his vigil, with eight idols of Muruga.
The deity, after centuries of worship, fell into neglect and was suffered to be engulfed by the forest. One night, Perumal a king of the Chera Dynastys, who controlled the area between the second and fifth centuries A.D., wandered from his hunting party and was forced to take refuge at the foot of the hill. It so befell, that the Subrahmanyan, appeared to him in a dream, and ordered him to restore the idol to its former state. The king commenced a search for the idol, and finding it, constructed the temple that now houses it, and re-instituted its worship. This is commemorated by a small stela at the foot of the staircase that winds up the hill.
The idol of the deity is said to be made of an amalgam of nine poisonous substances which forms an eternal medicine when mixed in a certain ratio. It is placed upon a pedestal of stone, with an archway framing it and represents the god Subrahmanya in the form He assumed at Palani – that of a very young recluse, shorn of his locks and all his finery, dressed in no more than a loincloth and armed only with a staff, the dhandam, as befits a monk.
The temple was re-consecrated by the Cheras, whose dominions lay to the west, and the guardian of whose eastern frontier was supposed to be the Kartikeya of Palani. Housed in the garbhagriham, the sanctum sanctorum, of the temple, the deity may be approached and handled only by the temple’s priests, who are members of the Gurukkal community of Palani, and hold hereditary rights of sacerdotal worship at the temple. Other devotees are permitted to come up to the sanctum, while the priests’ assistants, normally of the Pandāram community, are allowed up to the ante-chamber of the sanctum sanctorum.
The temple is situated upon the higher of the two hills of Palani, known as the Sivagiri. Traditionally, access to it was by the main staircase cut into the hill-side or by the yanai-padhai or elephant’s path, used by the ceremonial elephants. Pilgrims bearing water for the ritual bathing of the idol, and the priests, would use another way also carved into the hill-side but on the opposite side. Over the past half-century, three funicular railway tracks have been laid up the hill for the convenience of the pilgrims, and supplemented by a rope-way within the past decade. There are two modes of transport from the foothills to uphill. There is a winch, which operate from 6 a.m. on ordinary days and 4 a.m. during festive occasions. There is another rope car which operates from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Both winch and the rope car are closed after the Irakkala Pooja at 8 p.m.
One of the main traditions of the temple, is the tonsuring of devotees, who vow to discard their hair in imitation of the Lord of Palani. Another is the anointing of the head of the presiding deity’s idol with sandalwood paste, at night, prior to the temple being closed for the day. The paste, upon being allowed to stay overnight, is said to acquire medicinal properties, and is much sought after and distributed to devotees, as rakkāla chandaṇam.
Traditionally, the hill-temple of Palani is supposed to be closed in the afternoon and rather early in the evening to permit the deity to have adequate sleep, being but a child, and therefore, easily tired by the throngs of devotees and their constant importunations. A tradition that is not very well known is that of the Paḷḷi-Arai or bedroom, wherein, each night, the Lord is informed of the status of the temple’s accounts for the day, by the custodians of the temple, and then put to sleep to the singing of an ōdhuvār or bard.
Devotees carry kavadi, an ornamental mount decked with flowers, glazed paper and tinsel work and wearing ochre clothes themselves on foot from long distances is a commonly followed worship practice.
Panchamirdam (mixture of five) is believed to be a divine mix prepared by Vinayagar at the end of the divine encounter. He mixed honey, dates, banana, raisins and jiggery and distributed it to Shiva Karthikeya. The practice is followed in modern times where the devotees are provided Panchamirdam as a Prasad.
Besides regular services, days sacred to the god Subrahmanyan are celebrated with pomp and splendour every year, and are attended by throngs of devotees from all over South India. Some of these festivals are the Thai-Poosam, the Pankuni-Uththiram, the Vaikhashi-Vishakham and the Soora-Samharam. Thai-Poosam, which is considered, by far, the most important festival at Palani, is celebrated on the full moon day of the Tamil Month of Thai (15 January-15 February). Pilgrims after first having taken a strict vow of abstinence, come barefoot, by walk, from distant towns and villages. Many pilgrims also bring a litter of wood, called a Kāvadi, borne on their shoulders, in commemoration of the act of the demon Hidumba who is credited by legend with bringing the two hills of Palani to their present location, slung upon his shoulders in a similar fashion. Others bring pots of sanctified water, known as theertha-kāvadi, for the priests to conduct the abhishekam on the holy day. Traditionally, the most honoured of the pilgrims, whose arrival is awaited with anticipation by all and sundry, are the people of Karaikudi, who bring with them the diamond-encrusted vél or javelin, of the Lord from His temple at Karaikudi.
The temple is open from 6.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. On festival days the temple opens at 4.30 a.m. There are six poojas performed in the temple, namely, the Vilaa pooja at 6.30 a.m., Siru Kall pooja at 8.00 a.m., Kaala Santhi at 9.00 a.m., Utchikkala Pooja at 12.00 noon, Raja Alankaram at 5.30 p.m., Iraakkaala pooja at 8.00 p.m. The Golden Car can be viewed at 6.30 p.m.
Thadikombu Perumal Temple is located on the Dindigul- Karur route about 18 kms away from Dindigul. The main deity of the temple is Lord Alagar. The main festival of the temple is celebrated during the Tamil month of Chitrai, which falls in April and May. During this festival, the deity is offered regular prayer for 12 days.
Kodaikanal is one of the very popular holiday destination hill resorts in South India. This hill station stands 7200 feet above sea level and situated in upper palani hills of the westernghats near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Kodaikanal is also popularly known as the princes of Hill Stations.
The cool and misty weather, the scenic beauty of the rolling hills and the wooded forest of Kodaikanal and its surroundings will mesmerize any visitor throughout the year. Walk through the wooded forests, row in the lake, bath in one of the splashing waterfalls, go for horse riding and cycling around the lake or simply admire the views.
The Kodaikanal Observatory of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics is located in the beautiful Palani range of hills in Southern India. It was established in 1899 as a Solar Physics Observatory and all the activities of the Madras Observatory were shifted to Kodaikanal.
A 20 cm refractor at the Observatory is used occasionally for cometary and occultation observations. It is also sometimes made available to visitors for night sky viewing.
The Observatory has arranged a popular Astronomy museum on campus for the visitors. The displays are mainly pictorial, supported by a few models. A live solar image and the Fraunhofer spectrum are also presented. From April 1st to June 15th Kodaikanal Observatory is open to public between 10:00 to 12:00 hrs and 14:00 to 16:00 hrs. For the rest of the year the Observatory will be open to public only on every Friday between 10:00 to 12:00 hrs.
Sirumalai is a region of 60,000 acres (200 kms) situated 25 km (16 miles) from Dindigul and 40 km (25 miles) from Madurai, Tamilnadu, India. There are many high hills in the area. Hillock International School is located in Sirumalai. Sirumalai is a dense forest region with a moderate climate throughout the year. With an altitude of 1600 metres above sea level, it contains diversified flora and fauna. The hill has 18 hairpin bends.
Sirumalai Hills has several scenic natural attractions which are enjoyed by its visitors and make it a popular destination. They are described below:
The church is on a slope at the top of the hill. It is 2 kms from the nearest bus stop. Residents observe the festival for “Our Lady of Good Health” annually in September, with a flag hoisted prior to the festival.
Sirumalai Lake contains a small lake that was artificially created in the year 2010. This Lake is a man made one. This lake here bordered by tall green trees. Boating facility is available too for those who want to slowly glide through the placid waters of the lake. Boating is available in the lake mostly during the weekends when there is enough water in it.
An Observation tower located on seventeenth Hair Pin Bend offers a (much needed) place for a stopover. At this point, there is nothing better you can do other than enjoying the jaw dropping scenery below.
The hill became famous when Lord Hanuman had to search for a certain herb, and not finding it, had to take the entire hill with him to cure Lord Laxmanan. On his way back from Sri Lanka with the hill, a piece fell down here and it came to be known as Sanjeevani Hills. This Hill is part of Sirumalai Hills.
Saathiyar River originates from Sirumalai hills and flows southward and empties into Vaigai River. The basin covers an area of 819 square kilometres (316 sq mi). The total ayacut of the sub-basin is 4,279.89 hectares (10,575.8 acres). Near Vadipatti, Saathiyar Dam has been constructed across this river for irrigation purpose. This is the catchment area of the Saathiyar Dam in Madurai.
The famous Lord Murugan temple (Vellimalai Murugan Temple) is located in the mountain which is away from 45 minutes climbing over the valley. This temple is renowned throughout the neighbouring villages and towns.
The Khandige estate spread across 1000 acres is located in the Sirumalai hills, an isolated group of hills in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu drained by three rivers of which 2 are perennial which flow through the Khandige estate before flowing into the plains as a series of waterfalls. The region receives an average of 120-132 cm rain during the months of October and December. Surrounded by about 20-30,000 Acres of reserve forest, this estate has a natural wealth of flora and fauna, particularly medicinal plants, which has been left primarily untouched. The primary aim of this estate is to conserve the bio-diversity of the Western Ghats and to prevent or at least stall the destruction of this rich eco-system due to rampant deforestation.
The place offers a panoramic view of Dindigul and Chinnamalai town. At dusk, the Selvi Koil Point unveils a view of the beautifully illuminated Dindigul and adjacent Chinnamalai town down below, which appear oval-shaped.
Agastya Puram is located in Sirumalai Hills named after the prominent Agastya Siddhar. In the region of Sirumalai the Agasthiarpuram is a holy place where siddhas (monks) have lived since ancient days. The area is surrounded with medicinal herbs and plants. In the tip of the hill there is historic Shiva Lingam, which dates back at least 500 years.
Located in Agastya Puram is Silver Hill, this is the tallest hill in Sirumalai. It is said that the peak of the Silver hill was made up of Silver but to avoid man’s destructive actions during the Kali Yuga the hill was transformed via Alchemy in to stone by Agastya Siddhar, hence it got the name silver hill. The hills silver glitter can be still seen in the sun light. In the peak of this Silver hill is a 500-year-old Shiva Lingam, walk to top of the hill is about 30 – 45 minutes.