(Last Updated on : 17/09/2010)
Pazhani Temple is situated in a place called Palani, a holy place near Madurai, in Tamil Nadu. Palani or Pazhani is a famous pilgrimage town in this south Indian state. It is about 60 kilometers from the city of Dindigul. Pazhani Temple, Palani is one of the most visited temples in the region as it draws number of devotees every year. Various legends are associated with the origin of the temple according to the Hindu mythologies. Several historical stories also reflect the establishment of the temple. the principal deity here is Lord Murugan.
The historical tales narrate that Idumban, a disciple of Sage Agasthayar was carrying two hillocks, Sivagiri and Sakthigiri, on his shoulders as Kavadi. He wanted to rest for a while and placed these hillocks on the ground. Lord Muruga, mischievously immobilized these hillocks and Idumban could not carry the Kavad any further. Scriptures depict that Cheaman Perumal, a ruler of Kerala, built the main temple around the 7th Century AD. Kings Jadavarman and Krishnadevaraya are also known to have generously donated for the temple construction. The Nayakars and Nagarathar community rulers were also involved in the construction of certain parts of the temple. The other areas of the temple were constructed in the period of Chera Kings during their rule of South Kongu Nadu. In the scriptures found in the sanctum sanctorium (Garbhagriha) dated 13th century it is known that Pandiyan Kings, Chola Kings also contributed greatly for the festivals held in this temple.
According to beliefs, once the celestial sage Narada approached the abode of Lord Shiva in Mount Kailasha. Lord Shiva resided in the heavenly mountain with his consort Goddess Shakti and their two children, Lord Ganesh and Lord Subrahmanya. Sage Narada presented Lord Shiva with a mango. As the two children were eager to have a share of the fruit, the divine parents kept a condition. The fruit presented by the sage was not any ordinary fruit; it was the very fruit of knowledge (Jnana Pazham). Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi decreed that the first to complete circumambulating the universe would get the celestial fruit. In order to win the challenge Lord Subramanya mounted his peacock and went around the Universe while Vinayakar circumambulated his parents Shiva and Parvathi on the premise that they stood for the Universe and obtained the coveted fruit. Thus, by the denial faced by Lord Subramanya, he announced it as injustice and was angered. Consequently, he left Mount Kailasha and settled at Pazhani Malai or the Hill of Pazhani. Other legends also revolve around the creation of the Pazhani Temple, Palani.
Pazhani Temple, Palani is related to the Fruit of Knowledge. It is one of the six padai vedu shrines of Murugan `Aarupadai veedu`. Lord Subramanya is also renowned as Murugan. Saint poet Nakkerar, in his songs in praise of Lord Senthil Andavar, places Palani in the third place amongst the six battle places (Arupadaiveedu) that Lord Muruga has fought to win over evil. The temple is dedicated to Lord Thandayuthapani or Lord Murugan the supreme commander of the celestial army. The shrine of Lord Murugan is situated at the top of the hill which is 500 feet in height. There are several theerthams enclosing the hill. The old shrine Aavinnankudi is believed to have been constructed about 2000 years before. Lord Murugan, considered the deity of the Tamil Land Palani is the third Padai veru. The temple at present possesses a deity, dedicated to Boghar also. The Lord in the Pazhani Temple is seen holding the staff or Dhandam in his hand in a standing position. The appearance of the deity is like a man who had renounced the worldly pleasures. A small piece of loincloth covers his body. There are stories of divine Siddhar named Boghar establishing the idol of Dhandayuthapaani using navapashanam. It was made from the amalgamation of nine poisonous elements which on getting mixed develops highly curative powers for many ailments of the human body.
The architectural design of the Pazhani Temple, Palani is impressive. The temple is situated approximately at a height of 450 feet over the ground level. Around the Palani Hill there is a circumambulatory passage called Giri Veedi. At the foothills there is a shrine to Meenakshi Sundareswarar and PadiVinayakar. The inner sanctum is crowned with gold plated vimanam. The sanctum has shrines to Navaveera, Navadurga, the Saptamataas, Kailasanadar and Chandeswarar. Navadurga (Bhuvaneswari) is worshipped here with a Maragatalingam. There is also a shrine to Bhogasiddhar, the founder of this temple. The entrance to the inner temple is through Manikatti, and local chieftains constructed the Kattai gopuravaasal mandapams. The beautiful navaranga mandapam is supported by 12 pillars and is in front of the sanctum. The processional images are located in this mandapam. The golden Kavacham, the Thanga ratham and the Golden peacock vaaganam here are truly beautiful. The Palani malai hill temple and the Thiruvavinankudi temple at the foot hills form a unit. The Thiruvavinankudi temple is referred to as Kuzhandhaivelayudar temple and the Saravanpoigai tank near it.
The Lord signifies beauty and youth. The deity is placed at the top of a hill and is reached by climbing the flights of steps. Large corridors are attached to the temple. The temple is considered one of the major pedal petra sthalams in the country. The structure of the Pazhani Temple, Palani is quite different from the Tirivavinankudi temple which is located just at the bottom of the hill. Another temple, the Palani Andavar is placed on top. The main festivals celebrated in the Pazhani Temple, Palani is Panguni Uttram. It is celebrated for ten days as the annual Bhramotsavam. Agni Nakshathram is also one of the occasions held in the month of Chittirai and Vaikaasi. During these times, thousands of pilgrims circumambulate the hill. Vaikaasi Visaakam is also a festival for 10 days. Skanda sashti is celebrated for seven days.
Pazhani Temple, Palani can be conveniently visited from all parts of the country. The nearest airport to Palani is in Madurai and it is situated at a distance of 119 kilometers. The temple can also be reached by rail and it is well connected by road too. There is a small rail head at Palani but, it is recommended to travel up to Dindigal or Madurai by train and take the bus route or taxi to reach Palani. Palani is linked by road with all important cities in Tamil Nadu. There are regular buses to Madurai, Coimbatore, Chennai, and Dindigal. Devotees can reach the Pazhani Temple, Palani anytime of the day. The temple is functional throughout the day till 8 pm in the evening. Worships start in the early morning at 6 am and the temple is open all day until the last worship is conducted at 8 pm. Guests can pay homage to the Lord during the visiting hours in the Pazhani Temple.