Bhavani Temples

Sri Sangameswarar temple

Sri Sangameswarar temple, in Bhavani, is at the confluence of the Bhavani, Cauvery and the invisible Amudha:  Mukkuddal, as it is called.  Lord Sangameshwarar, an aspect of Shiva, is the presiding deity.  Mukkuddal is known as the Triveni Sangam of South India.  Bhavani is only 14km from Erode.

The temple is at the end of the lane off the main highway.  The colorful, five-tiered Rajagopuram gopuram is decorated with figures from the puranas.  On both sides of the entrance are two sub shrines, while in front of the main tower, a short distance away, sits the nandi in a small mandapam.  Inside, in the sanctum, is Sri Sangameswarar in the Lingam form.  Shiva was worshipped as Sangameswarar here, even before the Pallavas began their rule 1,500 years ago.  In a separate shrine is the divine consort, Sri Vendanayaki Amman.

This predominantly Shaivaite temple has shrines for Lord Vishnu, as Sri Adikesava Perumal and His divine consort, Sri Soundaravalli Thayar.  There are aso shrines for Sri Rama, the Alwars, and Sri Venugopal, with Bhama and Rukmani.

According to the sthala purana, sage Parasara began his penance after hiding underground the small quantity of Amrit, the divine nectar, which he wanted to preserve for the welfare of the world.  However four asuras attempted to steal the nectar.  The sage then prayed for divine intervention to save it.  Shiva, it is said, chased away the demons.  As the sage attempted to retrieve the pot containing the ambrosial liquid, he found a Shiva Linga in it, much to his joy.  When he tried to lift it, there sprang forth from it a jet of water.  The stream jointed the rivers Bhavani and Cauvery, and inundated the whole area.  As the jet of water from the Shiva Lingam originated from the ambrosial pot, it took the name of Amudha.  The place where the three streams united became Mukkuddal or Sangamam, and the Lord, whose image was installed by sage Parasara, came to be known as Sangameswarar.  Other shrines, including one for Sri Subramanya, followed later.  The town has since become a hallowed centre of Pilgrimage.

The British, particularly, were enchanted by the surroundings and the climate, that they made it the headquarters of composited district of Salem and Coimbatore.  There is a stirring story conerning one of the British Collectors posted here.  William Garrow, then Collector of Coimbatore, lived in a bungalow near Sri Sangameswarar temple.  It is said he was a devotee of Goddess Vedanayaki.  One summer afternoon, in 1804, it is said that while Mr. Garrow was enjoying his siesta, he had a vision of Goddess Vedanayaki  The Goddess directed him to vacate his bungalow immediately.  Soon after he did so, the entire bungalow collapsed, reducing the structure to a rubble.  According to another version, the Goddess came in the form of a five year old girl and directed him to leave the chamber, with the same result.  As a thanksgiving gesture, Mr Garrow presented a delicately carved minature ivory palanquin, inlaid with gold, which is preserved in a glass casket.  His name is inscribed in it (in both Tamil and English), as is the date on which it was presented: 1.11.1804.

The incident changed his life so much that he wished to offer prayers inside the temple.  However, as he was non-Hindu, he was not allowed enter the temple.  So the temple authorities had two holes bored in the wall of the shrine through which Mr.  Garrow, standing outside, would pay his obeisance to the Lord and other deities every evening.

There are many interesting sculptures here, especially in the Amman shrine.  The sculpture of the laughing maiden is one such.  She appears to laugh when water is poured over the idol.

How to get there:  Only 14km from Erode and easily accessed by buses, which ply at frequent intervals.  Erode is 393km from Chennai, on the Chennai-Coimbatore train route.  Coimbatore is the nearest airport.  Accommodation: Plenty of lodges in Bhavani, or you could stay in Erode.

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